What history tells us about building climate coalitions

What history tells us about building climate coalitions

Author Matto Mildenberger examined how politics have shaped decades of climate policy in his new book, "Carbon Captured." He spoke to The World's host Marco Werman for this week's climate solutions segment. 

By
The World staff

Producer
Anna Kusmer

Player utilities

download

Listen to the story.

Environmental activists of Swiss Klimastreik Schweiz movement hold banners, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in front of the opera house on the Sechselaeutenplatz square in Zurich, April 24, 2020.

Credit:

Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters 

Share

Massive programs of green public investment would be the most cost-effective way both to revive virus-hit economies and strike a decisive blow against climate change, top US and British economists said in a study published last month. 

With co-authors including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz from Columbia University and prominent British climate expert Lord Nicholas Stern, the findings are likely to fuel calls for “green recoveries” gathering momentum around the world.

Related: Amsterdam’s coronavirus recovery plan embraces ‘doughnut economics’ for people and the planet

“The COVID-19 crisis could mark a turning point in progress on climate change,” the authors wrote, adding that much would depend on policy choices made in the next six months.

With major economies drawing up enormous economic packages to cushion the shock of the coronavirus pandemic, many investors, politicians and businesses see a unique opportunity to drive a shift toward a low-carbon future.

But meaningful action on climate change will take a lot of political will.

Author Matto Mildenberger has examined how politics have shaped decades of climate policy in his new book, “Carbon Captured: How Business and Labor Control Climate Politics.”

Related: Mutual aid groups respond to double threat of coronavirus and climate change

Mildenberger is also a professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He spoke to The World’s host Marco Werman for this week’s climate solutions segment. 

Marco Werman: Why is thinking about the politics of climate so important? What lens does it offer that is missed when we focus on the technical challenges of solving climate change? 

Matto Mildenberger: Collectively, countries around the world are not doing what it’s going to take to solve the climate crisis. Too often, we focused on not having the right technologies to solve the problem, or saying those technologies are too expensive, neither of which is really true anymore. We know we need to do it, and it’s cheap and profitable to do it. What matters is the politics of climate change now. 

So, you focused on Norway and Australia in your book. Why those two? And what did you learn about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to building political coalitions to address climate change?

In Norway, we have really early action. They really started having a carbon tax, a carbon price, early in the 1990s; whereas, I think Australia is seeing the most political conflict over climate change than basically anywhere in the world. But here’s what you do learn, if we think about Norway, we think about Australia, and frankly, if we think about the United States: In all these countries, climate change actually disrupts some of the existing political coalitions that are out there.

We have workers on the left who depend on carbon-intensive jobs, and we also have businesses that depend on carbon pollution. And the same is true on the right when we have more business-friendly parties. A lot of the conflict over climate change actually plays out within the left and within the right. It happens within existing political parties and coalitions.​​​

Here in the US though, it does feel really left and right. I mean, the US has politicized climate change probably more than any other country on Earth. With the world’s strongest economic power in that position, isn’t that a huge barrier to action? 

A possible upside of the type of polarization we see in the United States is that when the Democrats are in power, there might be more appetite to undertake the type of disruptive climate reforms that are necessary to really solve this problem at the scale that we need to. It’s still an open question whether slow and steady, incremental progress that works at the margins is that going to be a better strategy, or might there actually be more opportunity in a polarized political system where, once in a while, the pro-climate actors seize control of power and really try and push forward on this issue.​​​​​​

So, we can talk about whether certain climate policies work from a technical perspective, but for talking solutions to climate change, what type of policies are the most politically successful?

For about 20 years now, carbon pricing has been one of the main tools in the climate policy toolkit. The idea of carbon pricing is that you, in some way, make companies and polluters pay for the costs associated with the harm they’re doing by releasing this pollution into the atmosphere. From a political perspective, this is a really, really difficult policy. It makes consumer costs really visible and the benefits of acting — all of the avoided climate catastrophe that’s going to happen in the next 10 or 15 years — is totally hidden.

And so, I actually think that there’s a lot of sense to foreground benefits and try and pass policies that are more like the Green New Deal that really focus on providing economic opportunities to workers in new industries. That’s really going to help generate a coalition that actively wants and desires change. And it’s also going to help split apart workers and businesses who have previously been opposed to climate policies by giving workers in fossil fuel industries new opportunities that will sort of bring them into a pro-climate coalition.

So, what gives you hope for the future when it comes to political solutions to climate change?

If we look at the extraordinary response that’s happened right now to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s helpful to think that the world can come together and sort of take the type of action they’re taking on COVID-19 right now, but applying it to the next big looming crisis. Go back a couple of months to the Democratic primary — presidential candidates who were proposing a $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion climate plan over 10 years were dismissed as fanciful.

And we’ve spent more than that in a couple of weeks under the CARES Act. I think that type of effort and renewed political response to crisis is happening all around the world. And if we can redirect some of those energies to the climate crisis, I think that we have a fighting chance over the 2020s to bring this problem under control.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. Reuters contributed to this report. 

This once-frozen pass is a trove of Viking artifacts. Now, there’s a race to preserve them.

This once-frozen pass is a trove of Viking artifacts. Now, there's a race to preserve them.

Since 2011, a mountain pass in central Norway has seen unusually warm summers linked to climate change. The melt has revealed an unexpected treasure trove of more than 1,000 remarkably preserved artifacts.

By
The World staff

Producer
Carol Hills

Player utilities

download

Listen to the story.

Wooden bit made from juniper for goat kids and lambs to prevent them suckling their mother, as the milk was processed for human consumption. Found in the pass area at Lendbreen. Such bits were used locally until the 1930s, but this specimen is radiocarbon-dated to the 11th century AD.

Credit:

Espen Finstad/secretsoftheice.com

Share

Young Jeezy – Never Settle

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Verse 1]
I’ma leave the bars to Kendrick and Cole I speak that real life
I-75 with them O’s know what that feel like
So how could you compare me to niggas? You can’t be serious
Ain’t the type to ask all the questions, you got me curious
Bout the only nigga in it this solid, bitch I’m a kilo
They like "who that you got there with you Young?" Oh that’s just my ego
Back to the business at hand, I need a four way
And I don’t give a fuck where it’s at, I go to Norway
Tryna be the first to the spot just like Colombus
The residue done clogged up the sink, they called the plumbers
Let down the window, tossed out the phone, I heard static
It’s time to get all them dirty clothes up out the attic
The more you niggas doubt the more ambitious I get
I’m going out like Tony, I’m busting, talking my shit
Can line my haters up, everyone of them motherfuckers
Can open up my eyes, I see none of them motherfuckers

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Verse 2]
How you gon’ stop some shit that’s unstoppable?
Why you speaking logic to some niggas that ain’t logical?
They know a room full of hatin’ ass niggas ain’t an obstacle
I see you got them VVS around you neck, look like a popsicle
I put on for my city before I even wrote the song
If I’m ever out the house with you, you know the rope was on
Picture worth 1000 words don’t need to take it out the frame
But the nigga right beside you tryna take you out the game
Like oh, see me (?) with bosses and bad bitches
And I don’t fuck with industry niggas, they ass kissers
I had a million niggas that told me I wouldn’t make it
Then I sold a million records, the talent you can’t fake it
Look, one time for that nine ho, two times for that grind though
They wanna see you light skinned, make sure that you shine though
That’s why I sit back and just roll up the weed
Let’s talk the bullshit that’s just what a nigga need

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

Young Jeezy – Never Settle (On Wendy Williams Show) (Live) letras

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Verse 1]
I’ma leave the bars to Kendrick and Cole I speak that real life
I-75 with them O’s know what that feel like
So how could you compare me to niggas? You can’t be serious
Ain’t the type to ask all the questions, you got me curious
Bout the only nigga in it this solid, bitch I’m a kilo
They like "who that you got there with you Young?" Oh that’s just my ego
Back to the business at hand, I need a four way
And I don’t give a fuck where it’s at, I go to Norway
Tryna be the first to the spot just like Colombus
The residue done clogged up the sink, they called the plumbers
Let down the window, tossed out the phone, I heard static
It’s time to get all them dirty clothes up out the attic
The more you niggas doubt the more ambitious I get
I’m going out like Tony, I’m busting, talking my shit
Can line my haters up, everyone of them motherfuckers
Can open up my eyes, I see none of them motherfuckers

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Verse 2]
How you gon’ stop some shit that’s unstoppable?
Why you speaking logic to some niggas that ain’t logical?
They know a room full of hatin’ ass niggas ain’t an obstacle
I see you got them VVS around you neck, look like a popsicle
I put on for my city before I even wrote the song
If I’m ever out the house with you, you know the rope was on
Picture worth 1000 words don’t need to take it out the frame
But the nigga right beside you tryna take you out the game
Like oh, see me (?) with bosses and bad bitches
And I don’t fuck with industry niggas, they ass kissers
I had a million niggas that told me I wouldn’t make it
Then I sold a million records, the talent you can’t fake it
Look, one time for that nine ho, two times for that grind though
They wanna see you light skinned, make sure that you shine though
That’s why I sit back and just roll up the weed
Let’s talk the bullshit that’s just what a nigga need

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

[Hook]
I want it all, brand new socks and draws
And a bitch so bad you don’t see all the flaws
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
You want the same? Just don’t never settle
I want it all, champagne like Niagra Falls
And a big boy grill, portraits of Pac on the walls
A two door that go vrmm every time you hit the pedal
Got two words for ya, never settle

Týr – The Rune letras

Down from the mountain, cries of an headless love, high above
Cold seems to me your kiss from the ocean deep, in my sleep
I see you go south on the evening tide, end your fight
Futile attempts, you can’t change the way, of our day and age of heathen and Hel

I’ve been living here from when I was born
And my heathen kin it was that found and then populated this land
Who is then this man who demands my scat
He whose mighty ancestors drove mine out of Norway to seek new lands

Which are slipping through my hands
Hold they nothing more divine
Than the property of land
Set the thing here and then

Line my booth with cloth, black as ravens wings
See to that these men are dealt as those mighty kings men that came before
Line my booth with cloth, black as ravens wings
Here in darkness with my silver bags, let them come in and take what’s mine

All the islands should be mine
But were running out of time
Wield the axe and make them mine
I will rule within my time

Here in pain
Here in darkness
Here in decadence
Lies my land like a rune that’s written by gods upon the
Ocean deep, so it reads, thou shalt not enslave thy kin, I
Swear this oath, I’ll keep my faith and I’ll keep my
Kin from all harm, raise the song to the mountains majesty for thee

Now that millennium has gone
And the sad and weary tales
Of the subsequent events
Are what’s left of greater times