Citizens' Climate Lobby Conference
Earlier this summer, Jonathan Lu, Charles Copeland, and Victor Hua from PSCI headed to Washington, D.C. to meet hundreds of other climate activists from around the world at the 9th Annual Citizens’ Climate International Conference & Lobby Day. Held from June 10th-12th at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the conference featured a variety of workshops, speakers, and, as can be inferred from the name, a lobby day on Capitol Hill. The three members of PSCI were also joined by Sooyong Kwon from Yale University, an active member of the environmental organizations Project Bright and Fossil Free Yale.
To get to D.C., the group took the midnight bus from Palmer Square, just across the street from the University, to Philadelphia. From there, they hopped onto the subway and then a Megabus for the final haul to D.C. Overall, the trip totalled about six hours, time that was filled with long conversations about climate change (as well as quick naps every now and then). Arriving at the Omni Shoreham Hotel around 8:30 a.m., it was time to resist the urge to sleep and to eagerly make preparations for the conference kick-off.
Mark Reynolds, the Executive Director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), the volunteer-driven carbon pricing organization hosting the conference, gave an empowering opening speech commemorating the initiative of all the attendees. The rest of the first day was filled with informative workshops such as Social Media to Connect Locally, Building a Calling Team, and The Power of Tabling, as well as breakout sessions by region to introduce and connect attendees with each other. Perhaps the most significant event was the Climate Advocate Training session, in which new members of CCL received a crash course in congressional lobbying in preparation for the Lobby Day in two days’ time.
The following day proceeded in a similar fashion to the first, with a motivating kick-off speech followed by smaller sessions such as Telling Better Climate Stories and Faith and Climate. The second day also included a keynote panel of prominent environmentalists including Dr. James Hansen of the Columbia University Earth Institute and Dr. Natasha DeJarnett, a policy analyst for the American Public Health Association, as well as a keynote session featuring CEO and Chairman of the Climate Leadership Council Ted Halstead, Students for Carbon Dividends (S4CD) founder and president Alex Posner, and S4CD vice president Kiera O’Brien. At the conclusion of the second day, the group grabbed dinner at a nearby Chipotle before heading off to a nearby networking session to establish relationships with other climate advocates.
The third and last day of the conference was the long-awaited Lobby Day, where attendees would meet with approximately 5-6 other volunteers to plan for and conduct a 15-30 minute meeting with their scheduled Congressional representative using everything they had learned over the previous two days. During each lobbying session, volunteers were to discuss the economic and environmental advantages of a carbon fee and dividend program, and request that the representative lend their support to such a policy. The PSCI team was fairly split as each member had different lobbying slots, so there was plenty of free time to roam around the city and explore the nation’s capital. Hua and Kwon even spent a few hours inside the Supreme Court!
Once all lobbying was finished, the conference was officially over, and the group headed home. The conference was truly informative and invigorating, and the PSCI group took away continuing motivation to research and advocate for their own carbon fee and dividend proposal in New Jersey, as well as to network with other individuals and organizations passionate about climate change. After meeting hundreds of climate activists and adding more climate change and carbon policy knowledge to their arsenal, PSCI looks forward to attending the next CCL International Conference & Lobby Day in a year’s time.
-- Victor Hua