Citizens Climate Lobby hopes to get more people involved in the climate change policy debate

Jonathan Roberts • Sep 14, 2019 at 8:00 PM

Though climate issues are often thought of as only a Democratic concern, Luke Carter of the Citizens Climate Lobby wants to change that misconception.

“There’s this perception that climate change is a left issue, that’s something that Democrats care about, so we need to talk to them and understand where they’re coming from and what their concerns are and say ‘we care about this too’,” Carter said.

And on Saturday, Carter and other members of the Citizens Climate Lobby trained nearly three dozen people on how to better advocate for climate issues and policy changes, regardless of what side of the aisle somebody aligns with.

“We really feel that climate (change) is too important of an issue to be a wedge issue,” said Don Kraus, Tennessee State Coordinator for the group. “It really needs to be a bridge issue, where people across the political spectrum can come together and really work on bipartisan climate solutions.”

One of those solutions, according to the group, is the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763), which is a bill that would impose a fee on the carbon content of fuels that emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In January, the bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Energy, where it’s been since.

“We want to have a place where we can come together and work on legislation that is progressive, in that it really does not try to solve climate (issues) on the backs of our most vulnerable, and conservative where it doesn’t grow the size of government,” Kraus said.

During Saturday’s training, attendees — which included students and faculty from East Tennessee State University — were taught how to get more involved with the Citizens Climate Lobby, how to write letters to newspapers and representatives and how to develop those relationships.

“I think it’s incredibly important (for students to be involved politically),” said ETSU junior Cierra Linka. “Students are a huge basis for what politics are based off of in general, and almost all of these policies affect us directly whether that’s now or in the future.

“To say that one doesn’t participate in politics is an act of privilege, so I think as students we’re often underserved and need to learn how to not only stand up for ourselves, but to teach others how to do it too,” she said.

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