In this episode, I interviewed Susanne Brooks, Senior Director, U.S. Climate Policy & Analysis at Environmental Defense Fund.
Susanne’s areas of expertise include climate change, U.S. climate and energy policy, and carbon pricing.
Specifically, she works to develop and advocate environmentally responsible and economically sound policies aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. Susanne’s areas of expertise include U.S. federal and state climate and energy policy, the economic impacts of climate change, and the design of carbon pricing programs.
The Environmental Defense Fund is one of the world's largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of 700 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world. EDF’s work focuses on four main areas including: Climate & Energy, Health, Oceans, and Ecosystems.
In this episode, Susanne and I discussed:
What sets EDF and their work apart from other NGO’s
Where EDF’s work fits into the broader picture of climate change
What Susanne does specifically for EDF which includes looking years ahead to make sure EDF is prepared for future legislation proposals
How EDF has been helping legislators by providing suggestions for carbon tax proposals using EMIs
How Susanne found her way into climate and climate policy related work
I hope you enjoy the show!
You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 and email at email@example.com, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and provide suggestions for future guests or topics you'd like to see covered on the show.
Links for topics discussed in this episode:
Susanne Brooks LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susanne-brooks-28a0894/
Susanne Brookers Twitter: https://twitter.com/susannebrooks
EDF’s Website: https://www.edf.org
Nat Keohane: https://www.edf.org/people/nathaniel-keohane
Resources for the Future: https://www.rff.org/
CEO Climate Dialogue: https://www.ceoclimatedialogue.org/
Climate Leadership Council: https://www.clcouncil.org/
World Resources Institute: https://www.wri.org/
Jason Jacobs: Hello everyone. This is Jason Jacobs and welcome to My Climate Journey. This show follows my journey to interview a wide range of guests to better understand and make sense of the formidable problem of climate change and try to figure out how people like you and I can help. Hello everyone, Jason here. Today's guest is Susanne Brooks, the senior director of US Climate Policy at the Environmental Defense Fund. I was excited for this one because you may not know it, but EDF is big, they're over 700 people, they've got offices all around the world and within the US, multiple offices, they've got over 700 employees and more than 2 million activists and members who support the organization.
Jason Jacobs: We covered a number of topics on this episode including the history of EDF and the work that they do. We talked about Susanne's work specifically in the United States, we talked about some specific policy initiatives that they've worked on and the role that they've played as well as how they go about prioritizing that work. And we also talked about where the funding comes from for EDF and what the implications are of that in terms of the work they do and how those decisions are made. I learned a lot and I hope you do as well. Without further ado, here's Susanne. Susanne Brooks, welcome to the show.
Susanne Brooks: Thanks for having me.
Jason Jacobs: Thank you for coming on, you're very brave.
Susanne Brooks: Yes, I hope so.
Jason Jacobs: I tried a new tactic for this episode and that's running over here in a wool suit in the extreme heat because I thought if I showed up super sweaty it'd be an icebreaker.
Susanne Brooks: It's a good strategy, very good strategy.
Jason Jacobs: I'm very glad to have you. We've met once before and then you were nice enough to let me know about an event that EDF was having in Boston, which I went to, I was very impressed. Got to hear Nat Cohen speak as well, and I'm excited to learn more about EDF and you guys are an important member of the NGO community and then that's a community that I don't know as much about as I'd like and same with EDF. So if we could talk about both of those things today, then that'd be big learning for me and hopefully for our listeners as well.
Susanne Brooks: Yes, absolutely. Happy to do that.
Jason Jacobs: I guess maybe to start, just talk a little bit about EDF and what you do.
Susanne Brooks: Okay, so thanks again for having me. EDF, we actually just hit our 50th anniversary, our 50th year, so we are a large nonprofit NGO, nongovernmental organization. We have over 700 staff working in offices around the country as well as globally as well. And we have about 2 million activists and members that are supporters of our work, And basically what we do is we focus on developing and advocating for solutions to some of the world's most challenging environmental problems. So I work on climate change, We also have some work on energy, on oceans, ecosystems, on health. So we do sort of a wide array of work across multiple environmental issues.
