Climate Policy

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

Wealthy Countries Pony Up for Climate Justice

The developed world has pledged $9.5 billion to help fight climate change. But it’s going to take hundreds of billions more.

The Fracking Rush Hits a Pothole

Oil and natural gas gluts are driving prices so low that drill-baby-drillers may have to hit the brakes.

Why the People’s Climate March is Vital

Climate change is likely the biggest challenge of this century — and it will affect every person on the planet.

While We March for the Climate, Governments Meet with Polluters

As climate activists converge on New York, world leaders will meet behind closed doors with corporate honchos who bank on fossil fuels.

WEBINAR: The People’s Climate March

Janet Redman, Director of IPS’ Climate Policy Program, discusses the upcoming People’s Climate March.

The Moment for Climate Justice

As global civil society calls for a renewable energy revolution, the U.S. Congress is considering an African energy initiative that leaves the door wide open to fossil fuels.

Electrifying Africa – But at What Cost to Africans?

Two U.S. initiatives to provide Africans with electricity seem likely to lead to large, climate-polluting projects rather than the locally sourced renewable energy rural Africa needs.

A Roadmap for Survival

The latest UN report on addressing climate change reflects a strong Western bias, but it’s the most comprehensive tool we’ve got.

A Devil’s Bargain on the Climate

Will the Green Climate Fund – the UN body tasked with funding the transition to a clean-energy, climate-resilient future in the developing world – invest in fossil fuels?

7 Things to Look Out for in the UN’s Green Climate Fund

As the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board prepares to meet in Bali, Oscar Reyes identifies some of the key issues that will shape an institution that is expected to become central in providing international climate finance.

A flaw in California’s cap-and-trade plan

Cap-and-trade offsets with out-of-state or even foreign interests won’t help the state meet its goals.

Opening COP19 Warsaw: A Climate Justice Take on UN Talks

To mark the start of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland, a new series of Climate Justice briefings has been released offering critical perspectives on a number of the crucial issues under discussion.

Electrifying Africa – But at What Cost to Africans?

Two U.S. initiatives to provide Africans with electricity seem likely to lead to large, climate-polluting projects rather than the locally sourced renewable energy rural Africa needs.

An Inside View on the Tricky World of Wall Street-Driven Climate Markets

A new website, climatemarkets.org, offers a range of materials that could help climate activists and advocates understand climate solutions: Wall Street approaches, private investment, and more.

Robin Hood Tax, Not Corporate Greed, Should be Focus of Climate Finance Meetings, Say Activists

Chanting, “Human need, not corporate greed! Robin Hood Tax now!” protesters dressed as polar bears, farmers, and bankers engaged with officials entering the meeting to urge them to support a Robin Hood Tax.

Wall Street’s Climate Finance Bonanza

Government officials from an elite group of developed countries meeting in Washington DC appear to be on the brink of instigating yet another big bank giveaway, this time in the name of fighting climate change.

Wall Street’s Climate Finance Bonanza

An elite group of developed countries appears to be on the brink of instigating yet another corporate handout and big bank giveaway–this time in the name of fighting climate change.

4 Things Obama Can Do Now to Fight Climate Change – Without Congress

President Obama took a bold tone on climate in his State of the Union address. Here are four things he can do right now, without Congress, to address climate.

A Quick Look at the Ecological State of the Union

Four actions that Obama can take now, without Congress, to address climate change. Obama doesn’t have to wait for Congress to act, and we don’t have to wait for Obama, either.

A Tiny Tax in Europe, a Big Win for Climate?

Global campaigners are pushing European Union countries to be ambitious in targeting a significant portion of revenue from taxing financial transactions to fight climate chaos.