Last month I traveled to Washington, DC, for the 2015 meeting of Citizens Climate Lobby, for which I am a co-leader of the Columbus chapter. The conference was absolutely inspiring. The plenary speakers included:
- Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist at Texas Tech and CCL board member
- James Hansen, former director of Goddard Institute for Space Studies and CCL board member
- Bob Perkowitz of ecoAmerica, a climate opinion survey and communications group
I met several people in person who I have become friends with through the Global Warming Fact of the Day group on Facebook. I got to know several of the other leaders of CCL chapters in Ohio. And most empowering, I got to meet with four different Ohio representatives, all Republicans, to talk about CCL’s proposal for carbon fee and dividend.
Although I have lobbied my state and federal legislators before with other groups, CCL has probably the most effective lobbying strategy I’ve experienced. People are assigned to groups of five or six for each legislator meeting, and each person in the group gets a role. I led the group meeting with my representative, Steve Stivers, OH-15, while for other meetings I did time keeping, told a personal story, explained the basics of the proposal, made the ask, or did follow-up. Assigning each person in the group a role and knowing what your role was allowed you to concentrate on doing that one thing well while not stepping on the toes of others as they did their part.
After I got back, I sent a letter about the meeting to the Dispatch, which I was happy to see given prominent space in a Saturday paper. Here is the text:
Carbon fee, dividend good for air, economy
Recently I joined a group of Ohioans who, along with 800 volunteers from Citizens Climate Lobby, traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with more than 500 members of Congress. Our 13 volunteers from Columbus, Delaware, Springfield and Cincinnati met with aides for 16 of Ohio’s 18-member Senate and House delegation.
We were there to ask our members of Congress to consider a new proposal for addressing climate change: carbon fee and dividend. The proposal has three parts: first, place a steadily rising fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels, collected at the point of extraction and entry into the economy; second, return 100 percent of the fee equally to American households in the form of a monthly dividend check; and third, enact a border adjustment on goods coming in from countries that do not have a similar carbon fee to discourage U.S. companies from relocating jobs.
A study by the nonpartisan Regional Economic Modeling Inc. finds that by 2035, a carbon fee and dividend would provide $396 a month to a family of four, add 2.8 million jobs, increase gross domestic product by almost $1.4 trillion, lower carbon emissions by 52 percent and prevent 227,000 premature deaths. REMI also found that the Great Lakes region, which includes Ohio, would benefit more than any other in job creation, economic stimulus and cleaner air.
Most congressional offices we met with were Republican, and most of the aides we spoke with had not heard of carbon fee and dividend. Most started off cool to the proposal, but gradually warmed up as we explained its benefits. Everyone knows that something must be done to address climate change. The debate isn’t about the science but about finding a solution acceptable to everyone.
To find out more about carbon fee and dividend, visit citizensclimatelobby.org.
CATHY COWAN BECKER
Citizens Climate Lobby