POLITICS: Citizens lobby for the climate

By Ian BrittonOur Autumn issue featured many stories of inspiring climate activism. In this post Hugh Chapman explains why he is behind another campaign calling for carbon pricing as a way to mobilize the transition to clean energy. 

We urgently need to get society off fossil fuels. Individual and community action to reduce emissions is a great way to show that a low carbon future is possible, but if we’re going to reduce global emissions at anything like the scale and speed required we also need to be thinking about pushing for big structural solutions.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is a supportive network of volunteers who lobby elected representatives to take decisive action on climate change. Having started in the US in 2007, CCL has now grown to be an international network of over 200 groups campaigning in countries around the world.

CCL has a specific policy proposal for pricing carbon called Carbon Fee and Dividend and the Pathway to Paris initiative aims to get this centre stage at the United Nations Conference of Parties which takes place in Paris in December 2015.

What is Carbon Fee and Dividend?

A fee is placed on the carbon dioxide content of fossil fuels. This fee is levied at the mine, well, or port of entry. The fee starts at a low level and rises steadily over time and the revenue is redistributed to citizens. This means that households are protected from the financial impact of the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Countries with fee and dividend can charge a tariff on imports from countries which aren’t pricing carbon in order to ensure a level playing field for goods in the domestic market. These border adjustments are to ensure fairness and competition.

CCL’s research shows that this is not only good for the climate, but also promotes a stronger economy.

What does the Citizens’ Climate Lobby do?

CCL aims to empower individuals to make their voices heard in the climate debate. Some of the ways it does this are by providing toolkits for direct lobbying of local and national elected representatives and their staff. The Lobby trains members in getting letters and articles published in print media and online and building relationships with editorial boards. CCL also conducts monthly actions and conference calls with experts to expand members’ knowledge and understanding and develop their capability as agents of change

At CCL we believe that pricing carbon is the most powerful mechanism we have available to galvanise the huge transition we need to make in the next few decades away from fossil fuels and towards clean alternatives. With an increasing number of expert endorsements and in this important year for climate action it’s clear that the right time has arrived to be pushing governments on this.

As James Grant, former executive director of UNICEF, reminds us: “Each of the great social achievements of recent decades has come about not because of government proclamations, but because people organised, made demands, and made it good politics for governments to respond. It is the political will of the people that makes and sustains the political will of governments.”

If you would like to find out more about CCL’s work email CCLobbyUK[at]gmail[dot]com or connect via social media on Facebook or Twitter @citznsclimateUK. The website is http://citizensclimatelobby.org

Hugh Chapman is a carpenter and creative activist based in Cambridge. He is currently co-writing a musical about climate change with fellow CCL representative Clive Elsworth. Hugh is on Twitter @_Hugh_Chapman

Photo: By Ian Britton, under a Creative Commons License.

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