Climate Change and Bicycling: How Advocates Can Help

A note to our readers:

In our 2017 Membership Survey, respondents indicated that they are interested in a number of topics that bicycling addresses. Air quality and climate change topped that list. As a result we’re going to bring our readers content from guest bloggers who represent other organizations or have some expertise in relevant areas of interest. Here is the first in this series. Let us know what you think!

-Alex Shewczyk, Communications & Marketing Manager at Bike Pittsburgh.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

An Open Letter to the Pittsburgh Cycling Community

By: Timothy Kelly, Member of Bike Pittsburgh and volunteer with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby

To date, thanks to human-induced carbon emissions, our planet has warmed about 1.4 degrees and our oceans have become almost one-third more acidic than in pre-industrial times. These changes are not only numerical, they are also visible everyday in the news. Changes can be seen in the form of extreme weather events, wildfires, droughts, deteriorated coral reefs and other marine ecosystems that we depend upon for food. If we continue to emit greenhouse gasses at the current rates, we will reach a point where the impacts will be so severe that civilization as we know it will no longer be possible. Clearly, we must shut off the CO2, now!

Cycling and Climate Change

The connection between climate change and cycling is clear: carbon-free transportation reduces climate-changing gas emissions. But it’s bigger than that. Climate projections regarding agriculture, sea-level rise, and other effects on the environment are quite grim. By fighting climate change, you are fighting for everything we accept as normal in life: Steelers games, Primanti’s sandwiches, chipped ham, and everything else we currently take for granted on a daily basis. Civilizations like ours depend on a stable climate and healthy oceans in order to exist.

Commuting by bike can have a significant impact on the environment. “In a scenario where 14 percent of travel in the world’s cities is by bike or e-bike in 2050, carbon emissions from urban transportation would be 11 percent lower than a scenario where efforts to promote sustainable transportation sidestep bicycling,” according to a study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. To be able to inspire that number of people to ditch their cars, cities would have to prioritize cyclists needs. That means developing a well-connected bike lane infrastructure, implementing a wide network of bike-share stations, and protecting bicyclists and pedestrians with revised laws.


Photo taken by Ansgar Walk, CC BY 2.5, Link

CCL & The Case for Carbon Fee-and-Dividend

This post is meant to introduce the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) to the Bike Pittsburgh community and to ask for its help in moving our work forward. CCL is a national, non-partisan, volunteer organization made up of everyday people who are concerned for our collective future in a world that is rapidly changing.

The organization’s central focus is a revenue-neutral carbon fee-and-dividend proposal. In essence:

This legislation will put us on the path of a sustainable climate by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning us to a clean energy economy. The rising cost of fossil fuels increases the demand for low emissions products, making them even less expensive as they reach mass production. This clear and easy-to-understand price signal (increasing fossil fuel costs and decreasing green technology costs) drive the transition to a green economy. // Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Currently fossil fuel companies benefit from not having to pay for the overall impacts of their products. The carbon fee-and-dividend proposal starts with exacting a fee (starting at $15.00/ton of CO2 content) that goes up every year. The money collected will go into a fund that is returned to the consumer, in the form of a regular dividend, minus administrative costs. That’s the revenue-neutral part. Government, in and of itself, does not increase in size or benefit from the money collected. The program is projected to substantially lower emissions, while creating millions of new jobs. We are proud of the fact that Pittsburgh City Council recently gave our local CCL chapter a unanimous resolution in support of carbon fee-and-dividend at the federal level.

Get Involved

We are always looking for sharp, energetic members who want to work for a secure future for all mankind. For more information on CCL, visit our website at If you want to join CCL, or have a lead on an endorsement or resolution, contact group leader Ray Roberts (

Further reading and resources

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