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One week after election, advocates come to DC pushing Congress to act on climate change
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 16, 2016 – One week after the most divisive election in memory, nearly 300 advocates from across the U.S. went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to press members of Congress to move forward with solutions to climate change.
Volunteers from Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) met with 350 congressional offices, asking them to find the common ground between Republicans and Democrats to enact legislation that reduces the heat-trapping emissions driving catastrophic climate change.
“Until now, our country has relied on the executive branch to reduce carbon pollution with programs like the Clean Power Plan,” said CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds. “With the new administration likely to roll back the progress on climate initiatives, it is now imperative that Congress step up to provide solutions. We can’t wait another four to eight years to disarm this ticking time bomb.”
With regard to climate change, one of the few bright spots from last week was the re-election of Rep. Carlos Curbelo, the Republican co-chair of the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus.
“Curbelo faced a tough re-election in a district that was redrawn to have a Democrat majority,” said Reynolds. “His victory demonstrates that being a leader on climate change isn’t just the right thing for Republicans to do; it’s the smart thing to do.”
In their meetings on Capitol Hill, CCL volunteers asked House members to work with Curbelo and co-chair Ted Deutch (D-FL) and join the Climate Solutions Caucus.
“Republicans and Democrats have been talking past each other on the climate issue for years,” said CCL Legislative Director Danny Richter. “The climate caucus creates a safe place to have a constructive dialogue that, hopefully, will lead to effective solutions.”
Overall, the tone in meetings with Republican offices on Tuesday was encouraging. “Republicans who’ve already been working with us on climate change are undeterred,” said CCL Senior Congressional Liaison Jay Butera. “They want to keep moving forward with us. And I sensed a lot of new interest from members who may have stayed on the sidelines last year.”
Also at their meetings Tuesday, volunteers shared a distillation of 502 reports from meetings held with congressional offices this past June. The summary showed significant progress with the engagement of Republican offices on climate solutions over the past three years. Offices that showed clear and genuine interest were rated Tier 1. Offices that were combative or totally uninterested in interactions were Tier 3.
“In 2014, the ratio of Tier 1 to Tier 3 meetings was 3 to 1,” said Richter. “In 2016, that ratio is now 10 to 1, indicating to us that there is much more interest among Republicans to explore ways of solving climate change.”
At their Hill meetings, volunteers also invited congressional staffers to attend briefings about the economic impact on U.S. households of CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal. The study, to be presented in the House and Senate on Thursday and Friday by author Kevin Ummel, shows that 53% of U.S. households and 58% of individuals would receive a net financial benefit, with the dividend exceeding the estimated increase in costs of goods purchased. The gains are concentrated among those considered “most vulnerable” within our society – those with lower incomes, the youngest and oldest, and minorities.