Handling Challenging Questions About The Energy Innovation Act

Providing volunteers with the skills and resources to respond to questions gracefully is key to empowering all CCL volunteers to be successful advocates.

To help, this resource compiles some general guidance on how to best engage with others who have questions and critiques regarding CCL’s approach and preferred policy solution. Read through the background recommendations below then click on any of the topics for possible underlying values, background information and potential responses. If there is something missing, search CCL Community and ask your question on the Forums. Frequently asked questions may be added below in the future.

Note: This resource was last updated in 2022.



This background information is also provided on the Handling Challenging Questions About the Energy Innovation Act training page including a training video and slides.

Start with the main messages

When describing how the bill works, start by keeping your communications simple and high level.  For helpful resources, check out the Energy Innovation Act website or CCL’s 1-page Fact Sheet.

Do you need to respond?

This should always be your first question. There are some cases where your best option is not to respond. For instance, engaging with strong climate deniers is rarely productive, especially in a public setting. It can be best to ignore, or deflect, or quickly pivot back to your key message.

Also, there are national organizations that are firmly opposed to our type of climate solutions on both the right and the left. CCL’s national staff is working with many of these organizations and the relationships are probably as good as they can be -- sometimes with an agreement to disagree. If you have questions about a particular organization, please contact Ben Pendergrass (ben@citizensclimatelobby.org) in the D.C. office. 

That said, it can be OK to engage with people who have been influenced by an organization but are not central to it. If someone says something like, “I heard organization X says…”, feel free to engage on the topic, always being respectful of other organizations.

Online forums and email threads can be some of the worst places for dialogue. Don’t give in to the temptation to correct every person who has said something wrong on the Internet. Often it’s best just to let it go and focus on spreading your positive message.

Listen, Listen, Listen

People are much more likely to be open to what you have to say once they feel they have been listened to. You can help them feel heard by asking questions to make sure you understand their concerns properly. You can restate their question or comment so that you, and they, are sure you understand it. You can articulate places of agreement with their values and concerns when possible and use those to reframe the conversation (e.g., “It sounds to me like you want an effective solution.”). When possible, try to resonate or agree with their values (e.g., “I agree. Effectiveness is very important to me as well.”) You might continue with something like, “This may not satisfy you, but what I like about the bill is….”

There is much more ability to do this one-on-one or in a small group than during a large public talk, but in either case you can try to convey an honest curiosity and openness to what they are saying. (See note below on why you do not want to “reflect” when talking with the media.)

Context matters

How you engage is different during a one on one conversation, during a presentation, with the media, during a meeting with community leaders, or during a meeting with a Congressional office. 

A one-on-one conversation allows for much deeper engagement, more of a chance to ask questions, and provide longer answers. With an audience of one you have the freedom to tailor your answers.

During a presentation or other public arena, you often have a diverse audience with different knowledge and beliefs. You want to be respectful and respond to people’s questions and concerns, but you don’t want to get off topic or into a back and forth argument. As described above, try to reframe the conversation around values and find places of agreement. To keep things on track, you might end a response with, “I’d be happy to talk more about this with you later.” 

With the media, you have to be especially careful. They can lift any quote or soundbite so it’s really important to stay on message with what you want them to quote. Avoid repeating questions back - you don’t want their words in your mouth (Note: that this is opposite of what you might do individually or in a small group where reflection can help with connection).

With a community leader or Congressional office, you want to do your best to understand concerns and respond when you can, but it can often be most valuable to seek areas of agreement and shared values rather than focus on disagreement about details.

Know Your Audience

It’s important to meet people where they are and connect as much as possible. Ideally, you are a trusted messenger with your audience and share values, culture and identity. If you aren’t the ideal messenger, be mindful of your language to connect with your audience’s values and viewpoint.

For example, when speaking with a more conservative audience, consider framing your talk with values that many conservatives share: authority, loyalty, freedom and independence. When speaking with a left-leaning audience, consider frames based on justice, fairness, equality or forward progress.

Disagreements on Policy Details

Possible underlying factors

  • Dislike of the military for other reasons.
  • Military is the “single biggest emitter.”


The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act provides a refund of carbon fee costs in covered fuels used by the military. This would include gasoline, diesel, or other fuels used for ships, planes, and ground transport, plus coal, oil, or natural gas used to generate electricity on military bases and in field operations. 

Based on Defense Department fuel procurement reports here and here, worldwide greenhouse gas emissions from our military amount to about 1.2 percent of total U.S. emissions (with about half of that occurring outside U.S. borders and not subject to the fee). The U.S. military has also been aggressively pursuing alternative sources of energy for strategic and environmental reasons, so we can expect that they will take full advantage of new developments in renewable and low-carbon energy technologies, further reducing their emissions.

What you might say

While the military is a big emitter of greenhouse gases, they are responsible for roughly 1% of U.S. emissions. For strategic and environmental reasons, the military has already been acting to reduce fuel use. This exemption should not prevent the U.S. from meeting the bold emissions targets in the Energy Innovation Act.

Possible underlying factors

  • Dislike of agriculture for other reasons (eg pollution, animal welfare, etc.).
  • Idea that agriculture is a huge portion of emissions.


The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act provides a refund of carbon fee costs in fuels — chiefly diesel fuel — used on farms. This is considered an extension of a fuel tax exemption that is already in place for agricultural fuels. It would not apply to other forms of energy such as electricity used on a farm. Although it will provide relief for farmers, in practice it would have little impact on total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions because agricultural fuel-generated emissions account for less than 1 percent of our total emissions.

Another provision related to agriculture concerns is non-fossil fuel emissions from the carbon fee. Since this policy is focused on fossil fuel emissions, it does not cover things like methane from livestock and manure and nitrous oxide from farming operations. Although this was implicit in the Carbon Fee and Dividend, the text of this bill makes it explicit by saying that “non-fossil fuel emissions that occur on a farm” are not subject to the carbon fee.

Agricultural products may not be covered by the Border Carbon Adjustment, since they are not generally considered to be “energy intensive” products. And yet most agricultural products are global commodities so it may be difficult for farmers to increase their prices as their costs increase.

What you might say

The agriculture sector is a significant source of greenhouse gases, but only a small portion of those emissions are from fossil fuels used on farms. These exempted emissions amount to less than 1 percent of total U.S. emissions.

This exemption should not prevent the U.S. from meeting the bold emissions targets in the Energy Innovation Act.

