Dispatch from Policy Camp

By Anna E. Sassaman, Executive Board

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby Policy Camp takes place each summer at American University in Washington D.C. It is made up of a series of seminars and simulations regarding climate policy. Truthfully, I did not know what to expect when I first arrived. Only recently had I joined the fight against climate change. I went in alone and timid, to one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

The word “camp” is no way to describe this experience. This was gathering of people from far and wide. I personally worked with people from New England, Idaho, Oregon, and even Portugal! It was truly enlightening to see such a wide scope of origins and ages. As a result of this diversity, there was so much to learn about the CCL and other people involved with it. I spoke with people just trying to stay up to date on climate change, other campus leaders, and even members of local government. There was even a networking event for people looking for jobs related to the climate.

The seminars began with taking a deeper look into the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act presented by the man who worded the official bill, Dr. Ross Astoria. In addition, there was a seminar dedicated to explaining the two different methods of carbon pricing: cap-and-trade programs and carbon taxing. The seminars then branched off into the different topics assigned to each participant in advance. I was assigned to the domestic track and placed into the state-level mitigation groups. The seminars that followed were full of information that helped me reach a new understanding of climate policy in the United States. We analyzed what worked in some states and not in others and how to formulate policies for specific audiences.

The camp concluded with two simulations—one international and one domestic. In the simulation that I participated in, the goal was to draft a bill that would be accepted by the majority. The complexity of this process was reflected in the groups that had to bring together ideas individually and then connect with others and make compromises.

When I first signed up for the camp, I was most anxious when I found out that there would be a simulation at the end. I used to struggle with asserting myself in class discussions. But I felt more prepared as each seminar went by, and with each new conversation I had. When we finally met with our groups the night before, I discovered that the next youngest person was at least seven years older than I. To my surprise, I naturally filled the leadership role. With open ears and without stepping on anybody’s toes, I made suggestions about which pieces each person should research. I even accepted the role of the spokesperson for my group. By the end of the simulation, everybody in that room knew who I was—or at least by my new nickname: Pennsylvania.

The Citizen’s Climate Lobby Policy Camp laid down the foundation of what the CCL is all about: to fight climate change and put the power in the hands of the people.