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

Washington Should Lead on Climate or Stop Standing in the Way

Over the next two weeks, representatives from 194 nations will meet in Bonn, Germany, to push forward a deal to stabilize the global climate and help poor countries address the inevitable changes that global warming brings.

World Bank Horning Its Way Into UN Fund for Helping Poor Nations Deal With Climate Change

The UN Cancun climate talks established the groundwork for the Green Climate Fund to help poor nations address climate change.

World Bank Doesn’t Belong at the Green Climate Fund’s Drawing Table

More than 90 environment, development, human rights, and anti-debt organizations from around the world want the Bank to have no say in setting up this key new tool for helping poor nations address climate change.

Global Civil Society Wary of World Bank Role in New Funds

More than 90 organizations and global networks urge leaders to strictly limit the role and influence of the World Bank in designing a new Green Climate Fund.

U.S. Groups Join Global Call to Tax Speculators

Over 30 national organizations signed this letter urging President Obama to take action at home and abroad to stop rampant financial speculation.

Taxing Financial Speculation, Raising Funds for Critical Needs

Levying a tiny tax on financial transactions could help build a healthier and more stable future.

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.

Financial Transaction Taxes: A win-win for the climate and the economy

In the face of enormous need, civil society calls on leaders to use innovative financing tools in the fight against climate change.

Our Slow-Motion Global Accident

Industry simply doesn’t have an incentive to kick its fossil fuel habit.

Cancun: Can We Avert Climate Chaos?

Arm twisting and back-room pressure tactics will backfire.

Cancun: More Exclusion of Civil Society, More Bad News from Governments

Things are not looking good in the UN climate talks, but all hope isn’t lost…yet.

Shielding Climate Talks from Public Scrutiny

The Mexican government and the UN climate convention secretariat are investing in security to keep people out when real human and ecological security will require all of our voices.

Serendipity at the climate negotiations

In Cancun’s UN Global Climate Summit, there is a new generation of economic and climate justice activists in town–fired up and ready to go.

Climate Justice Policy Factsheets

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

Cancun: The Next Chance for Democratic Solutions to the Climate Crisis

Can the U.S. get behind an American tradition in Cancun?

UN Panel to be a Dangerous Disappointment

How much money is on the table to combat climate change, where it comes from and how it flows will be at the heart of global climate negotiations at the end of this year in Cancun.

Leading the Way to a Smarter Future

People living in “transition” cities and towns are working together to make their communities more resilient to economic and environmental uncertainty.

Fair and Effective Climate Finance

An assessment of finance in global climate negotiations

Climate Currency

When it comes to climate change, altruism and self-interest go hand in hand.

Factsheet: Investing in Our Future Act of 2010 (H.R. 5783)

Using a Currency Transaction Levy to Raise Resources to Address Global Health and Climate Change in Developing Countries