iOS app Android app

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

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 

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

Another Tea Party Assault on Democracy

(52) 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...
Read Post

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...

Read Post

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"...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

4 New Trumps Shaking Fast Track's House of (Trading) Cards

(23) Comments | Posted May 25, 2015 | 7:53 PM

After first rejecting "fast-track authority" to prevent Congress from amending President Obama's pendingres Asian and European trade agreements,13 Senate Democrats change their votes Thursday. The Senators who flipped had obtained other concessions, on issues like the Export-Import Bank and currency manipulation - but tellingly most of the concessions...

Read Post

Are We All (Elon Musk Excepted) Confused?

(21) Comments | Posted May 7, 2015 | 12:06 AM

Last week was startling -- but confusing -- on the energy/water nexus innovation front. On energy, Governor Jerry Brown moved forward boldly, committing his state to cut its greenhouse gas pollution by 40 percent by 2030, declaring "I've set a very high bar, but it's a bar...

Read Post

Let the Dialogue Resume!

(1) Comments | Posted April 29, 2015 | 3:43 PM

The energy and climate waters, it appears, are finally getting safer for thoughtful conservatives to test and navigate. The complete shut-down of conservative dialogue about climate solutions which followed John McCain's 2008 defeat (reinforced by the 2010 defeat of South Carolina Republican Bob Inglis over his...

Read Post

'Globalization and Its Discontents'

(23) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 5:02 PM

Part of the genius behind the Goldman Environmental Prize is that it not only rewards inspiring individuals but spotlights communities and struggles that would otherwise remain off the global community's radar screen. The prize recipients this year -- the 25th -- were no exception. Few in the audience...

Read Post

The Senator From Searchlight

(5) Comments | Posted March 30, 2015 | 5:15 PM

Harry Reid's announcement that he will not stand for reelection to the Senate from Nevada in 2016 is a major loss for the climate movement -- and yet another signal that the U.S. Senate is being transformed by today's bifurcated, parliamentary politics into an institution almost unrecognizably different from its...

Read Post

The Future of Electricity (Part 3): To Speed Innovation, Share the Gains Fairly

(3) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 4:53 PM

A few weeks ago I posted two parts of a promised three-part series on the remaking of the electricity sector of the U.S. economy. Those posts outlined the flimsiness of the arguments being made against clean electricity by coal companies and incumbent utilities, and the overwhelming...

Read Post

Beyond Keystone

(6) Comments | Posted March 3, 2015 | 10:18 AM

President Obama's veto this week of a Republican bill passed -- precisely so that he would veto it -- mandating the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline does, indeed, as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out, serve as "a perfect symbol of Washington's dysfunction." Obama made...

Read Post