CCL Promotes Bipartisan Climate Action

Izzy Esler, Member of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Oberlin chapter

To the Editors:

More than likely, few people in Oberlin need to be convinced of the gravity of climate change. What’s more difficult is moving from recognition of the problem to determining the solutions, especially in a political climate where the highest levels of our government seem hostile or indifferent to even the science of climate change.

The good news is that the market is moving toward renewable energy. Just this week, The New York Times reported that the solar industry created more American jobs than coal and that Britain went a full day without burning coal for electricity for the first time since the 1800s. But the shift is not moving fast enough, at least not if we want to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby offers a compelling way to reduce emissions. Its policy proposal includes a “carbon fee and dividend” that would assess a fee on the carbon-dioxide content of fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — at or near the first point of sale. The fee would start at $15 per ton of carbon dioxide and increase $10 per ton each year, which should help accelerate the move towards renewable energy. CCL models have predicted that this policy could lead to major emissions reductions. The revenue from the fee would be divided and returned equally to all households in the country, which should help ease the burden of the fee on low-income families and actually promote greater economic equity. More details about the plan can be found at

The most exciting aspect of this proposal is that it has the potential for bipartisan support in Congress. Because it uses a market-based rather than a regulatory approach, the idea is being embraced by some conservatives. The Climate Leadership Council’s “Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends” proposes a similar model with a higher starting point and slower rate of increase. The Climate Solutions Caucus, formed in 2016 by Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL), calls for climate action and remains explicitly bipartisan by design; members must join the caucus at the same time as a member of the opposite party. While the caucus has not yet embraced the carbon fee and dividend, it seems close to doing so.

If you are interested in a concrete plan to address climate change, I encourage you to check out Oberlin’s CCL chapter. As a member, I have been impressed with and learned from the many tools, detailed resources and tangible items that CCL provides its chapters to help citizens lobby for climate action in general, as well as the specific carbon fee and dividend approach. You can find the Oberlin chapter on Facebook or get in touch by emailing [email protected].

While some may not see market-based solutions as the perfect answer to climate change, the carbon fee and dividend has the potential to lead to major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and may be politically viable. It can be one avenue among many for concerned climate activists at a time when genuine, sweeping climate action is needed from multiple fronts as soon as possible. CCL creates an easy, effective avenue to join the fight.

– Izzy Esler
Member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Oberlin chapter