Hey everyone!

We are Dr. Danny Richter, VP of Government Affairs, and Jerry Hinkle, Research Coordinator, of Citizens' Climate Lobby. CCL is a volunteer organization of over 180,000 people dedicated to creating the political will for a livable planet. This means doing something about carbon emissions as soon as possible.

We have each been lobbying Congress for over 10 years, pushing both Republicans and Democrats forward on this issue. We're here to answer your questions about the politics of climate change, and the national climate policy we think can can pass our divided Congress. In particular, we can answer questions about CCL’s flagship policy: carbon fee and dividend, which is in Congress right now as H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act!

We'll start answering your questions at 4PM today.

Here’s proof!

Edit: Thanks so much for all the great questions! We're done for now, but if you have more to ask, please reach out on Instagram or twitter! And of course, please check out our website for more info on how to get involved.

Comments: 620 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

killswithspoon121 karma

What are your thoughts on nuclear power? Do you support it? Why or why not?

borisAtCCL32 karma

Jerry: Carbon pricing doesn’t pick winners and losers. It just makes greenhouse gas emissions (which are driving climate change) more expensive, by charging their true cost. With a price in place, the market will respond and move toward energy options that emit less, or not at all.

Danny: If nuclear really can compete with a level playing field, this policy will show that.

ScrappyPunkGreg45 karma

Two non-answers to the "do you support it" question. Thanks guys!

EDIT: They answered below, saying they weren't going to answer.

borisAtCCL71 karma

Danny: Hey guys, sorry that we weren't as clear as we could have been. CCL intentionally doesn't take a stance on nuclear or any other particular technology. We as an organization don't support or work against nuclear. We just want to price carbon and drive the market away from emissions, and the market will ultimately decide what that looks like in practice. We understand and respect that other orgs and activists take other approaches, but this is the one we take.

JawTn1067-1 karma

Why the hell are we getting politicians answers? If they stand by principled ideas there should be no problem in giving a straight answer.

borisAtCCL5 karma

Answered above! Sorry we weren't as clear as we could have been in the initial answer.

brownchairstandard59 karma

Have you noticed any differences over time in how Congress has dealt with or responded to environmental issues, including the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, over the last 10 years you guys have been lobbying?

borisAtCCL89 karma

Danny: There’s been a radical shift. Five years ago it seemed impossible that you could get even a handful of Republicans to acknowledge that climate change is real and we should do something about it. Today, the minority leader in the House is saying climate change is important and something that we’re going to address.

There’s still a lot more progress to be made, of course. We need to get to a place where both Republicans and Democrats are supporting policies that reduce emissions in line with science-based targets. That’s part of why we’re bringing almost 100 conservative volunteers to Capitol Hill next week to lobby Republican offices to support this climate policy.

borisAtCCL52 karma

Jerry: The Resources for the Future model has roughly 40-45% emission reductions by 2030. Legislation itself mandates reductions of 90% (relative to 2016 emissions) by 2030. So this one policy gets us incredibly far, and politically, it can actually pass.

It’s likely that the other 10% of reductions we need will have to come from carbon removal technology, which has yet to be developed or be economically viable. A price on carbon will further incentivize the development of those technologies so we can close that gap.

Edit: added who was speaking

MurphyAt5BrainDamage26 karma

When speaking to progressives about carbon pricing, I often hear "half measures won't do enough" or "maybe that would have worked if we started 10 years ago".

Can you explain why carbon pricing is a necessary part of the climate solution space?

borisAtCCL69 karma

Danny: Yeah, because it works. It’s not a half measure. It’s the whole enchilada. Before President Obama went with the regulatory approach of the Clean Power Plan, he wanted a carbon price and he pushed one through the house (https://www.c2es.org/document/waxman-markey-short-summary/). It was a cap and trade bill, which has some political challenges. A carbon tax is more transparent, easier for people to understand, and doesn’t grow the government.

Also, this solution can play nice with others. There’s no reason we can’t implement a robust carbon price and also additional climate policies.

Jerry: Peer-reviewed analysis (https://energypolicy.columbia.edu/research/report/assessment-energy-innovation-and-carbon-dividend-act) makes clear that a carbon price would be effective in significantly reducing emissions. But they’re right that we should have priced carbon a long time ago - 30 years ago would have been better. So the very best thing we can do is get started as soon as possible.

Edit: fixed links

3candidates15 karma

Why is the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act better than the other proposals for a carbon tax? And why a dividend?

I'm not disagreeing, just asking for the reasoning here.

borisAtCCL21 karma

Danny: Checking back in briefly. Thanks for your question. Here's an assessment from Columbia University that shows how the Energy Innovation Act stacks up against the other carbon pricing proposal in Congress. One finding: "The carbon tax rates in the Deutch proposal start relatively low ($15/ton) but increase rapidly to levels that far exceed the rates in other carbon tax proposals." That results in greater emissions reductions, which is crucial - we want to support policy that will be effective at addressing climate change.

