Engaging City & Local Governments For Resolutions

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One of the most impactful ways we can express the local will of the people is by obtaining resolutions in support of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act from our local municipal governing bodies. City councils and boards of supervisors are in touch with their communities every day, are attentive to local voices, and can send strong messages on behalf of their entire citizenry. Think of local resolutions as endorsements on steroids. When a city, county or state passes one, they are sending a message to Congress on behalf of many thousands of people.

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TOC and Guide Section
 
Planning for a resolution
  • Create a team of people in your chapter who want to work on passing a resolution. In smaller chapters a team may be one person.
  • Develop a plan with commitments, assignments for team members and a timeline. By what date do you want to pass a resolution? What can you realistically do and by when?
  • Identify your target(s). Do you want it to be your City Council or Board of Supervisors?
  • Identify a potential champion on the council or board who can help you advance your cause. Does anyone in your chapter know someone on the Council or within City Hall, or have a relationship with someone through a service club, religious organization or nonprofit?
  • Find allies and partners. Who are the people outside of CCL who would be good to take with you to your meetings with council members? Your pastor, a scientist, economist, college professor, and people who are influential to each council member are good possibilities. Consider which outside groups might support you in your efforts. If you would like to to engage youth in securing climate resolutions from local, county, and state school boards and student council volunteers, check out the Schools For Climate Action Webpage.
Preparing for a resolution

 Do your research

  • Understand the local impacts of climate change. What are the economic and health impacts of climate change on your city? What studies and facts can you point to for substantiating data?
  • Review environmental resolutions passed by your City Council. Have they voted for a smoking ban, a plastic bag ban, a soda tax, or related environmental or health issue? You can cite these when you meet with council members and in your speeches before the council.
  • Does your city have a Climate Action Plan? If so, what does your city’s Climate Action Plan say about lowering GHG emissions? What actions does it prescribe and by when? How will your resolution give voice to the city’s plan and go hand in hand with its strategic planning?
  • Research the council members. How are they likely to vote? What can you learn from their past votes, politics, values and concerns? Where can you find information to create a one-page synopsis about each council member for use at your meetings?
  • Many mayors in cities throughout the U.S. have joined the Climate Mayors. These cities are increasing their visibility as leaders responding to climate change. You can check to see if your mayor has joined. If so, then your chapter may already have an ally on its city council for passing a resolution in support of the Energy Innovation Act.
Prepare an agenda
  • Be prepared with a concise agenda.
  • Show appreciation for something the council member has done.
  • Do you have a story to tell about how climate change has affected you or someone close to you? Your stories make the issue real and relatable.
  • Depending on the political affiliations of the council member, include in your discussion the names of conservative or liberal leaders in your community who have endorsed a carbon fee and dividend policy.
  • Be prepared to highlight conservative (e.g. George Shultz, Greg Mankiw), liberal (e.g. Bradley Whitford, Don Cheadle) or scientific (James Hansen, Steven Chu) supporters who sit on our advisory board and others who support our policies.
Preparing an informational binder

Prepare an informational binder or packet to give to each council member detailing the things you want him/her to know about Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the Energy Innovation Act. Have a .pdf file of the contents available in case it is requested.

The binder or folder can contain such information as:

Meeting with council members

Prepare for your meeting

  • Discuss with the team how can you create a message about the Energy Innovation Act which is effective for them to hear.
  • Do practice runs to prepare for objections and arguments.
  • If possible, in your meeting include a supporter with access to the council member. What resources do you have in your chapter or from a nearby college?

Schedule meetings and meet with each council member, one at a time. Another possibility is to do a presentation on the Energy Innovation Act at a neutral location and invite all of your council members to attend.

  • Keep your delegation small and pick a primary spokesperson.
  • Be respectful and politely persistent; don’t interrupt and never threaten, blame or raise political affiliations.
  • Be a good listener: Opposing council members can provide valuable insights. It’s up to you to find common ground.
  • By earning their respect, you can become the “go to” representative of CCL for information on climate-related issues for your council members.
Drafting a resolution
  • Once you’ve found a legislative champion in the council, show her/him several hard copy examples of resolutions from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby public websites. Oftentimes, City Staff will select one to use.
  • You can download the local government resolution template here as well as share examples of local resolutions from the Resolutions page and from the Energy Innovation Act Supporters page.
  • Aim for succinctness, clarity and simplicity.
  • Develop a resolution that is suitable for your public body and city.
  • Include language about the severity of the problem, recent governmental studies and the urgent need for action.
  • Include a description of the Energy Innovation Act, its effectiveness, fairness and economic benefits.
  • You can include scientific data in general terms. Detailed information can be included in an appendix.
Setting up the city council meeting

If you have learned after all of your meetings with council members that a majority of the them will vote to pass a resolution, the next step is to plan to attend the city council meeting.

