Dear “Green Team” Friends:

I am writing to request your assistance in efforts to elevate climate change as an election issue.  A study by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication indicates that while the majority of American people view it as an issue that needs to be addressed and support the enactment of various policy solutions, they simultaneously rank global warming at near the bottom of the list of priorities.  With that knowledge, both political parties have been either silent or dismissive of climate change since 2010, and have not changed their approaches during this election season.   However, the continued manifestation of severe and unusual weather events are causing more Americans to “connect the dots” between these events and climate change, and is garnering greater coverage by mainstream media.  The “conspiracy of silence” by both political parties is also attracting greater attention.  (See e.g., thoughts by Al Gore, Senator John Kerry, Robert Brulle, FCNL blog)

Conventional political strategy discourages explicit attention to the climate crisis during this election season.  The success of efforts to place it on the 2012 electoral agenda are slim.  However, if the American people and national leaders do not even talk about the problem, how can we solve it?  If candidates for office are not challenged before their election to make the climate crisis a priority, how can the American people reasonably expect the elected to make it a priority in the next Congress?   When is the “appropriate” time to challenge the national political institutions to even merely talk about, much less act upon the climate crisis, when the current impacts are worse than predicted, future scenarios are increasingly grave, and world greenhouse gas emissions not are slowing but accelerating

What is the merit of “conventional” political calculations when our nation’s political institutions which arguably are the most critical institutions in the world agents to turn the tide towards dramatic reductions in global and national greenhouse gas emissions, are currently perhaps the single greatest barrier to that necessary solution, and instead argue over which party deserves more credit for the increased exploitation of domestic fossil fuel resources?   What is the merit of “conventional” political strategy towards a Congress that is exceptionally paralyzed by partisanship and as a result receiving the lowest approval ratings in history?   Indeed, according to one study, politicians who undertake the courage to speak of climate change may benefit from such a stance.  

Urging the nation’s leaders to act in the interests of the people, must come foremost from the people.  As Sam Daley-Harris, Founder and President of RESULTS has said,  "If the political will of the people is asleep at the wheel, then the political will of government is likely to be asleep at the wheel."  The people’s votes are the candidates’ ultimate bottom line, and are the most effective counter to moneyed interests.  We must at least try to raise climate change is an urgent issue to be addressed during this election season.  Politicians must be challenged to acknowledge the science, impacts and gravity of climate change to present and future generations and our Earth, thus establishing a moral anchor in the next Congress to support all policy efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience. 

We can and must be the agents of change.  This is a moral and non-partisan call to action for the sake of ourselves, our children, future generations and our Earth.  Millions if not billions of people will suffer in the coming decades if we do not act now.  Parker Palmer says his book “Healing the Heart of Democracy”, that at this time of tremendous disillusionment and heartbreak about our political institutions, we can choose to have our hearts break open, not apart, thus creating seemingly unimaginable light and courage during this dark time.  It is a role Quakers have undertaken throughout their history, most notably through the campaign to abolish of slavery, when Quakers steadfastly held to their conviction in spirit and action for centuries despite its unpopularity, until that conviction was legally manifest in 1865 through the 13th Amendment.  It is a role some of you have told me is appropriate for us now.

 What You Can Do

If you think there is no better time than now to challenge candidates to elected office - especially in the House of Representatives - about the moral and non-partisan imperative to address the climate crisis, please consider using House Resolution to supplement your efforts.  H. Res. 672 challenges the candidates to commit to something more than a verbal promise to address the climate crisis.  The incumbent can still co-sponsor the resolution, and the challenger can make a symbolic commitment to it.   Please consider:

attending forums where the candidates will be and ask them to address the climate crisis:

tell your own story about the impacts of and solutions to climate change

consider supplementing your words with the attached talking points and one-pager

hand a copy of House Resolution 672 to the candidates (attached)

if you are unable to address to the candidates face to face, you can ask the incumbent to co-sponsor H. Res. 672 electronically. We are deeply grateful to those of you who have already taken this action.  

Actions in the Near Future

FCNL is working on two other collaborative efforts to elevate climate change this election season.  The first involves a petition calling for the presidential candidates to address climate change and hold a summit in 2013.  Further information will be coming out of this effort in the next week or so.  The second effort is a consideration by several faith traditions to issue a letter of concern to our political leaders about the lack of attention to the climate crisis. 

Enactment a carbon tax would be a key step towards institutionalizing the cost of carbon pollution, and perhaps the only legislative proposal relating to greenhouse gas reductions that has some support from both parties.  Fundamental strategy and features regarding a legislative proposal are still being discussed for this and the next Congress, and FCNL is involved in these efforts.   We also continue our advocacy of legislative solutions to promote energy efficiency (S.1000) and end subsidies to fossil fuel industries (S. 3080).  We will update you each of these developments.  Please feel free to contact me should you have any comments or questions. 

I thank you for considering these thoughts and requests, for your support of FCNL, and for your steadfast vision of an Earth Restored.

Wishing you peace,

Jose

Jose Aguto
Legislative Secretary
Sustainable Energy and Environment
Friends Committee on National Legislation
245 Second St., NE
Washington, DC  20002
202-903-2527 (w)
202-553-7202 (c)
www.fcnl.org