Because farmers’ income is tied to global commodity prices, they cannot pass on the cost of the carbon fee to their customers like most other businesses can.

Other greenhouse gas emissions from farms such as methane from livestock are not covered by the Energy Innovation Act, which is focused on fossil fuel emissions. Other policies might be crafted to address these other forms of agricultural based emissions.

Possible underlying factors

  • Concern about non-climate pollution.
  • Concern about effects on land use (e.g., deforestation).


The Energy Innovation Act does not apply the carbon fee to the carbon in biomass, but it will be applied to fossil fuels used in production, processing, and transportation of biomass. 

Biomass energy is theoretically carbon-neutral as long as the CO2 released by its use does not exceed the amount that would have been released through natural processes, and that it does not result in land use change that increases emissions (the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act does not address emissions from land use). Depending on what kinds of biomass are grown and collected and how it is used for energy, it may have other non-GHG emissions of concern. There are also concerns from some environmental groups that biomass energy could be abused, resulting in ecosystem disturbances. 

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act calls for a National Academy of Sciences study, to be completed and made public within 18 months, that will analyze how the carbon fee is affecting the use of biomass for energy and the resulting impacts on ‘carbon sinks’ and biodiversity. The term “carbon sinks” refers to the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere through natural processes in plants and soil. 

The study aims to ensure that any expansion of biomass energy does not upset this balance or increase threats to biodiversity. The study will make recommendations to mitigate any adverse impacts that are revealed.

What you might say

It’s unclear how a carbon fee will affect the amount that biomass is used for energy, but it should help reduce fossil fuel used in any production, processing, and transportation of biomass.

The Energy Innovation Act calls for a National Academy of Sciences study on the effects of biomass on carbon sinks and biodiversity that will make recommendations on how to address any adverse impacts.

Possible underlying factors

  • Concern about non-climate pollution.
  • Concern about GHG emissions that avoid the carbon fee.


Some of the solid waste generated in the U.S. is incinerated to produce energy. Some of this waste comes from biogenic sources (e.g., wood, food waste) and would likely produce similar (or greater)  amounts of GHG as it decomposes in landfills. But some waste comes from fossil-based sources (e.g., plastics) and would thus create excess GHG as it is combusted. In addition, waste incineration produces other pollutants of concern for health.

Waste incineration is not currently a significant source of GHG, and this practice could increase under a carbon fee, but only if it is cheaper than other sources of low-carbon energy.

The bill language does appear to allow the U.S. Treasury to extend “covered fuel” to include fossil-based wastes like plastics that would be burned in a waste-to-energy plant - see Sec. 9901(g)- which defines a “covered fuel” to include “... any other product derived from crude oil, natural gas, or coal which shall be used so as to emit greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.”

What you might say

Incineration of waste does produce some net greenhouse gases, but currently the amount is small compared to total US emissions. 

The Energy Innovation Act does contain language allowing (but not requiring) application of the fee  to include fossil-based wastes such as plastics that are combusted.

CCL is looking into whether this practice might increase under a carbon fee and the possibility of additional policies that might address that issue.

Possible underlying factors

  • Nuclear waste, plant safety, risk of weapon proliferation.


Although the Energy Innovation Act says nothing about nuclear power (it is technology agnostic), by addressing the harm from  GHG emissions, it provides an economic boost to low-carbon energy sources, including  nuclear power. 

Models show (see Fig. 5) that within the electricity sector, under the Energy Innovation Act renewables would double by 2030 with nuclear decreasing as a portion of total energy (but not by as much as without the bill).

The Energy Innovation Act does not promote or exclude any technologies in order to make space for the most creative solutions, many of which have never reached commercial status because of the unfair price advantage of fossil fuels, and many which have not even been invented yet. Prohibiting broad technology classes could prevent the development of novel solutions that could prove to be vital in the fight for clean energy while also mitigating other concerns like nuclear waste (e.g., Gen IV nuclear).

What you might say

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act puts all forms of low-carbon energy on the same footing. 

Models show that, under the bill,  given current technology and economics, renewables would likely provide the largest share of our electricity. Nuclear would continue to provide some energy but would decline compared to the current mix.

There is nothing in the bill to prevent people from advocating for policies to address their concerns about nuclear power.

Ambition Concerns

Possible underlying factors

  • Strong sense of urgency around emissions reductions.
  • Worry that this will be (or is being) treated as a silver bullet and has to solve climate change alone.
  • Prefer more aggressive/disruptive policies in general.


The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act starts pricing carbon at $15/ton and increases the price by $10 (plus inflation) each year. The bill sets a target of 100% GHG emissions reductions by 2050, with a set of interim targets that starts in 2025. Starting in 2025, if the emissions cuts don’t keep up with the emissions reduction schedule described above, the annual increase in the carbon fee will be strengthened from $10 to $15 per metric ton.

The bill mandates 48% emissions reductions in 2030 (based on 2005 baseline). Models show that the $10/year price trajectory in the bill would likely exceed that target, reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 (from a 2005 baseline). Model predictions beyond 10-15 years are less reliable because they can’t predict the amount of innovation that the carbon price drives, which can bring down costs for low-carbon options. Economists expect that innovation will increase dramatically under a carbon price. One recent estimate shows that carbon taxes could induce energy efficiency innovations sufficient to cut energy usage 30% more than traditional models assume over the course of a century.

Of course, a carbon price should not be considered a silver bullet and be expected to eliminate all emissions by itself.

What you might say

Models predict that the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act will cut emissions 50% by 2030. Economists believe it will likely do even better as the carbon price drives rapid innovation which will lower the costs of low-carbon technology. 

If we are not hitting the aggressive emissions targets in the bill, the price will be increased faster ($15/year).

Possible underlying factors

  • Strong sense of urgency around emissions reductions.
  • Want to make sure there are additional or alternative policies.


The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is right now. 

The same is true of a carbon price. Yes, it would have been better to enact a carbon price years ago, but enacting one today would still quickly and effectively reduce emissions across the entire economy. 

Carbon pricing is not a silver bullet. Other efforts will also be needed to reduce emissions fast enough to stay under 1.5 or 2 degrees temperature rise. The longer we delay in enacting a carbon price, the greater the need will be for other policies to reduce emissions and remove carbon already in the atmosphere.

What you might say

It is not too late for a carbon price to quickly and effectively reduce emissions across the entire economy. Studies show a 50% drop in emissions by 2030.

