Writing to Congress

(Source: Citizens Climate Lobby)

A hand-written letter to a member of Congress is one of the best actions one can take to generate political will on an issue. The more letters, the better, as they demonstrate to representatives and senators that an issue is important to their constituency.

Email or letter? When was the last time you got a hand-written letter from someone? It really makes an impact, especially in a time when we’re buried in email. Therefore, we encourage the handwritten letters.

Watch this great 6 minute TED Talk that explains WHY we hand-write letters to our elected officials.

Basic letter outline:

  • Make your letter personal by telling a little about yourself – occupation, whether you have children or grandchildren, which church you might attend, etc.
  • Acknowledge your member of Congress for something they did or said recently or for their response to a previous letter.
  • Tell them why climate change is a big concern to you.
  • Ask them to do what they can to support a carbon tax that gives revenue back to households, preferably by equal, direct payments.
  • Ask for a reply.
  • Suggested length is 1-2 handwritten pages.

Talking points on climate change and carbon tax (Pick only two; use your own words):

  • Major reports from the National Academies of Science, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the World Bank, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tell us that the Earth is warming at a dangerous rate because of the greenhouse gases being released from fossil fuels into the atmosphere.
  • Before the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million. It is now 400 ppm, a level not seen since before humans existed.
  • Scientists tell us that to avoid catastrophic and unmanageable changes in our climate, the increase in global average temperature must be contained to 2° Celsius.
  • Failure to contain climate change will result is rising seas that flood coastal cities, food and water shortages, more severe and frequent natural disasters from extreme weather, disruption of the food chain in oceans because of increased ocean acidity.
  • To avoid the worst effects of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels must be quickly and drastically reduced.
  • The latest IPCC report states that we have a “carbon budget” – half of which has already been spent – of 1 trillion tons of CO2 that can be emitted from fossil fuels. At current rates, we will exceed that budget in the coming decades.
  • Nations and corporations have fossil fuel reserves that hold five times the amount of CO2 that can be safely burned, meaning that 80 percent of those assets must be left in the ground.
  • Most economists agree that the best way to reduce emissions is by taxing carbon.
  • A steadily-increasing tax on fossil fuels will send a price signal to the marketplace that causes a shift away from carbon-based energy and toward clean sources.
  • Returning revenue to households, preferably through direct and equal payments, will make the transition economically painless and can actually stimulate the economy.
  • Many conservative economists – Art Laffer, Greg Mankiw, Douglas Holtz-Eakin – argue that free enterprise can fix the climate problem, but only if we fix the distortion in the marketplace that give polluters free access to our skies.
  • Contrary to the conventional wisdom that we must choose between protecting the environment or the economy, a carbon tax with revenue returned to households will be good for the economy not only by putting money in the hands of people who will spend it, but also by producing millions of new jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency.
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