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Political Climate

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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.

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“Climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy.” That’s the top line takeaway from a landmark new report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.While the core finding isn’t entirely new, the CFTC report carries weight. “Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System,” commissioned by a panel of President Trump appointed federal regulators, is the first comprehensive federal government study to focus on the risks climate change presents to Wall Street.Divya Mankikar is an investment manager at the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or CalPERS, where she works to shed light on integrating environmental, social and governance factors across the roughly 400 billion fund — the largest public pension fund in the U.S. She’s also a member of the subcommittee that authored the recently released CFTC climate risk report.In this episode, Divya outlines the report’s main findings and details how CalPERS and other large investors are acting on a growing body of climate risk information.This is the fifth episode in the Political Climate miniseries called DITCHED: fossil fuels, money flows and the greening of finance. Listen and subscribe to Political Climate wherever you get podcasts!Recommended reading:CFTC: Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial SystemResponsible Investor: CalPERS says it plans to align with TCFD amid new California climate legislationGuardian: Investors that manage US $47tn demand world’s biggest polluters back plan for net-zero emissionsGuardian: New Zealand minister calls for finance sector to disclose climate crisis risks in world firstCatch all DITCHED episodes in addition to our regular Thursday shows! Listen and subscribe to Political Climate on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
The youth climate movement has gained enormous momentum over the past few years. While progressive groups tend to be the most well known, conservative youth activists are also expanding their presence in American politics. The Republican Party stands to lose an entire generation of voters if it doesn’t embrace a more environmentally friendly agenda. We speak to Benji Backer, founder and president of the American Conservation Coalition, about what he thinks Republicans are getting right and wrong on climate heading into the 2020 election. Benji and a group of college-aged friends created The American Conservation Coalition in 2017 with a dream of making environmental issues nonpartisan again. The Republican-leaning group says it’s dedicated to mobilizing young people around climate action and environmental protection through common-sense, market-based and limited-government ideals — even if that means criticizing members of their own party. We talk to Benji about what young conservative climate activists want and debate Republicans’ existing track record on climate action.Recommended reading:Electric Election 2020 Road TripConservative climate group runs pro-environment ads on Fox NewsWaPo: In rare bipartisan climate agreement, senators forge plan to slash use of potent greenhouse gasThe Atlantic: How a Plan to Save the Power System DisappearedPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
In the face of a mounting climate crisis, financial institutions are reevaluating their relationships with coal, gas and oil. But while the divestment movement is picking up speed, it isn’t on a one way street. There is still lots of money flowing into fossil fuels through various public and private channels. At the same time, fossil fuel interests are spending heavily to influence policy that protects their assets and future growth opportunities. In this episode, we speak to Leah Stokes, assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara about her research on how fossil fuel companies and electric utilities are slowing the shift away from polluting resources.This is the fourth episode in the Political Climate miniseries called DITCHED: fossil fuels, money flows and the greening of finance. Listen and subscribe to Political Climate wherever you get podcasts!Recommended reading:Guardian: How the oil industry has spent billions to control the climate change conversationSierra: Bailout: Billions of Dollars of Federal COVID-19 Relief Money Flow to the Oil IndustryE&E: Big Oil, meet Big Green  Bloomberg: Utilities Are Slowing Down the Clean Energy TransitionS&P: Ohio bribery scandal increases scrutiny of how utilities use 'dark money' groupsEnergy and Policy Institute: Paying for Utility PoliticsShort Circuiting PolicyCatch all DITCHED episodes in addition to our regular Thursday shows! Listen and subscribe to Political Climate on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
Financial regulators have a key role to play in addressing the systemic risks presented by climate change. Arguably, it’s part of their mandate to safeguard financial markets and the real economy from disruptive shocks.Like the COVID-19 pandemic, change change has the potential to wreak havoc on asset valuations and economic stability, as well as the lives and livelihoods of millions of people — particularly if these events are poorly managed. We discuss the steps regulators can take to protect against potentially devastating climate-related impacts in this episode of DITCHED, a Political Climate miniseries on fossil fuels, money flows and the greening of finance. What exactly do those regulatory actions look like? Who is responsible for taking them? What is the upshot for fossil fuels use? And how does this play politically?Steven Rothstein, managing director of the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets, explains.Episodes of DITCHED air on Mondays. To catch all of these shows, subscribe to Political Climate wherever you get podcasts!Recommended reading:NYT: Climate Change Poses ‘Systemic Threat’ to the Economy, Big Investors WarnPolitico: Ottawa seizes Covid-19 opportunity to require climate risk reportingBloomberg: Fed opens door for oil company loans after lobbying campaignCeres: Addressing Climate as a Systemic RiskPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
