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Carl Pope
A veteran leader in the environmental movement, Carl Pope is the former executive director and chairman of the Sierra Club. He's now the principal advisor at Inside Straight Strategies, looking for the underlying economics that link sustainability and economic development.

He has served on the Boards of the California League of Conservation Voters, Public Voice, National Clean Air Coalition, California Common Cause, Public Interest Economics Inc, and Zero Population Growth. Mr. Pope is also the author of three books: Sahib, An American Misadventure in India; Hazardous Waste In American and co-author along with Paul Rauber Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress, which the New York Review of Books called "a splendidly fierce book."

Entries by Carl Pope

Civil War on Your Rooftop

(3) Comments | Posted January 28, 2016 | 6:33 PM

The fierce counterattack by utilities against the disruptive surge of roof-top solar peaked this month on the West Coast. California's big utilities successfully petitioned for increased "exit fees" for cities or counties leaving the utility to purchase electricity for their residents on the open market -- typically obtaining greener power...

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Implementing the Paris Accords: A Progress Report

(5) Comments | Posted January 20, 2016 | 11:32 AM

At the heart of the Paris Agreement are 195 voluntary national pledges to reduce climate pollution. These pledges broke through decades of gridlock, but if fulfilled, get us only halfway to climate rescue. By 2020 nations must be ready, roughly, to double this pace of emission reductions - but the...

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3 New Years Resolutions for a Climate Movement

(7) Comments | Posted December 30, 2015 | 8:15 PM

1) Take Delivery: Accelerate pre-2020 compliance with emission reduction pledges.

The Paris Accord -- by contrast with Rio and Kyoto -- was a bottom-up exercise in open-source diplomacy. National governments largely were significantly influenced by the leadership of cities, the private sector and community and civic organizations.

But it was...

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Biggest Environmental Moment in History?

(11) Comments | Posted December 13, 2015 | 2:43 PM

The Road from Paris

Dear friends,

The world acted. Not perfectly, not timely, but with seriousness and gravity. The metaphor of the day was some variant on turning point/pivot/fork in the road/hinge of history. No one proclaimed "mission accomplished."

Beyond ratifying the substantial, but inadequate, voluntary national commitments to lower...

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Why the Cuisine at the Paris COP Matters

(0) Comments | Posted December 8, 2015 | 12:14 PM

As the Paris Climate Summit reaches its closing days, it couldn't be more different than Copenhagen six years ago. For the first time in a major climate negotiation, the Draft Outcome was approved on schedule, Saturday evening. Nations which were seen as potential stumbling blocks, like India, have declared that...

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What's Really Happening at COP21

(3) Comments | Posted December 4, 2015 | 1:48 PM

If global warming was an enemy army besieging Paris, and the 21st UN Climate Summit the defenders, there is no sign outside that the siege is being lifted.  It's in the mid-50's here, a full 10 degrees above normal.

But you can sense that climate advocates recognize that this...

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Cities Can Lead, Cities Want to Lead -- Let Them!

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2015 | 1:57 PM

Prospects for the Paris Climate Summit are much, much brighter than for any climate gathering since Kyoto in 1997. Three main factors are driving Paris towards success: China's decision, partly driven by its air pollution crisis, to become a major advocate of change both domestically and globally has upended the...

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The Path to Cleaner Air in India

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2015 | 2:51 PM

It's been unseasonably hot in North India this month; but cooler weather brings not relief but stinging eyes and painful breath.

Air pollution has become headline news here -- one of the snippets that flowed from President Obama's visit was that breathing the air had cut six hours off his life-expectancy. Soot levels 

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Paul Ryan's Poisoned Chalice

(29) Comments | Posted October 29, 2015 | 1:08 PM

The current debate over whether Paul Ryan should have allowed himself to be chosen as the presumptive next House Speaker reminds me of one of the plot puzzles in the movie Queen Margot: Even though Queen Mother Catherine de Medici's reputation as a ruthless poisoner...

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Pulling Back the Pickets: Full Fossil Retreat or Strategic Withdrawal?

