Political Climate

Political Climate

art19.com/shows/political-climate
A bipartisan podcast on energy and environmental politics in America. Presented by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Political Climate goes beyond the echo chambers to bring you civil conversations, fierce debates and insider perspectives, with hosts and guests from across the political spectrum. Join Democrat and Republican energy experts Brandon Hurlbut and Shane Skelton, along with Greentech Media’s Julia Pyper, as we explore how energy and environment policies get made.


Beginning of the End for New Oil and Gas Pipelines?
Jul 9 • 35 min
In a series of major wins for the environmental community, three multibillion-dollar pipeline projects — the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — were recently delivered devastating setbacks. The business and…
The Path to a Net-Zero Economy: Where Do We Stand?
Jul 2 • 53 min
There’s more political momentum than ever around achieving net zero emissions by 2050, especially following the release of House Democrats’ new Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy. But where do we currently stand on that trajectory? And…
Saving the Planet for Sports and Craft Beer
Jun 25 • 41 min
There aren’t many sporting events taking place amid the pandemic, but athletes and the brands that support them aren’t sitting idle. Protect Our Winters, a non-profit representing the outdoor sports community on climate issues, recently spent a week…
How Lyft Will Achieve 100% Electric Vehicles by 2030
Jun 17 • 47 min
Lyft is going 100% electric. The rideshare company just pledged to transition every vehicle on its platform to an EV by 2030. But this decision isn’t as simple as buying a few new cars. It will require building out an entire ecosystem of electric vehicle…
Protests, Pollution, Pandemics and Solutions
Jun 11 • 35 min
Deep-seated racial justice issues have been brought to the fore in recent weeks by a series of nationwide protests over police violence. These protests are taking place in the midst of a global pandemic, which has exposed, and in many cases worsened,…
The Left Unites Around a Justice-Centered Climate Platform
Jun 4 • 45 min
Democrats are beginning to rally around a progressive, three-part climate platform that prioritizes environmental justice. But will Joe Biden fully embrace it? If so, could it sway the 2020 election? Or will few voters care in this turbulent year? On this…
How to Jump-Start a Stalled Electric Vehicle Market
May 28 • 59 min
Buckle up. Electric vehicle sales are expected to take a big hit this year amid the current health and economic crisis. Industry analysts say the long-term prospects for EVs remain strong, but the jury’s still out on how quickly the market will rebound.…
‘Need for Speed’: Why Solving Climate Change Is About More Than CO2
May 21 • 42 min
The skies may look clearer these days. But don’t get too excited. Levels of smog and other short-lived climate pollutants (remember HFCs?) are still high and climbing. The good news: there’s a long track record of international cooperation to get these…
EU Ambassador: ‘Green Growth Will Be the Key’ to Europe’s Recovery
May 14 • 65 min
Late last year, the European Union introduced a $1 trillion plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and achieve a just transition away from polluting technologies. Europe’s Green Deal enjoys strong backing from many of the EU’s top political figures. But…
Julian Brave NoiseCat on Using Data for Climate Action
May 7 • 69 min
Are progressive ideas on how to tackle climate change a political poison pill? New opinion polling challenges this commonly held assumption. On this week’s episode of Political Climate, we discuss how data is helping decode where the American public…
Fighting Energy Injustice and Coronavirus in African American Communities
Apr 30 • 61 min
African Americans are struggling with a disproportionate death toll from COVID-19 and severe financial strain from the economic downturn. This crisis has exposed preexisting racial disparities created by deep-seated social, economic and political factors.…
John Kerry: ‘I Am Optimistic’ but ‘Angry’ This Earth Day
Apr 23 • 47 min
John Kerry isn’t pleased. As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the former senator and secretary of state says a profound lack of leadership is causing the United States to fall behind on climate action and clean energy innovation. In…
Averting a Clean Energy Recession
Apr 16 • 37 min
The 2020 election is crawling forward amid the coronavirus pandemic. Former Vice President Joe Biden has become the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party, with Senator Bernie Sanders announcing his withdrawal from the race. With the primary…
Coronavirus and Clean Energy Investment: Four Expert Perspectives
Apr 9 • 63 min
The coronavirus outbreak continues to loom large over the world. Across the globe, countries face major challenges as consumer demand contracts, employee payroll is cut, and capital shrinks as billions of people remain in quarantine. The combination of an…
Does Climate Change Still Matter in a Pandemic?
Apr 2 • 49 min
Climate change didn’t stop while the world turned its attention to combating the coronavirus. Will leaders seize the moment to tackle more than one crisis? The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act offered no explicit…
Aligning Labor and Climate in a Changing Economy
Mar 26 • 51 min
Labor groups and environmentalists have a complicated relationship. Efforts to mitigate climate change stand to create new employment opportunities in a thriving, low-carbon economy. But they also stand to eliminate many unionized jobs, particularly in…
What COVID-19 and Climate Change Have in Common
Mar 19 • 54 min
With cases recorded in more than 140 countries, the novel coronavirus has become a global health crisis. In the U.S., bars and offices have been closed, conferences cancelled and kids kept home from school in an attempt to slow the spread. President Trump…
What the Oil Price War Means for Cleantech
Mar 12 • 37 min
It’s been pretty hard to miss the latest news. Coronavirus spreads! Oil prices plummet! Stock market crashes! What does all of this have to do with climate and clean energy? A lot, actually. On Monday, oil prices had their worst day since the 1991 Gulf…
The Winners: Super Tuesday and Decarb Madness Results
Mar 6 • 58 min
Joe Biden had a super, Super Tuesday. We discuss the results and what they mean for climate in the 2020 Democratic Primary. We also touch on the sweeping Senate energy bill that could come to a vote any day now. Plus, there was another big winner this…
Decarb Madness! The Policy Bracket Competition
Feb 27 • 68 min
Welcome to Decarb Madness! The policy bracket game for energy wonks who don’t want to play with our future. With March Madness just around the corner and a climate crisis closing in, Political Climate challenged four energy experts to build their ideal…
DOE Renewables Chief on the Geopolitics of Cleantech
Feb 21 • 59 min
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…
How Climate’s Playing in the Democratic Primary
Feb 13 • 39 min
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…
Iowa and What ‘Innovation’ Means to Republicans
Feb 6 • 46 min
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…
What Do We Need in Our Climate Toolkit?
Jan 30 • 37 min
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…
The Urgency of Reaching Net Zero
Jan 23 • 21 min
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…
Why Arnold Schwarzenegger Backs Greta Thunberg and Bipartisanship
Jan 16 • 45 min
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.…
Bonus: Full Interview With Emily Atkin of HEATED
Dec 31, 2019 • 42 min
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…
David Roberts on ‘Radical’ Climate Action and Political Tribalism
Dec 19, 2019 • 90 min
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…
Where’s the Action? COP25, Capitol Hill, and Insights From Sen. Ayotte
Dec 12, 2019 • 59 min
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.…
Big Oil on Trial
Dec 5, 2019 • 62 min
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…
‘Say Something Nice’ — Thanksgiving Edition!
Nov 27, 2019 • 24 min
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…
Rep. Paul Tonko on the Landmark 100% Clean Economy Act
Nov 22, 2019 • 44 min
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…
One Year Out: Polls, Election Results and News ‘Confetti’
Nov 14, 2019 • 41 min
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…
Rep. Sean Casten on the New Democrat Path to Fighting Climate Change
Nov 8, 2019 • 39 min
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…
A Climate Policy Firestorm in California
Oct 31, 2019 • 53 min
From President Trump’s attack on California’s emissions-trading system to Senator Schumer’s $450 billion electric vehicle proposal, it’s a grab bag of climate news on this week’s episode.
Can Cities Save Us?
Oct 24, 2019 • 52 min
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.
Burning Political Questions on the California Wildfires
Oct 17, 2019 • 65 min
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,…
Introducing Climate 2020
Oct 10, 2019 • 41 min
This week, we bring you the first episode of Climate 2020, a new podcast from our friends at The Years Project.
Climate Strikes, the UN Summit and What They Mean for US Politics
Oct 4, 2019 • 51 min
Are calls to action resonating with U.S. policymakers? Plus, an exclusive interview with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera.
How States Are Leading the Way on Climate Policy
Sep 28, 2019 • 56 min
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.
Youth v. Climate Crisis
Sep 18, 2019 • 47 min
Youth activists are spearheading a powerful political movement around addressing the climate crisis. Will 2019 be remembered as the year humanity turned a corner in the fight against climate change?
What Conservatives and Climate Hawks Learned From the CNN Town Hall
Sep 11, 2019 • 56 min
Who stood out at the CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall? How did conservatives react? Did general voters even care?
How 2020 Presidential Candidates Stack Up on Climate (So Far)
Aug 30, 2019 • 45 min
The Democratic presidential primary is heating up, so we break down where the candidates stand on climate.
Harry Reid on Why Democrats Need to End the Filibuster
Aug 22, 2019 • 50 min
Former Senator Harry Reid explains why he believes ending the filibuster is necessary for the U.S. to pass critical legislation, including on climate change.
Astronaut Scott Kelly: “What Are We Doing to This Planet?”
Aug 16, 2019 • 31 min
The Political Climate team sits down with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to discuss technology, politics and the unique perspective that traveling to space offers on the climate crisis.
Climate Sees Some Legitimate Debate. Did Anyone Care?
