Like many Americans, after President Donald Trump was elected President in November, Oberlin resident John Sabin was a bit nervous.
After hearing the some of the president-elect’s comments on climate change, he decided to get involved.
On Saturday, Sabin will lead the opening of a local chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby at the Oberlin Public Library. The group is an international nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that focuses on national policies to address climate change.
“I was very concerned, with Trump having said climate change was a hoax, that the administration would take us backwards on climate change, which it may,” he said. “I don’t think we can afford that. I started looking for ways to work on climate change and I found this group, Citizens Climate Lobby, that trains volunteers to work on climate change. Since then, I’ve been going through training to become a group leader.”
CCL was founded in the United States and its membership is mostly located in North America, according to Sabin. It aims to have chapters in every congressional district nationwide.
“They’re not quite there yet, but they’re getting there,” he said. “What they want to do is build personal relationships with every member of Congress, as a way to try to influence them to take action on climate change.”
The nonprofit wants Congress to adopt a “carbon fee and dividend,” placing a low fee on carbon emissions and increasing it every year.
“They call it a fee and not a tax, partly for political reasons, I think, but also because they say a tax means collecting revenue for the government, and this is not collecting revenue for the government,” said Sabine. “The money that’s collected from that fee is then divided equally among all American households in the form of a monthly dividend check.”
According to CCL’s website the proposal would work like this:
• A fee would be placed on fossil fuels at the source — well, mine, port of entry. It would start at $15 per ton of CO2 equivalent emissions, and increase each year by $10.
• The net fees would be returned to American households on an equal basis. Under this plan, about two-thirds of all households would break even or receive more in their dividend checks than they would pay in higher prices due to the fee, protecting the middle class and lower-income households.
• A border tariff adjustment would be placed on goods imported from, or exported to, countries without an equivalent price on carbon. This adjustment would both discourage businesses from relocating to where they can emit more CO2 and encourage other nations to adopt an equivalent price on carbon.
“Conservatives have always argued that if you do something about climate change, you’re going to hurt the economy,” Sabin said. “This plan, ostensibly, boosts the economy and reverses climate change at the same time. That’s what I think is so exciting about it: it’s designed to actually get conservative support.”
What would a volunteer from the Oberlin chapter do to help CCL’s cause?
According to Sabin, volunteers will directly lobby members of Congress through face-to-face meetings, letters, and phone calls. They will also write letters to the editor and op-eds in local papers, as well as reach out to community members and leaders.
“What we have coming up on March 18 is what they call a group start workshop. It’s sort of the official beginning of a local chapter,” Sabin said. “A trainer is going to come in from Chicago. He’s one of the Great Lakes regional coordinators and he’s going to lead a workshop to train whoever shows up in the methods and principles of Citizens Climate Lobby.”
The workshop will run from 2-5 p.m. Saturday at the Oberlin Public Library. For more information, visit www.citizensclimatelobby.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Mahoney can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @sm_mahoney on Twitter.