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Political Climate

News & Politics Podcasts

A biweekly — and bipartisan — podcast on energy and environmental politics in America.

A biweekly — and bipartisan — podcast on energy and environmental politics in America.


United States


A biweekly — and bipartisan — podcast on energy and environmental politics in America.




DOE Renewables Chief on the Geopolitics of Cleantech

Is the United States positioned to lead long-term as the global energy mix continues to shift? Fossil fuels have shaped the geopolitical map over the last two centuries. Now, the rapid deployment of renewables has set in motion a global energy transition that could have profound geopolitical consequences. In this episode of Political Climate, we speak to Daniel Simmons, assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, about how the U.S. Energy Department is...


How Climate’s Playing in the Democratic Primary

We’re off to the races! The Democratic primary started slow off the blocks in Iowa, but the nomination process is now well underway following the New Hampshire vote. What have we learned so far in this election? Where have we seen climate and energy play in? And what’s to come next? On this week’s episode of Political Climate, we discuss the latest developments in arguably the most consequential ⁠— or at least the most contentious ⁠— election in U.S. history. Plus we touch on a handful of...


Iowa and What 'Innovation' Means to Republicans

What the heck happened in Iowa? Democratic co-host Brandon Hurlbut shares a first-hand account of the caucus reporting glitch and top voter issues in the first state to hold a presidential nominating contest. We look at where climate ranked. Meanwhile in the capitol, House Democrats have unveiled draft legislation and policy roadmap to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Is this the kind of bold climate leadership that advocates have been calling for? And are there proposals in the CLEAN...


What Do We Need in Our Climate Toolkit?

Science tells us we must reach net zero emissions by 2050 to stave off the most devastating impacts of climate change. But do we have all of the technologies we need to do it? In the second episode of Political Climate's “Path to Zero” series, we put that question to physicist, professor, Nobel Laureate, and former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. Under his leadership, the DOE launched several new initiatives to help put the United States at the forefront of cleantech development,...


The Urgency of Reaching Net Zero

This is a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change. There is a need to act now and there are a lot of open questions on how to do that. Net zero emissions by 2050 has emerged as the target that the world must hit in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Policymakers and activists in the U.S. are working to put the net zero goal into law, and multiple major companies have already pledged to achieve carbon neutrality. But what will it really take to reach zero? That’s...


Why Arnold Schwarzenegger Backs Greta Thunberg and Bipartisanship

Hello and happy new year! It’s January, so we can still say that — right? Between devastating wildfires in Australia, conflict in the Middle East, and a rapidly approaching Democratic presidential primary there’s been no shortage of news since 2020 began. In this week's episode, we discuss what the latest headlines mean for climate and energy policy. Plus, we bring you a sit-down interview with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who put in place many of the state’s...


Bonus: Full Interview With Emily Atkin of HEATED

We're technically on break this week, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring you our full interview with Emily Atkin, author of the popular climate newsletter HEATED. Emily came on Political Climate in early December to talk about the fossil fuel industry’s climate change disinformation campaign in our episode “Big Oil on Trial.” We had a lot to cover on that show, so we weren’t able to share the entire conversation between Emily and podcast host Julia Pyper. But there was lot of...


David Roberts on 'Radical' Climate Action and Political Tribalism

Is radical reform needed to remake the U.S. electricity grid? What’s the role of nuclear power in the U.S. energy mix? Which Democratic presidential candidate has the best climate plan? What’s the most effective approach to climate advocacy? And how should journalists be covering highly politicized issues in today’s highly polarized information landscape? On this week's episode on Political Climate, we put these and other questions to David Roberts, acclaimed energy and politics reporter...


Where's the Action? COP25, Capitol Hill, and Insights From Sen. Ayotte

It’s week two of the United Nations COP25 climate summit, and it’s the last few days of Congress before the winter recess. What have American policymakers accomplished? We get an update from the U.S. Climate Action Center on site at the UN climate talks. We look at wildfire victim relief in California. And we discuss 12 pieces of clean energy legislation that House Republicans are calling on Democrats to support. What's the political strategy at play? Plus, a prominent former senator...


Big Oil on Trial

Fossil fuel companies could be facing a Big Tobacco moment. This fall, Exxon Mobil went to court, facing charges that the oil giant lied to shareholders and to the public about the costs and consequences of climate change. And that’s just one of several legal cases seeking to hold oil and gas firms responsible for their contribution to global warming. As we discuss with UCLA environmental law professor Ann Carlson in this episode of Political Climate, the litigation could cost fossil fuel...


