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What History Tells Us About Building Climate Coalitions


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."

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.


Read entire article at West Virginia Public Broadcasting