Tackling Climate Change With Optimism: Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Gainesville

A 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City. (Unmodified photo by Alejandro Alvarez used under a Creative Commons license. http://bit.ly/1xMszCg)

As Earth Day and the March for Science continue to gain momentum in creating awareness for climate change so too has a national organization with a local presence.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Gainesville Chapter, one of 13 in the state of Florida, is mobilizing residents to take action through non-partisan political willpower.

They held their April Climate Event on April 12, at the Alachua County Library.

This month’s agenda was to discuss new climate developments and how to proceed through effective political action.

State of the Climate

The meeting began by showcasing and discussing the various destructive mudslides and floods occurring both in the United States and worldwide.

According to the EPA, nine of the nation’s top 10 years for extreme one-day precipitation events have occurred since 1990 and, along with the Florida coast, sea-level is likely to rise one to four feet in the next century if the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm.

A rise in sea level submerges Florida wetlands and dry land, erodes beaches, and intensifies coastal flooding.

Much of current climate debates have revolved around whether or not climate change is directly related to human-induced carbon emissions.

“Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” according to NASA.

The state coordinators at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby meeting spoke on what they deem “an elegant policy solution to climate change”.

The Carbon Fee and Dividend policy offer an incentive to lower carbon emissions by placing an initial fee of $15 per ton on carbon emissions to achieve a national reduction in greenhouse gas production.  

The monthly dividend from the fees will then be returned directly to households, making the policy economically feasible for most people.

Contrary to criticisms of the policy being a job killer or hurting constituents, a commissioned REMI report found the potential impacts showing job creation, raising household incomes and the gross national product.

The Non-partisan approach as the best approach

While many remain skeptical of solutions to climate change, the actuality of climate change or the partisan agenda behind the issue, the coordinators in the meeting remain hopeful.

Locally, the coordinators acknowledged that they appreciate Congressman Ted Yoho, R-Fla, has joined the Republican Energy, Innovation and Environmental Working Group and added that it is a step in the right direction.

This does not mean he is in favor of the Carbon Fee and Dividend policy plan, however.

One member mentioned how Congressman Yoho’s main donors are in agriculture and real estate, two industries that will greatly be affected by climate change.

The member then suggested that a way to approach the congressman on climate issues is to show what impacts are predicted for those two industries.

Other members expressed their concern on how to address the Republican party’s hesitation to the climate change phenomenon.

Abhaya Thiele, Florida state coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, responded with a hint of optimism in this partisan resistance to a nonpartisan issue.

This is seen by the fact that within the U.S. House more Republicans are joining forces with Democrats to publicly take action against climate change.

Florida Republicans joining the cause include Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Brian Mast.

The chapter’s next task is to get representative Ted Yoho to join.

Meanwhile, a whole host of republicans has come out with a very similar carbon dividend plan.

The local group is looking forward to taking the right steps in making this movement even stronger so that legislation can get passed, despite the current Republican majorities.

“I just wanted to say one of the things that makes Citizens’ Climate Lobby unique is that we base all our actions on respect, appreciation and gratitude. We don’t criticize, we encourage members of congress and the community to take positive action,” said Thiele on the group’s core values.

Climate Resilience

Concluding the April Climate Event was a pre-recorded conference call with Katherine Hammack, former Asst. Secretary of the Army.

She explained the link between climate change within the context of national security and described it as a “threat multiplier and a destabilizing force”.

Hammack noted the negative connotation with the term “climate change” and offered an alternative narrative with the more positive “climate resilience” because there is a more favorable perception of the term “resiliency.”  

The belief is that people will be more receptive if there is savings associated with the word not simply having a smaller price tag.

The 2017 Citizens’ Climate International Conference is on June 11-13 in Washington, DC.

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