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

Durban’s Climate Debacle

What we got from Durban was largely a set of promises to do something…some other time.

Durban Diary: The Waiting Game

As the doors on government meetings swing shut, Janet ponders whether our future will be one of ecological stability or planetary chaos.

Durban Diary: Climate Reality Check

What we need in Durban is a commitment to complete the mandate that already exists. Countries must deliver a renewed Kyoto Protocol, and effective Green Climate Fund, and substantial money to fill it.

Durban Diary: Dispatch from the Ground

As UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, go into their final week, Janet Redman, co-director of IPS’s Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, provides a quick update on the talks.

Durban Diary: Who is the One Percent at the UN Climate Convention?

Not yet ready to condemn the UN climate change summit, Janet lists the culprits in the corporate, government and diplomatic world who are to blame for the struggle to move forward.

Durban Diary: #Occupy the COP

A former Central American president proposes that all vulnerable countries should occupy the UN climate change meeting and refuse to leave until progress is made.

Durban Diary: Repaying Climate Debt

We have to mobilize the political will of rich countries to share the wealth.

Durban Diary: What’s on the Table?

Many countries — especially the wealthiest ones — are dragging their feet.

Durban Diary: UN Summit’s Stormy Backdrop

Scientists are finding increasing evidence that climate change is behind the recent surge in extreme weather.

A Blizzard of Bad Climate News

If you want to get your grandkids something they’ll be really thankful for this holiday season, fight to stop climate change.

G20 Missed Its Chance to Take Action on Climate Change

This week leaders of the world’s largest economies once again missed an opportunity to actually do something on climate change.

Obama: If You Can’t Lead Then Get Out of the Way

Major U.S. environment, development and faith groups call on President Obama not to block European countries’ progress toward a financial speculation tax at the G-20 Summit.

I Was Arrested Today at the White House to Say No to Dirty Energy and the Tar Sands

“Today I’m risking arrest to urge president Obama to be the leader that puts healing the planet and families over the interests of the fossil fuel industry.”

Tar Sands Pipeline Goes Beyond Even the Usual Environmental Stupidity — And That’s Why We Really Need to Fight Back

Here’s three reasons why the pipeline is truly idiotic and why I’m willing to get arrested to stop it.

Connecting Extreme Weather Dots Across the Map

Talking about the weather isn’t small talk any more.

A Small Tax on Finance, A Giant Leap Forward for the Climate Fund

Climate activists turned up the heat on government officials attending the UN climate talks, calling for a tiny tax on financial speculation to help pay for the fight against global warming.

Bonn Climate Talks

United Nations climate negotiations have resumed, this time in Germany.

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.