Before the meeting

  • Talk to City Staff about the meeting process. Become familiar with the front office staff. The receptionist and scheduler can be very helpful to you throughout the process.
  • Have a good grasp of the meeting format. How long does each person have to speak during the public comments portion? How do you get your resolution onto the agenda for a vote?
  • Attend a City Council meeting to gain an understanding of what typically takes place.
  • Develop a strategy for publicizing hearings when you will be speaking to the City Council about your resolution. How many people from your chapter can attend and show support? Supporters should be identifiable (hats, shirts, sitting together). What like-minded groups might appear and support your effort?

During the meeting

  • Expect to be limited to very brief statements. However, if your City Council will allow you to do a presentation for them, create a PowerPoint about climate change and the Energy Innovation Act. How long can your presentation be? Check with staff.
  • If you have a champion, will he/she make a motion to “agendize” your resolution so that it will be included on a future agenda for a vote?
  • Select a few articulate, prepared and credentialed (if possible) spokespersons to speak about your main arguments.
  • Stay respectful and avoid partisanship.
Share your success!
  • Once your resolution has passed, ask the Clerk to send you a .pdf file of the fully executed, dated and signed resolution. Upload it into the Grasstops Engagement Tracker.
  • Email a copy to Sandy Simon, National Resolutions Project Coordinator, at resolutions@citizensclimatelobby.org.
  • Email a press release, including the actual vote of the council members if known, to local media announcing passage of the resolution as soon as possible. Radio stations are the most likely to respond, especially your local public radio stations.
  • Mention the resolution in letters to the editor, op-eds, meetings with your members of Congress and endorsement opportunities.
  • Follow up with the City Clerk on transmittal of the resolution to Congress or do it yourself.
  • Stay in touch with coalition partners and spread the good news. Use passage of your resolution as an opportunity to build alliances with environmental groups in your area.
Maximizing Success

Once your resolution has passed, help the members of your city council schedule meetings with their members of Congress to present the resolution to them and discuss how they can work together to get it through Congress.

Other things your City Council members or Board of Supervisors can do to help us:

  • Ask one or more members of the council if they would accompany you to a Chamber of Commerce meeting and/or to an editorial board meeting to explain why the city supports the Energy Innovation Act.
  • Hold interviews with local broadcast media to talk about the local impacts of climate change and why they were moved to adopt the resolution.
  • Ask the council members to introduce you to other community leaders, especially those that may have influence with your members of Congress.
  • Ask those who are Republicans to publicly support the Energy Innovation Act (such as by writing an op-ed) and to help you reach out to other Republicans. Even in liberal districts, gaining public support from Republicans will help empower their colleagues elsewhere to speak out.
Length
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Video Outline
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Intro & Agenda (from beginning)

Local Support & Impacts
(1:59)

Where to Begin & Doing Research
(3:28)

Preparing for Meetings
(7:24)

Lobbying for Passage
(11:22)

Sharing and Maximizing Success!
(16:11)

Instructor(s)
sandy-simon.jpg
Sandy Simon
Downloads

Download PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation.

Download the video.
Audio length
Press play to start the audio (20m 33s)
Audio embed code
Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda (from beginning)

Local Support & Impacts
(1:59)

Where to Begin & Doing Research
(3:28)

Preparing for Meetings
(7:24)

Lobbying for Passage
(11:22)

Sharing and Maximizing Success!
(16:11)

Instructor(s)

Sandy Simon

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Category
Training
Topics
Grasstops Outreach
Format
Audio / Video, XPodcast, XPresentation, XVideo, Presentation
File Type
Google Slides, PowerPoint (.pptx)
Training Resources

See this CCL blog story for a great example of how CCL Los Angeles County volunteers worked with their city council to pass a resolution.

The resources above are specific to this training, see all resources associated with Grasstops Outreach.