Susanne Brooks: And I think there's a few things that really set EDF apart from other organizations, I'd say that... there's three things that I would point to, which I can talk more about if it makes sense. We try to ground our work in sound science and economics, That's one of our core principles. We work on market-based policy for the most part, and we also tend to have innovative and nontraditional partnerships, so we work with companies, we work with businesses, we work with policy makers on both sides of the aisle. So all of those things together kind of make up some of what it is that EDF's about.
Jason Jacobs: So 2 million active... what was the word-
Susanne Brooks: Members, yeah, so we are a membership organization, so that's like if you're on the website and you want to donate to EDF, you want to get news about what we're doing, those are sort of what we call our members who are supporting our work and also who can be activated to go to hearings in their local activities or work in their community that we might be engaged in. So they're sort of financially supporting our work but also can be activated to take action as well.
Jason Jacobs: I'm still trying to sort through, I mean, my whole career has been in technology and specifically in startup technology, so climate's all new for me and nonprofits are all new for me and NGOs and climate NGOs, all of this, I'm just starting to head down that, that's like the chapter that I'm... or one of the chapters that I'm heading down in the journey. So maybe if we could just take a step back, and so when you think about climate change and then you think about EDF and the other big NGOs on the side of the world, what's the role of your organization and the philanthropic side in general, where does it fit in? What kinds of problems is it well-equipped to solve? And then which ones are maybe better solved by some other levers?
Susanne Brooks: I would describe the work that EDF does as ultimately it's all geared towards influencing policy and our motto is finding the ways that work. So we employ a number of different strategies and tactics to try to ultimately develop an advocate for policy that we think is going to be environmentally beneficial and also economically sound, and we work of course with lots of partners, lots of other NGOs and nonprofit organizations. And one of the things I think that is really unique about EDF is that we work with groups who are sort of more to our left politically and more to our right.
Jason Jacobs: Does that mean you're somewhere in the middle?
Susanne Brooks: Yeah, I think that we are somewhere in the middle. Certainly I would describe us as center-left, but we work very closely with Republicans on the Hill, we work very closely with center-right leaning groups in DC and so we're able to kind of be a bridge I think, between some of our left-leaning colleagues as well as our right-leaning colleagues.
Jason Jacobs: Given how polarize the climate debate has been politically on a national scale, where are you finding that common ground and what types of entities are you finding that common ground with? I'm just wondering if that would not only be insightful in terms of the work you're doing, but if that might be insightful in terms of anyone else out there trying to figure out how to build bridges and get things done in a more unified way where we might look to do so.
Susanne Brooks: Well, I think one of the things that's helpful is that there is sort of a growing understanding across the board of climate change as a serious problem and that we need to deal with it and that it's an urgent threat and that it's incurring real costs on people right now, I think we're seeing all kinds of impacts across the country that are really waking people up, I think to the problem. And so on the right, I think that some of the groups on the right are becoming more engaged in this discussion, more willing to talk about solutions. We've got Republicans on the Hill right now that are talking about clean energy innovation rather than moving away from climate science denial to talking about real solutions to the problem. So that's really positive and I think that as people really understand and appreciate the urgency of the problem, that will help kind of bring people together to really focus on solutions, hopefully.
Jason Jacobs: And then out of the work that EDF does, which piece do you focus on within EDF?
Susanne Brooks: So my work is really focused on looking ahead over the next couple of years and making sure that we're prepared and laying the groundwork for another push for comprehensive federal climate legislation in Congress, hopefully under a new administration in 2021 or soon thereafter. So there's a bunch of things that kind of fall under that. I'd say first and foremost, we're trying to make sure that we've done the work sort of on the research and analytics side to be ready to put in place well designed smart policy if and when an opening arises on the Hill.
Jason Jacobs: You figure out what types of smart policy there should be and then you just kind of keep it in a holding pattern and looking for where there is an angle to slot it in politically?
