Mr. and Ms. Canada go to Washington

Mr. and Ms. Canada go to Washington

Hey Canada! From June 23rd to 25th, twenty-one Canadians will join more than 300 Americans in Washington D.C. to lobby for a price on carbon pollution on Capitol Hill during the fifth annual Citizens Climate Lobby Conference and Lobby Days.

More than 400 meetings with members of Congress and Senators have been lined up for June 25 and beyond and we are busily preparing.

How easy is it to lobby for a rising fee on carbon in America? Visit this blog June 23rd to 25th to find out. I’ll blog every night during my time there to share our experience in creating political will for a livable world.

Why are Canadians lobbying in Washington? Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of the Citizens Climate Lobby, asks Canadian volunteers to remind American lawmakers that the world wants the U.S to lead on transitioning to a clean energy economy. The U.S. is after all the largest economy in the world and the second top greenhouse gas emitter. It is also Canada’s biggest trading partner. Our government has made it clear that it will align Canada’s climate and energy policies with that of the U.S.

This will be my third CCL Conference. Last year six Canadians joined the conference and lobbied Capitol Hill. Now 21 are heading down. We are from Victoria, Thunder Bay, Red Lake, Sudbury, Waterloo, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Sunday’s itinerary includes group leaders’ meeting, group start workshop and lobby preparations. On Monday we will listen to keynote speakers, Dr. James Hansen and Dr. Shi Ling Hsu. Dr. Hansen is probably the world’s best known climatologist. He wrote Storms of My Grandchildren and will discuss his personal journey: Itinerant Farming to White House Arrests: A Scientist's View of the Climate Crisis. Dr. Shi Ling Hsu, is an economist and author of The Case for a Carbon Tax.

On Tuesday we will lobby Congress and the Senate to enroll support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax that gives proceeds back to households.

The task before us seems daunting, but there are glimmers of hope. Our proposed mechanism is backed by a number of conservatives, including former Secretary of State George Shultz and Art Laffer, economic advisor to President Reagan.

“It’s always easier to take the cynical view of politics,” said Mark Reynolds, CCL’s Executive Director. “But if you actually say, ‘I’m a citizen. This is a citizen problem,’ it gives you an entirely different world to deal with. We adamantly believe that politicians don’t create political will, they respond to it.”

The people who volunteer their time and energy to lobby with CCL believe that their role is to encourage and inspire our leaders to do the right thing, and to let them know that a coalition of citizens is being built to support them. 

How will we fair this time around? Return and find out.

Cheryl McNamara, Group Leader, CCL Toronto

Tony Sirna is CCL's IT Director and State Level Policy Coordinator. He lives in Oakland, CA and is also a co-leader of the Alameda County, CA Chapter.