Political Accountability

August 16, 2012








Yoni Binstock ’10
Yoni Binstock ’10 is the creator of ClimateScores.com.

 

Yoni Binstock ’10 never planned on getting into politics after graduation. In fact, he’d be the first to tell you that he’s pretty jaded about the whole thing. “I’ve come to realize that many politicians’ success is more dependent on their oratory skills than their virtues,” said Binstock, whose true passion is tackling climate change.

But in a funny twist of fate, his dedication to the environment has made him more politically active than ever. Last month, the political science major launched ClimateScores.com, a website that grades senators and congressmen based on their commitment to legislation that addresses climate change. 

“We all have to be responsible for keeping our elected officials accountable,” Binstock said. “Transparency is the core of democracy.”

“Our methodology includes looking at bills and amendments that have to do with investment in renewable energy, tax subsidies to oil corporations, climate mitigation, and hundreds of others” Binstock said. “Our current scorecard just includes bills introduced in this congress, but we’ll soon include climate change legislation since 2000.”

Besides grading representatives, ClimateScores.com also provides contact information for each congressman and senator, including mailing address, phone numbers, and links to their Twitter and Facebook accounts. This contact database, which Binstock compiled and continues to update, allows users to communicate directly with their elected officials. “We provide scripts for each medium, either congratulating them on their participation with climate change legislation or inviting them to think differently,” he said.

"I believe that our Congress is one of the biggest factors holding back action on climate change,” said Binstock, who graduated from Boston University’s energy and environmental analysis graduate program in 2011.

“Recycling is great, using less electricity is great. But we need to do things on a larger scale if we are going to make a difference. And the only way to do this is to target legislation. When our representatives start to get thousands of letters, emails, and messages asking for change, they will start to realize that this issue is very important to their constituents. With accountability, people demand action.”

The next step for Binstock is grading the two presidential candidates for the November election, a venture he hopes will bring more awareness to climate change. His goal is to grade every leader in the world on how they stand on climate change. "With climate change being a global issue, the world's citizens need to unite and advocate for sustainable policies."

For now, he’s happy that the site is gaining traction and has been received well by users and potential partners. Thousands of users have visited the site since it launched, a fact that gives Binstock hope about this endeavor as well as people’s capacity for civic engagement. “I’m really delighted by the fact that people are very happy that this tool is coming to fruition. Before it, people had no idea where their senator stood on climate change. Now, people are finally beginning to realize their position and demand action.”

 

By Kristen Manieri


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