CCL: Local branch of international group tackles climate issues

CCL: Local branch of international group tackles climate issues

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Amidst the climate issues of the day, individuals can have a voice or the ability to affect change, and numerous organizations have stepped up to organize, support and encourage action.

One of these groups, the Citizens' Climate Lobby, is a grassroots nonprofit with 597 active chapters around the world. CCL has a local chapter in Wayne County that allows area residents to connect with those who share their concern over environmental changes while having a voice in efforts to bring about reforms.

Community member and market gardener Peter Boyer has been involved with Citizens' Climate Lobby since before the local chapter was formed. "Simply put," Boyer said, "I joined CCL to take action — to help usher the change that is needed to safeguard our future on earth."

Boyer said the organization has no political affiliation and advocates for bipartisan legislative climate action.

With an emphasis on lobbying congressional representatives for nonpartisan climate legislation, the group is currently focused on putting a price on carbon pollution. Boyer said the carbon fee and dividend is at the crux of CCL's efforts.

"Such a policy would decarbonize the economy, have a $0 government spending price tag, bolster domestic economic growth, incentivize other nations to follow suit and actually make money for two-thirds of Americans with the poorest receiving the greatest benefit," he said.

The local chapter of CCL was formed in fall 2019 by area resident Juli Douglass-Gillespie after she joined the nonprofit. "There were many chapters all over the state, so I thought I'd see if I could get people in Wooster and Wayne County interested," she said.

As with many issues, personal stories often motivate people to take action. Before retiring as a teacher, Douglass-Gillespie delved into studying the environment and climate. "I saw right away how my students were just starved to talk about this, and they really inspired me," she said. "They really wanted to get a grasp of the subject, and they did amazing projects."

One aspect of CCL's mission is the opportunity to participate in meetings with legislators. The local chapter has a 12-person lobby team. Boyer and Douglass-Gillespie are among the group that's composed of members from a variety of backgrounds.

"We've been able to connect maybe six times with a member of Congress," Douglass-Gillespie said. "Every time we've felt that we made progress (and) have learned about how to talk with them and how to listen."

Douglass-Gillespie said there is no obligation or cost in signing up for CCL. "Just your membership helps," she said, "because the more members we have, the bigger our numbers and the more influence we can have with legislators."

Members may choose to receive emails and take action as they wish and as time allows.

"If we all just say somebody else is going to do it, then nothing is going to happen," Douglass-Gillespie said. "I really like CCL because they make it easy by giving you these little tasks. And if you make a call or send an email or letter, it will count because members of Congress have to keep track and you will know that you've made your voice heard."

To find out more about Citizens' Climate Lobby and to join the organization, go to www.citizensclimatelobby.org. The local chapter currently has monthly Zoom meetings and regular email notifications regarding letters and calls to Congress.

"If you want to solve problems, you need to go through legislatures and talk to lawmakers," Douglass-Gillespie said. "It's all about participation in our democracy — voting for whoever you feel represents you and talking with those who are in office and voicing our needs to them and letting them know we think climate change needs to be worked on right now and not sometime in the future."

"The CCL Wooster group not only serves as a pathway to take meaningful action as an individual, but also creates a community of people who motivate and inspire me to press on for the cause," Boyer said. "We have members from all parties and unique backgrounds. If one wishes to do something, anything, to help the climate cause, do this: congregate with others to talk about the issue and find ways to advance climate action, together. That's what we do in CCL Wooster. And we have so much to do that there are not enough people to do it all. Come join and help us improve the world."

"Climate change is a moral issue, not a political one," Douglass-Gillespie said. "If you share a grave concern for the environment and want to find answers on how to solve the problems together, please join us."