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

The Silver Lining of Trump’s Paris Withdrawal

Exiting the Paris climate pact is a colossal foreign policy mistake. But it may prevent the U.S. from watering down future agreements.

Cities and States Can Lead the Way Towards a Clean Energy Transition

As the Trump administration continues to falsely claim that fossil fuels are needed for job growth, cities and states can play a larger role in addressing climate change and creating jobs, IPS climate policy expert Basav Sen told Rising Up with Sonali.

The U.S. Must Honor the Commitments it Made in the Paris Agreement

As the Trump administration weighs its decision on the Paris Accord, our planet and our pockets remain at risk, Janet Redman tells the Real News Network.

How We Can Get Out of Our Coal Hole

States that invest in renewables are reaping the rewards. Those that stick to coal are courting a mining collapse.

State and Local Governments Can Take the Lead on Climate Policy

Policy change at the state level can keep environmental policy rolling forward, even as the federal government tries to roll it back.

Solar Energy Is An Equity Issue

A new report explains how states and cities can lift up low-income households through green energy initiatives.

Let’s Face It: Coal Industry Is a Job Killer

Wind and solar could create many, many more jobs than coal — especially if the government stops propping it up.

Report: How States Can Boost Renewables With Benefits for All

Renewable Portfolio Standards and Distributed Solar Access for Low-Income Households

Low-income Families Will Bear the Brunt of Climate Change. This Organization is Working to Change That.

Renew Oregon is advancing innovative climate justice proposals, building on a legislative victory to expand the state’s use of renewable energy, with strong benefits for low-income consumers.

Trump Puts the Fossil Fuel Industry’s Bottom Line Over the American People

Trump is trying to pit jobs against the climate, but we can have economic growth and protect the environment, Janet Redman tells the Real News Network.

My Autistic Child Isn’t ‘Diseased’

Instead of trying to “cure” autism, we should focus on creating a friendlier, more respectful environment.

White House Declares War On Earth’s Atmosphere

But states are moving independent of the administration to protect us from a climate catastrophe.

More Secretary of State Email Trouble? This Time It’s Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson used an email alias when he was the CEO of Exxon. Now, reports have emerged that those emails were used to cover up Tillerson’s communications about climate change.

As the White House Drops the Ball on Climate, Expect the States to Pick Up the Slack

The consequences of Trump’s proposed budget cuts to our environmental programs would be vast, but there’s a lot cities and states can do to fight back, IPS climate policy experts Basav Sen and Janet Redman tell the Marc Steiner Show.

Help Spread the Word: #RPS4All

Help us spread the word about our latest report, “How States Can Boost Renewables with Benefits for All: Renewable Portfolio Standards and Distributed Solar Access for Low-Income Households.”

How Progressive Cities Can Reshape the World — And Democracy

As national governments lurch to the right, a citizens coalition is Barcelona is showing how ordinary people can reclaim control of their communities.

Trump’s War on the Climate

The administration is actively denying climate change, but cities and states are fighting back.

 This City Just Banned Virtually All New Dirty-Energy Infrastructure

 Portland, Oregon has adopted a first-of-its-kind offensive strategy to prevent new oil, gas, and coal export facilities from being built.

While Trump Tries to Return to Coal, the Rest of the World Market is Turning To Renewables

Trump voters wanted an end to government corruption, but his list of energy advisers are all deeply embedded in the fossil fuel industry.