Is a green recovery within the oil and gas industry a contradiction in terms? Can these fossil fuel firms meaningfully decarbonize their businesses, while creating new jobs in a struggling economy and volatile energy market? We discuss with a panel of experts, including oil and gas giant BP, in this episode of Political Climate.The oil and gas industry was hit hard by COVID-19, but business was already rocky ahead of the pandemic. Oil and gas companies were under mounting societal pressure to transition away from fossil fuel production and toward clean energy technologies.Now, as countries seek to stabilize their economies and investors look for environmentally friendly growth opportunities, it’s an open question as to what role oil and gas companies will play in building new, low-carbon lines of business. This discussion was originally recorded in late July for a live event hosted by the Atlantic Council and the Center for Houston’s Future, featuring the following speakers:Cindy Yeilding, senior vice president at BP AmericaGavin Dillingham, clean energy policy program director at Houston Advanced Research CenterAlex Dewar, senior director at the Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Energy ImpactRJ Johnston, managing director for energy, climate, and resources at the Eurasia groupRecommended reading:Atlantic Council: Public sector investment opportunities for a green stimulus in oil and gasGTM: BP Aims to Build 50GW of Renewables by 2030, Cut Fossil Fuel Output by 40%CNBC: BP reports second-quarter loss after major write downs, halves dividendPolitical Climate: What the Oil Price War Means for CleantechPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
Fossil fuel divestment ain’t what it used to be. In a good way, if you ask advocates.In this episode — the second episode of Political Climate's special DITCHED miniseries — we get further into the weeds on what’s driving the Divest/Invest movement and where it’s going. We cover a lot and connect the dots in an interview with Justin Guay, director of global climate strategy at the Sunrise Project.Prior to joining Sunrise, Justin managed grant-making and strategy development for global coal campaigns at the ClimateWorks Foundation and Packard Foundation. He also ran the Sierra Club’s International Coal Campaign, with a special focus on international finance.In this conversation, we discuss how cutting off the flow of capital into fossil fuels has taken on a variety of different forms, as well as lessons learned from coal divestment that could influence a shift away from oil and gas. Justin addresses the tricky question of whether making fossil fuels harder to finance will actually curb demand for these products. We also talk about what a future without fossil fuels would look like, and how it could affect individual workers and even geopolitical relations. And that’s not all. We launched the DITCHED miniseries to shed light on the divestment movement, and the growing trend of moving money out of fossil fuels and into more sustainable investments. Episodes air Mondays on Political Climate. Subscribe here!Recommended reading:Foreign Affairs: Coronavirus Bailouts Stoke Climate ChangeIEEFA: Over 100 Global Financial Institutions Are Exiting Coal, With More to ComeGTM: Devil in the Details for World’s Largest Coal InvestorReinsurance News: California to conduct first climate-related stress test for re/insurersFT: JPMorgan Chase removes former oil boss from lead director roleWorld Oil: Chesapeake joins more than 200 other bankrupt U.S. shale producersPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
The Golden State is in a dark place. Power outages in the midst of a historic heatwave were followed by devastating wildfires. All of which comes on top of persistently high COVID-19 case numbers and a once roaring economy now faced with a $54 billion budget shortfall. But despite these challenges, there’s reason to believe that California can build back in an economically and environmentally sustainable way, says Tom Steyer, former Democratic presidential candidate, billionaire climate activist and co-chair of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s economic recovery task force. We speak to Tom on this episode of Political Climate, the second episode in our "Relief, Rescue, Rebuild" series, supported by Third Way. We take a look at California and how the most populous state in the nation with ambitious climate goals is crafting its economic recovery plan in the midst of the pandemic, extreme heat and brutal wildfires.The "Relief, Rescue, Rebuild" series explores what a green recovery from the COVID-19 economic downturn would look like. What kinds of actions will produce the best results in terms of economic growth, improved health, lower emissions and greater resilience?Recommended reading: Politico: Steyer emerges as Newsom economic point person — and business groups are concernedCalMatters: California’s clean-air programs take a hit in new funding squeezeE&E News: Biden launches 'climate engagement' council to target voters Third Way: How Clean Energy Businesses Can Survive and Thrive After COVID-19“Relief, Rescue, Rebuild” episodes will air monthly on the Political Climate podcast feed. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!