Speaker 3: Right, right. There's that, and I think there's also seeding good ideas in proposals that are being put on the table now. So even though it's unlikely that we're going to be passing really ambitious policy under this administration, still getting some of the key elements of what we think good policy should look like into some of the bills that are getting put on the table can help lay the groundwork for our future actions, can help sort of socialize these ideas, get them into the policy community. And as folks look to policy solutions down the road, it's likely that they're going to be recycling some of the ideas that are put on the table now, so making sure that the work we're doing is visible in proposals that are being introduced on the Hill today.
Jason Jacobs: When policies are made in DC, and I apologize for beginner question, but I guess I promised myself in this podcast that I will ask beginner questions shamelessly so I need to stick to that, but is that a frequent playbook that policies are developed by third party organizations?
Susanne Brooks: What I mean is more that we're developing ideas and concepts and then we are working with folks on the Hill who are trying to write legislation and to put it on the table, new policy. So a great example of this is-
Jason Jacobs: I was just going to ask, can you give us an example?
Susanne Brooks: A perfect example, so let's make this tangible. So a good example, there's been a lot of proposals put on the table in the last Congress for carbon taxes, that's one kind of carbon pricing policy. We at EDF have been working for the last few years to think about how you can insert specific provisions into carbon tax legislation that will help provide more assurance that you'll reach an environmental outcome, that your tax is going to perform and make sure that there's provisions in place in case it doesn't. So we've been talking about this idea as environmental integrity mechanisms or EIMs, these are these kinds of provisions that you can build into a carbon tax. And so we've been thinking about what those look like.
Jason Jacobs: Evan, you get that EIMs?
Susanne Brooks: I've got a blog I can send you on that. So we've been doing some work to think about what are some of those ideas? What could they look like? How should they be designed? Is there analytical work we need to do to understand sort of trade-offs of different design choices within that. And then we've been working with folks on the Hill who are trying to develop carbon tax legislation to see those ideas with them. And we've actually been pretty successful at that over the last couple of years, we've seen a couple of proposals that have come out that include these kinds of provisions. So for example, basically what these do is tie a tax to specific emission reduction goals and then provide mechanisms that help you ensure that you meet those goals. That might be, for example, an automatic adjustment of the tax if you're not meeting your pollution reduction goal, so if your emissions exceed your predetermined levels, then your tax automatically increases to a level that's outlined in the legislation, that's one form of this kind of provision.
Jason Jacobs: Just to go along with this carbon tax example, given that there's different types of carbon taxes being pushed by different entities, whether it's Citizen's Climate Lobby or whether it's Alliance for Market Solutions, the type of work that you do, is it generic enough that it could bolt on to any of those policies or is it a specific add on to one type of proposal?
Susanne Brooks: Yeah, no, this is a concept, an idea that can be built into any kind of carbon tax legislation. So the Citizens' Climate Lobby bill that was introduced in November and then reintroduced in January, which was led by representative Deutch in the house, that did include this kind of a mechanism where you could increase your tax automatically if you're not reaching your goals. It was also included in a bill that was introduced last summer by Republicans in the house as well, led by representative Carvello. So these provisions are getting out there and yes, they can be designed in multiple different ways, but to us the core concept is really what's critical of making sure that you're not just sort of setting a price and setting a tax and walking away and hoping that it does the job, but rather you're tying your tax to a specific environmental outcome and then providing mechanisms within the legislation itself to make sure that that outcome is actually reached.
Jason Jacobs: So when you identify an area like that, that as an organization you're going to lean into and allocate resources towards, over what period do you typically make that commitment and what type of resource do you put on the problem?
Susanne Brooks: I think that really depends-
Jason Jacobs: You were going to say that.
Susanne Brooks: It depends, there's no straight answer. This particular issue has become a real priority for EDF, so we've definitely put resources into it now over multiple years and I think we'll continue to do so going forward. We historically have been an organization that's really focused on cap and trade as a carbon pricing mechanism. But now that we've gotten a lot of momentum on the Hill on carbon taxes, we've decided that we really need to put in the effort and time to make sure that those carbon tax bills have the kind of environmental integrity that we think is important. So there's no sort of straight answer to your question in terms of what's typical, I think it really depends on how much of a priority is and what kind of work needs to be done to get those ideas into the policy mix.
Susanne Brooks: And this work for us has kind of taken multiple pathways, we've been working with researchers and academics at places like Resources for the Future, at other universities to do the kind of more academic research that needs to be done to understand this kind of mechanism and what are the costs and environmental implications of different designs. We've also been working to socialize the idea on the Hill, so we're working directly with Hill staff and we work with our partners or other NGOs as well to socialize the idea, to solicit their input, to work together and think about how we can make these kinds of mechanisms better, how we can get them into the mix in a more public way.
Jason Jacobs: As you take on different areas like this in the organization, do the same core EDF skillsets that are in house apply in a versatile way across these different problems? Or do you find that you're bringing in or filling gaps with external pieces and it's a different set of pieces from problem to problem?
Susanne Brooks: I think there's a theme here, so the answer is it depends, again. But I think one of the things that's really cool about EDF is that we're able to tap into multiple different... we've got lots of different kinds of expertise in house, we've got economists, we've got scientists, lawyers, communications experts, policy lobbyists, policy experts. So for any given problem, you're trying to kind of combine forces between all of those different areas of expertise to try to get the job done no matter what that is. And usually it takes some combination of those kinds of groups, there's oftentimes where we need to work with external partners, either to do some analysis or modeling that we can't do ourselves or we recognize that sometimes we need someone else to be the messenger on a particular issue and our voice is not necessarily the most powerful to get our point across.
Jason Jacobs: Any examples of that?
Susanne Brooks: One example, at least of a place where we're collaborating actively across multiple types of groups and partners is our work on methane. This is an area of work where we're working with industry, we're working with academics and universities and also other NGOs and sort of together those voices can be more powerful than just ours alone. So the credibility that comes with working with universities, the power that comes with working with the industries that are actually sort of on the ground dealing with these issues, those kinds of partnerships can be really influential and together we can do more than we would've been able to do just alone.
Susanne Brooks: Methane is, to go into little more detail about what I mean, we're working on specifically trying to reduce leakage of methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas pollutant across the natural gas supply chain. So natural gas is made up mostly of this methane gas, and so as it sort of moves across the natural gas supply chain, there's places along the way where that can leak out into the atmosphere. And so we're trying to find ways to measure and monitor where that's happening, how big those leaks are, and how much of an impact on the climate that really has. So that's the work that we're doing with lots of different partners and I think it's really much more powerful to do it that way, and we have much more credibility than we would just doing it alone.
Jason Jacobs: So was so much variety across the types of problems and also the types of skill sets needed for any one of those problems, does your day-to-day vary a lot over time or is it pretty consistent?
Susanne Brooks: No, it definitely varies. I would say some days I'm up on the Hill talking to staff, other days I'm talking to our NGO partners, other days I'm talking to academics and researchers, and depending on the particular problem we're working on, you're kind of doing a combination of all those things. So it does really vary and I think that's one of the things that's really exciting about the work that I get to do here. We really are trying to find the most creative solutions to particular problems, and so that means that the work really varies depending on what the best way is to solve those problems.
Jason Jacobs: Are there clear criteria in terms of assessing when a problem is a fit for EDF?
Susanne Brooks: I think it's always multiple factors that go into a decision about whether we're going to work on something. So some of that has to do with how much impact can we really have. So for example, in climate, what's going to be the emission reduction impact really of us working on a particular issue? What's sort of the magnitude of the impact on the climate. Another criteria I would say would be what is EDF specific?
Jason Jacobs: Just on that one, a quick question, and what type of impact is EDF worthy on the emissions reduction side?
Susanne Brooks: I wouldn't say there's sort of a specific number or anything that we're measuring against, but that's certainly one of multiple factors that we would weigh, do we think that this can have a significant enough impact on our climate work broadly? I'd say another criteria is what is EDF's value add to work in a particular area. So there's lots of other NGOs, there's lots of, both at the national level and at the state and local level, is there a gap or are other organizations already kind of covering a particular issue and is there a role for EDF to play? Do we have specific expertise in a particular area that we can really bring to the table? So what can EDF really bring strategically to a particular issue is another sort of important criteria.
