By: Serafina Zeringo MS ’13 and Kyle Rorah MS ’13
Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of the Citizens Climate Lobby, spoke on the National Climate Seminar this week about citizen engagement, education, and environmental activism as ways to push Congress to have a stronger stance on environmental protection. Citizens Climate Lobby gains its strength from small lobby teams spread out across the United States and Canada. Their efforts in gathering grassroots support for climate legislation are entirely volunteer driven and are supported by private donors and partners.
Citizens Climate Lobby focuses on creating solutions to mitigate climate change. This concentration on real solutions has led to their membership doubling over the past couple of years.
Fighting for a Carbon Tax
Currently, the Citizens Climate Lobby is promoting the Boxer-Sanders Bill, which would establish a carbon tax. The bill calls for at tax of $20/ton of carbon dioxide emission, with 5.6% annual increase. The fee or tax would be placed on emission from coal, oil, and natural gas.
The Boxer-Sanders Bill would take 60% of the revenues from the collected taxes and pay it back to taxpayers and 25% would go to the Department of the Treasury to help offset the federal deficit. Mark Reynolds pointed out, however, that the Republican party opposes government revenue generation, and so the bill will likely lack traction until it becomes revenue neutral.
While the environmental movement is focused on stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline, Mark Reynolds pointed out that the Boxer-Sanders carbon tax would make the pipeline “irrelevant” because the bill would make it economically unfeasible. Other carbon intensive energy sources would face the same high cost of production with this tax and will begin to be phased out.
Change Congress, Change Our Future
Mark Reynolds said that most Republican members of Congress support climate change legislation; however, they will only admit to it when behind closed doors. Why don’t they vote like this? According to Reynolds, too many are restricted by their constituents not approving of a climate change bill.
To change this situation, Mark Reynolds believes that members of Congress need the tools to talk to voters in a way that will show them why the United States needs a climate change bill. Providing members of Congress with the proper tools and language to communicate their ideas to constituents will allow an open discussion of their views on climate change.
Once Congress is more open to a climate change bill, real solutions can happen. Until then, Mark Reynolds stressed the importance of staying positive in the fight for our future. Oil companies do not win every time, and one day will be defeated.
Missed the conversation with Mark Reynolds? Listen here.
The National Climate Seminar takes place on the first and third Wednesday of every month. Connect with top scientists, analysts, and political leaders to talk about climate change.