Colby chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby pushes for voters’ recognition of climate policy

On March 3, both the Waterville and Colby communities converged on the Elm, an event center, to vote in the Democratic primary and on the vaccine law referendum. The Portland Press Herald reported surging voter turnout across Maine, and in Waterville particularly.

Some concerned citizens used this primary as an opportunity to highlight their concerns about climate change and about how potential presidential candidates would approach the issue. The Colby College chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) banded together with Waterville locals to raise awareness about the issue through a climate strike at the Elm.

Charlie Cobb `22, who organized the demonstration, said that he hoped the strike would push voters to consider climate when at the ballot booth.

“The goal of the strike is to inform people [about] presidential candidates’ climate action plans and encourage them to take this information into account when voting,” Cobb said.

The Colby CCL is part of the larger Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization that aims to empower citizens personally and politically. The Colby Chapter specifically has focused on passing a piece of legislation called Energy Innovation and Carbon Fee and Dividend Act, which would attempt to reduce emissions, create jobs, and support small businesses.

The Colby CCL has a history of activism in the Waterville community. In Sept. 2019, the CCL coordinated a climate strike in conjunction with the Global Climate Strike. Members of the Colby CCL were also involved in organizing the inaugural Maine College Action Summit held at Colby on Nov. 9, 2019.

Cindy Nguyen `20, a president of the Colby CCL on public perceptions of climate change in the past.

“Within the climate movement, it is important to note that each individual has a different experience and perception of climate change,” Nguyen said. “I think we need to realize that the world isn’t split into ‘those that acknowledge climate change’s existence’ and ‘climate deniers.’ It’s not ‘Democrats believe in climate change’ and ‘Republicans don’t.’ Rather, people are fundamentally divided on how to address the climate crisis.”

By law, the demonstration had to be a certain distance from the voting precinct. As a result many students and residents at the Elm did not see the strike. Aidan Sites `22, for example, didn’t see the strike personally but knew of its existence.

“Apparently it was behind the Elm,” Sites said. However, she did note the importance of considering climate change policy when voting.

“I do think that the climate is super important for voters to think about when voting for presidential candidates as we are in a climate crisis right now and changes need to be made,” Sites said. 

Hannah Davidsen `22 also did not see the demonstration, saying that “it was very chaotic . . . and [people at the voting precinct] were more focused on making sure people were in the right lines.”

Davidsen said that she considered the strike to be an important tool for disseminating of information.

“I think it’s definitely a good idea, especially if there’s information on all the candidates’ platforms on climate change because that was a big issue for me when I was voting,” Davidsen said. Additionally, she remarked that having the information given to voters could be effective, as many people may not have the opportunity to fully research such complex issues themselves.

Sonia Lachter `22 did see the demonstration but expressed some confusion about the intentions of the strike.

“I couldn’t tell what they were getting at. Either they should’ve said which candidate they think is best to combat climate change or waited for an election with some more clearly climate-related issues at hand,” Lachter said.

Climate change and climate policy remain issues that captivate voters, especially college-aged voters. Colby students will likely remain at the forefront of these contentious debates in the Waterville community, and Mayflower Hill will continue to serve as a nexus of important policy discussions.

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