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 Current Political Climate
We always new that 2021 would start with a bang — between the Georgia Senate runoff election, the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden, cabinet announcements, coronavirus relief and, of course, earnest discussions on the future of American climate policy.
A deadly assault on the United States Capitol incited by the President was not on the calendar, although the seeds of division and misinformation were sown long ago.
So what’s the path forward?
Democrats have secured a narrow majority in Congress, which will have an enormous impact on how policy moves in the months ahead. We discuss pathways for climate action. We also opine on the future of the Republican Party and how that could influence the broader political landscape.
But first, we kick it all off with some Political Climate news!
Recommended reading:Volts: What the Georgia Senate wins do (and don't) mean for climate policyWaPo: Schwarzenegger compares Capitol mob violence to Kristallnacht destruction by Nazis in viral videoVox: How Joe Biden plans to use executive powers to fight climate change
Listen and subscribe to Political Climate on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get podcasts! Follow us on Twitter at @Poli_Climate!
A Blueprint for American Climate Action and a Modern Clean Energy Economy
The past few years have been a mixed bag for climate. U.S. emissions declined to their lowest level in three decade this year, but these reductions came at an incredible cost as the economy shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The challenge now is to make these emissions cuts sustainable for years to come, while getting millions of Americans back to work.
We dig into a new analysis on how to put the U.S. on a path to deep decarbonization and economic growth on this episode of Political Climate — the final episode in our "Relief, Rescue, Rebuild" series. Lindsey Walter, senior policy advisor for Third Way’s Climate and Energy program, breaks down the policies and technology pathways to reach net zero emissions by 2050 in an equitable and affordable way.
Plus, we speak to two wind energy technicians who are training the next generation of wind workers in the Midwest about how the industry has affected their region, the opportunities for growth and their message to policymakers.
Mike Gengler is the wind energy coordinator at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa. Jay Johnson in an assistant professor for the wind energy technician program at the Lake Region State College in Devil’s Lake North Dakota.
The "Relief, Rescue, Rebuild" series is supported by the think tank Third Way. The series theme song was created by @AYMusik.
Recommended resources:USA Today: Due to COVID-19, 2020 greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. are predicted to drop to lowest level in three decadesThird Way: Congress Makes a Downpayment on Our Clean Energy FuturePrinceton: Big but affordable effort needed for America to reach net-zero emissions by 2050Relief, Rescue, RebuildPath to Zero
Listen and subscribe to Political Climate on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts! Follow us on Twitter at @Poli_Climate!
Saul Griffith on Mobilizing America to Fight Climate Change and Win the Future
It will take a massive war-time mobilization effort to effectively address the climate emergency, argues Saul Griffith — inventor, MacArthur genius fellow, CEO of Otherlab, and co-founder of Rewiring America, an organization dedicated to creating millions of American jobs while combating climate change.
So, what does a war-time mobilization effort look like? How much will it cost? Will we have to make sacrifices in the process? What does this shift mean for the future of utilities? And will politicians ever get on board? Griffith explains in this episode of Political Climate.
Plus, he weighs in on the massive year-end spending bill that passed in Congress this week and includes significant climate and clean energy measures. If signed into law, will this legislation put the U.S. on the right track to achieve deep decarbonization?
Recommended reading:Rewiring America HandbookNo Place Like Home: Fighting Climate Change (and Saving Money) by Electrifying America’s HouseholdsMobilizing for a zero carbon America: Jobs, jobs, jobs, and more jobsNYT: To Cut Emissions to Zero, U.S. Needs to Make Big Changes in Next 10 YearsNYT: Climate Change Legislation Included in Coronavirus Relief Deal'Need for Speed': Why Solving Climate Change Is About More Than CO2
Political Climate is hosted by Julia Pyper, Brandon Hurlbut and Shane Skelton and supported by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts! We're also on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
DITCHED: How Climate Fintech Is Disrupting Traditional Finance
Crowdfunding, blockchain, artificial intelligence and neobanks. What do all of these buzzwords have to do with fighting climate change?
On this episode of Political Climate’s DITCHED series, host Julia Pyper speaks to the authors of a new report on “climate fintech,” an emerging ecosystem that leverages digital technology to help move more capital into climate change solutions. The report, published by the startup accelerator New Energy Nexus, offers a valuable overview of what this rapidly evolving ecosystem looks like today.
