June 22, 2015

As Pope Releases Climate Message, Princeton Volunteers Head to DC

Following the release of Pope Francis’ much-anticipated encyclical dealing with climate change, four volunteers from the Princeton chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby will meet in Washington with their representatives and senators to press for legislation that places a fee on carbon and returns revenue to households.

The Princeton CCL members, who are traveling to the nation’s capital to attend the 6th International Citizens’ Climate Lobby Conference, will spend a day, June 23, visiting the offices of senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, as well as representative Bonnie Watson Coleman. Their message: We need to reduce the risk of climate change by reducing the carbon pollution we currently emit. We can achieve that with a market-based solution that places a steadily-rising fee on carbon and gives the revenue back to consumers, thereby shielding families from the economic impact of higher energy costs.

As Princeton advocates prepare to go to Washington, Pope Francis is releasing his encyclical – a papal letter sent to all bishops in the Catholic Church – calling for action to address climate change. Titled “Laudato Si” (Praised Be), the encyclical speaks about the need to care for God’s creation and to protect the most vulnerable from the ravages of global warming. Francis’ encyclical comes in advance of his visit to the U.S. in September, where he will address a joint session of Congress and also speak at the UN General Assembly in New York. The pontiff’s actions are timed to encourage nations to reach agreement on a global climate change accord in Paris at the end of the year.

“It’s very exciting that the Pope’s encyclical is being released just before we go to   lobby our members of Congress,” said Callie Hancock, group leader for the Princeton CCL chapter. “With one third of Congress being Catholic, Francis’ message is bound to have a big impact.”

In their meetings with members of Congress, CCL volunteers hope to assuage fears that placing a price on carbon will be detrimental to the economy. A study from Regional Economic Models, Inc. found that CCL’s proposal, known as Carbon Fee and Dividend, would actually ADD 2.8 million jobs over 20 years while cutting carbon emissions in half.

“If it’s done the right way, pricing carbon can actually be good for our economy,” Hancock said. “That can happen if we give all the money back to households. It will act as an economic stimulus.”

The CCL International Conference in Washington is being held June 21-23, and features keynote speaker Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, who was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people and who also appeared in Showtime’s award-winning series about climate change, “Years of Living Dangerously.”