(2) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 3:46 PM

Six weeks from the Paris Climate Summit, this was the week that incumbent fossil interests pulled back from their long-held line of defense, the argument that reliance on coal and oil was essential for global prosperity, growth and stability, and that climate risks would simply have to be endured. Instead two powerful...

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Another Tea Party Assault on Democracy

(51) Comments | Posted October 12, 2015 | 2:36 PM

The House Freedom Caucus is correct in lamenting that the media have trivialized their true goals by focusing on the personality of the next Speaker of the House.  They are wrong to believe that a focus on their deep agenda would help their cause -- for that agenda is to...
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The Volkswagen Scandal: We Have Been Here Before

(11) Comments | Posted September 28, 2015 | 1:03 PM

In the frenzy of coverage of the outrageous Volkswagen use of sophisticated computer techniques to shut down the pollution controls on 11 million of VW's TDI diesel automobiles once they were no longer sitting in a test facility,  only a few have noted that this is not the first...

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What's the Matter With Carly?

(107) Comments | Posted September 22, 2015 | 7:25 PM


There's a clear pathway to the Republican nomination for Carly Fiorina after last week's debate, this week's poll results and the departure of Scott Walker from the Republican race.

It begins with an irony. Republican analysts chortled all this year over the "strength"...

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The Real Climate Wars

(3) Comments | Posted September 11, 2015 | 12:07 PM

The oil industry just counted coup, scoring an important tactical victory in the most important domestic climate fight of the year. (No it's not President Obama's Clean Power Plant rule. Rather it is California's Governor Jerry Brown's crusade to commit his state - and effectively, with a time lag, the US...

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Doubling Down on Clean Energy

(14) Comments | Posted August 25, 2015 | 2:56 PM

President Obama doubled down today on climate and clean energy, saying "No challenge poses a greater threat to our future than climate change." Speaking at the eighth Clean Energy Summit, in his first public appearance since vacation, Obama launched an 11 day climate barnstorming campaign. His blunt speech directly challenged climate sceptics as ignoring the new...

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The Untold Story Behind the Clean Power Rule

(0) Comments | Posted August 10, 2015 | 9:23 PM

The media missed the real story on the Obama Clean Power Plan. Most outlets, like the NYT, hail it as a ground-breaking major new initiative, which "could lead to the closing of hundreds of polluting coal-fired power plants, freeze future construction of such plants and lead to an...

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Markets Are About to Deal With Climate -- Get Ready for Ugly

(3) Comments | Posted July 27, 2015 | 9:23 PM

Advocates of "market-based" climate solutions paint pastel pictures reflecting smoothly adjusting macro-economic models. Competitive markets gradually nudged by carbon pricing glide into a low carbon future in a modestly disruptive fashion, much as sulfur pollution from power plants was scaled back in the 1990s.

But commodity markets...

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Sweltering Through a Climate Breakthrough

(11) Comments | Posted July 6, 2015 | 12:43 PM

Neither Paris nor Lyon is burning -- yet. But sweltering, roasting under 40oC (106oF) skies, they definitely are -- and the delegates gathering in Lyon to channel the climate-action potential of cities, states and provinces feel the heat. In addition to the weather, the World Summit on Climate and Territories...

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Climate Politics and the Disruption of Conservative Orthodoxy

(0) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 12:12 PM

The Republican reaction to Pope Francis's climate encyclical, juxtaposed to the Democratic congressional rebellion against President Obama on trade, suggest that climate and energy are powerfully disrupting the grid-locked orthodoxy which has dominated American politics for the last decade.

The Tea Party-Koch Brothers wing of conservatism, (and the corporate wing...

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A New Era for Trade Diplomacy -- With a Climate Protection Twist

(21) Comments | Posted June 16, 2015 | 7:33 PM

When Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rose to speak against Fast Track Trade Authority for President Obama, she sealed the fate of last Friday's round of voting -- and signaled the beginning of something crucially important -- a fresh debate on the nature and purpose of trade diplomacy.

Following Pelosi's call...

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