Climate conference lobbies for fee-and-dividend

Citizens Climate Lobby's purpose is to lobby legislators to bring in a carbon fee-and-dividend system to help control global warming

Participants in Citizens Climate Lobby - Canada’s recent conference gather in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill before fanning out to lobby for a carbon fee-and-dividend solution to global climate change.

Participants in Citizens Climate Lobby - Canada’s recent conference gather in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill before fanning out to lobby for a carbon fee-and-dividend solution to global climate change.

Your editor recently returned from participating in Citizens Climate Lobby – Canada’s 2014 conference in Ottawa.

Citizens Climate Lobby is an organization that began in the United States in 2007. Its purpose is to lobby legislators to bring in a carbon fee-and-dividend system.

This would essentially be a carbon tax on fossil fuels but, instead of putting the money into government Ottawa City Hallrevenues as with other taxes, it would be distributed to everyone as equal dividends or carbon rebates.

Day one of the conference was interesting and informative.

Main speaker was Mark Reynolds, the executive director of CCL. He outlined the history of the organization and outlined the approach they take when speaking with legislators – respectful and non-confrontational, to listen as much as to speak.

The second day of the Citizen Climate Lobby – Canada conference was even more interesting that the first.

Speakers included a Skype appearance by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and evangelical Christian who was born and grew up in the Toronto area but who now lives in Texas. She talked about the need to shape your climate change message to your audience – for example, evangelical Christians.

Michael MacMillan talked about his book, “Tragedy in the Commons,” which is based on interviews done with 80 former M.P.s about their experiences in politics. Even though many of them had been in senior cabinet positions, they overwhelmingly were unhappy with the high level of party discipline in the Canadian parliament. Several reforms were suggested.

CCL executive director Mark Reynolds gave an address titled, “The Way Forward.”

When things go wrong, people ask, “What’s wrong with me?”, “What’s wrong with them?” and “What’s wrong with it?” he said. A better approach would be to ask, “What are we committed to?”

A common metaphor used to explain how people react to the threat of climate change is the story of putting a frog in a pot of cool water and gradually warming it. The frog supposedly will remain until it cooks.

Tom Rand, the keynote speaker in the afternoon, talked about his book “Waking the Frog,” which examines the psychology of denial.

Final workshop was a panel discussion on economics with Tom Rand, Celine Bak (president of AnalyticaPanel Advisors), Stewart Elgie (University of Ottawa and member of the new EcoFiscal Commission), Christopher Ragan (chair of the EcoFiscal Commission), and David Robinson (Institute for Northern Ontario Research and Development).

Although Celine Bak emphasized that she is not an economist, the panel members agreed that the best way to tackle climate change would be by pricing carbon dioxide – preferably through a carbon tax.

Stewart Elgie said a carbon tax set at $30 per tonne (the same as B.C.’s) would generate $20 billion per year federally (assuming there are 20 million adults in Canada, that would mean a carbon dividend as proposed by CCL would amount to $1,000 per year per adult).

 

For more about the conference, including the final two days of lobbying politicians, see next week’s issue.