Thursday, March 17, 2016

Talking With Republican Members of Congress About Climate Change

South Florida Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo was the speaker on Saturday's international phone-in Citizens Climate Lobby meeting.  He talked about his bi-partisan committee on climate change in the House.  If you're a Republican who wants to join, you must invite a Democrat to join at the same time, and vice versa.

Since I wasn't in Anchorage, I checked online to find the local chapter contact info for  Bainbridge Island.  The group was very welcoming and I enjoyed getting to meet people there who were also CCL members.  They gave me some ideas to bring back to Anchorage for our chapter work.

Bainbridge Island CCL meeting March 2016

Curbelo's interest comes from representing South Florida. He knows that without strong, immediate action, rising oceans due to climate change will inundate his district.  He even jokes with his House colleagues that they need to act because when his district is underwater he'll move to their district and run against them.

He identifies two extremes - the deniers and the alarmists.  As a Republican talking to Republicans, I guess that is helpful.  But I would take exception to arguing that those extremes are equivalent.  While there are people who may claim exaggerated dangers for climate change, many of those who were called alarmists in the past have been proven to have understated the dangers or how quickly things like Arctic ice cap melting was going to happen.  "Alarmists' are, at worst, exaggerating the truth.  Deniers are flat out wrong, and some have knowingly lied publicly to cast doubt on the very real dangers of climate change.

But it's not the policy of CCL to argue with partners, but to find what they have in common, and you can get the sense of that if you listen to Saturday's meeting which you can do below.

The most positive message I got from Rep. Curbelo was when he said there are many Republicans who are ready to come out of the Climate Change closet and support efforts to cut carbon.  He suggested that once the primaries are over, more Republicans will get on board.

Curbelo likes the carbon fee option because it's a market based solution.  He even pointed out that we already have a default carbon tax - the cost of the EPA - and that a market based fee would be more predictable than EPA regulations.

As I've said before, I joined CCL because I think climate change is the single most important issue facing the world and that CCL is one of, if not the, most efficient and effective organization I've ever come across.  And it takes a fairly Buddhist approach to connecting with other people who are normally considered adversaries.

After Curbelo, there's a connection with one of the Canadian members who talks about Trudeau's visit to Washington, and also his plans for a nationally integrated carbon fee program.  Then preparations for district meetings and the national conference in DC in June.  A key issues is learning to listen rather than try to respond immediately when talking with congress members and their staffers.  Mark, the coordinator, also talked about the explosion of international members in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Latin America which has happened since the climate summit in Paris.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed meeting you and your blog about our meeting. Thanks for visiting the Bainbridge chapter... you are always welcome when you are in our neck of the woods, though we do rotate locations.


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