Climate Policy Program

The aim of the Climate Policy Program is to support the transition from a financially extractive, fossil fueled economy to equitable, democratic and local living economies.  Because we understand climate disruption as a consequence of our broken economic system, and as a major factor exacerbating race, class, gender, and other forms of inequality, we look for root causes and promote solutions at the intersection of both the economic and climate crises.

We organize our work around the premise that to solve the climate crisis, we must confront systemic economic, social and racial inequality, both  in the U.S. and worldwide. We provide long-term vision and bold ideas in domestic and international policy spaces, using research, writing and strategic conversations to redefine what is politically possible.

The Climate Policy Program is currently focused primarily on the United States because of the urgent challenges, and opportunities, that have emerged in recent years. The U.S. has the highest per capita carbon emissions of any country, and is now led by an Administration that denies climate change and has begun recklessly reversing progress in reducing carbon emissions at home and internationally. The U.S. has also been at the forefront of “extreme extraction” such as fracking and mountaintop-removal coal mining. At the same time, the U.S. has seen a surge of brave and inspiring climate activism led by affected frontline communities, such as the struggles around the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.

Both domestically and internationally, we seek to nurture deep relationships with grassroots organizations and networks and to align our efforts with the goals of social, economic and environmental justice movements. The project’s current work, led by Basav Sen focusing on the domestic policy work, and with Associate Fellow Oscar Reyes focusing on the international work, includes:

  • Promoting effective, just climate solutions at the state and local level. While national level change becomes harder, we work with grassroots groups and movement leaders to envision and define state and local policies that advance a ‘just’ transition to a new economy, and provide research and proposals to break down policy barriers and uplift solutions that reduce inequality while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and promoting community resilience. By sharing stories and models of success, we aim to shift the culture of the climate movement beyond ‘carbon fundamentalism’ to one that embodies systemic change through concrete alternatives.
  • Increasing awareness and debate about the intersections of climate change and inequality. Climate change is caused by an economic model that values the short-term financial gain of a few over the rights of most of humanity, and especially indigenous peoples, people of color, and poor people. For resistance to the “dig, dump, and burn” economy to be truly effective, it has to confront the root causes that drive this economic model. No amount of tinkering around the edges or technological “fixes” are going to reverse climate change effectively. We aim to amplify the narrative of the necessity for systemic change through research and writing that illuminates the linkages between climate change and systemic racism, anti-immigrant ideology, and economic inequality.
  • Countering false populist narratives and false solutions. In the United States, we are confronted with a government that uses false promises of renewed growth in fossil fuel jobs to divide and confuse people and divert attention from their true agenda of giving the fossil fuel oligarchy license to profit by poisoning the air, water, and land, and violating the rights of frontline communities. Likewise, both in the U.S. and worldwide, we see dirty and dangerous technologies such as nuclear energy, trash incineration, biofuels, and big dams being promoted as “carbon free” energy solutions, ignoring the very real harm they do to the environment and to the most marginalized people. We work to effectively counter these false populist narratives and false solutions in the public debate around climate change.

Latest Work

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Dig Beneath the World’s Far-Right Governments — You’ll Find Fossil Fuels

From Brazil to India to the United States, extractive industries have aligned themselves with authoritarian governments waging war on minority populations.
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People and Planet Over Profit at the Youth Climate Strikes

Millions of young people around the world join global strike to demand climate action ahead of United Nations Climate Summit.
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Hurricane Dorian Is a Grave Climate Injustice

The destruction of the Bahamas highlights the Global North’s debt to the South for slavery, colonialism, and the climate crisis.
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Name and Shame Big Political Contributors

Donors don’t like it, but using this publicly available information is one of the best ways to fight corruption.
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Brazil Isn’t the Only Far-Right Government Destroying the Planet

As the Amazon burns, the terrifying parallels between the U.S. and Brazilian governments highlight the damage authoritarian leaders are doing.
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Refusing to Fund Our Own Destruction

From the White House to Ohio, too many politicians care more about protecting toxic industries than protecting their constituents.

The Pentagon's Climate Impact Is a Threat to Our Planet

The U.S. military is a driving force behind climate change. Congress needs to cut military spending in half and use that money to build a green future.
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“Freedom Gas” Will Be Used to Justify Oppression at Home and Abroad

As anti-extraction protests gain momentum, government responds with threats of federal prison time for those who interfere with the fossil fuel industry.
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Trump's War on Science is Grounds to Impeach

Trump's latest impeachable offense? His administration intends to actively interfere in climate research by federal scientists.
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The Terrifying Implications of India’s Elections for People and the Planet

The Modi government’s far-right bigotry is well-known, but its equally disturbing environmental record isn’t.
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Beyond the Paris Accord

In an interview with CounterSpin, Basav Sen says the U.S. should fund international climate mitigation and climate adaptation policies.
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A Green New Deal Town Hall: Paving the Way for a Just Transition

Truly effective climate policy will require 'a cultural shift that is bigger than legislation.'
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How Trade Agreements Stand in the Way of an International Green New Deal

To reduce emissions abroad, the U.S. must renegotiate its trade agreements.

Labor Unions Must Lead a Just Transition from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy

Some labor leaders have already scorched proposals like the Green New Deal even as affected sectors continue to lose jobs.
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A Handout for Uber and Lyft Is No Replacement for Public Transit

Transportation network services have resisted regulations on workers' rights, traffic safety, and the environment. The public shouldn't subsidize them.
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An Open Letter to DC's Transit Authority: Don't Subsidize Uber — Restore Service!

Metro's plan to subsidize its own competition will hurt the planet, public transit, and the working people who rely on it.
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If America can find $716bn for the military, it can fund the Green New Deal

If we redirected the trillions spent on fruitless wars, funding Medicare for All and a Green New Deal is perfectly realistic
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The Shutdown as Shock Doctrine

The right wing could use the shutdown as a pretext to accelerate cuts to public services it deems 'inessential.'
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Let’s Honor Rosa Parks by Continuing Her Struggle for Transit Equity

Barriers to public transit access make it harder for people, particularly people of color and the poor, to get to jobs and schools.
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Democratic Leaders Failed Their First Big Test on Climate

Kicking the can down the road appears to be a bipartisan sport in Washington.

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Experts

Basav Sen

Project Director

Climate Policy

Reports

FAQs: The Green Climate Fund

An easy-to-understand "user's guide" to the Green Climate Fund – the first international fund under the United Nations established to support countries in the global South build clean energy, climate resilient economies.

Investing in Our Future Act of 2011

Climate change and the lack of health care services in developing countries are urgent and under-funded crises threatening the livelihoods and security of billions of people.

Climate Justice Policy Factsheets

Climate justice policy factsheets directly from the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico