60 episodes

A bipartisan podcast on energy and environmental politics in America. Presented by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Political Climate goes beyond the echo chambers to bring you civil conversations, fierce debates and insider perspectives, with hosts and guests from across the political spectrum. Join Democrat and Republican energy experts Brandon Hurlbut and Shane Skelton, along with Greentech Media's Julia Pyper, as we explore how energy and environment policies get made.

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A bipartisan podcast on energy and environmental politics in America. Presented by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Political Climate goes beyond the echo chambers to bring you civil conversations, fierce debates and insider perspectives, with hosts and guests from across the political spectrum. Join Democrat and Republican energy experts Brandon Hurlbut and Shane Skelton, along with Greentech Media's Julia Pyper, as we explore how energy and environment policies get made.

    The Urgency of Reaching Net Zero

    The Urgency of Reaching Net Zero

    This is a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change. There is a need to act now and there are a lot of open questions on how to do that.

    Net zero emissions by 2050 has emerged as the target that the world must hit in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Policymakers and activists in the U.S. are working to put the net zero goal into law, and multiple major companies have already pledged to achieve carbon neutrality. But what will it really take to reach zero?

    That’s what Political Climate will explore in the coming months in a new podcast series called “Path to Zero,” presented in partnership with Third Way. This series will look at how people are being affected by the transition to cleaner energy resources, and the economic challenges and opportunities created in the process. It will examine the technologies and policies we need to drive down carbon emissions, and the politics influencing this activity.

    In this first episode of the series — introduced by Josh Freed, senior vice president of the climate and energy program at Third Way — we discuss why we’re talking about net zero emissions by 2050 to begin with. What is the climate science underpinning this goal? What does “net zero” mean? And what will the future look like if this goal isn’t met? We get the answers from scientist and climate strategist Dr. Jane Long, former associate director for energy and environment at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

    “Path to Zero” episodes will air monthly on the Political Climate podcast feed, after the first two episodes air in January. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!

    Recommended reading:The Hill: Democrats outline sweeping legislation to make U.S. carbon neutral by 2050GTM: Spanish Oil Giant Repsol Sets Net-Zero Emissions Target for 2050Climate Home: Net zero: the story of the target that will shape our futureThird Way: Zero by 2050: Understanding the Challenge Before Us


    Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.

    Listen and subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, Overcast or any of these other services.

    • 21 min
    Why Arnold Schwarzenegger Backs Greta Thunberg and Bipartisanship

    Why Arnold Schwarzenegger Backs Greta Thunberg and Bipartisanship

    Hello and happy new year! It’s January, so we can still say that — right?

    Between devastating wildfires in Australia, conflict in the Middle East, and a rapidly approaching Democratic presidential primary there’s been no shortage of news since 2020 began. 

    In this week's episode, we discuss what the latest headlines mean for climate and energy policy. Plus, we bring you a sit-down interview with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who put in place many of the state’s foundational climate and clean energy policies (in addition to being an actor, businessman and bodybuilder, of course).

    We get the governor's reflections on 2019, including why he decided to support teen climate activist Greta Thunberg in her journey across North America last fall. And why he's also backing former Secretary of State John Kerry's star-studded and bipartisan World War Zero climate initiative, which some argue is at odds with the youth climate movement.

    Schwarzenegger also weighs in on Congress' failure to extend clean energy tax credits last legislative session and the Trump administration's lawsuit against California's cap-and-trade program.

    Recommended reading:Verge: John Kerry, Arnold Schwarzenegger wage ‘World War Zero’ on climate changeVox: John Kerry and the climate kids: a tale of 2 new strategies to fight climate changeGTM: How the White House Killed Clean Energy Tax CreditsCNN: Australia's deadly wildfires are showing no signs of stopping. Here's what you need to knowRecharge: French solar power charity wins Zayed Sustainability Prize


    Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.

    Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Overcast or any of these other services.

    • 45 min
    Bonus: Full Interview With Emily Atkin of HEATED

    Bonus: Full Interview With Emily Atkin of HEATED

    We're technically on break this week, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring you our full interview with Emily Atkin, author of the popular climate newsletter HEATED.

    Emily came on Political Climate in early December to talk about the fossil fuel industry’s climate change disinformation campaign in our episode “Big Oil on Trial.” We had a lot to cover on that show, so we weren’t able to share the entire conversation between Emily and podcast host Julia Pyper.

    But there was lot of great content, so we wanted to share this extended interview. It goes deeper into the fossil fuel sector, looks at the controversy over Pete Buttigieg’s climate advisor David Victor, and explores shifting dynamics in the media industry and how to be a responsible climate journalist.

    Political Climate will be back soon with our Democratic and Republican co-hosts, Brandon Hurlbut and Shane Skelton. In the meantime, as you pack up your holiday decorations or prep for a New Year’s Eve party, we hope that you enjoy this bonus episode.

    And while you’re here, please give us a rating and leave a review! Let us know what we’re doing well and what we can improve on in 2020. Thank you!

    Recommended reading:HEATED: Is Pete Buttigieg's climate adviser a fossil fuel shill?GTM: How Oil and Gas Giants Are ‘Buying Options’ for an Uncertain FuturePolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.

    Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Overcast or any of these other services.