While it is not a silver bullet, a carbon price can be a key element in addressing climate change.

Possible underlying factors

  • Could be a strong Green New Deal supporter or is just curious about the connection.


We are grateful to Green New Deal supporters for raising the urgency of climate change in the media and within the halls of Congress. As it stands currently, the Green New Deal is a set of goals that was written into a non-binding resolution introduced in the House of Representatives in February 2019. Citizens’ Climate Lobby and our supporters also understand the urgency of the climate crisis and agree that it requires big solutions. We share their goal of transitioning away from fossil fuels while creating jobs and boosting the economy. In fact, many  cosponsors of the Energy Innovation Act in the House have also signed on as cosponsors of the Green New Deal as well. 

We believe the recently reintroduced Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is a key component to achieving the emissions reductions America needs. The bill targets emissions reductions of at least 48% by 2030 and 100% by 2050 (below 2005 baseline), which tracks closely with the recommendations from the U.N.’s recent IPCC report. Models show emissions reductions of 50% by 2030 based on a 2005 baseline. Because it is built on a broad coalition of support from community leaders, businesses, local legislators, and more than 200,000 CCL supporters across the country, this bill has gained traction in the House and has good prospects in the Senate. We are grateful for the work that legislators and outside groups supporting the Green New Deal have done to bring climate back to the top of the priority list for Congress, and hope these aspirations will quickly be transformed into effective legislation to protect the health, wealth, and well-being of Americans today and for generations to come. See CCL and the Green New Deal for more information.

Main takeaways:

  • Appreciate raising urgency on solving climate change with the media and Congress.
  • Agreement on the need for big solutions.
  • The Energy Innovation Act will reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
  • The Energy Innovation Act is built on broad, bipartisan support.

Things not to say:

  • Do not put down or complain about the Green New Deal. At CCL, we stay positive.
  • Do not equate the Energy Innovation Act and the Green New Deal or otherwise use their language/framing to promote the bill. Doing so will potentially alienate both Green New Deal supporters and those opposed.

What you might say

We are grateful to Green New Deal supporters for raising the urgency of climate change in the media and within the halls of Congress and helping incite legislators on both sides of the aisle to propose various climate plans and policies.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby and our supporters also understand the urgency of the climate crisis and agree that it requires big solutions. We share the goal of transitioning away from fossil fuels quickly while creating jobs and boosting the economy. In fact, many  cosponsors of the Energy Innovation Act in the House have also signed on as cosponsors of the Green New Deal as well.

Fossil Fuel Concerns

Possible underlying factors

  • Prefer legislation focused on bolstering renewables.
  • Desire to eliminate or drastically reduce fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. 
  • Lack of trust of fossil fuel companies. 
  • Don’t trust that storage will be effective.


If carbon dioxide can be captured or scrubbed out of an emissions source and “sequestered” in some permanent form, it doesn’t contribute to global warming.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act provides for a refund to companies that collect and sequester CO2 produced by a covered fuel (coal, oil or natural gas) in a manner that is “safe, permanent, and in compliance with any applicable local, State, and Federal laws,” as determined by consultation with the EPA. The refund would be equal to the carbon fee that was in place when the CO2 was created (presumably through combustion). The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act also stipulates that the refund would be modified by any amount of “likely” escape into the atmosphere, as determined by the EPA.

This provision in the bill allows CCS-equipped facilities to compete on a level playing field with low-carbon energy technologies like wind, solar, hydro and nuclear energy. It doesn’t subsidize or fund research into CCS, but simply allows private companies to determine for themselves if they judge the carbon price to be sufficient to justify investing in CCS. The “safe, permanent” language ensures that any concerns about leakage or seismic disruption would be addressed before a sequestration site would be approved.

Every other major climate bill in Congress allows for carbon capture, including the Democrats’ CLEAN Future Act. 

What you might say

Consider asking for more information about their concern - are they worried about effectiveness, or they don’t want to see fossil fuel use continued even if CCS worked effectively?

Models show this bill will drive an 82% reduction in GHG emissions from the electricity sector. Studies predict the vast majority of that shift will come from renewables.

This bill does not subsidize or fund research into Carbon Capture and Storage. Only if it is proven that it can be done in a manner that is  “safe and permanent,” as determined by the EPA,  would carbon fees be refunded for any captured emissions.

Possible underlying factors

  • Desire to eliminate or drastically reduce fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. Lack of trust of fossil fuel companies. 
  • Concern that fossil fuel use will go up outside of the U.S.


The bill stipulates that a U.S. fossil fuel exporter would receive a refund equal to the difference between the U.S. carbon fee and the destination country’s carbon price. The effect of this would be to keep the price of exported U.S. fossil fuels on par with their foreign competitors regardless of the carbon price.

In terms of global climate mitigation, this [eliminating taxing US exports of fossil fuels] would have little downside because it would primarily affect which country’s coal, oil or gas is burned, and have little effect on the total amount burned. Besides, most of our major trading partners have already started instituting carbon pricing, and this policy should, just like the carbon border fee adjustment on emissions-intensive goods, increase the likelihood of more countries joining in.

Because of the Border Carbon Adjustments, exporting countries will either adopt similar carbon pricing or pay at our border. All countries that adopt similar fees or taxes on carbon will be on the same level playing field and can make border adjustments with countries that do not adopt such policies. This encourages all countries to place similar fees or taxes on carbon. 

Laser Talk: Carbon Border Fee Adjustment

It is also worth noting that legislators’ hands may be tied due to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. All of the other carbon pricing bills in Congress appear to include fuel exports in their border adjustment provisions.

What you might say

Consider asking a question to find out if they are worried about global fuel use or more concerned about continued domestic extraction.

The Energy Innovation Act is designed to reduce demand for burning fossil fuels, primarily in the U.S., but also globally via the border adjustment. Reducing demand will in turn reduce extraction both in the U.S. and globally. 

The U.S. will not be able to solve climate change on its own but will inspire others to reduce as well and be a world leader in developing affordable  low-carbon technologies and deploying them to the world.

Possible underlying factors

  • Desire to eliminate plastic and other forms of pollution.


The vast majority of oil used globally is burned. Only 4% is used to produce plastics and another 9% for chemicals and other purposes (carbon fibers, asphalt, petroleum jelly, etc.). For uses of fossil fuels that will not result in greenhouse gas emissions, any carbon fees put on that unburned feedstock would be refunded to the manufacturer of the non-emitting product. Any fossil-based energy used or fuel combusted in the manufacturing process would not receive a refund.

