CCLers use media to push climate as a midterm election issue
By Flannery Winchester
With the midterm elections just over a month away, CCL volunteers nationwide are working hard to push the issue of climate change in candidates’ platforms and fellow voters’ minds. To date, CCLers have conducted 1,144 nonpartisan election season activities since June, charging ahead toward our national goal of 2,000 by election day on Nov. 8.
Some of those election season activities have been media placements, such as letters to the editor and news coverage. Let’s take a look at some of the compelling pieces our climate advocates are generating around the country.
Juli Douglass-Gillespie in Wooster, Ohio, wrote a letter in June that perfectly balances CCL’s values of nonpartisanship and civic engagement. In a letter titled, “Fight climate change with your vote,” published in a local outlet called The Bargain Hunter, Juli points out, “Just voting your party line is no guarantee the people you vote for actually care about the effects of climate change on your children, your job, your health and agriculture in this state. If the candidate cares, she/he will have specific statements available online to read.”
A public message like that encourages readers to get meaningfully engaged, and it also encourages candidates on both sides of the aisle to beef up their climate commitments.
Offering appreciation and a chance to step up
In a letter about Arizona’s gubernatorial race, Rick Rappaport from Tucson said, “To those candidates who have said something/anything about climate change: thank you, and please say more. We cannot afford to ignore this issue.” That’s a great example of our appreciative approach in action.
Then, he specifically named one of the candidates, noting that she had not yet spoken up on climate. Just as with members of Congress, mentioning a candidate by name is a surefire way to get on their radar and add pressure for them to take a stronger climate stance.
Calling in candidates and newspapers alike
Isabella Rivera Efimov, a volunteer in CCL’s Dallas Fort-Worth chapter, took her election season letter a step further by urging the newspaper itself to pay closer attention to the candidates’ climate stances. She began her letter with a compelling personal testimony of the climate impacts she’s seeing first hand:
Hot summer months are nothing new to Texans. However, our power grid was not fully prepared for the record heat and energy demand witnessed these past 20 days across the state. My family and I experienced firsthand the effects when our air conditioning went out and we were forced to sleep in our van for three days as the temperature in our home reached 93 degrees. We weren’t the only ones — our neighbors faced similar issues. These intense, prolonged temperatures will soon become our new normal.
Then, she addressed the editors directly, saying, “I would like The Dallas Morning News to report on the climate positions of candidates, especially those in the 3rd Congressional District in Texas.”
Making the climate case in news coverage
CCL volunteers are also generating coverage of local events that focus on climate change. In particular, we’ve seen chapters host candidate forums focused on climate policy. Many of those forums then earn articles or special commentary in the local press.
The Maine press noted one CCL event ahead of time, giving it a promotional boost. A paper in New York recapped a CCL-hosted debate afterward, giving voters a chance to weigh the candidates’ responses and positions.
In Utah, a local environmental policy professional wrote a piece reflecting on a town hall CCL organized just last week:
On September 26, at a modest auditorium tucked away in Salt Lake City’s Main Public Library, two congressmen and their opponents gathered for a climate discussion, striking for its divergence from politics as usual.
The discussion was civil, informed and pragmatic, focused on ways to move forward, with few of the partisan jabs that have become, to the detriment of our country and communities, expected of many of our politicians. This town hall was more remarkable still for facilitating a productive discussion on a topic that has been polarizing — climate change.
[…] Republican Reps. John Curtis and Blake Moore and their Democratic challengers, Glen Wright and Rick Jones, engaged earnestly, answering questions from local high school students. They talked about how they have personally felt the effects of climate change, what they have done about it in their personal lives and the challenges they see to crafting lasting, bipartisan policy solutions that sufficiently address the causes of climate change.
Though there were disagreements, candidates were respectful and even expressed appreciation of the perspectives shared by their opponents. Some of the candidates thanked the organizers, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, for providing the impetus and opportunity to deepen their knowledge about climate change and potential solutions.
There are many more examples where those came from — CCL volunteers are prolific when it comes to generating local media! This small selection gives you a sense of the clear, yet consistently nonpartisan push we’re making on climate during this midterm election season.
Hopefully, candidates on both sides of the aisle will take note of the groundswell of climate discussion in their districts, and they will enter the 117th Congress ready to take serious climate action.
Check out our Election Season Media Kit for guidance on how you and your chapter can push the climate issue in your local media.