    • 42 min
    David Roberts on 'Radical' Climate Action and Political Tribalism

    David Roberts on 'Radical' Climate Action and Political Tribalism

    Is radical reform needed to remake the U.S. electricity grid? What’s the role of nuclear power in the U.S. energy mix? Which Democratic presidential candidate has the best climate plan? What’s the most effective approach to climate advocacy? And how should journalists be covering highly politicized issues in today’s highly polarized information landscape?

    On this week's episode on Political Climate, we put these and other questions to David Roberts, acclaimed energy and politics reporter for Vox.  

    As a leading voice in the space, he has helped tens of thousands of readers better understand wonky topics like performance-based utility regulation and how batteries can benefit the power grid. He has also waded into covering broader political issues, like how the impeachment of President Trump is feeding into a bifurcated information ecosystem and may be fueling an epistemic crisis for the country.

    We thought it would be enlightening to end the 2019 season of Political Climate by asking Roberts a wide range of questions on American politics and how to save the planet. We hope you enjoy the interview, and we will be back with new episodes in the New Year!

    Recommended reading:Vox: The radical reform necessary to prepare California’s power system for the 21st centuryVox: John Kerry and the climate kids: a tale of 2 new strategies to fight climate changeVox: Donald Trump and the rise of tribal epistemologyVox: With impeachment, America’s epistemic crisis has arrived


    Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, and thanks to invaluable support from producer Victoria Simon.

    Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Overcast or any of these other services.

    • 1 hr 30 min
    Where's the Action? COP25, Capitol Hill, and Insights From Sen. Ayotte

    Where's the Action? COP25, Capitol Hill, and Insights From Sen. Ayotte

    It’s week two of the United Nations COP25 climate summit, and it’s the last few days of Congress before the winter recess. 

    What have American policymakers accomplished? 

    We get an update from the U.S. Climate Action Center on site at the UN climate talks. We look at wildfire victim relief in California. And we discuss 12 pieces of clean energy legislation that House Republicans are calling on Democrats to support. What's the political strategy at play?

    Plus, a prominent former senator weighs in on the climate, energy and security nexus and how to avoid the game of “political football” that climate policy has become today.

    Later in this show, we speak to former Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire about what she calls “common-sense” solutions to combat climate change.

    Recommended reading:Al Jazeera: As Trump walks away from climate pact, America's Pledge steps upVox: The future of the Paris climate agreement is being decided this weekNYT: PG&E Reaches $13.5 Billion Deal With Wildfire VictimsE&C: Bipartisan Solutions to Protect the Environment and the Economy


    Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, and thanks to invaluable support from producer Victoria Simon.

    Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Overcast or any of these other services.

    • 59 min
    Big Oil on Trial

    Big Oil on Trial

    Fossil fuel companies could be facing a Big Tobacco moment.

    This fall, Exxon Mobil went to court, facing charges that the oil giant lied to shareholders and to the public about the costs and consequences of climate change. And that’s just one of several legal cases seeking to hold oil and gas firms responsible for their contribution to global warming.

    As we discuss with UCLA environmental law professor Ann Carlson in this episode of Political Climate, the litigation could cost fossil fuel companies billions of dollars and fundamentally change the way the world approaches energy production. 

    But lawsuits aren’t the only venue for challenging the fossil fuel industry. This battle is also being waged in the court of public opinion, which has put a spotlight on how oil companies can promote their positions on social media. In this episode, we also hear from journalist Emily Atkin, author of the newsletter Heated, about why she and others are angry about the oil industry’s political ads.

    With the United Nations COP25 climate summit also taking place this week, fossil fuels are in the crosshairs.

    Recommended reading:Inside Climate: Where the Major Climate Change Lawsuits Stand TodayHeated: Exxon climate ads aren’t "political," according to TwitterAxios: To tackle climate change, clean energy isn’t enoughNYT: ‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate TalksGTM: Spanish Oil Giant Repsol Sets Net-Zero Emissions Target for 2050


    Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, and thanks to invaluable support from producer Victoria Simon.

    Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Overcast or any of these other services.

    • 1 hr 2 min

Customer Reviews

Leland_Gohl ,

Thoughtful and thought-provoking

Love this podcast can’t wait to see what’s in store for this year as the election starts to heat up!

isurusen ,

Much needed dialogue

In the age of tribalism and partisan cacophony, this show is a breath of fresh air delving into how differences in values leads us towards different policies. But more perhaps importantly, how we can see the best in the other side and bring about bipartisan solutions to the most challenging problems of today.

My biggest complaint is that the show-runners seem to miss how Carbon Dividends changes the whole climate debate by reframing the solution from a burden to benefit for a vast majority of people (7/10 households, per a Treasury Dept study). It would be great if you delved deeper into this idea from various angles, especially since it’s universal property been described as a ‘libertarian socialist’ idea.

123pasha321 ,

Love the show, but…

I love your show!

I have to say that I was a little annoyed at Shane on the last episode. He doesn’t seem to understand a simple cause and effect. Children are angry and striking because those in power - especially Republicans but Democrats too (take NJ Governor Phil Murphy as an example) - are doing far too little to address climate change. The children shouldn’t be bitterly blamed, the cause of their anger should be addressed - adults are mortgaging their future. His comments (especially at the beginning of the episode) evoked my memories of those in the South who rejected the claims of civil rights leaders, and I think he will be ashamed of his comments in the future, as underneath it all it is clear that he is a thoughtful person.

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