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

Strange Snow Patterns Consistent with Climate Change

Think the freak snowstorms disproved climate change science? Think again.

Copenhagen Touchdown

SEEN Co-Director Janet Redman begins her story of the UN Climate Change conference.

Climate Scams Won’t Save the Planet

Cap and trade is a scheme that tries to sell business-as-usual as a solution to global warming.

Happy Anniversary, Obama. Now Sign a Climate Deal.

Developed countries have an obligation to direct financial and technical support to developing nations to enable them to shift to low-carbon growth pathways.

Climate Justice Now! Intervention in AWG-KP Stocktaking

Janet Redman speaks to the Kyoto Protocol Stocktaking Session about climate justice.

Finance for Socioeconomic and Climate Justice

A coalition of global justice groups give a statement on climate change while in Bangkok for an international strategy meeting.

To Reach a Climate Agreement in the Near Future, Countries Must Look to the Past

In Bonn, Germany, chances of signing any global climate deal in Copenhagen this December — let alone a fair deal — are increasingly slim.

Blame Game Leads to Climate Deadlock in Bonn

What’s at stake is perhaps the largest transfer of resources from the global south to the north in history.

Postcard From…Belm

Creating new visions for the economy and climate at the World Social Forum.

Postcard From…Belem

Creating new visions for the economy and climate at the World Social Forum.

Climate of Change

Prospects for a new deal on climate change after the UN climate conference in Poland.

Towards a Global Climate Fund

Over 160 citizen groups call for the establishment of a major new Global Climate Fund.

Skewed Priorities

The approximately $4.1 trillion that the United States and European governments have committed to bail out financial firms is 40 times the money they’re spending to fight climate and poverty crises in the developing world.

Dirty is the New Clean

A Critique of the World Bank’s Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change.

World Bank Group Fossil Fuel Financing, 2004-2008

From the report “Dirty is the New Clean,” new facts about the World Bank Group’s lending to coal, oil, and gas which is up 94% from 2007.

Gores Challenge Puts the Heat On

Gore’s call for the United States to source all its electricity from clean, renewable energy within a decade is truly revolutionary.

Missed Opportunity in Hokkaido

G8 leaders’ seclusion at the Lake Toyako resort was symbolic of their larger isolation from global public opinion on fighting global warming.

Brilliant Plans to Destroy the Planet: The World Bank Tackles Climate Change

The World Bank’s new Climate Investment Funds will do nothing to help the climate; they’ll just give the bank more clout.

Bush’s Last Chance on Climate

At the G-8 Summit, Bush can help the developing world bear the brunt of climate damage caused by the developing world. But don’t hold your breath.

Opportunities for a Low-Carbon Economy

Developing countries have long demanded financial resources to deal with a warming planet, and they now have one in the UN adaptation fund,