Moving Forward: Our next steps

An open letter from our Executive Director on our past achievements and plans for the future.

If you had told me four years ago that in 2019 there would be carbon pricing bills introduced in 16 states, and there would be a seven-hour climate-focused town hall during a presidential election, I would have found it hard to believe. 

Just a couple of years ago there were only four state-level campaigns working on carbon pollution pricing efforts to curb emissions. We were one of them, here in Massachusetts, and I still remember the early days of trying to reach folks across the country that might also be interested in moving the needle forward at their local level. 

While we’re still fighting for change here in Massachusetts, we have made some amazing progress and gained invaluable knowledge. As a movement, our collective efforts have resulted in legislation passed unanimously in the State Senate and our governor signing on to a regional transportation policy. 

This year, bills were introduced in 16 states across the country, and seven in Congress with an aim to price pollution federally.

Today, Massachusetts is not moving alone. This year, bills were introduced in 16 states across the country, and seven in Congress with an aim to price pollution federally. Almost all the Democratic candidates in the 2020 presidential race have expressed support for market-based approaches and are actively debating how to move forward with implementing them once in office. Most have also released comprehensive climate plans, which have been a central theme of this campaign. The conversation has moved far beyond climate denial and on to solutions. We have come a long way in both creating momentum behind smart climate policy, and in truly understanding the urgency of making this a meaningful part of our country’s political discourse.

We see this shift very clearly through the outreach in support of our work. The demand for our resources and expertise, as well as the growth of our audience and reach have been encouraging and an important testament to the direction we are heading. We know we’re on the right path, pushing where we need to in order to have the best chances for success. We want to keep our foot on the gas (or rather the electric pedal!) and build on the massive opportunities we have before us. 

Our opportunity is ripe to influence the national climate conversation and to further strengthen and integrate carbon pricing and market based policy as part of a solution toolkit. States have an opportunity to push progress forward while our federal leadership fails. State legislators can build a floor of robust legislation and a climate framework upon which the next president can hit the ground running, positioning our country on a new course. 

At the same time, it is our job as concerned citizens, advocates, professionals, and parents, to continue pushing our elected leaders to carry out their duties with ambition and forward thinking. In understanding this, we are also going to push ourselves further. Climate XChange has been proud to provide resources, knowledge-sharing, and support for nascent campaigns across the country. We believe that if we can accelerate the movements that are taking off, we can help push our mission forward. On a given month, our State Carbon Pricing Network has engagement and representatives from campaigns in over 40 states, and demand for our tools in research and media has skyrocketed. 

But we can only do so much from out of our HQ in Boston, and we are quickly realizing we need more. In order to minimize our carbon footprint, and to strengthen our partnerships with local stakeholders, we will be setting up support efforts, and a physical presence in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southwest, where there is the most momentum to see market-based policy pass (check out our job openings here). Through data-driven analysis of localized policy impacts, private sector engagement, and a robust communications strategy, we can ignite these efforts and better position them for success. 

We understand the challenges and questions around market-based approaches to reducing greenhouse gases. They come in different forms, both from the left and from the right. Some of those concerns are valid, although many others are intentionally misinforming people and using the now well-known tactics of the opposition. The former is something we take seriously, and it is precisely what differentiates us and justifies our approach. 

Rather than ever being wed to one policy or one design, we remain flexible and committed to following the data and adjusting to what makes most sense, dependent on local context and political opportunity.

Rather than ever being wed to one policy or one design, we remain flexible and committed to following the data and adjusting to what makes most sense, dependent on local context and political opportunity. We have found that policy design is the most crucial determinant of true success, impact, and equity outcomes of a bill. That is why we have always put our energy into answering the difficult questions through our impact analysis and research, instead of being dogmatic or prescriptive. This is the only way we will achieve real and just change. 

And people are taking notice. Specifically, the opposition and those ready to give their misguided talking points a platform. Earlier this year, the fossil fuel industry leveraged the force of its lobbying dollars to take a stab at us here in our own backyard. A local right-wing tabloid wrote a series of articles taking aim at our policy efforts by using bogus research with skewed data. It was a wake up call for us, and perhaps a welcome one, too – because if they are taking notice it is because we are making progress. I want to promise our community that we will continue to stand in truth to powerful interests that gain from keeping this unsafe status quo, and rather than be disheartened by these attacks, we will use them to fuel our commitment to this mission. 

We need your help in carrying this work forward, and expanding our reach. In order to remain free from ties to large donors, and keep control in steering our own path, the bulk of our budget comes from small dollar donations from those who support our mission and share the vision we have for the coming years. The best part? We do it through an awesome raffle that gives them a chance to both support our cause, and at the same time be entered to win the car of the future: a brand new Tesla. This year’s raffle kicks off next week (September 18th), and I would love for you to help us achieve a record-breaking start by buying a ticket. If that’s not your thing, you can always donate to our work directly on our website, or just subscribe to our newsletter and support us by following our work and joining our growing movement. 

Thank you for being here. I hope you will join us in this crazy, awesome journey.

Michael Green