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Let’s Share Our Climate Stories with Key Members of Congress: The Time is Right

Devote a few hours to share your story with members of Congress to move climate legislation forward

By Mike Kiernan

Concerned about climate change?  You are not alone. In NPCA’s Global Issues Survey last year, the vast majority of more than 3,000 RPCVs who completed the survey ranked climate change as the No. 1 global issue of most concern to them. 

Many RPCVs have seen first-hand the devastating impact of climate change on the lives of the people they have served in the Peace Corps, and a growing number are sharing their climate stories on our website.  With a new president and Congress now in office, this spring is an opportune time to share our personal experiences as RPCVs – and our commitment to finding viable solutions to climate change -- with members of Congress.   

 

With a new president and Congress now in office

this spring is an opportune time to share our personal experiences as RPCVs, 

and our commitment to finding viable solutions to climate change, with members of Congress.

 

Three activists who lead the RPCV4EA advocacy team -- Brady Fergusson, Mike Roman and Paul Thompson -- are looking for volunteers who can devote a few hours over the next several months to engage in advocacy about climate change in their home communities. There are many actions RPCVs can take to share their thoughts and experiences -- such as becoming more active as an advocate on social media, attending briefing sessions on critical climate-related issues, participating in local meetings with allied groups, writing letters to elected officials and local newspapers and engaging in dialogues with members of Congress and their staffs. “We want to offer a range of activities for people to choose from,” said Brady Fergusson.

 

There are many actions RPCVs can take to share their thoughts and experiences.

 

In addition, the advocacy team has identified 11 Republican members of Congress whom the advocacy team intends to prioritize as part of their advocacy strategy.  The idea is to join other allied groups, such as Citizens’ Climate Lobby, to engage in a dialogue this year with these Republicans about seeking bipartisan solutions to climate change.  The 11 members of Congress include five Senators, four House representatives and two delegates to Congress from American Samoa and Puerto Rico.

The five Senators are Mike Braun of Indiana, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, John Cornyn of Texas, and Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. 

The four House Representatives are Rep. Steven Chabot of Cincinnati, Ohio; Garret Graves of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; John Rutherford of Jacksonville, Florida and Andy Barr, whose Kentucky district includes Lexington, Richmond and the state capitol of Frankfort. 

In addition, the advocacy team also plans to work closely with two Republican delegates to Congress: Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon who represents Puerto Rico and Aumua Radewagen of American Samoa. 

“We chose these districts because we want to focus on moving Republicans up the ladder of support for legislative action on climate change.” said Brady Fergusson. “These Republican legislators are supportive of the Peace Corps, so we are hoping to use that common ground as a starting point for our climate change advocacy work with them. It is important for legislation to have bipartisan support to make it sustainable.” 

 

We are looking for one or two RPCVs in each targeted area who would agree to devote at least a few hours

during the next six months to help us lobby their local member of Congress or Senator

about finding bipartisan solutions to climate change.

 

Added Mike Roman: “Just how will we do this? We are looking for one or two RPCVs in each targeted area who would agree to devote at least a few hours during the next six months to help us lobby their local member of Congress or Senator about finding bipartisan solutions to climate change. We believe that local RPCVs in Republican districts can offer an important new voice to the national conversation about climate change – especially by relating their personal stories. Our stories would add value to these meetings.”

The advocacy team is planning other activities to engage RPCVs. On February 16, for example, the group hosted a training session for RPCVs interested in writing effective letters to local newspapers about climate change. Additional virtual sessions on legislative issues are in the works. 

Want to help or need more information? Contact Brady Fergusson at bradyf585@gmail.com .