Get to Know Carly Fabian
Public Citizen News / March-April 2023
This article appeared in the March/April 2023 edition of Public Citizen News. Download the full edition here.
As Policy Advocate with Public Citizen’s Climate Program, Carly Fabian advocates for financial institutions and regulators to take action on the climate crisis. A native of northern Delaware, Fabian loved working on local fundraising and advocacy campaigns in high school and knew early on that she wanted to work in the nonprofit field. When she got to Washington, D.C., to study international relations at American University, she started interning with some organizing groups, including STAND, a student-led organizing group focused on genocide prevention, and the Public International Law and Policy Group. One of her favorite memories was of leaving the office with coworkers when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld same-sex marriage and sharing a euphoric moment with people who had worked for decades to make that possible. Fabian was attracted to Public Citizen for its distinct combination of wonky political advocacy and creative communication approaches, such as coming up with tweets to debunk false frames on budget priorities. A typical day might include drafting materials for regulators or legislators, coordinating work with coalitions and local partners, and figuring out ways to communicate an advocacy issue through grassroots emails or social media.
Can you talk a bit about your path to Public Citizen?
Classes at American University and volunteer work helped me develop an interest in environmental justice, corporate and government accountability work, and public education campaigns. Before joining Public Citizen, I worked at a legal education nonprofit focused on using financial industry whistleblower laws to protect individuals reporting corporate environmental crimes.
What has been your favorite part of working at Public Citizen?
One of the highlights of each week is joining the weekly staff meetings, where we hear inspiring and reassuring presentations from smart colleagues on the issues they’re working on and learn about the scrappy, creative tactics they’re using to advocate for the public and hold corporations accountable. Communicating the intersections of climate change and financial regulation can be technical and dry, but it’s fun to work with a team determined to make these issues not just accessible but also fun for Public Citizen’s supporters and the public.
What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about climate change?
One misconception I find particularly harmful is the idea that climate change is merely a technical puzzle best left to a small group of experts to solve. You don’t have to spend much time in the climate policy space to realize that there is rarely a shortage of solutions, but instead, a lack of political will at the top to support them. Advancing climate solutions also requires grassroots support, inclusive movements, and a wide range of expertise, particularly from frontline communities that have been working on the root causes of environmental justice issues for a long time.
How would you describe the work you do at Public Citizen?
I’m part of the climate program, a lot of which is focused on how climate-related financial risks to people’s savings, their homes, and the economy. In the past few months, I’ve focused on how climate change will affect insurance costs and coverage. Insurance companies are supposed to be society’s risk managers, but despite knowing early on about the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change, insurers have continued to profit by underwriting risky fossil fuel projects and investing consumers’ premiums in fossil fuel companies. Now, property insurers are passing the costs of climate disasters onto the most vulnerable communities by raising premiums, cutting coverage, and delaying payments. The insurance industry doesn’t like to disclose data on this issue, so we’ve been pushing for a national study on how climate change is impacting access and costs for insurance.
What is one thing you’re hoping to achieve in the coming year?
There’s been increasing coverage of the costs that climate change will create for insurance consumers, especially after Hurricane Ian. But too often, the insurance industry gets to set the narrative on policy solutions in a way that can be favorable to their profits, at the expense of the public. We’re hoping to introduce ideas for solutions that would require insurance companies to stop fueling the climate crisis, pay their fair share for climate costs, and keep insurance affordable and accessible for vulnerable communities.