The Citizens’ Climate Lobby tries to talk nonpartisan market-based solutions to climate change
By: Nohea’ililani Waiwai’ole, Staff Writer
The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) has gone to eleven different eastern Oregon rural towns in the past twelve days as part of the Oregon Stewardship Tour in order to start non-partisan discussions about market based solutions to climate change. On Thursday, November 2, the CCL came to Klamath Falls.
The CCL is a non-profit and non-partisan grassroots organization, advocating for climate change national policies. The CCL has hundreds of small chapters all over the country and world, including 9 in Oregon, with the closest to Klamath Falls being in Ashland and Bend.
About 25 local residents gathered downtown at Gaucho Collective at 6:00 p.m. to listen to a discussion led by steward Brian Ettling, the tours lead presenter.
“For the past 18 years I have been giving ranger talks at national parks,” said Ettling, a seasonal ranger at Crater Lake national park. “Eventually people started asking me about global warming, which I knew nothing about.”
After that, Ettling got his hands on every book he could find on climate change. Soon, climate change became a huge part of his life; in 2012 he became involved in the CCL. After learning no local CCL chapters existed near his seasonal home in Crater Lake, Ettling made it his life’s mission to start a CCL chapter in southern Oregon. In January of 2013, Ettling helped organize a chapter in Ashland, Oregon.
The CCL is primarily advocating for the passage of a carbon fee and dividend bill on the national level. The carbon fee and dividend solution is a revenue-neutral carbon tax where 100% of the net revenue is returned to households. CCL claims passing the bill will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 52% below 1990 levels within 20 years while also growing the economy.
The CCL claims the climate is changing, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, coal, and natural gas. The carbon fee and dividend policy would charge a fee on fossil fuels, but return the revenue to households as a dividend. In turn, fossil fuels would become less desirable and cleaner energy such as wind and solar would become more competitive on the market.
The CCL aims to help people use their voices to express political will and demand action from those in government. A key focus of the CCL is on non-partisan communication and reaching people on both sides of the aisle. The CCL believes climate change policies must come from both liberal and conservative voices in order to actually work and pass through congress.
Ettling got a CCL chapter started in Southern Oregon, but his job was not done yet. CCL advocates who spoke to Republican District 2 Representative Greg Walden’s staff learned he was looking to hear more voices of voters in rural areas, especially business owners and local leaders. Hearing from climate change advocates in Ashland was not enough; so, the CCL decided to put on the Oregon Stewardship Tour.
Emphasizing their focus on non-partisan politics and meeting with residents from all over District 2, the CCL decided to meet residents in rural areas, such as La Grande, Redmond, Grants Pass, John Day, Lakeview, and Klamath Falls. The goal of the tour is to start open discussions with constituents regarding market based solutions to climate change and inform Walden about his constituents’ thoughts on the matter.
Ettling led the presentation and discussion, which covered the CCL’s concerns about climate change, the CCL’s solution of the carbon fee and dividend, and a chance for audience members to voice their own questions or concerns.
At the discussion in Klamath Falls, residents voiced climate change concerns regarding the effects of milder and warmer winters, more intense fire seasons, and changes in animal behavior. Locals explained worries about birds migrating further south for winter, which would mean some birds would no longer migrate to Klamath due to warmer winters, while other birds completely foreign to the area might start showing up.
Locals also asked hard questions about the CCL’s proposed carbon fee and dividend solution. Questions included: how the dividend would be administered, how much the total sum of dividend would be in 1, 10, and 20 years, and whether or not congress can be trusted to pass such a bill. Ettling and CCL Ashland chapter leader Sherrill Rinehart helped answer such concerns and pointed people to look at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby website, which has the answers to all these questions and more.
Ettling and Rinehart ultimately hope a CCL chapter will be founded in Klamath Falls and the other towns they visited on the tour. Another goal of the tour presentation and conversations is to empower individuals to have breakthroughs in their personal and political power. Ettling also asks people to sign letters given to representatives about climate change if they agree with the CCL’s policies.
“The largest challenge of the [Oregon stewardship] tour has been reaching people where they are at, because we have spoken to a variety of people from across the political spectrum,” said Ettling. “We have people more on the progressive side who think nothing is going to happen with climate change or nothing can be done, and people on the far right who still do not even acknowledge the problem.”
From people who feel hopeless about climate change to those who do not want to be aware of climate change, the CCL hopes to reach both to find common ground on a solution.
If you want to learn more about the Citizens’ Climate Lobby or become part of a local chapter, please visit https://citizensclimatelobby.org or email Southern Oregon CCL chapter leader Sherrill Rhinehart at firstname.lastname@example.org