As Pope releases climate change message, CCL volunteers head to DC


JUNE 16, 2015 – Following the release of Pope Francis’ much-anticipated encyclical dealing with climate change, more than 800 volunteers from

Pope Francis

Following the release of his encyclical, Pope Francis will visit the U.S. Congress on Sept. 24.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapters throughout the U.S. will travel to Washington to meet with members of Congress and press for legislation that places a fee on carbon and returns revenue to households.

The CCL members, who are attending the 6th International Citizens’ Climate Lobby Conference, will spend a day, June 23, visiting the offices of their senators and representatives. Their message: We need to reduce the risk of climate change by reducing the carbon pollution we currently emit. We can achieve that with a market-based solution that places a steadily-rising fee on carbon and gives the revenue back to consumers, thereby shielding families from the economic impact of higher energy costs.

As CCL advocates prepare to go to Washington, Pope Francis is releasing his encyclical – a papal letter sent to all bishops in the Catholic Church – calling for action to address climate change. Titled “Laudato Si” (Praised Be), the encyclical speaks about the need to care for God’s creation and to protect the most vulnerable from the ravages of global warming. Francis’ encyclical comes in advance of his visit to the U.S. in September, when he will address a joint session of Congress and also speak at the UN General Assembly in New York. The pontiff’s actions are timed to encourage nations to reach agreement on a strong global climate change accord in Paris at the end of the year.

“If you believe in divine intervention, the timing of the Pope’s encyclical certainly qualifies,” said Mark Reynolds, CCL Executive Director. “A third of Congress is Catholic, and Francis’ message will be a big factor in the conversations our volunteers have on Capitol Hill.”

In their meetings with members of Congress, CCL volunteers hope to assuage fears that placing a price on carbon will be detrimental to the economy. A study from Regional Economic Models, Inc. found that CCL’s proposal, known as Carbon Fee and Dividend, would actually ADD 2.8 million jobs over 20 years while cutting carbon emissions in half.

“If it’s done the right way, pricing carbon can actually be good for our economy,” said Reynolds. “That can happen if we give all the money back to households. It will act as an economic stimulus.”

The CCL International Conference in Washington is being held June 21-23, and features keynote speaker Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, who was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people and who also appeared in Showtime’s award-winning series about climate change, “Years of Living Dangerously.”

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Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter at @valklimate.