A decade ago, hopes that world leaders would rally around meaningful policies to combat climate change were at a low. The 2009 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen had ended with little to show for it and the U.S. failed to pass a major climate bill the following year.Then in 2011, the first divestment campaigns struck up on college campuses.In the climate space, divestment is all about shifting capital out of fossil fuels — the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity worldwide. The concept of divestment isn’t new, but it is gaining momentum. It’s also evolving and expanding into other areas of the financial system. Meanwhile, there is a separate but related flurry of activity on the invest side of the equation and moving money into socially responsible and environmentally friendly solutions. Divest/Invest.On this episode of Political Climate — the first in a new miniseries we’re calling DITCHED: fossil fuels, money flows and the greening of finance — host Julia Pyper speaks to Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, about the origins of the Divest/Invest movement.The Wallace Global Fund, a private foundation focused on progressive social change, is a founding member of the Divest Invest: Philanthropy, a coalition of more than 170 foundations committed to deploying their investments to address the climate crisis and accelerate the clean energy transition.Episodes of DITCHED will air Mondays over the next several weeks. Listen and subscribe to Political Climate wherever you get podcasts!Recommended reading:Divest Invest Philanthropy: Five Years After LaunchNYT: Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity of Fossil FuelsGuardian: Insurance giant Suncorp to end coverage and finance for oil and gas industryNYT: BlackRock CEO Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape FinanceWSJ: Harvard University Board Gains Backers of Fossil Fuel Divestment Tom Steyer and Bill McKibben in GTM: 2030 Is the New 2050: The Oil Industry Begins to UnwindBIV: Divestment can’t hold back ocean of demand for oil: analystsCatch 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!
You may have seen the headlines about universities ditching their fossil fuel investments. Or perhaps you saw the news that BlackRock, one of the world’s largest financial firms, is getting out of coal and putting climate change at the center of its investment strategy.Pension funds, insurers, family offices and others are also moving their assets out of the fossil fuel industry and re-assessing the risk these resources present to the planet and their bottom line.These are all pieces of a growing, global divestment movement, which is the focus of a new Political Climate miniseries we’re calling "Ditched: Fossil fuels, money flows and the greening of finance."Catch "Ditched" episodes every Monday over the next few weeks, wherever you listen to Political Climate.Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!
Texas, home of the U.S. oil and gas industry, has become a clean energy superpower. The state already leads the nation in wind-power generation and solar is booming. Last year, Texas generated more electricity from renewable energy sources than from coal.Now, as the coronavirus pandemic delivers a blow to the state’s struggling oil and gas industry, wind and solar production remain on a trajectory for continued record growth.The rise of renewable energy isn’t the only notable change taking place in Texas, the state’s politics appear to be shifting too. Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden is polling very close to President Trump, who swept the state in 2016. How did Texas become a clean energy leader? What are the politics behind this rise? And what are the politics in Texas likely to be more broadly going forward? Could a growing green economy turn this red state blue?Political Climate speaks to Pat Wood, former head of the Texas Public Utility Commission named by Governor George W. Bush and former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where he led FERC’s responses to the 2000-2001 California energy crisis and the 2003 Northeastern power blackout. Wood compares the Texas and California energy systems and weighs in on the Golden State's recent blackouts.Finally, co-hosts Brandon Hurlbut and Shane Skelton make a new election bet.Recommended reading: Dallas Observer: Texas Produced More Energy from Renewable Sources Than Coal Last YearGTM: Texas Is the Center of the Global Corporate Renewable Energy MarketPost and Courier: All electricity customers can benefit from competitionReuters: As Trump falters, Democrats and Biden eye an elusive prize: TexasGTM: California’s Shift From Natural Gas to Solar Is Playing a Role in Rolling BlackoutsPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
Tony Seba gets a lot of things right. The world-renowned thought leader, entrepreneur, educator and author accurately predicted the rapid decline in solar photovoltaic costs and lithium ion batteries. He also predicted the collapse of the coal industry and oil prices.Now, he’s out with a new book, “Rethinking Humanity,” that predicts the 2020s will be “the most disruptive decade in history” — not just in terms of energy technology, but across every major industry in the world today. This disruption will have major implications for policymaking and geopolitics, and civilization as a whole. In this episode, we speak to Tony Seba about the emergence of a new world order he calls "The Age of Freedom" that's based on decentralization and resource creation, rather than extraction. We also discuss the collapse of incumbents and the impact this will have on societies around the world, and what policy leaders can do to get out ahead of these changes.Seba breaks down why technological innovation in the next 10 years