Aug 8, 2019 • 54 min
There were several moments of legitimate engagement on climate change at last week’s Democratic presidential debates. But did any of it resonate with voters?
The Environmental Voter Problem
Aug 1, 2019 • 40 min
Environmentalists don’t show up to vote as often as the overall population in an election. What gives?
Tom Steyer on Why He’s Running for President
Jul 27, 2019 • 33 min
We speak to billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer about why he’s making a bid for president and using “emergency powers” to combat climate change.
Climate Action or Climate Distraction?
Jul 20, 2019 • 40 min
What is going on in Washington D.C.? A Democrat feud, controversial tweets, and very little action on climate policy.
Candidates and Climate in the First Democratic Debates
Jul 4, 2019 • 40 min
Winners and losers in the first round of Democratic debates.
The Invisible Killer
Jun 28, 2019 • 36 min
We often can’t see or feel air pollution — and yet, it is taking a toll. In this episode, we hear stories of how people around the world are calling attention to this invisible killer.
Will Republicans Ever Really Embrace Climate Action?
Jun 21, 2019 • 62 min
Democrats are dominating the public dialogue on climate change. That is just a fact. And yet, things aren’t entirely black and white — or blue and red.
UN Chief Guterres: “The Status Quo Is a Suicide”
Jun 7, 2019 • 38 min
We are losing the fight against climate change, warns UN Secretary General António Guterres on this week’s episode of Political Climate.
Greta Thunberg on the Climate Crisis, Schwarzenegger, and Schnitzel
May 30, 2019 • 36 min
We speak to teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about the climate crisis at the R20 Austrian World Summit in Vienna.
The Troubling Geopolitics of a Melting Arctic
May 24, 2019 • 47 min
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, which is opening up new shipping routes and increasing access to fossil fuel reserves, while also threatening ecosystems and fueling geopolitical tensions. Are we approaching the end of the…
Curbelo’s Cancelled Climate Testimony and the ‘Middle Ground’
May 17, 2019 • 54 min
House Democrats disinvited former Congressman Carlos Curbelo from a climate change hearing this week, just days before the Florida Republican was scheduled to testify. Did the Dems prioritize politics over finding climate solutions?
Sunrise, Inslee, Paris and the Grim Reaper
May 9, 2019 • 46 min
Democrats came together last week to present a united front on tackling climate change, and pass the first meaningful climate bill in the House of Representatives in nearly a decade. But will it matter before 2020?
Beto O’Rourke and Keeping Up With the Greens
May 3, 2019 • 36 min
On this week’s episode of Political Climate, we look at how green Democrats need to be to win support from progressive members of their own party. Is this type of in-fighting a genius political strategy to push the envelope on what’s possible? Or will it…
Origins of the Green New Deal … and Lil Dicky
Apr 26, 2019 • 78 min
Political Climate sits down with Green New Deal architects Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Demond Drummer and Zach Exley for an in-depth interview on the sweeping — and evolving — plan to address both climate change and economic inequality. Plus, we discuss rapper…
Arnold Schwarzenegger on Terminating Pollution
Apr 18, 2019 • 40 min
What do bodybuilding and gerrymandering have to do with the fight against climate change? Arnold Schwarzenegger explains in an exclusive Political Climate interview.
A New Era in Climate Politics
Apr 8, 2019 • 28 min
Political Climate is back after a four-month hiatus, with some news!
Back in Session Next Week
Apr 3, 2019 • 2 min
The Political Climate partial shutdown comes to an end on April 8.
Global Warming Solutions for a Polarized Political Climate
Dec 11, 2018 • 63 min
Is there a bipartisan path forward on meaningful climate policy in America? If so, what does it look like? Those are questions we’ve been grappling with on Political Climate this entire podcast season. Now we’re putting them — point blank — to our…
The Sunrise Movement and a Blue Wave
Nov 21, 2018 • 63 min
The Sunrise Movement over a blue wave. It sounds like a tropical scene, but it was actually the state of affairs last week on Capitol Hill. As Democrats prepare to take control of the House in 2019, a group of young activists — backed by…
Midterm Results: Was Climate a Winner?
Nov 8, 2018 • 49 min
Democrats have claimed the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. It gives the party powerful new oversight authority. But will it translate to meaningful action on climate and clean energy? Several moderate Republicans were voted out of…
LIVE: A Green Wave Election?
Oct 31, 2018 • 57 min
We’ve heard a lot about the potential for a “blue wave” in this year’s midterms — but what about a green one? We’re talking about all things climate and clean energy in the 2018 midterm election in this special episode of Political Climate, recorded live…
California’s Clean Air Czar on the Fight for Fuel Economy
Oct 26, 2018 • 43 min
A battle over the future of U.S. clean car standards just stepped up a gear. We sit down with the woman leading the charge against Trump to keep more stringent fuel economy rules in place. Mary Nichols is currently on her second tour as chair of the…
No Planet, No Politics
Oct 15, 2018 • 43 min
Time is running out to combat climate change. The United Nations has released an alarming new climate science report — but will it even matter? We discuss how the report is being received by leaders in the U.S. and abroad. Plus, we look at the politics of…
Finding (Politically Viable) Climate Solutions
Oct 10, 2018 • 46 min
Cutting fossil fuel subsidies, updating building codes, offering electric vehicle ridesharing programs for farm workers, and more. In this show, we talk climate solutions. A new landmark United Nations climate report concluded that world leaders have just…
The Business Case for Carbon Pricing
Oct 3, 2018 • 33 min
Is an federal carbon price worth pursuing in a politically divided United States? We hear the case for why it is. Advocates say an economy-wide carbon tax would send a clear market signal to emitters, while accounting for the externalities and risks that…
California’s Quest for Deep Decarbonization
Sep 19, 2018 • 27 min
“Decarbonization” was the catchword of last week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. Stakeholders from all over the world made new commitments to combatting climate change. But the spotlight was really on California, where Governor Jerry…
Taking 100% From ‘Radical’ to Reality
Sep 5, 2018 • 45 min
California lawmakers just passed an historic 100 percent clean electricity mandate. A few years ago, advocating for 100 percent clean energy was considered radical. Even some political allies of the cause argued that the concept was so far-fetched it was…
Senator Heinrich’s 100% Clean Energy Vision
Aug 21, 2018 • 24 min
Senator Martin Heinrich believes a 100 percent clean energy electric grid is within reach during his lifetime. There will be technical challenges to overcome, but it’s “completely doable,” he said, in an exclusive interview with Political Climate. This…
Too Alarmist? Not Alarmist Enough?
Aug 17, 2018 • 54 min
Are people who care about climate change downplaying the issue under social and political pressure? Has their alarmism been too muted? Or has the outcry become so loud that it’s drowning out the possibility of collective action? The jury is out. In this…
LIVE: ‘What’s So Upsetting?’
Aug 6, 2018 • 46 min
Political tribalism has created gridlock on climate policy — even more so than the polarization on climate science — according to a new peer-reviewed study. If that’s the case, is there any hope of action any time soon? Tensions are running high. It’s…
Millennials Seek Bipartisan Action on Climate
Jul 25, 2018 • 59 min
What does the rise of millennials mean for climate action? Will this plugged-in generation make climate change a priority? Can they find common ground between liberals and conservatives to solve this issue collectively? Millennials are on the brink of…
Top EPA Official Talks Policy Post Pruitt
Jul 10, 2018 • 73 min
Scott Pruitt is officially out at the Environmental Protection Agency. Former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler has stepped in as acting administrator. What does this mean for U.S. climate policy? We asked a top EPA official. In this episode, Mandy Gunasekara,…
Fossil Fuel Dollars and Democrats
Jun 20, 2018 • 59 min
The Democratic National Committee recently decided to no longer accept campaign donations from fossil fuel companies. The move signals the party’s commitment to addressing climate change. But could blocking contributions from oil, gas and coal companies…
The Hypocritical Politics of Gas Prices
Jun 5, 2018 • 38 min
Gas prices are always a hot-button political issue, and especially in an election year. In the latest showdown, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blames a spike in gas prices on President Trump’s “reckless decision” to pull out of the Iran…
The 2018 Election Preview
May 29, 2018 • 58 min
There are a lot of questions swirling around the 2018 midterm election — including how energy and climate issues will play into this broader political moment. Can pro-climate Republicans hold on to their seats in Congress? Will Democratic candidates with…
LIVE: ‘The Only Way to Save Ourselves’
May 4, 2018 • 59 min
Republicans are often viewed as enemies of the clean energy transition. Some people believe the GOP will never embrace climate action. So is voting them out the only way to save the planet? If you ask environmental policy pioneer Terry Tamminen, the…
Winners and Losers in Trump’s America
Apr 27, 2018 • 51 min
President Trump is considering the use of a Cold War-era defense act to shore up struggling coal and nuclear power plants, something the administration argues is essential to U.S. national security. But critics say this is the government picking winners…
Paul Ryan Bows Out, Scott Pruitt in Hot Water
Apr 16, 2018 • 39 min
House Speaker Paul Ryan announced last week that he won’t seek reelection in 2018. His decision will have major consequences for the Republican Party — and potentially for climate and energy policy. In the second episode of GTM’s new podcast Political…
The Inaugural Episode
Apr 12, 2018 • 38 min
The November midterm election is coming up fast. It could trigger a major power shift with both the House and Senate up for grabs. Will energy and climate be voting issues in 2018? Recent Gallup polling shows the partisan divide is widening over…