Jul 6 • 57M

Volts podcast: Lori Lodes on climate activism and the path forward

The way through the darkness.

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Volts is a podcast about leaving fossil fuels behind. I've been reporting on and explaining clean-energy topics for almost 20 years, and I love talking to politicians, analysts, innovators, and activists about the latest progress in the world's most important fight. (Volts is entirely subscriber-supported. Sign up!)
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It is a dark time for climate activists. The immense hope they felt at the introduction of the original Build Back Better bill has curdled. It is still possible that some kind of deal might emerge from the Senate in this final month, but if it does it will be a pale shadow of what it once was.

Meanwhile, the Republican-dominated Supreme Court has just taken away one of the EPA's principal tools for addressing greenhouse gases. And that is, of course, only one tiny sliver of the damage that the court has done and is continuing to do. A Supreme Court that is hostile to climate action seems fated to be a fact of life for at least a generation.

It is not clear what climate activists could have done differently to avert these grim outcomes. And it is not at all clear how they should proceed from here. They have no way of encouraging West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin to be a decent human being and once the reconciliation bill is done, the midterms will be upon us, and all signs point toward disastrous Democratic losses that will take legislation off the table entirely.

What should climate activists be doing right now? How should they be maintaining hope and momentum?

Lori Lodes

To discuss these difficult questions, I contacted Lori Lodes, the head of the nonprofit advocacy organization Climate Power, which was created by John Podesta and others in the run-up to the 2020 election to ensure that climate had a place on the Democratic agenda. Lodes is a veteran of several difficult Democratic fights going back to Obamacare and is a self-proclaimed lover of political combat, so I was eager to hear from her on what climate activists should be doing, how they should feel about whatever emerges from the Build Back Better negotiations, and how they should move forward in a world where federal action has become all but impossible.