will either see the American Dream realized for virtually everyone on the planet in a cheap and sustainable manner, or trigger societal collapse akin to the fall of empires in the past. He argues that the future of humanity depends on what humans decide to do.Recommended reading:Rethinking HumanityVice: How Solar Power Could Slay the Fossil Fuel Empire by 2030 Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about a “green recovery” and “building back better.” But what do these concepts really mean? What are the most compelling ideas being put forward by economists, policymakers, grassroots leaders and other experts? What kinds of actions will produce the best results in terms of economic growth, improved health, lower emissions and greater resilience?These are questions Political Climate will explore in the coming months in the new podcast series “Relief, Rescue, Rebuild,” sponsored by Third Way. Earlier this year, we launched a series called “Path to Zero,” which explored the technologies and policies needed to rapidly drive down carbon emissions. Now, we’re shifting our focus to the path to economic recovery and what that would look like if equitable, low-carbon solutions were baked in.In this first episode, we speak to Leah Stokes, assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of the new book Short Circuiting Policy. Leah makes the case for a green economic recovery, barriers to implementation, and what she would put in her ideal green stimulus bill. In the second half of the show, we turn to a joint interview with Oni Blair, executive director at LinkHouston, and Alex Laska, transportation policy advisor at Third Way. In this discussion, we focus on clean transportation policy and the need to “fix it first” — both with respect to infrastructure and equity issues — before tackling entirely new projects.“Relief, Rescue, Rebuild” episodes will air monthly on the Political Climate podcast feed. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!Recommended reading:Third Way: Building Back Better: Investing in Clean Infrastructure to Drive Economic RecoveryEquitable Growth: Green stimulus, not dirty bailouts, is the smart investment strategy during the coronavirus recessionEquitable Growth: Americans want green spending in federal coronavirus recession relief packagesUtility Dive: Senate Republicans urge McConnell to include efficiency, clean energy in COVID-19 recovery packageThe “Relief, Rescue, Rebuild” theme song was created by AY Musik. AY is the founder of Battery Tour, a sustainable music festival and global movement actively bringing renewable energy solutions to people in need around the world. You can hear the original version of this song, “Save the Planet,” on AY’s website or via his instagram @AYMusik.
Few people have more experience working in modern Democratic politics than John Podesta. From Senate staffer to White House chief of staff, progressive think tank founder to presidential environmental policy counselor, campaign manager to climate action advocate — Podesta has seen a lot.In this exclusive, in-depth interview, we get the veteran Democrat’s perspective on the state of climate politics amid the pandemic and intensifying 2020 election. We hear how he would advise Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden to address climate change if elected, including actions a new Biden administration could take within its first 100 days. We also discuss why Podesta has beef with Facebook, what he thinks about ending the Senate filibuster, and we get his thoughts on President Trump’s campaign strategy. Plus, Podesta shares his preferred pick for Joe Biden’s running mate.John Podesta previously served as White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. He is the founder of the progressive think tank Center for American Progress and served as counselor to President Barack Obama, where he focused on climate and energy policy. Podesta chaired Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president in 2016. He is currently a member of Climate Power 2020, a campaign created to change the politics of climate.Recommended reading:The Atlantic: The Audacity of John PodestaGrist: Climate leftists and moderates have a radical new plan to defeat Trump: Work togetherMother Jones: Democratic Leaders Want to Know Why Facebook’s New Oversight Board Won’t Deal With Climate LiesThe Hill: COVID-19 relief and economic recovery must dismantle environmental racismPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
There’s a lot of discussion these days about “building back better” and passing “green economic stimulus.” But what exactly does this entail?On this bonus episode, we share insights and resources from a group of energy leaders in California. They discuss new ways to think about environmental investments in COVID-19 recovery packages, how the public sector can advance sustainability goals at the local, state, and federal level, and lessons from the 2008 recession that could be adapted to today. This discussion was co-hosted by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.Speakers include:Fran Pavley, former California State Senator and USC Schwarzenegger Institute Environmental Policy DirectorJ. R. DeShazo, Director of the UCLA Luskin Center for InnovationBob Keefe, Executive Director of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)Matt Petersen, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)Recommended reading:E2: Build Back Better, Faster: How a federal stimulus focusing on clean energy can create millions of jobs and restart America’s economySF Chronicle: Newsom’s environmental budget cuts escalate tensions with state activistsUCLA: Employment Benefits from California Climate Investments and Co-investmentsCarbon Brief: Leading economists: Green coronavirus recovery also better for economyLACI: Keeping America Working, Protecting Public Health, and Strengthening our CommunitiesPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
