Non-Partisan Citizen Empowerment is Working

Non-Partisan Citizen Empowerment is Working

Guest post from Joseph Robertson, Global Strategy Director, Citizen’s Climate Lobby

Throughout the 21st century, cities are likely to be more and more the engines of design that determine how we live and whether our way of making a living in the world is sustainable. Every society everywhere grapples with questions of how much decision-making authority should be concentrated in how many hands, but we know that we are most empowered to make a difference at the human scale, where we live and breathe.

The great challenge of our time seems to be: how can we do that, when so much of what we do depends on national and global traffic—of goods and services, but also of ideas and influence? Citizens’ Climate Lobby exists to answer that question. We have a dual mission aimed at maximizing the power of individuals and small groups of citizens to make a difference in the design of their climate future:

  • Build political will for a livable world—i.e. a stable climate.
  • Empower citizen volunteers to have breakthroughs in the exercise of their personal and political power.

Political leaders don’t create political will; they respond to it. The degree to which they are empowered with the best information about what their constituents need, or hope for, is largely determined by how those constituents interact with them.

I have learned from my work with CCL that most public servants are hungry for substantive, respectful, working relationships with the people they represent. Without that substantive, respectful contact, oriented toward doing good work, they can be left guessing, with only abstract information to light the way, what people most need or could leverage to make a better life.

CCL volunteers organize into local volunteer teams, train to master information about legislative process, climate economics, and people-friendly carbon pricing that can drive investment to Main Street and build the middle class. Most of all, they prepare to listen. Instead of back-room deals and prime-time mud-slinging, they work to build honest relationships with lawmakers they hope will succeed.

The advocacy is person to person and rooted in good-faith relationships.

The effort can be global, the solution can be national or international, but the project of getting there operates at the human scale. Likewise, CCL’s core legislative proposal is aimed at generating sustained and expanding economic value at the human scale, so the wider political commitment can be more stable and ambitious.

A simple fee on carbon emissions, assessed at the mine, well, or port, starting low and steadily rising by $10 per ton per year, with 100% of revenues returned equally to all households, can cut emissions by half in 20 years, while adding 2.8 million jobs and expanding incomes. Climate policy can and should reinforce the core values that expand economic opportunity where we live and breathe.

In 10 years, CCL has grown from one local chapter with 29 people to more than 65,000 members spread over 6 continents.

The Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network was launched during the Minneapolis 2015 conference and activated during the COP21 climate conference in Paris, to ensure people around the world would have a coordinated way to expand the civic space for citizen leadership in climate policy. It is supported by a coalition that believes in citizen engagement at all levels as a way of improving policy design and real-world outcomes.

If you’re looking to host a local conversation about climate from your own perspective, or want to bring local leaders and stakeholders into conversation with the international policy process, you can find a toolkit for local meetings at engage4climate.org/host

To find your local CCL chapter, join CCL at citizensclimatelobby.org

Joseph Robertson is the Global Strategy Director for the nonpartisan nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Lobby and leads CCL’s engagement on 5 continents and in UN processes. His blog is PoetEconomist.com

City of Urbana, IL

City of Urbana, IL

“The dynamic charts are a powerful tool to use during public meetings…The user interface is modern and intuitive…ClearPath helps us zero in on strategies that can achieve an impact.”
– Scott Tess, Sustainability Coordinator

City of Philadelphia, PA

City of Philadelphia, PA

ClearPath provides a major improvement over the previous tool and increased functionality for our carbon emissions tracking and planning work.  We appreciate ICLEI’s efforts to evolve in a way that serves the needs of a broad user group.  We continue to see ICLEI as the leader on emissions tracking tools and planning support.”
– Alex Dews, Former Policy & Program Manager

Great Valley Center

Great Valley Center

“The new ClearPath web-based tool builds upon the accuracy and thoroughness of CACP, while improving reliability and the user experience. Since the program is web-based, my team no longer worries about software compatibility and can share inventory information in real-time. Delivering quality information to our local government partners is very important to us. ClearPath makes it easier than ever to share emissions information with our partners, and quickly tailor the data to their needs with the click of a mouse.”
– Bryce Dias, Former Program Manager

Monterey, CA

Monterey, CA

ClearPath has allowed the City of Monterey to inventory our emissions in a comprehensive, reliable way, employing both the Local Government Operations and U.S. Community Protocol. The built-in calculators and helpers in ClearPath make quick work of what can be a daunting set of conversions and equivalencies. ICLEI has been a strong partner for the City of Monterey as we work to finalize our Climate Action Plan and implement a wide-ranging suite of measures at the government and community level to reduce our carbon footprint.”
– Ted J. Terrasas, REHS – Sustainability Coordinator

Alameda, CA

Alameda, CA

ICLEI’s tools are one of a kind, as far as I can tell. Where else can you track data, calculate GHG emissions, and observe trends, all in one remotely maintained platform? I feel confident when I use the tools because ICLEI integrates the latest and greatest methodologies and emissions factors, a big job that is incredibly helpful and so needed in the context of increasingly complex GHG conversations at the local level. And of course, ICLEI always provides excellent and expert support. Thanks!”
– Arielle Usher, Former Energy Analyst

Boynton Beach, FL

Boynton Beach, FL

“ICLEI has been a vital resource to the City of Boynton Beach over the past 5 years as we continue to implement strategies from our Climate Action Plan. We have been provided with best practices, toolkits, templates, software and technical guidance through their website and friendly, knowledgeable staff.  Considering the cost we would have incurred for contracting with individual consultants and vendors, our ICLEI membership remains the best return on investment for our ongoing sustainability needs.”
– Carisse LeJeune, Assistant City Manager

Wellesley, MA

Wellesley, MA

“The Sustainable Energy Committee provides an annual report to Town Meeting on actions and progress, including an emissions estimate. The ICLEI software for estimating emissions has been a critical and valuable tool for this reporting. It provides the ability to examine data from multiple perspectives by fuel source or by segment of the community. ICLEI has maintained consistency of measurement while making the software increasingly intuitive and easy to use.”
– Katy Gibson, Town Supervisor & Chair of the Green Ribbon Study Committee & Ellen Korpi, Chair of the Sustainable Energy Committee

California Energy Commission & California Environmental Protection Agency

California Energy Commission & California Environmental Protection Agency

“We recognize that one of the strategies to solve these issues (GHG emission and air pollution) is to provide local governments with tools and resources to effectively target local sources of GHG emissions and criteria air pollution. ICLEI’s California-China Urban Climate Collaborative initiative does just that and builds upon the active collaboration between the State of California and China.”
– Robert B. Weisenmiller, Chair Secretary for Environmental Protection at the California Energy Commission & Matt Rodriquez, Secretary for Environmental Protection at the California Environmental Protection Agency

Denton, TX

Denton, TX

“This is the software we have been hoping for! With a web-based platform, ClearPath addresses several key challenges for local governments in tracking GHG emissions.”
– Kathy Jack, Sustainability Coordinator