For the most part, fossil fuel-based carbon in plastic does not turn into greenhouse gases, unless the plastic is incinerated.

What you might say

Consider asking a question to find out more about their underlying concern.

While there are many people concerned about the impacts from the production, use, and disposal of plastics and other petrochemicals, this policy is focused only on the climate impacts from fossil fuels. All greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels would be subject to the fee.

Other environmental impacts can be addressed through other policies.

Possible underlying factors

  • Lack of trust of fossil fuel companies. If fossil fuel companies support this, it can’t really be effective.
  • You work with the Climate Leadership Council which gets funding from the fossil fuel industry.
  • I’m sure you are well-intentioned, but you are being duped by the fossil fuel companies into supporting an insufficient policy.


CCL does not take any money from fossil fuel companies.

CCL does work with the Climate Leadership Council, which does get support from some of the oil majors, as well as renewable companies and other NGOs. But CCL and the Climate Leadership Council are absolutely separate organizations.

What you might say

CCL does not take any money from fossil fuel companies.

There is broad support for pricing pollution as part of solving climate change, from Bernie Sanders, to Dr. James Hansen, to former Federal Reserve chairpeople and Republican elder statesmen. Across the political spectrum, people see carbon pricing as an effective tool for reducing emissions. 

Business leaders know that there must be and will be action on climate. Many of them have already begun to explore new, innovative energy options. They want a solution that is fair, effective, and allows a smooth transition to a clean energy future. We must push to make sure that transition is swift enough to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

Possible underlying factors

  • Concern that a carbon pricing bill with less emission reductions will pass instead.
  • Concern about efficacy.


There are several differences between the Climate Leadership Council’s Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act legislation. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act applies to all greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels, whereas their proposal would only cover CO2. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend  Act begins lower ($15 vs. $40), increases faster ($10 per ton per year vs. 5% per year), and has a much greater impact on emissions. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2023 does not affect any regulations, whereas their proposal calls for regulatory simplification (note that previous versions of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act did include a regulatory pause).

What you might say

The Energy Innovation Act already has strong support in Congress -- no single bill has ever been introduced that would reduce more emissions and has more cosponsors than the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act. The Leadership Council’s plan has yet to be introduced.

We must remain vigilant as Congress moves to take action on climate to make sure that legislation is as strong as possible so as to reduce emissions quickly. 

And we are most likely to be effective if we seek common ground with potential allies in this effort.

Social & Environmental Justice Concerns

Possible underlying factors

  • Desire for more diversity and inclusion.


CCL has a core value of diversity, and our goal is to have our supporters, volunteer leadership, staff and board reflect the diversity of our country. We are not there yet.

We are actively working on building cultural competency, recruiting more diverse supporters, and working to be more diverse and inclusive at all levels of the organizations. We have a DEI staff committee focused on our diversity and inclusion goals, and regularly work to train and support our volunteers and staff in this work. 

We are seeing signs of improvement, but we know there is more work to be done before we have the level of diversity and inclusion we want. 

What you might say

CCL values diversity and inclusion and has a goal of representing the diversity of our country. We are working hard to increase our diversity, and we know there is more work to be done.

By the end of the 117th Congress (2022), The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was supported by over a third of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, and the Asian/Pacific Caucus.

Possible underlying factors

  • Desire for more justice in our society.


As an organization, CCL has made a clear and strong commitment to advocating for policies that will significantly reduce emissions and therefore the risks from climate change, while protecting people from undue economic burden from the policy. 

Our EJ principle reads: “We recognize that the effects of pollution and environmental degradation fall most heavily on communities that are marginalized in our society, especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. We acknowledge the legacy of racially biased policies in creating and perpetuating this imbalance.  We know that the effects of climate change are already disproportionately hurting these under resourced communities and that it will only get worse if we don’t eliminate harmful emissions. Citizens' Climate believes in the dignity of every person, and that all of us should have access to clean water, clean air, and healthy food.  We believe that these disparities must be addressed while we transition to a zero emissions economy.

We know that a Carbon Fee and Dividend approach will not solve all of the environmental justice problems we face. And yet, we do think it will make things better for those currently suffering.  Reducing climate emissions will also reduce pollutants that negatively impact human health.  In addition, by putting more money in the pockets of over 90% of low-income American households, it will help families economically through the transition. While it is not a cure all for solving climate change or environmental injustice, we think this is a step in the right direction."

What you might say

CCL is committed to advocating for policies that reduce climate risk while protecting people from undue economic burden from the policy. 

In addition, the Energy Innovation Act  will improve health and save 90,000 lives each year from cleaner air.

We recognize that our policy, by itself, will not achieve the vision of equity desired by many in the environmental justice movement, and we applaud the work of other organizations working in diverse ways on climate and justice issues.

Possible underlying factors

  • Concern over jobs, especially well paying union jobs, that might be lost.
  • Concern that communities reliant on the fossil fuel economy will suffer.


Studies show that carbon pricing, like the Energy Innovation Act, is unlikely to have a large effect on GDP or total jobs, and that it might increase jobs. Yet some industries, such as the fossil fuel industry,  will likely see significant employment shifts, and while the number of jobs may not be a large portion of total U.S. jobs, they are often well paid, such as union jobs. In turn, communities and regions with a heavy reliance on these industries will likely face challenges. 

We support transition help for all people employed in endangered industries. Congressional proposals have included retraining, health benefits, early retirement, income support, and help for communities whose tax base drops. They are not included in this bill, but we recognize the importance of Congress allocating funds for these priorities. The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act lays out a clear path for the carbon fee, which may make job changes more predictable and help governments, unions, businesses and families plan for the future.

What you might say

You might start by trying to get more information about what they mean by a ‘just transition’, and what they are most concerned about. Avoid assumptions. 

Our economy is changing, and more and more workers are being displaced. This issue needs to be addressed on a comprehensive basis, either within or separate from carbon pricing policy. Labor unions and other stakeholders need to be at the table for these discussions.

Possible underlying factors

  • Concern that low-income households will suffer.
  • Concern that low-income communities will be left behind.
  • Want to correct for current and past injustice.


Consider focusing on the health benefits of the policy rather than just the financial benefits for low-income households. For some audiences, the concern is more about the health effects of pollution than the financial effects. 

Unlike with cap-and-trade programs that include offsets, there is no reason to expect emissions “hot-spots” to increase under a carbon fee.

