Making the grass GREENER on the other side with H.R. 763

December 19, 2019 | 10:03 am
Anthony Eyring/UCS
Filiberto Palacios

As one of the most polarizing issues in today’s politics, the climate change discussion has only begun to scratch the surface. Scientists found, in the 2018 IPCC 1.5 report, that we only have 12 years to substantially reduce emissions in order to avert unprecedented levels of devastation. The murkiness surrounding the issue is not due to a lack of energy alternatives, but rather depriving ourselves from cleaner, economical innovations due to political obstinacy. While there are many factors implicitly contributing to carbon dioxide emissions, capitalism in fossil-fuel reliant countries is found to be a huge culprit. An assessment on carbon dioxide emissions conducted by the International Energy Agency validates the capitalist superpowers of the world also lead in carbon emissions. According to data recorded on the top 20 highest emitters of cumulative carbon dioxide in 2016, the United States is 2nd is only second to China in total carbon dioxide emissions with 4,833.1 million metric tons cumulative in 2016 (the most recent available data). Many nonprofit organizations recognize the urgency needed in rallying the support of politicians in the House and Senate. Particularly, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has tactfully employed the use of science-based action to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future. Combined with nearly 250 scientists, analysts, policy and communication experts, UCS works diligently to develop viable solutions to address climate change and invigorate grassroots movements within diverse communities. Climate change will remain a topic for debate so as long as there is discrepancy between perceived risk and valuation of scientific evidence.

The Science Network Mentor Program opens doors to opportunities

Participating in the Science Network Mentor Program (SNMP) has been an unparalleled experience from the perspective of a recent Masters in Public Health graduate. Having hardly earned field experience in an online program, SNMP gave me a tangible opportunity to work alongside community members and professionals. My mentor was extremely qualified and offered valuable insight in the planning stages as to how to effectively choose a bill and target audience. With liberty to choose any topic, I chose climate change based on relevancy to current political debates. Not wasting any time, my mentor and I established consistent communication on a weekly basis to outline the sequential phases of the advocacy project. In tandem with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), I collaborated with like-minded individuals in an effort to convince my local representative of California’s 40th Congressional District, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, to cosponsor the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (H.R. 763).

H.R 763 imposes a fee on the carbon content of fuels, impacting both producers and importers at an annual rate subject to change based on progress in meeting specified emission reduction targets. Similar to UCS, CCL elicits the volunteer work of community members to take a stance on climate change in their district. Collaborating with both UCS and CCL, I drafted a petition asking for Roybal-Allard to cosponsor H.R. 763 as a viable solution for lowering carbon emissions and transitioning to clean innovation. I invited community members in my local district to a screening for The Happening to discuss the prospect of clean energy technology as it is used in some of the most unlikely places. Tabling a climate change discussion and impressions from the documentary, we proposed action steps augmenting to climate change mitigation efforts. Moreover, these action steps serve as the advocacy component of the event for which attendees are asked if they would be willing to write statements and/or petitions to submit to Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard’s office. Ultimately, the long-term goal in submitting these statements and petitions is to have the congresswoman cosponsor H.R. 763, increasing the odds of the bill being placed on the floor for a vote.

While there is no timetable as to when or if the bill is placed on the floor, community members will leave the event more informed on how to take effective action. In the grand scheme, I hope the petition signatures and written statements show the volume of constituents who are behind H.R. 763 and resilient in the constant fight against climate change. If you are interested in supporting the petition pertaining to the 40th Congressional District of California, the link will remain active for the foreseeable future and can be viewed and/or signed here. Thank you for your support in making the grass GREENER on the other side.

My name is Filiberto Palacios and I am a 6th Grade Math Teacher in the Greater Los Angeles Area. I previously earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at UCLA and a Masters of Public Health from The George Washington University. Albeit teaching the last 5 years has allowed me to work closely with today's youth in closing the achievement gap between low-income and affluent regions, minimal traction to the imminent threat of climate change has taken greater precedence in recent times. Thus, bringing me to the fold of advocacy work alongside the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) with a goal to enhance the number of individuals informed on active green legislation and mitigation strategies. 

The UCS Science Network is an inclusive community of more than 25,000 scientists, engineers, economists, and other experts, focused on changing the world for the better. The views expressed in Science Network posts are those of the authors alone.