Before elections, ClimatePolitics crowdsources, researches, and compiles what candidates and incumbents say about climate change on their profile pages. This can be used as a decision-making resource for various campaigns and voters.
After elections are over, we archive data on the losing candidates and then we focus on adding in voting information on key climate and clean energy legislation. The result is a resource for those working on climate, clean energy, and environmental justice who want to track climate action at the state and national levels.
We piloted both initiatives this past year: ClimateCongress, launched in October 2016, documented the climate change positions and public statements of all 34 Senate races and nearly 100 competitive House races. Next, in 2017, we launched ClimateCalifornia to profile members of the state legislature. Ahead of what was a historic legislative session, we added an automatic Climate Bill Tracker and our first Tweets Database.
We designed ClimatePolitics to scale. We tested our approach in the 2016 elections and since then in California, and refined our crowdsourcing, researching, and automatic data-collection operations and standards. At the top of every page we say we intend for our information “to be substantive, factual, objective, and fully sourced.” Now, we are set to expand the project across the country.
As an up-to-date, open source, non-partisan project, users can turn to ClimatePolitics to find out where legislators stand on climate bills as they appear, and see for themselves, just who, and who is not, leading on climate change.
As elected and appointed officials across the country respond to inaction in Washington, D.C., we are seeing more climate initiatives from state, regional, and local governments. We see ClimatePolitics as a key “Go-To” information hub to highlight and reinforce actions at all levels of government, empowering voters, concerned residents, and advocacy groups.
A Resource for everyone
We envision ClimatePolitics as an adaptable, customizable tool that can be used for many purposes and by many constituencies. A few examples of how our wiki can empower users:
- Non-profits – We offer our platform to climate, clean energy, and environmental justice organizations to join in assembling non-partisan and fully sourcedprofiles of legislators and candidates. They can input factual information on individuals and work with us to set up new tools like the Bill Tracker we built for California.
- Journalists – Since the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, media coverage about climate change has skyrocketed. By collecting all publically available climate votes and statements in a single place, we offer ClimatePolitics as a one-stop shop for journalists to understand legislators’ climate positions. They can trace back our source citations, draw from our information to ask informed questions during debates, interviews, or press conferences, and highlight the resources in their reporting.
- Voters and concerned residents – Polls show that all voters – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – care about climate. Yet climate change, which is already negatively impacting communities around the country, is rarely an issue in elections. By providing an easily accessible, non-partisan information source, we aim to empower concerned voters to ask questions and make decisions based on their candidates’ and legislators’ public positions on climate – or lack thereof – and their votes.
Adaptable and scalable
As a crowdsourcing platform built on open-source software, ClimatePolitics can be quickly adapted as needed. For example, we can work with partners to quickly create wikis for mayors, city councils, and members of regulatory boards. For those working on local climate and energy issues, contributing information to and using ClimatePolitics can empower them with information that can drive advocacy, voter turnout at events and elections, and citizen engagement.
We can work with climate, environmental justice, environmental equity, and clean energy organizations and advocates across the country. We will create new wikis for states when we have active, willing partners, as we did in California, with whom we can work to design a location-specific wiki, and offer our tested best practices and customizable guidance documents. Together we can recruit and train crowdsourcers using our existing training materials.
With additional resources, we can create a more rapidly-updated database, recruit more crowdsourcers, and expand to more states. Together, we can make ClimatePolitics a vital resource to help everyone understand the whole scope across all levels of government legislators’ public statements and votes.