Susanne Brooks: And then I think there's of course always the sort of political context of what do we think the likelihood of success is going to be given the politics of a particular issue? Can we articulate a theory of victory? Can we articulate a way to get from A to B that we think makes sense and we can justify doing this work in the first place? Because we can show what success looks like.
Jason Jacobs: In the decision process, what's the role of outside stakeholders? And who are the stakeholders that are influential in that decision-making? Because you have the 2 million members that you talked about, you also talked about these corporate partners and we didn't talk about the nature of those relationships, that would also be interesting to understand better. And then I assume there's foundations that are major benefactors, so is it just we support the mission and then you guys have full autonomy to do what you do? Or is there some kind of feedback loop?
Susanne Brooks: Well, I think that we're constantly weighing how a particular decision or a new position we take or a new strategy that we decide to embark on, we have to weigh what that's going to mean and how that's going to impact our relationships on the ground that we have. So how does that influence our existing partnerships with other green groups, other environmental groups, for example, how is that going to affect our relationships with our corporate partners, as you said, and also what is our membership going to think of it as well as our board and funders? So there's sort of a constant weighing of what are all these important stakeholders? How is this going to affect their vision for our work? But at the end of the day, EDF is going to make decisions based on sort of the criteria, I think, that I laid out, which is where can we have the most impact? Do we think we have value add?
Susanne Brooks: And sometimes we take positions or we embark on new strategies that may not be popular at first with some of those partners, but that we know is sort of going to be impactful, and so we make a decision to move forward regardless. So our work on methane, going back to that as a good example, when we started working on methane issues, there weren't a lot of other environmental groups that were thinking about it, that we're working on it, there were some groups further to our left who thought that by working on natural gas, that we were sort of helping to perpetuate natural gas as a bridge fuel, our view is that we need to be trying to reduce methane leaks as long as we're using natural gas now and we need to be making it safe and as safe and as environmentally friendly as possible.
Susanne Brooks: So it wasn't necessarily a popular position when we first started doing that work, but it has grown into a really important core strategy for EDF, and I think that our partners and our board and our funders have all recognized that over the years.
Jason Jacobs: And the corporate partnerships, I'd just would love to touch on that a bit because I think it's interesting and want to understand it better. So the corporations, I think I read, they're not funders of the organization, so you don't take money from-
Susanne Brooks: Yeah, yes. That is a important EDF policy that's worth mentioning. Yeah, we don't take any corporate money at all.
Jason Jacobs: And what about from the executives of those corporations that you work with?
Susanne Brooks: There are funders that we have that are associated with some of those corporations, but the money that they're providing is through their foundations, through their philanthropic arms, under no circumstances are we directly taking money from any of our corporate partners.
Jason Jacobs: And can you give an example of a corporate partnership? Who the company is or what type of company, if you can't say the name, and just the nature of that relationship, just to try to understand better in what capacity these companies are getting involved with EDF and the nature of those relationships.
Susanne Brooks: Yeah. Well, I'll say a few things. Some of our more prominent kind of historic relationships with businesses have been with companies like Walmart, like FedEx, like McDonald's, those are core partnerships that we've had over the years on various issues. Something more recent that's maybe worth highlighting is we recently made public at the public launch of the CEO Climate Dialogue, which is a group of companies working with EDF as well as a few other NGOs to push for federal action on climate on the Hill, with a focus on a carbon pricing mechanism as a core part of that. So there's a bunch of companies that are involved in that, Shell, VASF, I don't have the list in front of me, but I can send that to you certainly. So there's a bunch of companies in that group that are actively thinking about strategies where they can be helpful in, in pushing for climate legislation.
Susanne Brooks: They're up on the Hill, staff are up on the Hill talking to members. We put out a set of guiding principles that all of these companies and NGOs have agreed on for what the outline of what a carbon pricing policy mechanisms should look like, not as detailed as some of the other proposals that are out there, but core principles by which we think we should be working with members on the Hill and designing policy that we can adhere to those guidelines.
Jason Jacobs: What's the incentive for these corporations to get involved, or I guess said another way, what's the pitch?
