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Climate One

Wednesday, February 17 at 2:00 pm

This Moment In Climate With Michael Mann & Leah Stokes

With a new pro-science, pro-climate action administration in the White House, there are more pathways — and far greater political will — than ever before for the clean energy transition. The question is now less about what can be done to act on climate, and more about how soon. But how quickly can the new administration turn around a gutted EPA, myriad environmental law rollbacks, and a legacy of climate denial from fossil fuel companies

“We’re so close to really finally turning the corner on climate, says Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Penn State University, “but the forces of inaction, and I call them the inactivists, haven’t given up.”

Mann writes about those “inactivists” – primarily fossil fuel interests and their allies – in his new book, The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet. He explains how they have shifted from a strategy of denial to one of division in an effort to prevent, or at least delay, the clean energy transition.

“They’ve really worked hard to divide the climate advocacy community so that we don't speak with one unified voice demanding action,” says Mann, describing “bot armies [and] trolls looking to get environmental progressives arguing with each other about their lifestyle choices.”

This divide-and-conquer tactic deflects attention from the systemic roots of the climate emergency onto the individual. But for Leah Stokes, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UC Santa Barbara, the time is ripe for broad policy changes.

“we have got to keep our eye on the prize here and that is federal action in the United States, ideally this year in 2021,” she says, noting that “with the elections in Georgia in early January, we have the best opportunity in more than a decade now to see federal climate action through legislation.”

President Biden’s ambitious climate plan, pledging $2 trillion for infrastructure, energy, transit, environmental justice, and more, was the boldest climate pledge ever from a presidential candidate. “The issue is not really about left or right ideology,” says Stokes, “it’s actually about creating a livable future for current generations, and that is not an ideological issue.”

Michael Mann
Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Penn State University

Leah Stokes
Assistant Professor, Political Science, UC Santa Barbara

To listen to the audio of “This Moment In Climate With Michael Mann & Leah Stokes” on Climate One online, please click HERE.