Citizens Climate Lobby Launches Local Chapter

By Kenneth O’Hare, Green Community Connections On a sweltering Saturday morning in July, eleven citizens gathered in the basement of the Maze Branch Library in Oak Park to launch a new local chapter of an international movement to combat climate change.  Some of those present were old friends and neighbors, with roots in the environmental and civil rights movements. Most had attended a presentation on the science of climate change the week before at Oak Park Public Library. They were in the basement at Maze now to take the first steps in organizing locally to become the newest chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL).

Meeting organizers Rick Knight of Brookfield and Ken O’Hare of Oak Park sketched the origins, purpose and strategy of the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) and invited the group to join in forming the newest chapter, the second in the Chicago area,  which encompasses Chicago’s West Side neighborhoods and the near western suburbs. An international movement that now has 63 chapters in the U.S. and Canada, CCL is dedicated to creating “political will for a livable world.”

The current primary strategy of CCL is to build support for a national fee (tax) on fossil carbon, with the proceeds of the tax to be rebated to the citizenry. An article on the fee and rebate concept is available on the Green Community Connections web site, under the title “The Case for a Carbon Tax.”  See also the links below for more detailed information on the fee (tax) and rebate concept.

CCL chapters around the country have been active in educating the public on climate change, and education on the growing crisis is a core activity of the new, local chapter here. Rick Knight, a chemical engineer, has presented his talk and slide show titled “The Science of Climate Change” to highly receptive audiences around the Chicago area. The presentation is available to local groups upon request (see contact information below).

Citizens Climate Lobby chapters seek to create a close relationship with their local U.S. Congressional delegation, positioning CCL as a knowledgeable resource on climate change. Here in the Chicago area it means getting to know and working with two U.S. Senators and ten or more U.S. Representatives.  Creating that relationship is a gradual process of meeting with the officials, soliciting their views on the subject, pointing out how climate change intersects with the officials’ other interests, providing resource materials, and promoting effective legislative solutions such as a carbon fee and rebate law.

Dedicated to creating the political will for stabilizing the climate, the Citizens Climate Lobby works by engaging individuals in a wide variety of life situations to exercise their personal and political power. The underlying belief is that ordinary citizens, with education and support, can become highly effective advocates on behalf of the climate.

If you are interested in a public education and legislative approach to combating climate change, the Citizens Climate Lobby may be a movement for you to consider. To learn more, first look over the CCL website, then contact Ken O’Hare ( or Rick Knight ( to get more details. The next meeting of the local chapter, dubbed the Chicagoland Citizens Climate Lobby—West, is scheduled for August 4, 2012, at 11:00 a.m., at Maze Branch Library, 845 Gunderson Avenue, Oak Park. The meeting will include participation in a national conference call with other CCL members around the country, and will include a report on CCL’s recent Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., in which several local chapter members participated.

For more detailed information on the fee(tax) and rebate concept from Citizens Climate Lobby:

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