Andrew Chang, New Energy Nexus climate fintech program director based in Shanghai, and Aaron McCreary, New Energy Nexus fintech lead for Europe and the United States, describe how and why traditional finance is being disrupted by new technology — and what this means for decarbonization.
Recommended resources:Climate Fintech Report: An Emerging Ecosystem of Climate Capital CatalystsDITCHED: Greening the BanksIf you’re just joining us, the DITCHED series is all about fossil fuel divestment and the rapidly evolving world of green finance. We’re airing these episodes in addition to our regular Thursday shows on climate and energy politics and policies.
You can find all segments in the DITCHED series on the Political Climate podcast feed, which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get podcasts! You can also find the series on the Political Climate website or via the leading independent environmental news platform Our Daily Planet.
How the Energy Transition Accelerated in a Turbulent Year
2020 has been a remarkable year. It witnessed the coronavirus pandemic, an economic crash, a historic and divisive U.S. election, widespread protests for racial justice and more.
And yet, amid all of the turbulence, the world took several major steps toward realizing a low carbon future.
The numbers are still coming in and the trends are still formalizing, but we have a pretty good sense of how the climate and energy landscape evolved over the past several months.
On this episode of Political Climate, hosts Brandon Hurlbut, Shane Skelton and Julia Pyper discuss how climate action and the clean energy transition fared in 2020.
Recommended reading:Reuters: Solar the new 'king of electricity' as renewables make up bigger slice of supply: IEAS&P: Global emissions peaked in 2019 as pandemic hastens energy transition – reportDITCHED: Why 2020 Could Be a Tipping Point for Fossil FuelsInside EVs: Global Plug-In Electric Car Sales October 2020: Near Record LevelE&E: Biden's energy agenda hinges on FERC, red statesAtlantic: Why the 2020s Could Be as Dangerous as the 1850sPC: David Roberts on 'Radical' Climate Action and Political Tribalism
Listen and subscribe to Political Climate on on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!
DITCHED: New York's Divest/Invest Commitments
Cities and states have powerful roles to play in divesting from fossil fuels and directing investments toward sustainable industries. There are a number of ways for these sub-national actors to participate in the divest/invest movement and help pave the way for more widespread action.
In this episode of Political Climate’s DITCHED series, we go to the home of Wall Street and look at steps being taken by New York City and New York State to accelerate the movement of funds from brown to green resources.
We speak to NYC’s chief climate policy advisor Dan Zarrilli about the city’s pledge to fully divest its pension funds from fossil fuels. Then, in the second half of the episode, we speak to NY Green Bank President Alfred Griffin about how green banks operate and the role they fill in transforming financial markets.
*Since this podcast aired, New York State announced it will divest its $226 billion pension fund from fossil fuels, becoming the largest pension fund to make such a commitment to date. Both New York City and New York State have now pledged to fully divest from fossil fuels. New York State went even further by setting a 2040 carbon-free target for all parts of its portfolio.
Recommended reading:NYC: Mayor, Comptroller, Trustees Announce First-In-The-Nation Goal to Divest From Fossil FuelsSmart Cities Dive: 12 major cities pledge fossil fuel divestmentInside Climate: Could New York’s Youth Finally Convince the State to Divest Its Pension of Fossil Fuels?NRDC: First Global Survey of Green Banks Finds Rapid Growth in their Numbers and Importance in Low-Carbon FinanceVox: New York just passed the most ambitious climate target in the country
Catch all DITCHED episodes in addition to our regular Thursday shows! Listen and subscribe to Political Climate on on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!
Customer ReviewsSee All
The perfect podcast for new learners in the sector as well as more experienced people as well in order to grasp the current conversations in the industry!
I’ve been listening since the beginning and always come away inspired and informed. Thank you. I hope you find your way back to a place where you can keep this going!
Just the podcast I was looking for
So great to find a podcast that covers recent news and how it impacts past, current and proposed climate legislation. I look forward to every new episode. One tweak that would be worth making is for better prepared hard hitting questions for their guests. The hosts more often than not let guests talk about whatever they want, rather than steering in the conversation in the most valuable direction.