A group of Delaware County residents is headed to Washington, D.C., on Monday to join about 1,000 other volunteers from around the country discussing climate change and meeting with elected officials.
As part of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Marianne Gabel, Sheila Fox and Alice Frasier, all of Delaware; Lindsey Kohlenberg of Mount Gilead; and others will attend weekend seminars and meet with elected officials to discuss a climate policy called “Carbon Fee and Dividend.”
“It’s empowering people,” Fox said, who attended the conference last year and is returning to Washington this year. “I’ve signed the letters before, but I never thought I could do this. I never would have visited my congressman’s office.”
The Delaware delegation will meet with an aide to Congressman Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, and has been working to schedule additional meetings. Gabel said they will use the time to openly discuss climate change and the concept of Carbon Fee and Dividend, which proposes an initial fee per ton on the carbon dioxide content of fossil fuels. The revenues are then returned to households as a monthly dividend.
It’s a concept few people on either side of the climate change debate have heard of, Gabel said.
But “there is an openness to meet with us or capitulation to our respect and persistence,” she said.
An aide from Tiberi’s office met with the Delaware delegation to the CCL conference in 2014 and Fox said the discussion was open and respectful, something she sees throughout the political interactions with the CCL.
“It’s so positive,” she said. “I’m tired of the name calling (in politics) and this is so different. And we’re consistent, so that does really make a difference.”
Gabel said CCL’s chapter in Delaware is relatively new, but growing – as is the organization as a whole. She said the group is “laser focused” on the Carbon Fee and Dividend policy as a climate advocacy group. She said CCL does not spend much time as a public education group, though there is a bit of that when it comes to explaining Carbon Fee and Dividend policy.
“People’s reaction is, ‘never heard of such a thing,’ but if you mention Alaska, people have heard of the rebates to citizens,” she said. “This is free market. It’s ‘let the best fuel win.’”
She said “both sides have to give a little.”
Under the proposal, import fees would be used to discourage companies that attempt to relocate to other countries to avoid the carbon fee. According to CCL, a 2014 study by the Regional Economic Models Inc. suggested a Carbon Fee and Dividend model can reduce emissions of carbon dioxide to 50 percent below 1990 levels in 20 years. The study further suggested that because 100 percent of fee revenues are returned to American households, the policy would likely stimulate an additional 2.8 million jobs.
“That’s the potential bipartisan magic of it,” Gabel said.
Gabel and Fox said they know it is difficult to get everyone to listen when it comes to the concept of climate change.
“It’s not our realistic expectation that we’ll walk out of someone’s office who is quite conservative and they’ll say ‘yeah,’” Gabel said. “But if we move them, if we start a discussion, that would be huge.”
The Delaware chapter of CCL can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DelawareCCL. More information about CCL can be found on the organization’s website, citizensclimatelobby.org.