Climate lobbying group ramping up for Paris 2015

     Citizens' Climate Lobby volunteers met with 500 congressional offices in June to push for climate change legislation. (Image courtesy of Citizens' Climate Lobby)

    Citizens' Climate Lobby volunteers met with 500 congressional offices in June to push for climate change legislation. (Image courtesy of Citizens' Climate Lobby)

    A national citizens’ lobbying network with chapters in Philadelphia and Bucks County shared its climate change plans during the U.N. Climate Summit in New York last week.

    The group, the Citizens Climate Lobby, has organized more than 1,500 meetings with members of Congress and their staffers since January of 2013.

    Gladwyne-based volunteer Jay Butera, senior congressional liaison for the group, said the model trades on personal relationships to push its particular brand of climate change policy.

    “We have a gap between what Congress thinks and what the people of the United States thinks,” Butera said. “The vast majoring of people in the United States want to see action on climate change, and Congress does not fully realize that, and so we’re trying to bring Congress in line with what the citizens think.”

    The group’s plan calls for a carbon fee levied at the source, to be paid back out to households, and aims to appeal to conservative lawmakers.

    “What we are doing is trying to harness the force of capitalism, which I believe is the only force strong enough to stop climate change,” Butera said. “So we are trying to use capitalism and free markets to change the equation for energy in the United States.”

    Now, the group is taking their approach global with a new international online portal that seeks to connect activists, academics and businesses to online conversations and in-person climate change events.

    “This is an attempt to take the way that we work with our volunteers, the way we organize our volunteers, and translate that concept into an organizing structure for international negotiations,” said global strategy director Joseph Robertson.

    The goal is to make citizens’ voices heard ahead of 2015 U.N. talks in Paris, where leaders hope to sign a legally binding climate agreement.

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