Assemble Your Team
Outreach to Policymakers
There are many ways you might initiate your task, depending on your circumstances and those of your community. If your community has a receptive mayor and assembly, you might start by arranging early meetings to get to know each other and to broach the subjects of climate and energy policy.
Relationships are key in politics. Honor those you're talking with; respect them by being punctual, considerate, and clear. Know what message you want to get across: the size of group you represent, the urgency of climate action, your expertise and availability, etc.
Be aware that there are many different reasons various people prioritize climate action. As much as possible, help others see why climate change matters to their already-established values. For example, outdoorsy folks may respond well to discussions of how skiing and fishing is impacted. Hikers, hunters, and public safety officers may respond to wildfire trends. Some progressives may respond to environmental and extinction concerns. Some conservatives may respond well to national security and border security, along with a cost/benefit analysis. People of faith may be persuaded by a call for us to be stewards, caretakers of creation. As much as possible, know your audience and tailor your message accordingly.
Consider bringing with you a local expert in one of these areas, or become very conversant in the science of these topics beforehand.
In Anchorage, when the mayor's office was ready to begin the process of formulating a Climate Action Plan, the administration began by establishing a steering committee, an advisory committee, business advisers, and several working groups.
Our steering committee was made up of city staff and university faculty. They shaped the framework for the process, determining timetables, setting up the different boards and teams, crafting values for the volunteers to consider during the process, inviting participants to fill those roles, and composing standardized forms to encourage thorough consideration of feasibility and ramifications. They also hosted and guided the various meetings and edited the final plan.
Our advisory committee was a diverse group of people from the community, holding a wide variety of expertise. Several were from the business community. They reviewed and commented on the draft Climate Action Plan with an eye toward equity and economic prosperity.
We established seven working groups:
- Buildings and Energy
- Land Use and Transportation
- Consumption and Solid Waste
- Health and Emergency Preparedness
- Food Systems
- Urban Forest and Watersheds
- Outreach and Education
These are the working groups that came up with our specific action items and broader objectives for each category.
By nature or by interest among the members, some of our groups focused more on adaptation (responding wisely to expected changes), while others focused more on mitigation (minimizing anticipated changes by reducing our carbon emissions).
In your efforts, you might choose to combine some of these working groups, remove others, or add new ones.
There was some crossover, for example, when one group developed ideas more pertinent to another group. Generally, such ideas were passed along to the other group for inclusion in the final recommendations.
University faculty led these groups, while the bulk of the groups were made up of city staff, state and federal employees, and members of non-profit organizations. It is ideal to have expert and highly-motivated membership of these groups.