While our policy should not exacerbate environmental injustice, it will not eliminate it.  As with climate change, there is no silver bullet to end environmental injustice.

What you might say

Low-income communities do suffer the worst of climate change and environmental pollution.

The Energy Innovation Act  will improve health, save 90,000 lives each year from cleaner air and create a stable climate for everyone to enjoy. Because low-income communities suffer the worst from pollution, they will see the most benefit from this policy.

Additionally, most low income people will come out ahead financially under this policy, thanks to the dividend which puts money directly into the pockets of low- and middle-income people.

Possible underlying factors

  • Worried that undocumented people will suffer under this policy.


The text of the Energy Innovation Act says dividends will be provided to ‘eligible individuals’ defined as:

“The term ‘eligible individual’ means, with respect to any month, any natural living person who has a valid Social Security number or taxpayer identification number and is a citizen or lawful resident of the United States (other than any individual who is a citizen of any possession of the United States and whose bona fide residence is outside of the United States). The Secretary is authorized to verify an individual’s eligibility to receive a carbon dividend payment.”

This does mean that “undocumented” people living in the U.S. would not receive a dividend, even though they would have additional costs due to the carbon fee. These additional costs from the carbon fee are likely to be modest at first (1-2% of income) (based on calculations from Figures 8 and 16 from the Household Impact Study), but would grow over time as the carbon fee grows, and then decline as our economy transitions to low carbon energy sources. 

Mixed families (those with some documented and some undocumented members) would receive dividends for any family members who had valid Social Security or Individual Taxpayer ID numbers.

What you might say

It is true that only U.S. residents with a valid Social Security number or taxpayer identification number would receive the dividend. 

Providing dividends to undocumented people would be both logistically and politically challenging. 

Undocumented residents generally have low carbon footprints and thus would see relatively small additional costs under the carbon fee.

Possible underlying factors

  • Feel that rich people cause undue harm and don’t need or deserve a dividend.
  • Prefer that money be used for programs.
  • Prefer a more progressive distribution - e.g., more money to lower-income/rural households.


Inequality is an issue many people are concerned about. Most low income people will come out ahead under this policy. Although the dividends are the same for everyone, rich people with higher consumption will shoulder far more of the burden of the fee. 

By providing a per-capita dividend to every household, all households feel tangible benefits which will help secure long-term political support for the carbon price. Means-tested programs often face ongoing efforts to reduce benefits or even end programs (e.g., Medicaid, SNAP, etc.). Means-testing would also require more complex legislation and administration overhead to determine who should receive a dividend.

What you might say

We think a universal dividend will help maintain broad public support.

Most low-income people will come out ahead under this policy. So, although the dividends are the same for everyone, rich people with higher consumption will shoulder far more of the burden of the fee.

Possible underlying factors

  • Desire for often underrepresented voices to be included in setting policy that will affect them.


We are honored to be actively working in outreach efforts with leaders in environmental justice, especially members of the congressional Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus, and Asian Pacific American Caucus. These outreach efforts have yielded support from members of all three of these Congressional caucuses, with 19 members from the Black Caucus, 14 from the Hispanic Caucus, and 34 from the Asian Pacific American Caucus (as of the end of the 117th Congress 2022, almost 70% of the cosponsors on the bill). 

CCL sees an ongoing  opportunity for our organization to grow and is excited about the movement-wide dialogue on inclusion that has helped drive this process. We believe our organizing, education, and lobbying practices to be successful with Congress and are happy to share our experience and practices with groups that may be interested, as well as learning from the experiences of others. There is still much opportunity to work together as the Energy Innovation Act begins to move through Congress. The greatest opportunities we see to garner the input from environmental justice groups is during the committee markup process in the House, reintroduction of the Senate bill and its markup process, and the eventual conference committee negotiations. Democracy is better when there are many and varied voices at the table, and we are working to enable this.

What you might say

We are honored to be actively working in outreach efforts with leaders in environmental justice, especially members of the congressional Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus, and Asian Pacific American Caucus. 70% of the bill’s 96 (in the 117th Congress) cosponsors are members of one or more of these caucuses.

There is still much opportunity to work together as and garner the input from environmental justice groups during the committee markup process in the House, reintroduction of the Senate bill and its markup process, and the eventual conference committee negotiations.

Democracy is better when there are many and varied voices at the table, and we are working to enable this.

Possible underlying factors

  • Desire to know if CCL is really being inclusive of diverse voices in our work.


We are an active member of USCAN which is a coalition of member organizations committed to equity and justice in principle and practice. Staff of CCL, as well as volunteers, are in a consistent dialogue with USCAN members, as well as with other groups that advocate for environmental justice.  Again, we welcome the conversation of how to mitigate climate change alongside environmental justice initiatives and hope to continue to grow support for the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act. For more information on our work with USCAN or other allied organizations, please contact Brett Cease at (brett@citizensclimate.org).

For the last few years. CCL has been working on outreach to diverse volunteers. Spanish-language outreach was one of the first areas of focus. In 2018, we created climavivible.org so that we could share our news information about our organization, the bill we support, and encourage people to join us. We also translated a lot of the CCL material to Spanish and continue to add more material, depending on the needs of local chapters. In 2019, we expanded to conduct outreach to reach African-American, English-speaking Latinos and LGBTQ members. And as more members join us, they have helped us to identify other communities that need to be part of our conversation. And we work together to continue to be more inclusive. We also support the work conducted by the Higher Education, Conservative and Environmental Justice Action Teams and encourage cross-participation among action teams. For more information about this work, please contact Karina Ramirez at (karina.ramirez@citizensclimate.org).

What you might say

CCL has been working for the last few of years to bring diverse voices to our organization. Diversity work can not be done alone and we need as many people as possible to learn about the outreach we are conducting in many communities across the country. Our organization has expanded its outreach, is offering education to its members about diversity concerns, and we will continue to invite as many people as possible to learn about CCL, its values, and what we want to accomplish. We would love your help and any input you have on how we can best do this outreach.

Government Overreach Concerns

Possible underlying factors

  • Prefer small government in general.
  • Belief that markets are effective as is or unregulated.


The Energy Innovation Act corrects a problem in our economic system where greenhouse gas pollution is causing harm but is currently free for polluters. Currently, anyone can dispose of an unlimited amount of CO2 into the air for free. We don’t let people dump trash for free, so why is air pollution free. 