Susanne Brooks: I mean I think that these companies recognize that we are ultimately going to be regulating carbon pollution in this country and they want to be at the table to help figure out what that policy looks like. I think that's an important part. I think that companies are also feeling pressure from their customers who are demanding action on climate in various ways. So I think that companies want to be at the table when policy is designed, they also want certainty about what the rules are going to look like, they want understanding that eventually we are going to be regulating carbon in some form, they want to be part of figuring out what that looks like, but then also knowing into the future that there's going to be sort of adorable policy solution that's not going to change every year, that's actually going to be put in place so that they know what the rules are going forward. So yeah, I think there's lots of different reasons for different types of companies, but those are some of the core reasons.
Jason Jacobs: And if I'm one of those organizations, let's say a really big one, and I see that there's going to be regulation in this area and I wanted to be at the table, how do I think through those trade-offs of working with EDF versus just working with a lobbyist who's going to actually work for me versus this kind of hands-off Switzerland approach that I think I'm hearing from you? Unless I'm misreading.
Susanne Brooks: Well, I think companies are working on multiple fronts, right? So just because they're part of a coalition with us doesn't mean that they're not also working with other groups as well. So for example, we have our CEO Climate Dialog that I mentioned, there's another group called the Climate Leadership Council that is supporting a very specific version of a carbon tax. So some of the same companies that are working with us in our dialogue are also part of the CLC group, so there's some overlap there. So I mean, it's not as though a partnership with us means that there's not other coalitions or other partnerships or other work that those companies are doing with other groups as well.
Jason Jacobs: That makes sense. And I guess just taking a step back, so you've been working in climate policy for a long time, so how did that happen? How did you find your way into climate policy? Did you seek it out or did it find you?
Susanne Brooks: Yeah. Yeah. So I've been at EDF more than 10 years, which is crazy, and I cannot believe it's been that long.
Jason Jacobs: You must hate it.
Susanne Brooks: No, it's been a terrible experience. I think when you work at an advocacy organization in particular, you've really got to feel aligned with the mission of an organization. So how did I get to climate in the first place? I grew up in New York city in Brooklyn. So I'm sort of a city girl at heart, but I also grew up going with my family to places like Maine and the Catskills and other places where I... And I went to camp in the summers in the Poconos. And so I developed a deep love of these places and environmental issues became important to me, generally speaking. But it wasn't really until I went to college that, and I was an economics major in college, I started taking some environmental economics classes and it was at that point that I started to see that there were real tangible solutions and tools and policy ideas for solving some of these really important environmental problems.
Susanne Brooks: And one of the things I learned about was emissions trading, cap and trade and that as a policy tool to solve the climate problem, that really captured my attention and I couldn't really understand why it was that we weren't using those tools in the US at least because they can be so powerful and really cost effective and practical. So that's sort of what led me to moving to DC after college and trying out the environmental policy world and it's sort of stuck since then. I've really stayed pretty closely working on various climate and energy issues throughout my career.
Jason Jacobs: And as you think about climate change as your North star, do you think the work that you're doing here on the policy side, how much of that is because it's the right fit for you versus that it's the highest impact thing in the climate fight? How do you think about those things?
Susanne Brooks: Yeah, I mean I think it's a little bit of both. Personally I feel like it's important to me to kind of be working at a place that I feel like is going to have a real impact and sort of on the front lines of the climate fight. So I think it is a really good fit for me, but part of that is because I think that we have the ability to have a real impact, and EDF of course, working with all of our partners and other NGOs in this space, can have a real impact on policy. So I think it's a little bit of both.
Jason Jacobs: How are you feeling these days on a scale of most discouraged to most optimistic?
Susanne Brooks: I think it changes on a day-to-day basis. I think that there's-
Jason Jacobs: So you make it through [inaudible 00:28:56] day consistent then, it doesn't actually change throughout the day?
Susanne Brooks: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:29:00] moment to moment. Yes, minute to minute.
Jason Jacobs: [crosstalk 00:29:03] that's good.
Susanne Brooks: It is a roller coaster of emotions working on climate change, that is for sure, particularly in the Trump administration. But I think that it's very easy to get discouraged under this administration, there's a lot under attack in terms of key climate rules that the Obama administration put in place. There's a tax on science, there's a lot of reasons to feel like this administration is doing real damage. At the same time, they've been relatively unsuccessful in the courts at rolling back a lot of the rules that they've been trying to roll back. And there's a lot of the sort of a groundswell of momentum on the Hill and at other places for climate action.
