Building the Will for Action

Building the Will for Action

At Citizens’ Climate Education, teaching citizens about climate change and climate solutions is only the beginning. In turn, our newly-empowered supporters educate their own neighbors, friends, and local officials about the benefits of—and imperative for—climate action. CCE thus helps to construct a vocal national network of individuals able to address objections to action and to lead skeptics towards solutions.

Initial CCE training often occurs at Group Start workshops—which have been used to establish more than 300 chapters nationwide and in nations from Sweden to Nigeria to Nepal—and upon joining existing chapters. Trained volunteers then build a case for climate action in keeping with local concerns. Wherever training occurs, CCE’s tools and tactics are designed to build relationships rather than gain short-term rhetorical victories, enabling its volunteers to base dialogues upon shared values instead of partisan divides.

This approach often reveals—sometimes after a dozen or more meetings—a surprising openness to climate action on the part of initially-resistant officials. Volunteers then seek to introduce legislators to concerned colleagues, arrange private briefings about the economic benefits of climate action, and otherwise educate them about opportunities for action one step at a time. Meanwhile, CCE’s new Endorser Project records the vocal support of business, community, and faith leaders for climate action, in keeping with the presence of figures as diverse as former Secretary of State George Schultz, climatologist James Hansen, and former congressman Bob Inglis on the CCE Advisory Board.

In addition to verbal communication, CCE training includes practice in written media outreach. In 2016, volunteers with CCE’s sister organization, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, published 2,465 letters to the editor, 283 op-eds, and composed over 40,000 personal letters to members of Congress, in addition to holding more than 1,350 meetings with congressional offices. During the same year, registered CCE supporters more than doubled in number to over 55,000.

CCE outputs are shared broadly, enabling ordinary citizens to pursue climate education in their communities. Laser talks, Citizens’ Climate Education University webinars, and presentations from representatives from organizations such as the Niskanen Center, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Yale Center for Climate Communication, and more are publicly shared via the non-member site. All these efforts are supported by a small but dedicated full-time staff, who work with a budget of under $2 million to provide group leader support calls, webinar trainings, updated laser talks, and refined communication strategies, and to arrange regional and national conferences.