Until there is a clear price on pollution, people will continue to accept what is free. You cannot have sustained market innovation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions until there is a cost associated with disposing of the carbon dioxide.

By making polluters pay, this will make the market more effective and efficient. This is the least intrusive way to reduce emissions across the entire economy, and one that provides the most freedom to both people and businesses.

The consensus among economists for pricing carbon is as overwhelming as that among climate scientists about the human contribution to climate change. More than 3,500 economists, an unprecedented number, have joined 27 Nobel laureates and other leaders in their field to endorse a statement declaring that a carbon fee-and-dividend policy “offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary. By correcting a well-known market failure, a carbon tax will send a powerful price signal that harnesses the invisible hand of the marketplace to steer economic actors towards a lower carbon future.” - Carbon Fees and Regulations: Striking the Balance

What you might say

If you want to solve climate change, a carbon fee is the least intrusive, smallest government solution to the problem. It requires much less government than regulations or government spending. 

Not addressing climate change is likely to grow the government as more money is spent on disaster relief, crop insurance, flood prevention, military conflicts, etc. 

Iconic libertarian economists like Milton Friedman have agreed that taxing pollution is perfectly consistent with free-market principles.

Possible underlying factors

  • Concerns over socialism.
  • Concerns that “my money will be given to other people” who don’t deserve it.


The Energy Innovation Act is designed to preserve people’s choice. Each person is given the same dividend amount. Whether people come out ahead or behind with the policy is completely up to them, as each person has the freedom to reduce their emissions and thus pay less in carbon fees.

Because low-income households generally have lower emissions, it may be easier for them to come out ahead, but everyone has that opportunity. Studies predict that 15% of people in the top income quintile will already come out ahead, even without making any changes in consumption.

What you might say

Consider asking “Who do you think this bill is trying to redistribute wealth to?"

The bill provides everyone with the same dividend and preserves personal freedom to choose. Currently, people with lower incomes tend to cause less emissions; they fly less, they buy less stuff. People causing fewer emissions will see more money from the dividend than they see in increased costs. But all of us have the option of lowering our emissions by our personal choices. And that is what this bill is designed to encourage - lower emissions by having a cost associated with those emissions.

Possible underlying factors


Some people are focused on “innovation” as the solution to climate change. CCL supports innovation but believes that we need some incentive to drive innovation fast enough to meet the timelines demanded by climate change. 

Thus, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is designed to drive innovation by putting a price on pollution. 

Those promoting innovation alone rarely cite any studies or models that show how it will meet emissions reduction targets. While some of the proposals may be beneficial, they are only a partial solution if they don’t reduce emissions quickly. 

More Information:

What you might say

Yes, innovation is the key. A legitimate question is then how to encourage innovation across all possible solutions. Government tax incentives and spending focus unevenly on a limited set of solutions and do not provide a long-term market for the innovation. A price on carbon emissions creates an even price signal, encouraging all innovations to reduce emissions - from solar and wind power, nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration, and energy efficiency. And the price signal is proportional to the reduction in emissions - not proportional to how well a firm lobbies for their tax break.

Cost of Living Impacts

Possible underlying factors

  • Concern for people with lower-incomes.
  • Concern that this policy won’t have political support.
  • Sometimes, but not always, used as a deflection to avoid action on climate.


The Yellow Vests movement in France was motivated by a high cost of living and a tax reform that puts a disproportionate burden on the working and middle classes. This did include a tax on fuel, but that was only one concern that sparked the movement. 

This is one reason why returning revenue to households as a dividend is so important. Through the dividend, the vast majority of households will come out ahead or have a negligible change in purchasing power. This will provide long-term support from the public, even as carbon prices rise, since dividends will rise in tandem with any price increases.

Rather than putting a burden on working and middle-class people, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act will support households as we make the transition to a low-carbon economy.  A U.S. Treasury report shows that the bottom two-thirds of households by income would benefit under this program.

More Information:

What you might say

It is unacceptable and politically unviable to solve climate change on the backs of hard working Americans.

That is why the dividend is so essential to the success of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. 

With the Energy Innovation Act, people will be taking to the streets, but only to spend their dividend checks.

Possible underlying factors

  • Dislike of taxes in general.
  • Concern for people with lower incomes.


While CCL thinks it is more accurate to call the Energy Innovation Act’s carbon price a “fee,” we are not afraid of the word “tax” and accept that some will see it that way. Arguing semantics is not likely to be effective. More effective is to start with “You are welcome to call this a tax.”

Why we use the word “fee”: Generally, a tax has the primary purpose of raising revenue to be spent by government agencies. By contrast, a fee is a payment in exchange for a service or privilege. Since CCL advocates for revenue neutrality and a policy that doesn’t grow the government, it’s reasonable to characterize our carbon price as a fee rather than a tax.

However, for purposes of discussion, you will find “carbon tax” and “carbon fee” used interchangeably, referring to the same type of legislation. This is fine, and don’t let it get in the way of the discussion. Regardless of the word used, the point is to make fossil fuels include the real costs they are imposing on our climate, oceans and health.

The Energy innovation Act is likely to increase household energy costs, but the dividend will help most households come out ahead.

What you might say

You are welcome to call this a tax, but it is unlike any other tax.

For one, you are strongly encouraged to avoid paying this tax and have the freedom to do so. Second, all of the net revenue from fees collected is returned to households as a dividend rather than being kept by the government.

The dividend allows American families to make ends meet despite any potential increase in their costs. Two-thirds of households will come out ahead under this plan.

Possible underlying factors

  • General distrust of the government.


The Energy Innovation Act establishes a trust fund and directs all carbon fee revenue to that fund. Each month, payments are made from that fund to American households. As such, the fund will not grow in size and will not be a pot of money which politicians might want to dip into (this is different from the Social Security “trust fund” which amasses money over decades).

In fact, the bill contains a provision for an “advance payment” of the first month’s dividend to all recipients in the month prior to the collection of the carbon fee. This additional payment will be deducted from the fund over the following 36 months so that the program remains revenue neutral. In essence, the fund would “borrow” from future carbon fee receipts to finance the first month’s dividends. 

There is no 100%  guarantee to prevent any bill from being amended five to 10 years into the future by anything a future Congress may pass. However, those who fear the government raiding any of the designated dividend funds should find the 100% net revenue back to households comforting when compared with other uses for the funds as it links the transparency of the fee with a direct benefit to all households. Any future political leader who proposed diverting the funds which are showing up in American's pocketbooks would face a backlash of voters who are losing out on the part of the policy which is helping all of us to make the energy transition.

