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

Trump Can’t Hold Back the Tide of Climate Action

Climate activists remain hopeful despite the potentially disastrous Trump administration.

Both Candidates Are Bad on Climate, and You Can Thank Campaign Finance Rules For That

Building new pipelines and subsidizing fossil fuels with taxpayer dollars will not help us avoid climate disaster, Janet Redman tells the Real News.

Why a New Global Deal on Aviation Emissions is Really Bad News

This carbon offsetting proposal could nearly double emissions from the airline industry.

California’s Cap and Trade Policy is Actually Working Against its Climate Action Targets

Tying the fate of important climate actions to the sale of carbon permits has snatched defeat from the jaws of a broader victory in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Missing the Mark on Climate Justice

There’s an opportunity now to link racial, economic, and climate justice issues and galvanize a larger audience, Janet Redman told the Real News Network.

Ending Tax-Dodging by Utilities Could Prompt a Clean Energy Transition

A new IPS report found that there’s a huge amount of money lost in tax breaks that could help low-income families become energy efficient, Janet Redman tells the Real News Network.

Mike Pence Is a Loyal Friend to Polluters

In 2015 the Indiana governor told Obama in no uncertain terms that his state would not be complying with the Clean Power Plan.

Utilities Pay Up

How ending tax dodging by America’s electric utilities can help fund a job-creating, clean energy transition.

The Little-Known Fund at the Heart of the Paris Climate Agreement

The Green Climate Fund is supposed to finance the world’s shift away from fossil fuels. But fossil fuel-funding banks are eager to get on board.

Democratic Party Platform: Lots of Hot Air on Climate Change

Janet Redman, who provided testimony at the DNC Platform Committee, and Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, address the draft’s shortcomings on the carbon tax, TPP, fracking, and fossil fuel extraction

Free Trade Agreements Have Exacerbated a Humanitarian Crisis in Central America

Proposals like the Alliance for Prosperity Plan and the Trans-Pacific Partnership will only accelerate a race to the bottom for families in the Northern triangle of Latin America, Manuel Perez-Rocha said at the AFL-CIO conference on U.S. trade policy.

The Spanish Left’s Proposal to Combat Inequality

Despite disappointing election results, the Podemos Party’s commitment on inequality has already reshaped the Spanish political landscape.

Watch: A Climate and National Security Platform that Puts People and Planet First

IPS’s Janet Redman testified at the DNC Platform Committee Hearing for a non-military response to the potentially catastrophic security risk posed by climate change.

Trump’s ‘Realty Check’ on Climate

The presumptive GOP nominee says climate change is a hoax, except when it threatens his luxury golf course.

Trump’s Climate Change Denial Is Already Complicating the Paris Climate Deal

If Donald Trump wins and pulls the U.S. out of its climate change commitments, some countries wonder, why should they keep their own?

FAQs: The Green Climate Fund

An easy-to-understand “user’s guide” to the Green Climate Fund – the first international fund under the United Nations established to support countries in the global South build clean energy, climate resilient economies.

Berta Cáceres Lives On, And So Does Violence By Honduran Government and Dam Company

At an international gathering to honor Berta Cáceres, dozens of goons – hired by DESA and protected by Honduran national police – attacked the peaceful group with machetes and rocks.

New Climate Action Plan, Same Old Results?

Last fall, IPS called the World Bank out on its failure to act on its own cleaner energy strategies. Will the institution put its money where its mouth is this time?

Before Bankruptcy, Peabody Execs Feasted on Climate Disaster

Peabody Energy filed for bankruptcy today, but its top executives will still be enjoying the millions they pocketed before the collapse of coal.

Al Jazeera Inside Story: The Court and Coal

IPS Climate Policy program Director Janet Redman talks about the consequences of the Supreme Court stay of the Clean Power Plan.