Citizens’ Climate Lobby meets the oldest city

Donald Addu in downtown St. Augustine

By Mallory Hopkins |

Imagine waking up in the morning and putting your feet on the floor of your bedroom and finding several inches of water. This is the reality for residents of Norfolk, Virginia.

Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) is an organization that spreads awareness of climate change in places like Norfolk and around the country, speaking in different locations and expanding with new branches. Their intent is to pass a Carbon Fee and Dividend, a policy that would tax producers that harvest fossil fuels and give that money back to the consumers.

Flagler College students watch ‘Facing the Surge’

CCL came to campus with the southeast regional director, Donald Addu, who explained what CCL was and showed a 20-minute film titled, Facing the Surge, produced by Adaptation Now. The film began by describing the difficulties that Norfolk, Virginia is currently dealing with because of flooding caused by sea level rise.

“I think that it’s no longer an issue of ‘well, this may happen,’ it’s now an issue of, ‘look what has happened.’ And now we can expect these to be the new norm,” Addu said.

Saint Augustine experiences flooding often and this could increase as time goes on due to climate change.

A study conducted in April of 2016 by The University of Florida, called Adapting to Rising Tides (ART), stated that the accepted projections of sea level rise for Northeast Florida for the next 15 to 85 years is between 0.25 and 6.67 feet. Saint Augustine, a city at sea level, would be greatly impacted even on the lower end of the estimate.

In Florida, an estimated 75 percent of residents live in coastal communities. In the graphics provided in the study, it shows that majority of downtown St. Augustine will be affected by five feet of sea level rise.

“In Florida, there’s nowhere for you to go,” said Amy Bennett, Liasion Coordinator for CCL, referring to sea level rise and flooding due to climate change. “You all (in Florida) are on the front lines.”

Florida State Coordinator for CCL, Abhaya Thiele said that for the Carbon Fee and Dividend producers will be charged $15 a ton, which was decided based on how much CO2 is produced, and then the fee has a $10 increase every year after that based on the increase of effects we will see due to climate change. According to a study that CCL has done on the possible outcome of the Carbon Fee and Dividend, 2.1 million lives will be saved in the first 10 years.

Donald Addu in downtown St. Augustine

Addu said what keeps him motivated is seeing a lot of people who are passionate about it and seeing progress happen.

“Two years ago, we never would have anticipated Republicans and Democrats sitting across the aisle on anything let alone climate change,” said Addu about the work CCL is doing in the government.

Employees of CCL really believe that they are advocating for a viable solution. “We are coupling a problem with a solution, which is what makes CCL so powerful,” said Bennett.

Addu has found that people are more interested in peoples stories than in the science and facts behind climate change. “Science is a great driver but I find it actually rarely comes up,” Addu said. “It’s super important and we’ve got to have that good data because that’s what helps us formulate good policy, but data doesn’t sell policy, people sell policy.”

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