By Flannery Winchester
This month, Citizens’ Climate Lobby is officially 10 years old! To honor and celebrate our journey over the last 10 years, our staff has rounded up and reflected on 10 of our proudest accomplishments.
As you read, keep in mind: There’s no way these accomplishments would have been realized without the commitment and energy of you, our incredible volunteers. You are a creative, dedicated, optimistic force of nature, and we love you for it. So let’s look back at the top 10 things you’ve made possible:
Developing the Carbon Fee & Dividend policy.
After Marshall’s first group start workshop in 2007, three CCL groups formed and were ready for marching orders. “The trouble was I hadn’t thought about what legislation we might lobby on. A stable climate, yes. But exactly what legislation?” Marshall said. Through a connection with Tom Stokes and a heavy-hitting congressional briefing, CCL found its key policy. Marshall said, “Carbon Fee and Dividend made more and more sense. I felt like we were lobbying on a solution that was a match for the problem.”
In the past 10 years, we have seen the conversation about this climate solution get louder and louder, reaching new volume this year when the conservative Climate Leadership Council published “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends.” We’re very proud that we’ve helped raise awareness and support for this climate solution that will boost the economy and enjoy support from both sides of the aisle.
Supporting the creation of the Republican Climate Resolution.
In September of 2015, New York Republican Congressman Chris Gibson introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives (H. Res. 424) that recognized the impact of climate change and called for action to reduce future risk. Joined by 14 of his GOP colleagues, Gibson’s resolution represented a major breakthrough among Republicans and reflected the value of CCL’s respectful, coalition-building approach.
In this session of Congress, the Resolution was reintroduced as H. Res.195, this time called the Republican Climate Resolution. It was introduced by a group of 20 Republican House Members led by Reps. Elise Stefanik, Carlos Curbelo, and Ryan Costello. The resolution invokes the conservative principle “to protect, conserve, and be good stewards of our environment, responsibly plan for all market factors, and base our policy decisions in science and quantifiable facts on the ground.” It states, “If left unaddressed, the consequences of a changing climate have the potential to adversely impact all Americans.” To date, 23 Republicans have signed the resolution.
Supporting the formation of the Climate Solutions Caucus.
Another incredible breakthrough came in February of 2016, when Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Rep. Ted Deutch formed the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus. As the New York Times reported, “Given Florida’s special vulnerability to rising seas, it’s not surprising that one of the first efforts to break the partisan impasse in the House around this issue has come from two lawmakers from the south end of that state.”
Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen the caucus grow at an incredible rate—it has more than tripled since January. There are now 60 members—30 Republicans and 30 Democrats—who have committed to work together on climate solutions. We’re so proud that our volunteers have encouraged membership in this group and have emphasized respect and collaboration on the path to climate legislation.
Upping our lobbying game.
We’ve honed our lobbying process over the years with several key updates. One is establishing the congressional liaison role within our chapters, which was an absolute game changer. “Now there is historical knowledge, experience, and a point of contact for each office,” explained Ashley Hunt-Martorano, CCL’s Director of Marketing and Events. “They’re the ones that take the time to build a long-term relationship with Congress,” said Amy Bennett, CCL’s Director of Operations.
Dedicated liaisons have helped us boost the amount we’re able to lobby, too. Dr. Danny Richter, CCL’s VP of Government Affairs, says he sees one of our biggest accomplishments as “getting to at or around 500 meetings in a day not once, but four times on Capitol Hill.”
Jim Tolbert, CCL’s Conservative Outreach Director, added that our lobbying goes even beyond the meetings in D.C. “We continue to penetrate these offices with multiple meetings with staff and face-to-face meetings with members of Congress by constituents across the US.” Amy agreed. “We’ve been able to make a big impression on Congress by getting into their offices as often as we do and bringing a consistent message of respect and appreciation,” she said.
Providing even more volunteer support.
We’ve also really stepped up the support we’re able to offer volunteers. Through resources like CCL Community, Climate Advocate Training workshops, Citizens’ Climate University and Core Volunteer Training, our volunteers have more education and training opportunities than ever.