What you might say

It’s true that many do not have a high level of trust in our government. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act starts paying a dividend even before the carbon fee is in effect. This is to make sure that households can handle any price increases and to demonstrate a commitment to return carbon fee revenue to American families. 

Any future political leader who proposed diverting funds from the dividend would face the wrath of voters who are feeling the effects personally.

Optional for a conservative audience:

This is why we need conservatives at the table when this bill moves through Congress: to assure that the fee is redistributed back to the people.

Distrust of Markets

Possible underlying factors

  • Might prefer regulations or spending. (See next topic)
  • Distrust might be based on experience with cap and trade systems.
  • Concern that price will not get high enough to be effective enough.
  • Concern that reductions will not come soon enough.
  • Concern that pricing is seen as the “silver bullet” and no other policies would be needed.
  • Might be anti-capitalist and worry that we can’t solve the problem with the same systems that created it.


There is broad agreement among economists that carbon pricing reduces emissions. Models predict it, and real world examples back it up.

And there are some valid concerns with market based solutions. For one, they are not a silver bullet and generally will not address all emissions, and other policies and actions will be required to address climate change. 

Second, the details matter - what is covered, what the price is and how quickly it rises, and are there loopholes in some pricing systems, such as offsets, that can undermine the price (most, if not all, existing cap and trade systems have proven to be ineffective due to these issues).

More Information:

What you might say

Start by getting a sense of their level of concern: fundamental disagreement with markets/capitalism, concern of carbon pricing effectiveness, “silver bullet concern” or prefer some other policy/regulations/spending.

Markets are a powerful tool that we can and should harness in solving climate change. The Energy Innovation Act with its steadily rising price on carbon will reduce U.S. emissions 50% by 2030.

Experts agree that carbon pricing is an essential component of any comprehensive climate solution, but it is not a complete solution. Pricing carbon can quickly and effectively reduce emissions across the entire economy.

Possible underlying factors

  • Have seen regulations be effective.
  • Regulations feel more certain: Rules feel clear. Incentives feel vague.
  • Assumption that regulations don’t cost money (but taxes do).


Economists overwhelmingly endorse taxing fossil fuel emissions as the most cost-effective means of encouraging a rapid transition toward a low-carbon economy. Most economists also believe that certain well-crafted regulatory and subsidy programs can and should play an important complementary role (e.g., building codes, appliance standards, fugitive methane standards, etc.). 

Carbon pricing creates an incentive for every consumer, producer, investor, and innovator in every sector of the economy to reduce emissions. Such an incentive harnesses the creative ingenuity of every person, to find solutions for every circumstance. 

Regulations by their nature are complex and hard to craft. It can be difficult to write a rule that bans exactly what you want to eliminate without unwanted side effects or loopholes for people to exploit. Regulations are rarely as comprehensive as carbon pricing, as they must be crafted to address specific sectors, practices, etc. The resulting complexity often allows regulations to be manipulated and weakened by polluters. 

Regulations might seem like they have no costs, since there is no explicit price or government investment. But they still cost money to implement and those costs are often passed through to consumers. In some cases the costs can be much higher than for a carbon price with an equivalent effect. Also they can be unfair, with costs falling more heavily on the poor and benefits going mostly to the rich. 

More Information:

What you might say

Look for common ground by supporting pricing and indicating where regulations can be most effective.

Carbon pricing is the most comprehensive, effective, efficient and fair way to rapidly reduce emissions. It would take hundreds of complex regulations to achieve the same effect as the Energy Innovation Act.

And regulations can also be an effective tool for emissions reductions and can complement carbon pricing by addressing areas uncovered by the price, or where financial incentives are mixed such as with a landlord and tenant.

Possible underlying factors

  • Dislike of cap and trade systems and assumption that our policy is the same.
  • Concern about local emissions continuing or increasing.
  • Concerns about false emissions reductions (resource shuffling, offsets, etc.).


See: CCL Laser Talk - Carbon Fee versus Cap and Trade

What you might say

Consider asking first what they don’t like about cap and trade “Interesting, I think this policy is pretty different, but I’m really curious to know what you don’t like about cap and trade.” That could help focus your answer. 

The carbon fee and dividend system in the Energy Innovation Act is fundamentally different from most existing cap and trade systems. It is simple and transparent. Almost all fossil fuel emissions are taxed, and they are all taxed the same way. There are no free allowances, offsets, or other ways to avoid the price or game the system.

Possible underlying factors

  • Has experience or comfort with an existing cap and trade system.
  • Belief that caps provide more certainty in emissions dropping.


Most existing cap and trade can only cover large polluters, leaving millions of small sources untouched. They require bureaucracy to select which companies get covered, and then allocate carbon allowances to each one. Their emissions must be measured, reported and verified. The covered companies can buy and sell allowances, but the price is bid up and down by market traders who grab a piece of the pie. The resulting price volatility creates uncertainty for businesses and investors, stalling decisions to undertake the big projects needed to slash emissions.

A carbon fee is far simpler. Since the fee is applied at the source, it can cover all fossil fuels and all emitters regardless of size. The carbon is simple to measure and verify. Because it’s the fuel that gets priced, there’s no squabbling over which customer gets a cap or how big it should be. There’s no need to monitor smokestacks. There are no middlemen and no tradable allowances or financial instruments subject to speculation and market manipulation. It creates a steady, predictable price signal, so businesses and consumers can plan their energy investments. It lends itself more easily to policy alignment between nations. Administrative costs for both government and industry are far less.

Cap and trade proponents tout their policy as “market-friendly,” but a carbon fee fits that description better, with less bureaucracy, lower costs and more predictability.

From: CCL Laser Talk - Carbon Fee versus Cap and Trade.

What you might say

Consider asking what they like about cap and trade and why they prefer it. Avoid being too negative, as some people have a lot invested in existing cap and trade programs and alienating them is not to our advantage.

The Energy Innovation Act is much simpler and more  transparent than any cap and trade system can be. It is much easier to implement and less easy for big polluters to game the system.

The Energy Innovation Act includes multiple environmental integrity mechanisms to provide strong assurance that emissions targets will be met. 

The price  volatility in a cap and trade system means a risk of the program being paused or shut down if prices rise too quickly. A steadily rising price avoids this issue.

