Intense hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters have been plaguing us more frequently in recent years due to climate change. Those in power, whether it be government officials or large corporations, have not taken enough action against this crisis and everyday people are suffering as a result. Our population faces increased rates of environmental destruction and we must take action before it gets worse.
Youths and students play a crucial role in climate advocacy by influencing how future generations will address the ongoing climate crisis. So how can you, an ordinary citizen, address such a massive problem?
The answer is simple: as long as we tackle this global issue together, we can start to make some progress. While small lifestyle adjustments, like shopping with reusable bags or reducing meat consumption, may bring some changes, we must tackle issues of governmental policy.
The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is a worldwide, nonpartisan, nonprofit climate group advocating for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 2307), which proposes putting a fee on carbon emissions at their source and returning the collected revenue back to Americans in the form of a monthly dividend. CCL’s mission is to create political will toward climate solutions by enabling individual breakthroughs in personal and public power. This political will is created through CCL’s five levers: lobbying Congress, media relations, grassroots outreach, grasstops engagement and group organizing.
So what can you do to get involved in this influential climate advocacy group and help build momentum for change? The first step is simply to sign up and get connected with your local chapter. There are 15 in New Jersey, including one in Montclair, and 500+ other chapters nationwide. You can sign up for an online informational session, where the main pillars of CCL are reviewed and discussed more in-depth or participate in Climate Advocate Training, where you can learn more about the role you can play in your community.
After becoming familiar with CCL’s message and structure, you can start advocating for H.R. 2307 and effective climate policy changes to your members of Congress, which you can do from the comfort of your own home. You can join CCL’s monthly calling campaign, where you call or email your representative once a month and encourage them to support H.R. 2307.
If you are on social media, you can tweet your representative or tag them in a post about climate change. Such collective action will increase the pressure for them to act upon your requests if they want to earn your vote in the next election.
If you want to take your involvement a step further, you can attend a conference. CCL is gearing up for its free online summer conference on June 12. There you can hear from keynote speakers, attend specialized informational sessions, learn effective ways to push for climate advocacy and connect with other activists who share this collective vision of a better future.
This past December, we had the opportunity to join a lobby meeting with our congressional representative, Mikie Sherill, and voice our opinions on implementing a carbon fee and dividend policy. We presented a PowerPoint on support for H.R. 2307 among student leaders in local universities, which helped to strengthen the case for cosponsoring the bill.
Regardless of whether Rep. Sherrill decided to endorse the bill or not, it felt powerful to talk directly to an official who has the capacity to enact policy. It mattered that we lived up to the principles of a functioning democracy by making our voices heard.
As you can see, you do not need to be a superhero to save the climate; quite a lot can be done with minimal effort. Perhaps you’re looking at the glass half full now, which is a great outlook to have and should be more popular.
Creating a better world requires not only structured grassroots actions but also an unwavering sense of optimism and hope. By getting involved, you can shape a livable future for all of us as well as those to come.