Dr. Lisa Del Buono knows she can count on the young people to get the climate job done. Her son, David Meyer, and several of Meyer’s teenage friends encouraged their congressman, Michigan Republican Jack Bergman, to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus .
That didn’t just happen, of course; the teens got some help from Mom. Del Buono has been advocating for a healthy climate since 2013, when a local chapter of the nonpartisan advocacy group Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) started. “Although busy practicing surgical pathology, as a parent I realized that I couldn’t wait for other people to address climate change. I needed to step up,” she says.
Dr. Del Buono has been lobbying with her son since 2014. Because of the way in which David was empowered by the experience, Lisa decided to take a couple of his friends to Washington to lobby with her in November of 2016. The teens felt so good about their lobbying efforts that they formed a student environmental advocacy club at their high school. Through the efforts of the local CCL chapter and parents, a group of 17 students subsequently went to Washington to lobby in June of 2017.
Bergman, in his first term, was the primary focus of the team’s persuasive efforts. CCL volunteers, along with some students, met several times with the congressman’s office over the course of several months. They developed an ongoing relationship with the congressman and his staff, discussing issues that they knew were important to him, such as local impacts on Michigan’s natural beauty, the economy, tourism, health, and agriculture.
It was no surprise that when the students, many of whom around the same age as Bergman’s grandchildren, met directly with him, he was interested in joining the climate solutions caucus. He, in turn, had a big ask – the students were to prepare a business proposal advocating for the CCL’s carbon fee and dividend plan, a market-based policy that places a steadily increasing cost on greenhouse gas emissions.
The students did their research, practiced with local community leaders, and closed the deal by delivering a cohesive, persuasive, and well-informed presentation. Although Bergman is considering various options to address climate, “it is inspiring to see these young people exercise their rights as citizens and make significant strides towards meaningful climate policy,” Del Buono says.