On the question of why a dividend, that is also pretty well addressed by the Columbia comparison. They explain, "Under the Deutch proposal, low- and middle-income households would receive more in rebates than they pay in taxes." Using the revenue for a dividend protects low- and middle-income Americans economically, which is very important to us at CCL.

laltec115 karma

Which of the candidates running for president do you think has the best plan for climate change?


borisAtCCL51 karma

Danny: Speaking for a nonpartisan organization that doesn’t endorse candidates ;) I'd say what’s more important than any particular plan is how well that particular candidate can work with congress. No president is going to be able to do anything big enough without Congress passing something. So if a president can’t work with Congress and can’t get something through Congress, it doesn’t matter what their plan is.

Realistically, to get something through Congress, it will need to be bipartisan. Also, based on expert advice from the IPCC, carbon pricing as a necessary solution to really address climate change.

So for those reasons, we’re really interested in bipartisan carbon pricing legislation. There are a few bills in Congress right now that would put a price on carbon pollution and already have support from both Republicans and Democrats - the Energy Innovation Act (H.R. 763), the MARKET CHOICE Act (H.R. 4520), the SWAP Act (H.R. 4058), the Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act (H.R. 3966).

The Energy Innovation Act is our favorite and has the most cosponsors by far - it has 77 representatives signed on.

upyerkilt4 karma

IMO the EIA's blanket exemption of US military's carbon output is unjustifiable. Every other developed nation is taking progressive steps toward decarbonising military assests. If it were a country, the US war machine would rank within the top 50 biggest polluters in the world and so any policy incorporating a carbon tax needs to be inherent.

borisAtCCL13 karma

Danny: Thanks for sharing your perspective. The purpose of a carbon price is to put the right incentives in place for decarbonization. The U.S. military already has major incentives to decarbonize (running on fossil fuels is a tactical liability), so they're already aggressively pursuing alternative sources of energy for both strategic and environmental reasons. We can expect that even if their fossil fuel usage is not subject to the fee, they will take full advantage of new developments in renewable and low-carbon energy technologies, further reducing their emissions.  

SnarkyHedgehog8 karma

Last I checked there is only one Republican co-sponsor of HR 763, and he's retiring. I've heard some Republicans talk positively about carbon pricing, but haven't yet seen any movement on this bill. What's causing the hold-out, and what's it going to take to break through it?

borisAtCCL25 karma

Danny: On what it takes to get more Republicans on the bill: I think that the question is now one more of politics than policy. There are Republicans who are interested and like the policy. What's holding them back is they want to have more company. We have a jailbreak problem. They might feel that cover could come from other republican colleagues, it could come from business and faith groups who want to see this bill happen, or it could come from their conservative constituents. That’s why we have almost 100 conservative volunteers coming to Capitol Hill next week to lobby Republican offices, to tell them that this piece of legislation is consistent with their values as conservatives.

Jerry: Republicans have come a long way, but they need additional encouragement. If you want to help encourage them, you can join CCL!

dadwriter7 karma

How much do personal initiatives actually help the climate?

Examples being eating less meat, driving an electric car, avoiding air travel, etc. It seems, unfortunately, climate change action has to take a top down/government approach to make any real difference.

I’m a vegetarian, and I also am mindful about my carbon footprint. I’m just wondering how much that matters if I can’t convince my senator to think the same way. I fear that it doesn’t.

borisAtCCL16 karma

Danny: I’ve been a vegetarian for 18 years - exactly half my life. I think personal initiative is important. I think the personal action roots you in the right messages, and connects you to the problem. I think you also need to educate yourself, take collective action, and fully claim your citizenship.

Jerry: To reduce emissions enough to stabilize climate risk, it’s essential that we charge for carbon pollution. That way, everyone, everyday has a financial incentive to reduce emissions. So ultimately, the individual action that matters the most are the actions you take to impact the whole system. Personal initiative is great, but we’ve got to pass a price on carbon. (I too was vegetarian from around 7 p.m. last night to the break of dawn this morning.)

GOPJay7 karma

No offense, I'm often annoyed when groups such as yours push for legislation in the US. What are you doing here? China is the bigger contributor to carbon emissions than the next 7 countries combined. What are you doing about China? If you really, truly care about carbon emissions, and anthropogenic warming is real, don't waste your time with liberal redistribution of wealth models that will harm the American economy. Go lobby China, convince them it's not the 1800s, and to be more responsible to the world.

borisAtCCL7 karma

Jerry: The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act has a provision built in called a "Carbon Border Fee Adjustment" that will encourage foreign countries to adopt their own carbon fee. You can learn more about how that works here.

