At a time when politics can inspire deep anger, division and frustration, some of your fellow Arizonans – maybe even you – are using America’s still-functional tools of political engagement to change the world.
Maybe even save it.
Shelly Gordon is a volunteer with the East Valley chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nationwide group that has been meeting with members of Congress to pitch their solution to global warming.
“It’s truly a bipartisan approach,” she says.
She wanted me to spread the word about what they are doing.
I’m happy to oblige – because citizen engagement is the antidote to today’s toxic politics.
Here’s why it matters
The Citizens’ Climate Lobby is raising the bar for politicians.
The group is showing elected officials that their constituents understand the dangers of global warming and want something done about it.
“Politicians don’t create political will, but rather they respond to it,” says Bill Barron, the Wild West Regional Coordinator of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. The region includes Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
The group is “laser focused” on creating the political will for a solution to climate change, says Sandy Whitley, co-coordinator of the Arizona branch of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
There are more than 1,000 volunteers all over the state and recent training sessions may result in additional active chapters.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby has been having conversations with Republicans and Democrats in Congress about a carbon-fee-and-dividend plan the group supports. Arizona chapters work with Arizona’s delegation.
Save the Earth and you get a dividend
The plan is to impose a fee on fossil fuels at the mine, well or point of entry. The fee, which gradually increases, creates an incentive to switch to cleaner energy sources.
“If you want less of something, make it more expensive,” says Barron.
The fee gets returned to every American in periodic payments – that’s the dividend.
“More than half of households will receive more in dividends than they would pay in higher prices,” says the Citizens’ Climate Lobby website.
The plan also puts import fees on products from countries that don’t have a carbon fee and gives rebates to U.S. companies that export to those countries.
It’s simple. It’s clean.
Beware of the oil industry’s Trojan Horse
And it shouldn’t get lost as the big boys jockey for political advantage.
ExxonMobil recently announced it will give $1 million to a group promoting a similar plan through the Climate Leadership Council, a group that includes GOP heavy hitters James A. Baker III and George P. Shultz.
The plan is similar. But there are Trojan Horse differences.
ExxonMobil wants immunity from lawsuits in exchange for the carbon fee.
“. . . it would grant oil companies the kind of immunity from litigation the gun industry currently enjoys,” writes Umair Irfan for Vox.
Why ExxonMobil wants immunity
This would be a blessing for the oil industry.
On Oct. 24, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood sued ExxonMobil in state court, saying the company misled investors about how future pollution regulations could impact business.
About 10 cities and counties are after damages from oil companies, citing rising sea levels and other adverse impacts from climate change, according to Vox.
Immunity from lawsuits would make things a lot easier for the fossil fuel industry as the consequences of carbon pollution and its costs to the public become more and more evident.
What’s more, the plan supported by ExxonMobil also calls for phasing out carbon dioxide emission regulations as the carbon fee is phased in.
The people have better idea
Unlike the ExxonMobil plan, the Citizens Climate Lobby plan does not provide immunity from lawsuits or roll back regulations, says Barron. It starts with a lower fee, but eventually goes higher than the plan ExxonMobil supports.
Perhaps most important: the plan being promoted by the citizens group comes from people.
You know, the ones the government is supposed to serve.
Not the industry that did the polluting.
You can help find the solution
It is good news that one of the industries built on fossil fuels is behind a plan that could help mitigate the damage being done to our Earth. It shows they recognize the need for change. It creates a space to begin serious conversations – maybe even get a bill passed in Congress.
But writing that bill can’t be left to those who got us into this mess. Or to those who continue expressing doubts about the reality of climate change – despite overwhelming evidence from the world’s top scientific experts.
So that brings us back to a group of your neighbors, friends and co-workers who have decided to hold their elected officials to a higher standard.
It brings us back to you – because you can help make sure our elected officials know the people are paying attention to the nitty-gritty details and demanding meaningful action.
“It’s a moral imperative,” says Barron. “We need to come together to solve this.”
It is, in fact, the only way we can solve this.
Reach Valdez at email@example.com.