Calling All Counsel Concerning Climate Change

This is the inaugural post for the blog of A Call to the Bar: Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change. We are lawyers (including law students) dedicated to convincing government to take immediate action to substantially reduce CO2 emissions. Our group is unique in focusing our call to action at lawyers. We support the efforts of all the other groups and people dedicated to saving the planet. We believe that lawyers when motivated to help can be particularly effective in the fight against climate change.

  • As lawyers, we are highly educated and can understand the facts about climate change, the availability and feasibility of a solution, and the grave consequences of not acting soon.
  • Creating effective arguments and convincing policy makers is a core function of lawyers.
  • We exercise a great deal of influence over elected officials. In fact, many if not most elected officials are lawyers. The same is true of lobbyists.
  • The solution to climate change must be expressed in law, and lawyers will write the law.
  • Climate change is at its core a justice issue, and promoting justice is our most important function as lawyers.

While there are many people already working on convincing government to take action on climate change, the general public is not yet demanding action because there is a lack of understanding about the facts of climate change and the urgency of the problem. We hope to stimulate action by focusing on lawyers and the legal industry. We encourage people in all other professions, vocations, and callings to do the same.

Robert Kennedy said: “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” We want to be a ripple.

The timing of our actions is critical. This year 2015 will end with the UN Climate Meeting in Paris in December. Pope Francis is expected to issue an encyclical on climate change this month. We believe that our actions between now and December could help to convince elected officials to take action this year. But we will continue working on this issue until the fight is won.

We intend to achieve our goal by taking the following steps and encouraging other lawyers everywhere to do the same.

  1. Educate ourselves and other lawyers about the problem, the solution, and the need for action.

Climate change is simultaneously a very simple and incredibly complex problem, which helps to explain why it has been the subject of so much misinformation. Educating ourselves and other about the basics is one of the most effective strategies for fighting climate change.

Lawyers and law students can organize educational programs at bar organizations and law schools featuring knowledgeable speakers about the problem, the solution, and the need for action. If you need help organizing a program in your community, volunteer lawyers from A Call to the Bar can help. Contact info@calltothebar.org.

  1. Adopt resolutions, declarations, and petitions calling for immediate government action on climate change and encouraging others to do the same.

Don’t underestimate the power of formal resolutions, declarations and petitions. The United States of America began with a declaration.

To date, three bar associations have passed strong statements calling for government action on climate change.

We need many more bar associations, including student bar associations, to pass resolutions on climate change! We are actively seeking to work with bar associations and student bar associations that are interested in passing resolutions. If you need help, contact info@calltothebar.org.

We also encourage everyone, non-lawyers included, to show their support for A Call to the Bar by signing the Petition for Immediate Action On Climate Change. Please sign it now.

  1. Talk to elected officials about the need for government to take immediate action to substantially reduce C02 emissions.

Whenever we have the chance, we seek to tell our elected officials, including perhaps most importantly members of Congress, about our concern over climate change and the need to adopt carbon pricing to fight climate change. This is not a partisan issue. We seek the support of members of both of our major political parties as well as independents and others.

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There are many issues that we call care about and as to which we may have differences of opinion. But climate change unites us all, because it will affect us all. We hope that lawyers and law students everywhere will join in the call for action. We believe that our children and grandchildren will thank us.