The variety of training opportunities mirrors the variety of ways volunteers can get involved. “Someone can offer the skills or interest that they have and succeed at moving the ball forward, whether that’s writing a letter to the editor, organizing outreach events, or talking to leaders in their community or their neighbors,” said Amy. We’ve also structured ourselves so that volunteers have support at every level of the organization: group leaders, regional coordinators, national action teams, and so on.
Thanks to all that training and structure, our volunteer force has gotten super effective over the years. “Our volunteers are at a point of training where they write and publish all these LTEs and op-eds with very little further prodding,” Danny said. Jim added, “We have trained people to be direct and at the same time respectful and polite in dialogues with people they engage. These are skills that our society needs.”
Expanding nationwide, in a big way.
“Maintaining exponential growth, not just linear growth, over a 10 year period is truly an amazing feat,” said Jim. We have more than 84,000 supporters worldwide and supporters in every state. This growth is reflected in our annual events: the June conference started with dozens of attendees and has grown to more than 1,300 volunteers. The registrations for this November’s Congressional Education Day have already blown last year’s attendance out of the water. Our expansion across the nation has incredible momentum, with no signs of slowing down.
Providing a June Analysis.
Four years ago, CCL began providing what we call the “June Analysis.” This report is a valuable resource for Congress. It’s based on all the wonderful volunteer notes from the lobby meetings during our annual June conference, and it gives each congressional office an understanding of their colleagues’ positions on climate change, Carbon Fee and Dividend, the border adjustment, and more.
Each November, CCL volunteers share this report with all the offices on the Hill, regardless of who currently agrees or disagrees with our policy goals. The response on the Hill is always “very positive,” Danny said, because we’re “showing MoCs that CCL volunteers really are a resource. Everyone wants to be a resource—CCL volunteers really can deliver.” To have thousands of volunteers attend hundreds of lobby meetings so we can create this analysis, and then hundreds more volunteers show up each November to deliver it, is an enormous accomplishment.
Commissioning carbon pricing studies.
In addition to our outreach and lobbying efforts, we’ve been able to add massive value to the national carbon pricing conversation by commissioning several studies: The REMI report, the Household Impact Study and the Dividend Delivery Study.
The 2014 REMI report gave us some concrete numbers to share with Congress about what Carbon Fee and Dividend would do for the economy, for human health, and for emissions levels. We hosted a briefing about the REMI report on the Hill in November 2014, which 70 House and Senate staffers attended. The 2016 Household Impact Study clarified that most Americans, and definitely the most vulnerable populations, would see a financial benefit from CF&D. The Dividend Delivery Study addressed all the wonky specifics of how the dividend would make it back to households. These have been invaluable resources in building the public’s enthusiasm for and confidence in our climate solution.
Building a meaningful advisory board and leadership team.
As we’ve established ourselves and grown over this past decade, we’ve also gathered an incredible team of leaders and advisors to help us keep our eye on the ball. Amy said, “Our focus on Carbon Fee and Dividend and our methodology of appreciation and respect have enabled us to stay focused and stay positive. This is all about Marshall, our founder, and Mark, our executive director.”
We’ve also welcomed an advisory board filled with rock stars: experts who are dedicated to this work. Climate scientist Dr. James Hansen joined in 2011, and former Secretary of State George Shultz came on board in 2014. The advisory board also includes heavy hitters like actors Don Cheadle and Bradley Whitford, former Congressman Bob Inglis, Rear Admiral David Titley of the U.S. Navy, and many more. We’re so grateful for the work that all our leaders and advisors have done over these years to keep us marching toward our goals.
Of course, this list could go on and on. We’re proud of these big moments, and we’re just as proud of every letter to the editor or to Congress, every climate conversation with a neighbor or family member, and every moment that another citizen feels empowered to help preserve a livable world.
Subscribe to CCL’s blog to catch the rest of our anniversary top 10 lists, and join us at Congressional Education Day to celebrate in person!