From Wesleyan: An Energized Call to Price Carbon

Author’s note, Dec. 22, 2010: Video and Powerpoints of Hansen, McKibben, the Congressmembers, the carbon-pricing “debate” and other sessions are now available at this page of the Pricing Carbon conference Web site.

Forgive us if this post is a bit breathless. We’re still reeling from the energy we experienced at the Pricing Carbon conference this past weekend at Wesleyan University.

More than 500 people attended the Pricing Carbon conference.

Over 500 people participated in the panels, workshops and strategy meetings, which began Friday evening and continued into Sunday afternoon. A majority were students, including 175 members of Students For a Just and Stable Future, a dynamic activist organization that began in Massachusetts and has spread across New England. Non-students were well represented too, with activists, policy professionals and concerned citizens from two dozen states and Canada. Opinion was unanimous — among presenters and participants alike — that the conference was a vital and worthwhile experience. And as of Sunday morning, Wesleyan’s IT staff had counted 33,000 hits to their site streaming conference video.

We’re sifting through videos, photos and notes from presentations which featured four members of Congress, renowned climate scientist James Hansen, author-advocates Bill McKibben and Peter Barnes, activists including Cecil Corbin-Mark, Tim DeChristopher and Bill Shireman, Wesleyan professors Gary Yohe and Barry Chernoff (director of Wesleyan’s new College of the Environment, the conference host and co-sponsor), and CTC’s own James Handley and Charles Komanoff.

Here’s a handful of quotes from the Congressmembers:

I’m the proud author of that bill, America’s Energy Security Trust Fund Act, and I will be proud to introduce it again in the next Congress. — Rep. John Larson (D-CT)

I’m a carbon tax person. — Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)

Conference-goers swarmed Rep. Inglis after his talk.

Biblical Law says, “You keep your stuff on your property.” We need to say to coal and oil, “Keep your stuff on your property.” — Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC)

The Republicans have done us a favor — they’ve given us two years to think, two years to build a movement.” — Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA)

I didn’t need to come up here. There are no votes for me here. I came up here and you gave me faith. Now you need to be thinking about how you’re going to get meetings like this in every part of the country. — Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)

Veteran activist Ted Glick, policy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, summed it up neatly:

There was a positive and energetic spirit throughout the conference. One reason for this was the conscious structuring of the conference to maximize opportunities for participation by all of those in attendance; e.g., by limiting the amount of time for speakers in plenaries and workshops, to allow for more time for questions and dialogue.

It was also because the co-sponsoring groups and many of the people who participated believe that the demise of the cap and trade model for comprehensive climate legislation opens up the possibility that a much better approach to pricing carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions can now become the preferred national approach. And it was due to the positive combination of a cross-section of older activists, scholars, political leaders and heads of organizations interacting with large numbers of students and youth seriously interested in and passionate about the climate issue.

Click here for the Wesleyan Statement of Carbon Pricing Principles. Come back to this page shortly after Thanksgiving for a sign-on page; links to conference Powerpoint presentations, photos and videos; and, for conference participants, a Google news-group to help us stay connected and strengthen the movement to price carbon emissions efficiently, equitably and transparently.



  1.'Jeanne Fudala says

    Thank you to Charles, James, Laura Bonham &Tom Stokes for coordinating, and others who contributed a great deal such as Ted Glick, Brent Blackwelder and Marshall Saunders; the great keynote, plenary and workshop speakers–with special mention of Dr. James Hansen, who spent all day Saturday at the conference and spoke at the dinner in addition to his keynote address.

    The conference was extremely informative, enightening and inspiring.

    Thank You so much!!

  2.'Kathy Callan says

    A great article and a great conference! I was inspired by the energy of the presenters, and the huge crowd of students…The next generation is prepared to lead!


Last modified: November 22, 2010