Joe Biden has just released the details of his $2 trillion plan to combat climate change, firming up a key pillar of his platform heading into the 2020 election. The proposal is being pitched as a way to boost the American economy, create millions of jobs and “build back better” coming out of today’s profound public health and economic emergencies.The Biden climate plan comes on the heels of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force recommendations on addressing climate change and environmental injustice, as well as House Democrats’ 500-page report on solving the climate crisis.We break down key elements of these proposals on this episode of Political Climate. Resident Democratic co-host Brandon Hurlbut, co-founder of Boundary Stone Partners and former chief of staff at the US Department of Energy, and Republican co-host Shane Skelton, co-founder of S2C Pacific and former policy advisor to House Speaker Paul Ryan, discuss the details and political implications of Biden’s climate plan.A key feature of the proposal is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2035. We also take a look at recent industry-led progress toward that goal. Plus, we discuss the House-passed “Moving Forward Act,” a comprehensive surface transportation bill that aligns closely with the Biden platform.In theory, there’s a lot in all of these proposals for leaders across the political aisle to love.Recommended ReadingGTM: Biden Pledges $2T in Clean Energy and Infrastructure SpendingResources Magazine: A Close Look at the New Report from the House Select Committee on the Climate CrisisGTM: Can the Clean Energy Industry Deliver on the Biden-Sanders Climate Plan?GTM: Finding Bipartisan Opportunities in House Democrats’ Climate PlanForbes: Moving Forward Act Is A $1.5 Trillion Congressional Bill That Loves Electric VehiclesPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!This episode is brought to you with support from Lyft. Lyft is leading the transition to zero emissions vehicles with a commitment to achieve 100% electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by 2030. Learn more at lyftimpact.com/electric.
In a series of major wins for the environmental community, three multibillion-dollar pipeline projects — the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — were recently delivered devastating setbacks. The business and legal decisions undermine President Trump’s multiyear effort to ease environmental regulations and expand oil and gas development in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force has released its roadmap on combating the climate crisis that calls for immediate action “to reverse the Trump Administration’s dangerous and destructive rollbacks of critical climate and environmental protections.”On this week’s episode of Political Climate, we dig deeper into the pipeline project defeats and their implications for the energy sector in an interview with Steven Mufson, renowned reporter covering the business of climate change for The Washington Post. We discuss the environmental movement’s strategy and recent success in the courtroom, against the backdrop of President Trump’s deregulation agenda. Plus, we address how these developments are playing politically ahead of the 2020 election.Steven Mufson joined the Washington Post in 1989. This year, he shared the Pulitzer Prize for the climate change series "2C: Beyond the Limit." He’s also the author of “Keystone XL: Down the Line.”Recommended reading:WaPo: Major oil and gas pipeline projects, backed by Trump, flounder as opponents prevail in courtGTM: As Fossil Fuel Pipelines Fall to Opposition, Utilities See Renewable Energy as Safe BetWaPo: Citing an economic emergency, Trump directs agencies across government to waive federal regulationsBiden-Sanders Unity Task Force RecommendationsPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!Have a moment? Please leave us a review! Find us on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
There’s more political momentum than ever around achieving net zero emissions by 2050, especially following the release of House Democrats’ new Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy. But where do we currently stand on that trajectory? And is the path to zero as inclusive as it should be?On this episode, the last in our monthly “Path to Zero” series supported by the public policy think tank Third Way, we talk climate targets and what it’s going to take to meet them. To bookend the series, we speak to Josh Freed, the founder and leader of Third Way’s climate and energy program, to get a read on progress toward carbon neutrality in America amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and renewed calls to combat racial injustices.Then in the second half of the show, we speak to Nathaniel Smith, founder of the Partnership for Southern Equity, an organization working to advance racial equality and shared prosperity in Atlanta and across the South, about making the low-carbon economy inclusive of Black communities.We look at what policymakers are getting right and getting wrong. And we end by discussing what Black voters want to see from candidates in 2020. Hint: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.Recommended reading:GTM: House Democrats Spell Out Climate, Clean Energy Priorities in Sweeping PlanWaPo: Most Americans believe the government should do more to combat climate change, poll findsPath to ZeroPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.“Path to Zero” is created in partnership with the public policy think tank Third Way. Episodes air monthly on the Political Climate podcast feed. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!
