Outreach to Environmental Organizations
This training provides advice on beginning your outreach with other environmental organizations in your community.
Coordinating with National
We at Citizens’ Climate Lobby know we can benefit from an open exchange of ideas on policy solutions and political strategies. We also believe that it is always important to learn from other environmental organizations and find points of agreement so that we can better support one another. Let’s say you’re at your local CCL chapter meeting, and someone brings up a national group—the Sierra Club, for example. One of your fellow volunteers says, “We should reach out to the Sierra Club! Can someone email their president and tell them about the Energy Innovation Act?”
Odds are, volunteers in other chapters may have had that same idea. If everyone follows through, you could accidentally overwhelm and confuse Sierra Club with emails from 30 different CCL volunteers. When there’s confusion, not much gets done. To be most effective, we need to coordinate.
If you are interested in passing on work with national environmental organizations, the best way to ensure coordination is to always contact Don Addu before you reach out to a national environmental organization, or Kyle Kammien for any national business, or trade association.
Understanding the background
Understanding the climate movement and larger green/environmental landscape is an important part of understanding how to engage with other environmental organizations.
CCL is unique in that we advocate for one solution and focus on one issue and at the federal level. Most “Big Green Groups” (Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, 350.org, etc.) have many, many issues they work on, and so often are juggling multiple topics at once. Because of this, green groups often come at the climate issue from a multiple step process. They work to pass many types of legislation that tackle climate change and environmental issues at local, regional and state levels, as well as federal.
Green groups (especially the big ones) have also been around a lot longer than CCL. Many of them fought for and helped write the cap and trade bills of past years that never made it out of Congress, and so many of their members hold onto the idea that cap and trade is a viable and powerful option for solving our climate problem.
Over the last decade or more there has been an abundant growth in groups or sections of these groups formed expressly to fight climate change. Their links to the historic environmental movement vary and their scope and definition of the problem and prescription for solutions vary as well. Some are grassroots, some have staff and infrastructure. These groups share our passion and a common desire to reign in global warming. Some of these groups share strong sentiments about ensuring the role of government in addressing this challenge and advocate for revenues to be used by the government to address community or continuation of green energy solutions or other priorities.
Seeking common ground
The most important thing to remember when engaging with any of these groups about the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act is that they are not wrong. In the same way that we would never go into a Congressional office and tell them that they are flat out wrong for supporting a different policy, we should never go to another organization and make them wrong.
All climate movement and environmental groups working on climate change are working at it for the same reason, and with the same end goal in mind. There may not be one “be all-end all” solution to the climate crisis, and it very well may end up that the solution that passes is a hybrid or combination of many types of policies. By believing another environmental organization has the wrong ideas, or by trying to force our policy on them without establishing a relationship and taking the time to understand why they believe what they do, we do ourselves a disservice and create a hostile environment within the climate change movement that is unnecessary.
There is value in having groups working from all angles in the climate movement. Having groups arguing from the very left and very right allows for compromise and conversations with new people participating, and we should do our best to facilitate those by remaining in the middle and not being angry or discouraged when another group won’t move toward the middle.
When doing any outreach to groups active in addressing climate change is humility and recognition that, as environmental groups, we occupy an ecosystem, all working on action to achieve major changes for a more livable world and a healthy climate. Our passion for the solution we advocate should not blind us to the importance of the work of others, and we should always respect other organizations and the specific niche they fill within this greater web.
Closing the loop
Visit the Partnering with Allies training for specific examples of how CCL chapters have done this outreach.