This weekend, the grassroots nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Lobby is holding both a virtual conference and a nationwide lobbying push for bipartisan climate legislation.
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CCL Program Director Donald Addu says the nonpartisan nonprofit is focused on passing the Energy Innovation And Carbon Dividend Act – HR763.
“Basically what it does is it sets a steadily rising price on fossil fuels – coal, oil, natural gas – and the revenue that we generate from that fee we return evenly to every American,” he told WAMC.
The bill was first introduced in 2018, but died at the end of the 115th Congress. In January 2019, it was reintroduced into the House by Florida Democrat Ted Deutch. Of its 81 cosponsors, only one, Francis Rooney of Florida, is a Republican. Despite that, Addu says climate change is transcending partisanship.
“Democrats tend to push more towards a regulatory approach, Republicans tend to favor more of a free market, and so we’re really looking to bridge that divide and make sure that we’re not only passing legislation that has bipartisan resort so it has resiliency, but also make sure that we’re actually tackling the problem," said Addu. "And the Energy Innovation Act will reduce our carbon emissions by 40% in 12 years.”
“One of the things that we see coming out of this election is that despite all the things that have gone on in 2020 – the global pandemic, the collapse of the economy, protests against racial violence – there was an enormous amount of stasis in the electorate. So, most people voted the same way that they voted in 2016," said keynote speaker Hahrie Han, a professor of political science and the Inaugural Director of the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. “And so what that means is that neither party really has a strong governing mandate coming out of this election. If we want to have largescale change like the kind of climate legislation that we need that’s being advocated by the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, we really are going to need organizations, grassroots organizations, that consist of people who are committed to pursuing an important agenda to hold government leaders accountable to their needs.”
At least 25 members of the Berkshire chapter of the CCL say they plan on attending the conference.
“One of the things is, we see our ski areas really struggling as the climate warms, and we’re a tourism industry, so we really need, we particularly need for our economy, to preserve our natural habitats, our biodiversity, and also we don’t want to have all of our ski areas go out of business because of global warming," said Laura Page, a member from Lee. She says involvement with the CCL offers her a sense of purpose in a world facing a daunting threat.
“When I think of the conditions that the next generation and then their children are going to be facing, it’s very sobering," Page told WAMC. "And it feels like people my age, middle aged people, we have a responsibility to make things better and not just leave this horrible situation for the next generation.”
“It’s important to me because I’m concerned for all of us. I’m concerned for humanity and also all the living things on earth," said member Ava Girard, a college student virtually attending Saint Mary's College of California while living in Great Barrington. “Climate change is urgent. To me it is the most urgent, biggest issue that we’re facing. I know that there are a lot of challenges right now, but to me, this is the biggest – because if we don’t address it now, nothing else is going to matter.”
The Berkshire CCL chapter says it will be meeting with the office of 1st Massachusetts District Democratic Congressman Richard Neal, who is not a cosponsor of the Energy Innovation And Carbon Dividend Act, on December 7th. The CCL’s virtual conference runs from the 5th to the 10th of December.