Also, Columbia economists are confident this policy will not harm the American economy. In fact, they call a price on carbon a "uniquely cost-effective policy tool because it incentivizes emissions reductions wherever and however they can be achieved at the lowest cost."

KenAndy8726 karma

Does CCL engage inside political parties to help particular candidates at specific times (leadership campaigns and to become candidates in general elections) who would be good for climate change?

If not, I would respectfully ask:

  1. Why not? And

  2. Do you know any organization that does?

I state the following only to explain to explain what I mean and why it seems like an important action for an organization to consider:

In Canada, either the leader of the Liberal Party or the leader of the Conservative Party becomes Prime Minister. The PM and the Prime Minister’s Office pretty much do what they want. Ditto in each province. The Ontario Provincial Liberals are presently in the midst of choosing a new leader. I joined the party before the 2 December 2019 deadline for the exclusive purpose of supporting the best climate change candidate.

In the last Ontario general election to choose the Premier, 5.75 million people voted. There are 37,831 members eligible to vote in the Ontario Provincial Leadership race. Thus, my vote within that race is 152 times more powerful than my vote in a general election

Right now, there is a very important party leadership campaign for the federal Conservative Party (like Republicans) starting up. The outgoing Conservative leader campaigned on cancelling our Carbon Tax, and three of the current candidates say they will, too.

I won’t try to convince you of anything here. This idea has preoccupied me for a few weeks now and I would appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you.

borisAtCCL8 karma

Jerry: Nope. We’re nonpartisan, so we don’t get involved supporting specific candidates or parties. We’re interested in working with whoever is in elected office right now and can take steps today to address the climate crisis.

mathsnotwrong5 karma

Can you talk to the following concern?

Although a carbon tax+div may reduce CO2 releases in the short-med term, is there not a risk that the public may be unwilling to support future zero-carbon initiatives if it directly results to receiving a smaller personal dividend? Policies like this may be well meaning and effective-ish at the beginning, but can lead to near unrevocable dependencies in the future. (E.g Corn-ethanol in the US. )

borisAtCCL10 karma

Jerry: That’s actually addressed in the legislation. This bill mandates that the policy will sunset when the dividend is less than $20 per month for 3 consecutive years, so it’s not an irrevocable dependency. $20 is not much of an incentive, and functionally, we’ll be off fossil fuels at that point.

aaronhamlin3 karma

Have you considered running ballot initiatives as a higher percentage way of getting your legislation both (1) passed and (2) in the language you want? California, Washington, or Oregon might be good places to start.

borisAtCCL8 karma

Danny: We’ve considered that. We have one staffer, Jamie DeMarco, who helps volunteers with state-based climate initiatives. In just the last week, Jamie has helped volunteers in Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, New Mexico, and Virginia push their state-level carbon pricing initiatives forward.

Also, we do pursue endorsements from state and local government. The state of California has actually passed a resolution in favor of national carbon fee and dividend legislation, which is the style of policy that the Energy Innovation Act is.

Ultimately, a big benefit of state-level climate efforts is that they put more pressure on the federal government to act and make sure we have one holistic carbon pricing system.

halffast2 karma

I joined CCL last year and read the newsletters, but have yet to actively participate. If I wanted to start contributing 1 hour a week to helping out CCL, what are some small things I could do?

borisAtCCL5 karma

Danny: We’re an organization that believes a lot in relationships. Working on climate change is something we do better together. So, once a month your local chapter is probably having a meeting and joining our national conference call. You could attend that meeting and listen to the monthly call for inspiration, community, and direction on actions you can take. Maybe the easiest things to do would be to call or write to your member of Congress about climate change using our tools.

Whatever you choose to do, I really believe you can find an outlet for your unique gifts at CCL. You can contribute in ways that reflect your personality and your skills - whether you’re good at writing, or speaking publicly, or connecting with people at your local church or other faith community, or if you just like to learn and you want to dig into the policy side of things. There are so many ways we use people’s diverse skill sets to address this problem.

Jerry: Look around CCL’s website and see what interests you. The best way is to reach out to your local chapter. (And for those of you haven’t joined yet, please do sign up!)

helpwitheating1 karma

Thank you for doing great work! Much appreciated - you're literally fighting to save the human race. I admire you so much. Please ignore the climage-change-denying trolls on this board trying to throw you under the bus.

How do you find the energy to fight? When it all seems so impossible? Teach us your ways!

borisAtCCL3 karma

Danny: Thanks for your kind words. Check out CCL's core values: "We are a community that offers one another comfort, support, and fun as we work." That's part of how we get through this - together!

SlipSlamMammaJamma-11 karma

What your purpose as a right wing funded group when reality is that those who represent you federally support a president that says climate change is a Chinese invention?

borisAtCCL9 karma

Jerry: Sounds like you might be confused about how we’re funded. We’re funded by individual donations and grants. You can see our financial information here.