Citizens’ Climate Lobby national conference reignites the movement 

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  By Grace Springer

Photo courtesy of Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) held its virtual national conference last month with a major focus on carbon price, how to effectively lobby members of Congress and diversity and inclusion within the movement. 

The conference, which coincided with the end of COP26 and a historic vote on President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, represented an important moment for the movement.   

According to Flannery Winchester, CCL communications director, getting involved in climate movements is the best way to combat climate dread and anxiety.   

“If you feel overwhelmed by the scale of the problem the best thing you can do is get active,” she told Climate360. “Like we say in CCL, ‘action is the antidote to despair.’” 

According to the CCL website, “Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy climate change organization focused on national policies to address climate change.”  

The CCL-supported carbon fee and dividend would put a price on carbon used by polluters and return that money to the American people as a carbon cashback. According to the CCL website, this policy would effectively reduce emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

According to Bloomberg, at least 49 senators and the White House support a carbon tax, the very thing CCL has spent years advocating for.   

“What made this conference and lobby day different was that we were closer than ever to getting the policy we have been asking for for years,” Winchester said. “That was really exciting and cool to have a win so within reach.”  

CCL volunteers are still waiting to see if their work will pay off. The House has passed the Build Back Better agenda, but it still awaits a vote in the Senate. It is unclear at this time if the legislation will include a price on carbon.   

The CCL conference also coincided with the end of COP26. CCL always holds a conference in November, so, while unintentional, Winchester explained the significance of the timing of the conference.   

“It certainly helped to have the backdrop of these international conversations going on because particularly when you talk about or think about putting a price on carbon, this is a policy that other countries, including our major trading partners, are already moving forward on,” Winchester said.   

CCL also put a special emphasis on themes of diversity and inclusion during last month’s conference to show the importance of collaborating with others on such a global issue.  Retired University of Mount Union professor of ecology and co-leader of the Akron-Canton chapter Chuck McClaugherty explained his perspective on this theme.  

“I think our society has finally come to a point where it’s beginning to recognize that we need as a planet to work together within our nation, among nations and across lines of racial and ethnic and gender diversity, and unless we do that, we can’t solve some of these really big problems,” McClaugherty told Climate360. “We all have to acknowledge each other and celebrate each other and learn from each other and move forward.”   

Twice a year, volunteers and members of CCL meet at national conferences to discuss progress toward a carbon price and lobby members of congress.   

In November, 1,843 attendees participated in a weekend of virtual workshops and Q&As featuring guest speakers and movement leaders, according to a CCL press release.   

McClaugherty said that national conferences can be helpful to give volunteers the energy to keep working toward their goals.   

“Dealing with Congress and so forth is tedious and slow and sometimes you feel like all the effort you put in is sort of falling on deaf ears because things don’t move very quickly,” he said. “The combination of being with other people who are of a similar mind and getting excited and reenergized and also having opportunities to talk to and learn from other people and advance your own knowledge [is important].”  

McClaugherty explained the energy of the conference.   

“There was this wonderful sense that progress had been made even though there’s still a long way to go,” he said. “So, there’s this sense of progress and frustration of inadequate progress.” 

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