Join the Citizens’ Climate Lobby

An Op-Ed piece in the NY Times last month  began: One day, ideally in the not-too-distant future, when Congress finally passes major legislation to curb carbon emissions — to reduce the environmental and economic harm caused by climate change — Americans will owe a big thank you to the perseverance and discipline of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Climate change may be the greatest ethical issue of our time. The potential peril is overwhelming – even soul crushing – to contemplate. The path to safety seems partly blocked by a structural conflict of interest: those contributing to climate change risk are largely different from those who – because they are young or not yet born – will bear the cost of the risk taking. And to these challenges must be added the paralyzing effect of “tribal thinking,” which – particularly of late – poses a grave threat to ethical thought and deed in many realms.

That’s the bad news. The good news – at least it was news to me – is that there is a group with the vision and the organizational skills to take on the tribal thinking part of the challenge.

As described on its web site, Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Our consistently respectful, non-partisan approach to climate education is designed to create a broad, sustainable foundation for climate action across all geographic regions and political inclinations. By building upon shared values rather than partisan divides, and empowering our supporters to work in keeping with the concerns of their local communities, we work towards the adoption of fair, effective, and sustainable climate change solutions.

CCL was founded in 2007 and has been growing rapidly. This past week, more than a thousand of its citizen advocates came to Washington to hold meetings with about 500 Senate and House offices. They are clearly well organized.

CCL helped establish the Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives. There are now 42 members, with membership kept even between Democrats and Republicans. This group’s bipartisan spirit was recently praised by Republican Congressperson Mark Sanford.

CCL’s policy proposal – which is described fully on the website – is market-based and revenue neutral. This should make it appealing to conservatives. Indeed, among the members of CCL’s very impressive advisory board is former Secretary of State George Schultz.

CCL has an excellent set of values. One value – particularly relevant to combatting tribal thinking – is Relationships: We take the most generous approach to other people as possible — appreciation, gratitude, and respect. We listen, we work to find common values, and we endeavor to understand our own biases. We are honest and firm. We know that there is a place for protest, but our approach is to build consensus — that’s what will bring enduring change. That’s why elected officials and their staff, no matter what their politics, say they are happy to see us — and mean it.

This seems like a winning formula for building consensus around climate change. Indeed, the approach should be considered in addressing a host of seemingly intractable political problems.

I encourage you to learn more about CCL by visiting their website and reading the Times article.

And, for a post on the related topic of humility as an ethical value, click here.

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