Citizens’ Climate Lobbyist Iona Lutey Hosts ENST Brown Bag

On Friday, April 8, the Northeast Regional Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) Iona Lutey hosted an Environmental Studies (ENST) brown bag describing the focused approach of her international grassroots environmental group on influencing climate policy. According to Lutey, the transition from fossil fuels to renewables is currently in motion, but CCL is focused on speeding up this transition. With the mindset that politicians do not make political will, but respond to it, CCL has developed a mega-proposal to give renewables a more level playing field in terms of competing with fossil fuels in the market.

During the brown bag, Lutey proposed that the federal government should steadily increase the price of carbon.

“Pollution should not be free,” Lutey said.

The CCL’s proposal includes a fee that will begin at fifteen dollars per ton of carbon emission and that will increase by ten dollars each year. It would be imposed at the port of entry of oil, gas or coal, which includes about twenty-five locations within the United States. The money made from the fee would be returned to American households, with only the wealthiest consumers with the largest carbon footprints paying more than they would be receiving back in their pockets.

In order to ensure that American industries would not acquire a competitive disadvantage internationally, CCL’s proposal suggests the implementation of a border tax adjustment. Since the United States offers such a large market, U.S. implementation of a border tax adjustment would likely incentivize other countries to adopt similar policies.

According to Lutey, the availability of renewables will also be stimulated through the support of investors. Investors have been interested in renewables for quite some time, but the unpredictability of future has limited the pursuit of that interest. With a steadily increasing carbon fee, investors would have the predictability they can act upon.

Ultimately, the goal of CCL’s climate control proposal is to encourage Americans to reduce their carbon footprint, incentivize other countries to follow in suit, and accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

Junior Julia Steitz attended the brown bag and was impressed by how practical and effective Lutey’s proposal seemed.

“Overall, the proposal seemed almost flawless in that it would minimize pollution while stimulating the market. I’m interested to see how long it takes to actually be implemented,” Steitz said.

Lutey also talked extensively about the specific approach CCL takes in lobby sessions with members of Congress. They train their volunteers to emphasize CCL objectives while stressing active listening and the importance of fostering relationships with Congressmen. Knowing that Republicans are more interested in hearing about job creation than climate control, CCL volunteers highlight the economic opportunity implicated in this climate solution. Yes, the dividend created by a carbon fee is saving the planet, but this solution is also serving as an economic boost. While this type of data is more appealing to Republicans, many are still concerned with putting their names on this climate resolution.

“We agree with you. We just can’t publicly put our names on that,” quoted Lutey of countless Republican Congressmen. Luckily, unanimously positive feedback to the release of the climate resolution in September discouraged this restraint.

Ultimately, Lutey stressed the CCL’s commitment to pushing their climate solution for the sake of the planet.

Senior Julia Shaffer was very impressed by Lutey’s presentation.

“She was incredibly passionate about her role in the climate control lobby,” Shaffer said. “It will be interesting to see strides continue to be made in climate control policy.”