There aren’t many sporting events taking place amid the pandemic, but athletes and the brands that support them aren’t sitting idle. Protect Our Winters, a non-profit representing the outdoor sports community on climate issues, recently spent a week virtually lobbying Congress for bolder climate action and environmental protections.  Professional snowboarder and two-time X-Games gold medalist Danny Davis was among the participants in POW’s advocacy week. Steve Fechheimer, CEO of New Belgium Brewing, also took part.Sports have always been political to some degree. But these days, athletes, teams and entire sporting organizations are choosing to get off the sidelines and take a more active role in public policy.On this show, we speak to Danny and Steve about why they decided to be more outspoken on climate issues, about leadership and corporate responsibility, and about how sports and beer are intertwined with one of the biggest challenges of our time.Recommended reading:CNN: Climate change is threatening winter sports' very existenceWired: Don't Save the Planet for the Planet. Do It for the BeerProtect Our Winters: Policy AgendaPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!Have a moment? Please leave us a review! Chat with us on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Lyft is going 100% electric. The rideshare company just pledged to transition every vehicle on its platform to an EV by 2030.But this decision isn’t as simple as buying a few new cars. It will require building out an entire ecosystem of electric vehicle infrastructure and incentives, and getting into the weeds on policy. On this episode, we speak to Lyft’s director of sustainability, Sam Arons, about this bold new strategy.We talk to Sam about the EV target and how to meet it, as well as related policies and how electric rideshare vehicles can support the power grid. We also talk a lot about the broader transportation ecosystem, the future of cities, and Lyft’s evolving role as a “multimodal technology platform,” as Sam put it.Lyft's announcement also speaks to how companies are looking to play a bigger role in the fight against climate change, in an era of increasing public pressure for greater corporate responsibility. Learn more about Lyft's sustainability strategy in this exclusive, in-depth interview. And while you're listening, we'd love you to give Political Climate an Apple Podcasts review! Your 5-star ratings help us grow and bring this content to wider audiences. Thank you!Recommended reading:Lyft: Leading the Transition to Zero Emissions: Our Commitment to 100% Electric Vehicles by 2030GTM: Lyft Pledges Shift to 100% Electric Vehicles by 2030 LA Times: Taking an Uber or Lyft pollutes more than driving, California finds. Next stop: RegulationsGTM: Electric Ridesharing Benefits the Grid, and EVgo Has the Data to Prove ItPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!Find us on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Deep-seated racial justice issues have been brought to the fore in recent weeks by a series of nationwide protests over police violence. These protests are taking place in the midst of a global pandemic, which has exposed, and in many cases worsened, long-standing issues of racial inequality. The energy and climate space is not immune to racial discrimination. But some politicians have questioned whether this is the right moment to talk about issues such as pollution, calling it a misplaced political move.Mustafa Santiago Ali has been on the frontlines of the fight for environmental justice since he was a teenager and throughout his 24 years at the EPA. Now, as vice president of environmental justice, climate and community revitalization for the the National Wildlife Federation, Ali says he’s hopeful this historic moment will accelerate equitable energy solutions.On this episode, Ali connects the dots between the clean air, affordable energy and the racial justice movement. We also discuss the implications of recent environmental rollbacks by the Trump Administration and take a hard look at how the clean energy industry can promote greater diversity. Plus, we discuss Republican approaches to combatting inequality, teeing off of comments made by Representatives John Shimkus (R-Illinois) and David McKinley (R-West Virginia) at this week’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on frontline communities — where Ali testified.Recommended reading:The Hill: Trump's latest environmental rollback threatens minority communities, experts warnPolitico: California lawmakers rebuke top regulator who invoked 'I can't breathe' in air quality fightHuffPost: Solar Power Has A Diversity ProblemGTM: ‘We Too Must Improve’: Clean Energy Industry Looks Into Mirror on Racial InequityPolitical Climate: Fighting Energy Injustice and Coronavirus in African American CommunitiesPolitical Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!
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Comments (3)

Dan Herscher

Really appreciate the board nature of this podcast and the willingness of both co-hosts to respectfully consider the others thoughts and change their minds. the playful banter is also amusing. Refreshing to hear friendship from politically opposite people.

Mar 12th
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Zach Lawton

Absolutely great interview! Need more vocal Republicans that support stewardship for the environment and fight against pollution

Apr 25th
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Ed Johnson

We should hold Nancy peloci and the dems accountable for her actions and non actions. By holding her personall liable for the violent crimes that illegal immigrants commit in our country moving forward? maybe shell open her eyes then and quit playing games. By hitting her in her pocket book...

Jan 4th
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