Possible underlying factors

  • See consumerism as a primary source of many of our environmental woes.
  • Have seen how spending less money can lead to less emissions/impact.


It is true that, in general, the more money you spend, the more carbon you emit. But, we can’t drive emissions to zero by driving spending to zero. We must find ways for people to get their needs met and thrive, which means spending money, while also lowering emissions.

The dividend will likely drive a small increase in household spending for lower-income households who come out ahead with the dividend, and so can spend a little more money to  get their basic needs met. But any such increase will be microscopic compared to the emissions reductions from a steadily rising carbon price.

That is because carbon pricing creates an incentive for every consumer, producer, investor, and innovator in every sector of the economy to reduce emissions. The Energy Innovation Act will reduce U.S. emissions at 50% by 2030.

As well as using the dividend to make ends meet, families can also invest in lowering their emissions: for instance, buying a lower emissions vehicle, upgrading the insulation in their home, or even buying solar panels. The carbon price gives you the incentive to do these things, and the dividend helps to give you the money to afford it.

More Information: 

What you might say

The dividend allows people to maintain and improve their quality of life, while the carbon price drives down emissions.

Just like a healthy diet does not mean starving, we can’t reduce emissions to zero by reducing spending to zero. We must find ways for people to get their needs met and thrive while also lowering emissions.

The Energy Innovation Act does just that. The carbon price will give people the incentive to lower emissions, while the dividend helps give people the money to afford it.

Possible underlying factors

  • Feels intuitive or tangible. Have seen times where spending worked to reduce emissions (both personal spending or governmental spending).
  • Hope that by spending to reduce emissions we can avoid cost increases for consumers.
  • Worry that, without government spending, low-income households or communities will get left behind.


Solving climate change will require a big investment in new emissions reduction infrastructure and technology: wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, building retrofits, etc. That money has to come from somewhere. Most of this investment will come from the private sector (corporations, small businesses, households, etc.), and some will be funded by public investments at the local, state and national level. What the right balance is is debatable. 

Some people do not think it is fair to use the carbon fee to subsidize renewables over other energy sources. There is plenty of economic evidence to suggest that subsidizing industries, while well- intentioned, is less efficient than allowing innovation to be driven by a carbon price. Additionally, if we use money from the fee for subsidies, it will not be available as dividends. This monthly payment to Americans is an important component of supporting middle- and lower-income families.  

In places where government spending is deemed an effective way to help reduce emissions and support a smooth transition to a low-carbon economy, these public investments should be considered, but funding does not need to come from carbon fee revenue.

What you might say

Consider asking questions to get at the underlying issue. They might be focused on equity issues, or they might see a need for government investment in general, or something else.

A carbon price will drive trillions of dollars of private sector investments towards climate-friendly technology and infrastructure, as every business and household will have a financial incentive to save money by reducing emissions.

By using the revenue for a dividend, low-income households are protected from price increases, and all households feel tangible benefits which will help secure long-term support for the carbon price.

There may be a need for government spending as well, but this does not need to come from the carbon fee revenue, as there are other sources of funding.

Possible underlying factors

  • Dislike that people can spend their dividend however they see fit.
  • OK giving money to households, but they should be required to spend it on reducing emissions.


It is common to design a program where people can receive funding or cost share for doing certain things (upgrading a vehicle, installing insulation, upgrading appliances, buying an EV). These may or may not be effective depending on the program design, but, regardless, they would not be effective at protecting most households against the price increases from a carbon fee. 

We should trust that most, though certainly not all, people will spend money on what is best for their situation. Having the government decide what people should and shouldn’t spend money on can be intrusive and limiting.

What you might say

Households need flexibility to spend money as they see fit as they adapt to climate change and the carbon price. A flexible dividend allows low-income households to make ends meet and without that flexibility, many might struggle to do so.

Programs to encourage emissions reduction choices could be complementary, helping to speed the energy transition. But they should not come at the expense of meeting basic needs and the freedom and flexibility that a dividend provides.

CCL Theory of Change and Methodology

Possible underlying factors

  • Our country is polarized. Trust across parties is very low. 
  • Desire to have a clear enemy to work against.
  • Theory that calling people out will force them to change.


For a variety of reasons, Republicans have been less interested in engaging on climate solutions than Democrats. 

While some have given up on bipartisan solutions, CCL believes that bipartisan support is the best option for durable and effective climate solutions. A single party solution at the federal level is both difficult to achieve (given electoral dynamics, the 60 vote filibuster in the Senate, etc.) and is likely to risk being undone as soon as political power changes hands. We need climate policy to be stable and effective for at least the next 30 years and can’t risk it being done and undone with every political swing. 

Research shows that bipartisanship remains common in passing major legislation.

We also believe that the way to bring Republicans to the table on climate solutions is through relationships based on respect, with polite but persistent pressure rather than through shaming or calling them out.

Our methods are working:

In 2015, people told us there was no way that we could get Republicans to sponsor a resolution in Congress that said that climate change is real, significantly influenced by humans, and that Congress should do something about it. We chose to see that possibility and worked with Rep. Chris Gibson to introduce the Republican Climate Resolution. 

In 2017, people told us there was no way that we could get Republicans and Democrats to sit down together, much less form and join a caucus with the word “Climate” in its title. We chose to see that possibility and worked with Reps. Deutch and Curbelo to create the Climate Solutions Caucus which, at the end of 2018, had 90 members, 45 Republicans and 45 Democrats, working together to talk solutions and address the most pressing issue of our time. In 2019, a Senate Climate Solutions Caucus was formed and now has 12 Senators, six Republicans and six Democrats working together on climate solutions.

People also told us it was impossible to believe that Republicans and Democrats would be willing to cosponsor and introduce significant carbon pricing legislation together as it hadn’t happened in over a decade. We chose to see that possibility, and in 2019 the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was the direct result of the ten years of CCL volunteers’ efforts working with all members of Congress. 

Of course, while CCL chooses to work on building agreement, other organizations will make different choices. We believe that the diversity in our movement is a strength.

What you might say

Be careful not to push too hard. Meet individuals where they are, but understand that not everyone is up for reaching across the aisle.

Our country is very polarized right now, so it is understandable that trust across party lines is difficult.

We think bipartisan support is necessary for durable and effective climate solutions. A single party solution is likely to be fragile and undone when there is a shift in power. 

We need to bring Republicans on board to support climate solutions, and we see the best way to do that is by building relationships based on respect.