NBC News covers CCL’s conservative conference
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Conservative Climate Leadership Conference and Lobby Day, hosted by Citizens’ Climate Lobby late last month in Washington, D.C., was a big success, bringing together 100 volunteers, staff, speakers and partners, followed by a day of lobbying two dozen Republican offices on Capitol Hill.
The event also drew the attention of NBC News reporter Nidhi Sharma, who wrote an extensive story about the conference that was published on the outlet’s website.
She opened by describing a moment at the conference that illustrated the progress on climate change in conservative circles when ClearPath’s Luke Bolar presented his first slide:
On screen was an infamous photo from 2015 — former Oklahoma senator and staunch climate denier Jim Inhofe holding a snowball on the Senate floor to prove global warming was a hoax.
“At the time, it was both safe and popular for Republicans to deny climate change,” said Bolar, the chief external affairs officer at ClearPath, an environmental advocacy group dedicated to growing conservative [support for] clean energy. “But times are changing…”
…The climate deniers, Bolar reassured the audience, are a small but loud percentage of conservatives. “It’s time to talk about solutions,” he said.
Iowa volunteer Phil Engen gave a window into how CCL approaches different audiences on the climate topic. “It’s best to find an issue that you both agree on, and approach climate change through that lens,” he explained to NBC. That’s the type of guidance we offer in our Communicating with Conservatives and Communicating with Progressives trainings.
Another volunteer, 20-year-old Dalton Jackson, grew up on a farm in Indiana and sees climate as a shared priority across the country:
“Climate change should be a bipartisan issue,” Jackson said. “It affects all of us. All we can do is hope that Republicans around the nation will hear us out. It’s easy to shame them, but it’s not productive. Rural people are not our enemies. We’re all Americans at the end of the day.”
Rep. John Curtis (R-UT-03), founder of the Conservative Climate Caucus, spoke at a reception on the HIll at the end of lobby day. He spoke to Sharma about his efforts to bring his party further along on climate change:
“Republicans care deeply about leaving the Earth even better than we found it,” Curtis said in an interview. “And in the past, we haven’t always done a good job of articulating that. I think that’s been a mistake, and I want to change that.”
Most importantly, it is essential to talk about climate change outside of political terms, Curtis said. “I try to appeal to their innate desire to pass on an earth for our posterity that’s better than what we found. I believe that that’s implanted in the hearts of all of us.”
Sharma mentioned in her story that on the second day of the conference, attendees went to Capitol Hill to lobby Republican members of Congress to support climate action. One of those meetings was with Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04) who is leading bipartisan efforts on permitting reform, which is essential to meet emissions reduction goals by the end of the decade. CCL conservatives held a face-to-face, hour-long meeting with the congressman.
CCL’s lobbying efforts will continue at our next Capitol Hill lobby day in June.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Learn more at citizensclimatelobby.org.