As we wrap up this blog series on climate and environmental news in the Fox Cities, I just want to say that I have had a lot of fun writing these. Environmentalism is something I have always been really passionate about and I learned a lot of new information throughout the process of this blog series. Interviewing local organizations on these topics made me realize how much I want to be a part of this kind of work. I hope to get into climate advocacy work and work with legislation to pass bills and protect the environment. With that being said, we all have a voice and can all do something to protect our climate.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Kate Hancock-Cooke, co-leader of the Appleton-Fox Cities Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). CCL is an international organization that is committed to getting climate solutions by working with legislation and congress members. According to Cooke, there are roughly 130,000 members in CCL worldwide divided among 530 chapters with the majority of them being in North America. Wisconsin alone has 21 active chapters because Cooke mentions that our state leadership has been really effective. CCL was founded in 2007 and came to the Fox Cities in 2016. Ever since then, this local organization has been working hard with local leaders and legislation on Carbon Fee and Dividend (CFD) which is a bill they hope to pass.
CFD is the primary interest of all CCL chapters throughout the world. CCL’s website discusses this bill by describing it “as a climate change solution that would drastically reduce emissions, create jobs, and support small businesses and families.”
CCL began working on this bill 12 years ago and is currently in congress. Once the congress expires, the bill has to be reintroduced. Even though this is a very large organization, this bill is the only thing they work on. “This is the most important thing to do now,” Cooke says. “Once this is done, we’ll think of something else to work on.” Cooke is absolutely right because passing a price on carbon is the most important thing we can do right now in order to save ourselves from the climate crisis at hand.
Cooke explains that a fee is put on oil, gas and coal and that fee is based off how much carbon dioxide those materials produce when they are burned. “It’s easier to put the price on at the beginning versus trying to regulate and catch up at the end,” Cooke says. This way producers are being held accountable.
Going along with this bill, Cooke explains the importance in remaining bipartisan. Their group as a whole is intentionally bipartisan so that the opportunity is open to speak to both sides about what the bill is and what it can do. Being bipartisan allows them to talk to both Republican and Democratic parties and hear their thoughts.
CCL works very closely with government at all levels in order to get the bill passed. Cooke explains that their organization in the Fox Cities works with local congress people and representatives. Some members from their group meet with our local congress people on a pretty regular basis to tell them what progress is going on with the bill.
CCL as a whole though has a very large influence and a lobby day twice a year in Washington that the Fox Cities group participates in. On these lobby days, there are about 520 meetings occurring with almost every single meeting having a constituent of that congress. Each congress member is given information on the bill and how it works. These lobby days help gain more influence and make more progress on getting the bill passed.
Working with congress and legislation is a really important thing to do if we want our voices heard and the issues we care about represented. Talking to your local representatives is something that we all can do. It sounds a little intimidating, but it’s a lot easier than it sounds. You can give them a call, write them or meet with them in their office. Our government is there for us so let’s give them voices to listen to and issues to stand for. “We need to tell them what we want them to do,” Cooke says.
CCL has a monthly reminder for people to call their congress about the bill they’re working on. It takes less than 10 minutes a month and can make a huge difference. All it takes is one individual to speak up for something they believe in, in order to make a change. The really beautiful thing, is that every one of us has the power to do that. It starts with us.