Reflections on 2020: We accomplished a lot together
By Mark Reynolds
Happy New Year, CCL! I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty thrilled to be leaving 2020 behind us. It was a tough year on so many levels. How did we make it through? I believe it is because we have each other. And together, we actually accomplished some amazing things during last year’s difficult circumstances.
We held two national conferences that were completely virtual, in June and December. Taking these events online kept us all safe, of course, but it also allowed thousands more climate advocates to participate without any barriers of travel time or cost.
Our volunteers also held 1,163 lobby meetings with congressional offices through the year. Some of these took place at our first-ever Conservative Climate Lobby Day in February, but the rest were virtual. That format change made it possible for more local business owners and community leaders to participate—voices that we know are very meaningful to members of Congress. We even hit our highest “face-to-face” meeting numbers in CCL’s history, with nearly 25% of our December lobby meetings including the senator or representative themselves.
In those lobby meetings, we built additional support for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. By the end of the 116th Congress, the bill had support from 86 members of Congress. We also helped push forward “supporting” asks like the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act, the RECLAIM Act, the BEST Act, and more. Key measures from three of our supporting asks actually made it across the finish line in the omnibus bill Congress passed at the end of the session. That’s a testament to the work we’re doing—citizen lobbying is effective, and a bipartisanship approach can get things done.
Last year we also grew our staff, celebrated Earth Day with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, welcomed a former congressman to our board, and won the Keeling Curve Prize.
And now, we’re looking at 2021 with optimism. Our donors also helped us raise more than $1 million during our 2020 year-end fundraising, so we’re fully equipped to hit the ground running in this new year. The incoming administration seems serious about working on climate change, and several key cabinet nominees have been vocal about their support for carbon pricing as a necessary tool. We expect the reintroduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act early in the new Congress, and we will work hard to build additional support and momentum for this crucial policy.
Meanwhile, COVID vaccines are being distributed and administered throughout the country. If you squint a little bit, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, we’re planning for our November 2021 conference to be in person in Washington, D.C.
I can’t wait to see you all again and continue this important work together. Here’s to 2021!
Mark Reynolds is the executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.