'Say Something Nice' — Thanksgiving Edition!

The holidays can be difficult. It can be tough to get along in these polarized times. Family conversations on climate change can get heated. We get it. Sometimes we have those heated conversations on this show. But it’s all in the interest of breaking out of our self-contained opinion bubbles. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, on this episode of Political Climate we say thank you to our listeners for engaging with this podcast — even when the feedback comes in the form of a mean...


Rep. Paul Tonko on the Landmark 100% Clean Economy Act

In the shadow of public impeachment hearings, a group of House Democrats is attempting to advance a bold climate action plan that the entire party can rally around. On Thursday, House members introduced legislation that would set a nationwide goal of achieving a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050. The bill was announced with more than 150 co-sponsors. In this episode of Political Climate, we conduct an exclusive in-depth interview with one of the bill’s authors, Rep. Paul Tonko...


One Year Out: Polls, Election Results and News 'Confetti'

We’re officially less than one year away from the 2020 election. What do the latest polls tell us about how the presidential candidates are stacking up? What do the 2019 elections tell us about how this could play out? And what does all of this mean for climate and energy policy? In this episode of Political Climate, we look at Democrat wins in Virginia and Kentucky. We also discuss the results of a New York Times/Siena College poll that offers a mixed bag for Democratic candidates. Plus,...


Rep. Sean Casten on the New Democrat Path to Fighting Climate Change

If you’re following political news then you’ve probably heard of The Squad, a group of four newly elected congresswomen advocating for progressive policies like the Green New Deal. But have you heard of the New Democrat Coalition and its plans for dealing with climate change? In this episode of Political Climate, we hear from a lawmaker who is leading that charge. Last year, Sean Casten ran one of the most overtly pro-climate action campaigns of the 2018 midterms, in a historically...


A Climate Policy Firestorm in California

There has been no shortage of climate related news in recent days ⁠— from President Trump’s attack on California’s emissions-trading system to Senator Schumer’s $450 billion electric vehicle proposal, and disastrous wildfires raging in the West to the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy in the East. It’s a grab bag of climate headlines on this week’s episode of Political Climate. We begin by revisiting the wildfire crisis in California, as co-host Shane Skelton copes with a power outage and...


Can Cities Save Us?

Are cites the world’s best hope for combating climate change? Many cities have committed to meeting the Paris Agreement goals. But are those targets translating to action on the ground? In this episode of Political Climate, we look at San Diego’s quest to achieve 100 percent carbon free electricity by 2035 and what other cities can learn from this experience. We recorded this episode at the UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy, where we were joined by Cody Hooven, the first chief...


Burning Political Questions on the California Wildfires

Last week, Pacific Gas & Electric, intentionally cut the power off to 800,000 electricity customers in Northern California — affecting roughly 2 million people — in an attempt to avoid sparking another potentially deadly wildfire. Classes were cancelled, businesses closed, food spoiled and people who rely on medical devices panicked. There was no fire, but the blackout has caused tempers to flare and political tensions to rise. How did we get to a point where California’s largest utility...


Introducing Climate 2020

This week, we bring you a special episode from our friends at The Years Project. David Gelber, creator of the Emmy Award-winning series “Years of Living Dangerously,” has teamed up with Jeff Nesbit, executive director of Climate Nexus and author of the book This is the Way the Earth Ends, on a new podcast called Climate 2020. Each week David and Jeff will discuss the latest developments in the political fight to mitigate the climate crisis in the lead up to the 2020 election. In this...


Climate Strikes, the UN Summit and What They Mean for US Politics

Millions of young people took to the streets last month to demand governments take bolder action on climate. Days later, world leaders assembled at the United Nations for the Secretary General's high-profile Climate Action Summit, where dozens of countries pledged to strengthen their climate goals. But did any of this resonate with American policymakers? In this week’s episode of Political Climate we discuss takeaways from the Climate Strikes and UN climate summit, and how these events...


How States Are Leading the Way on Climate Policy

Federal news tends to steal the limelight, but when it comes to spearheading innovative climate and energy policy states are really where the action is at. World leaders gathered at the United Nations Climate Action Summit earlier this week, where Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on countries to boost their commitments to fighting the climate crisis with concrete plans rather than platitudes. But while President Trump stopped by the summit on Monday, the U.S. was effectively absent...