Sep 13 • 1HR 5M

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.

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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.

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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.