When a group of students at the University of Michigan (U-M) decided to form a new Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) chapter on campus, they did so to address a few needs unique to university settings. For example, they decided to meet on weeknights, so as not to conflict with Saturday football games and other activities. They’d need to work within the academic calendar, meaning taking a recess during the summer months and avoiding scheduling events during midterms or finals. They would also need to accommodate frequent member and leader turnover, as students graduated and spent semesters away from campus.
If you attended CCL’s June conference and thought the crowd seemed a little younger than usual, your observation was correct. This year, the number of students at the annual conference nearly doubled, jumping from about 200 students in attendance in 2018 to 380 this June. The youth climate activists came from chapters across the country, both on campus and off.
Dr. Kenya L. Goodson is the Group Leader for CCL’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama chapter. In Alabama, where there are four CCL chapters and one in development, Kenya’s strong leadership is highly beneficial. Don Addu, CCL’s Southeast Regional Director, explains why: “We know that any lasting, effective climate legislation must have support from both parties in order to be immune to the political swings in D.C. Six of Alabama’s seven representatives are Republican, so the work that Kenya, our Tuscaloosa chapter and our Alabama team are doing to turn climate into a bridge issue is fundamental to passing meaningful climate legislation.” Adding to the importance of Kenya’s work is the intensity of climate impacts in her region. Don points out, “The National Climate Assessment shows the southern states are going to be severely impacted by climate change.” In this Q&A, Kenya shares what she’s learned through her environmental work, and what makes CCL stand out.
On May 8, 2019, President Gerard Rooney of St. John Fisher College became the 53rd signatory of the Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative. The initiative, led by Our Climate and Citizens’ Climate Lobby, gives leaders of higher education institutions the opportunity to voice their support for carbon pricing. The endorsements are shared with members of Congress and the higher education community. The campaign to receive President Rooney’s endorsement took nearly two years. We spoke with Kate Kressman-Kehoe, a volunteer and higher ed ally at the local CCL-Rochester chapter near St. John Fisher College, to learn how they succeeded.
Destiny Loyd began her relationship with Citizens’ Climate Lobby as a college student in Athens, GA. She says, “At school, I would be speechless learning about climate change, and wondered why it seemed that no one was doing anything about it?” She started looking for solutions. “I found CCL by Googling ‘climate groups,’ and there was CCL—I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect result! I joined CCL’s weekly introductory call on a Wednesday evening and was inspired to hear all the voices of people across our country on the call.” Soon, she was connected with her local CCL chapter and began doing outreach at tabling events and presenting to student and community groups. She even attended a regional conference and served as a liaison to her member of Congress. She says, “The rest is history.” Read more about her current work with CCL!
Wilbur Li is a junior at MIT studying computer science and mechanical engineering who hopes to make his future career in clean energy. Growing up in Sugar Land, Texas, Wilbur heard alarmist, doomsday messages on climate change in the media in middle school, but he learned more about the science in high school and college. When he heard about the Put a Price On It campaign led by Our Climate, he decided it was time to take action. He co-founded the Climate Action Team at MIT with fellow MIT student Claire Halloran.
Regina Pistilli is a published poet and a member of the CCL Salt Lake City Chapter. For 10 years, she served as the Vice President of Information Technology for MP Associates in Boulder, CO. Now, she devotes herself to writing and volunteering. Her work with Citizens’ Climate Lobby takes up almost all her free time. In just a little over a year of being involved with CCL, she has published four op-eds in prominent newspapers across her state, including The Salt Lake Tribune. She co-coordinated the 2018 Wild West regional conference and helped organize over 6,000 screenings of the film “Saving Snow” across the country during Earth Week 2018.
Natalie Desmaris had her hands in a lot of exciting climate work. She’s been at it since high school, when she joined clubs and took environmental studies. In college, she founded a chapter of CCL on her campus, and she studied abroad in Tanzania, which brought the threat of climate change into focus. In this Q&A, Natalie shares what she’s learned during those efforts and her time as CCL’s Higher Education Outreach Intern.
Last May, the CCL community met air pollution scientist, Dr. Shahir Masri and educator Athina Simolaris as they planned their cross-country climate outreach journey. Having returned now from their 12,000-mile tour through 36 states, during which they organized over 30 climate events, 35 video interviews, and surveyed more than 300 people, I sat down with Dr. Masri to hear his reflections and lessons learned from this ambitious project.
Jonathan realized there was a lack of conversation about climate change among students on campus, so he founded the Princeton Student Climate Initiative. After initial grassroots outreach at school using CCL’s own constituent engagement kit, the group wanted to go to the state level. NJ State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker asked them to write a white paper on how a carbon pricing policy for the state could look.
Nairobi is CCL’s fall Diversity Fellow in our Washington, D.C., office. Before joining CCL, she served as Director of Operations for a Wisconsin member of Congress—go Packers! Despite being pulled in a lot of directions, Nairobi was in charge of the office’s climate change portfolio, which is how she became aware of CCL.
Jeremy Clark and Charlie Abrams are not your average high school freshmen. As members of the Portland, Oregon chapter of CCL, they’ve already lobbied their members of Congress in Washington, D.C., been featured on local news, and testified in support of clean energy legislation. Last year they were nominated for the Children’s Climate Prize, and they flew to Sweden to be recognized, and just last month, they received the 2018 International Young Eco-Hero Award.
A sophomore at Oberlin College, Jess is majoring in political science and environmental studies. She is also a musician, equestrian, and poet and has been involved with ecology clubs since her childhood. This year, Jess started a CCL chapter at Oberlin College and worked with the local CCL chapter to get the Oberlin City Council to pass a resolution endorsing Carbon Fee and Dividend.
Hogan is a student at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, majoring in Environmental Studies and Philosophy, with a minor in Outdoor Studies. Between his school work and his time spent running cross country and track and field, he works with several student environmental groups: DivestSLU, Seed-to-Table, and Environmental Action Organization. Hogan also interned with the university’s Office of Sustainability and was a Summer and Fall fellow with Our Climate last year.