A Fool with a Plan Will Go Farther Than a Genius with No Plan

“A fool with a plan will go farther than a genius with no plan.”

It was late 2008 and everyone in the room laughed as billionaire T. Boone Pickens retold this story from his college years. His father was concerned with Boone’s lack of direction in choosing a major. Dad came to visit his son and said;

“Listen son, a fool with a plan can beat a genius with no plan. And your mother and I have a concern that we have a fool with no plan. So you’re getting ready to get a plan and get out of school and that’s it.”

At the time I saw him, Pickens was promoting his energy plan, which involved alternative energies- like wind and solar- and large scale use of LNG as a transport fuel to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels. A self-proclaimed “environmentalist“, the Texas billionaire thought that Obama was the man with the plan.

Flash forward two Obama Administrations, and although use of renewable energy has been on the rise globally, and the Administration created a Clean Power Plan that set targets for states (now stayed by the Supreme Court pending judicial review); a large part of the Obama plan was let’s use all-of-the-above energy to meet our needs.

13227755_10153585850135808_7322232879040725686_oAs our climate spirals out of control, it’s obvious now more than ever that we need a plan. Enter the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). (They’re no fools!) They have a plan and it’s one that conservatives and progressives and everyone in between, including those without labels, can agree on.

It’s called carbon fee and dividend. And here is how it works:

  • Place a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).
  • Give all of the revenue from the carbon fee back to households.
  • Use a border adjustment to discourage business relocation.
  • It’s good for the economy AND even better for the climate.

With 332 chapters (and growing!) around the globe, CCL members are creating change with their solution to how to effectively price carbon in the market. Families live within a household budget; it’s time to put a price on carbon so that we can live within our global carbon budget.

Soon, over 800 CCL members will descend on Washington DC for both their international conference and to lobby on Capitol Hill. The Conference runs from June 19-21st and is both inspiring and solution-oriented.

“With your help,” Gandhi responded to General Smuts, as Smuts inquired how he intended to prevail in South Africa. It’s part of CCL’s creation story and strategy for success. And, it’s just as relevant today as it was in Gandhi’s time.

You can take part in a few ways.

 

We Are the Cavalry

CCL 2013 DC

Late last month, under a sweltering DC sun, President Barack Obama wiped his brow, as if to emphasize a glaring truth; it’s getting hotter. In the absence of Congressional leadership, Obama promised to slow global warming, in part, by using the EPA to limit the amount of carbon dioxide that power plants may produce.

At the time of the president’s address, I was a few miles away in a Capitol Hill office. As part of a delegation of concerned citizen-volunteers, I was meeting with an aide who worked for a Kansas Republican House member. Our group, from Kansas, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Toronto, asked for the Congressman to support a transparent, market-based solution to limit carbon emissions, the revenue-neutral carbon tax.

In total, almost 400 volunteers from the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) made 439 congressional office visits that week. This citizen advocacy organization has been taking its asks directly to Congress for the past four years, and the number of volunteers asking has doubled each successive year.

“Politicians don’t create political will, they respond to it,” says CCL’s executive director Mark Reynolds. “It’s always easier to take the cynical view of politics. But if you actually say, ‘I’m a citizen. This is a citizen problem,’ it gives you an entirely different world to deal with.”

CCL’s work is based on the principles of non-violence and the work of Gandhi on behalf of the Indian community in South Africa a century ago. Gandhi’s chief adversary at that time was General Smuts, head of the South African Government in the Transvaal.

In a now historic meeting, Gandhi told Smuts, “I’ve come to tell you that I am going to fight against your government.

Anything more?” Smuts replied incredulously.

Yes, Gandhi answered, “I am going to win.”

Smuts laughed,“How?

Gandhi responded back, “With your help.”

Ultimately, with the help of Smuts, Gandhi prevailed. South Africa is often called the birthplace of Gandhi’s Satyagraha (“insistence on truth”) movement.

CCL’s bipartisan approach of appealing to others shared humanity, reaching across table, and forging alliances with people you wouldn’t normally regard as your allies is gaining support. The organization is now comprised of over 110 grassroots groups across the country and adding more members weekly.

Likewise, a revenue-neutral carbon tax has widespread support from economists on both sides of the political spectrum as the most efficient, easiest and most transparent way to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

CCL proposes placing a rising fee on carbon at the point where it enters the market- at the wellhead, at the coal mine, or as an adjustment at the border to encourage trading countries to adopt similar measures. To take the bite out of the rising costs associated with the carbon fee, and to appeal to conservatives who do not like taxes, CCL proposes giving 100% of the revenue back to households. The revenue-neutral aspect of this proposal is critical to gain Republican support.

So how did our meeting go with the Kansas Republican’s office? What started out as a very tense situation, ended with the young aide smiling, thanking us and asking us to keep the dialogue open.

“I don’t see anybody else coming. You know, when you get into a dire situation, the cavalry shows up, ” CCL’s founder, Marshall Saunders told volunteers participating in the week’s activities. “We are the cavalry. And we are going to win and there is no choice about it.”

Perhaps, Obama said it best in his address, “What we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up, and speak up, and compel us to do what this moment demands.” The world is getting hotter, our window of opportunity to change course is closing. Politicians will not act unless we, collectively, compel them to do so.

Maria Rotunda is the Santa Fe Citizens Climate Lobby group leader. You can contact her at santafe@citizensclimatelobby.org.

 

Citizens Climate Lobby from SandDreams on Vimeo.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Lobbying for the Greater Good

carbon_taxspacer (1K)

 
Have you read David Bornstein’s piece in the New York Times on CCL?Here’s an excerpt:“The Citizens Climate Lobby is taking very sophisticated ideas and putting them into letters and op-eds and face-to-face meetings with members of Congress,” explained  Bob Inglis, a South Carolina Republican who served 12 years in the House of Representatives and now directs the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University. “I think they’ve moved the needle on this issue.”

In the same week, climate hero Dr. James Hansen — one keynote speaker for CCL’s conference in Washington — had some great things to say about the organization in a Huffington Post blog, calling it “a democratic force to be reckoned with”.

With now more than 100 chapters across North America, Citizens Climate Lobby is anticipating 375 climate activists converging on DC at the end of the month, where they plan to meet with every office in the House and Senate.

My personal favorite excerpt from the article was a line from Elli Sparks who founded the Richmond VA CCL chapter.

“Sparks says it’s necessary to get out of your “comfort zone.” “If it feels comfortable, ‘I’m going to sign this petition; I’m going to post it on Facebook,’” she said, “then you’re not doing enough to move things forward. You’ve got to have butterflies in your belly, your heart has to be racing, your palm has to be sweating.”

There are many people out there who feel powerless; who look at the world’s problems and think these problems are too big. CCL is an organization made up of people who refuse to succumb to that cynicism, who have seemingly boundless energy, and who believe they can move mountains. And they are doing just that.

There is no better time than now to join them… at citizensclimatelobby.org.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta