Focusing on the climate actions that can make a real difference
A new book from Hal Harvey and Justin Gillis tries to clarify the choices.
One of the more daunting aspects of climate policy is the sheer profusion of choices. Federal, state, local; this sector or that sector; targeting consumption vs. targeting production; changing consumer choices vs. changing infrastructure. It is easy to get overwhelmed, and worse, it is easy for political energy to be diffused into a thousand strands that don't add up to more than the sum of their parts.
A new book seeks to address that problem by boiling down the climate policy options to the handful that really matter — the ones where minimum effort can generate maximum results. It's called The Big Fix: 7 Practical Steps to Save Our Planet, written by two people who have spent years in the climate trenches: Hal Harvey, founder of the Energy Foundation and numerous other climate-focused nonprofits, currently CEO of research firm Energy Innovation, and Justin Gillis, a longtime journalist who spent the last several years reporting on climate change for The New York Times, now a fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment.
I've known Harvey and Gillis for a long time, so I was eager to talk to them as soon as I read a draft galley of the book. We recorded this conversation several months ago — before all the excitement with Democrats’ recent climate wins — but everything in it still very much applies, especially as policymaking focus moves to states and cities.
We talked about learning curves, performance standards, and good old-fashioned industrial policy, among many other things. It's a real feast for all you policy wonks.