Susanne Brooks: After taking back the house, there's been a lot of emphasis on climate policy and we've got the select committee looking at climate change issues in the house now, we have H.R.9 passed the house, this was a bill about... it was a leadership priority that focuses on the Paris Climate Agreement and creates a directive for the president to actually step up and create a plan for meeting those targets. So there's a lot of momentum on the Hill right now. So it's a mixed bag, I guess, of sometimes feeling frustrated with the administration that we're working under, but also looking ahead to some of the opportunities that I think that we're going to have going forward.
Jason Jacobs: And for anyone who's listening to the show who is concerned about the problem and wants to help but hasn't worked in this area since college and maybe worked in a completely different area, what advice do you have for them? I assume it's the same advice that you give to the people who show up at your desk asking those same questions, friends of friends and that kind of thing, so here's a chance to say that at scale to our audience.
Susanne Brooks: Well, I'd say a couple of things. I think one of the most important things is to do some reading and do some research, kind of get yourself up to speed on the science, on the issues-
Jason Jacobs: What can people read?
Susanne Brooks: There's lots of stuff on the EDF website, shameless plug for that, but there's lots of really great information from our partner organizations like the World Resources Institute, C2ES is another group that puts out great kind of background materials on policy, if you really want to dig into the science, you could read the IPCC report. There's lots of things to read in this space, But I think part of the problem that we face is that there's so much misinformation out there about climate change and about environmental issues broadly, particularly under this administration. So doing what you can to really get up to speed on what's really going on and talking to the people in your life about it, I think is really important.
Susanne Brooks: And the second really important thing I would say is, is to vote on this issue, to take this issue into account when you vote. I think that ultimately it's going to take real policy change to make a dent in these issues and we're only going to be able to do that with people who care about this issue in office. So finding ways to influence the policy process, whether that's in your local community or thinking about your Congress person, that's really important. And so vote.
Jason Jacobs: And for those that are feeling philanthropic and looking to support different climate focused causes, obviously you've got a horse in the race, but what advice do you have for them in terms of how to allocate their capital and how to make those decisions?
Susanne Brooks: I think it really depends on the angle with which you want to tackle the problem. So certainly there's lots of NGOs that are doing great work, there's also lots of research organizations that are doing excellent work as well, I mentioned RFF earlier, Resources for the Future, groups like Brookings, so there's sort of a more academic research community that's also really critical to making sure that we're creating well-designed policy, and I think that it's important to think about groups that are more on the center-left as well as groups on the center-right, we're going to need bipartisan solutions to this problem in order to make any kind of policy solution really durable, and so spreading out support to groups that are thinking about bringing along the left as well as groups that are bringing along the right so that we can be finding common ground between them, I think is really important too.
Jason Jacobs: I was moving towards wrapping up, but that just makes me think of one other question that I've just been wrestling with, so I might as well put it out there, which is just that I understand that bipartisan support is required to get major legislation done, but I'm very concerned about the just transition and about people getting left behind and about the inequality is only getting worse as resources become more scarce. So I guess I struggle with, does any bipartisan solution essentially require that that inequality will get worse in order to solve the climate problem? Do you have to choose?
Susanne Brooks: I really hope not. I don't think so. I think there's lots of ways to make sure that climate policy is designed in a smart, effective and equitable way. And I think that those issues are going to be critical and I think that they're going to be critical for any kind of solution. So there's ways to be protecting low income, vulnerable communities, there's ways to be thinking about putting support into adaptation and resilience in communities that really need it most. So there's not a lack of ways to deal with that issue in the sense of putting in place a new climate policy. And I think as you say, I think it's going to be a really critical issue and I think that both parties need to be taking that seriously.
Jason Jacobs: Do you think those issues should be separate and distinct or treated as one?
Susanne Brooks: I do think that climate is deeply connected to lots of different social and economic issues. I think that we're probably not going to be able to solve everything all at once, but I also think that there's a role for climate policy to play in helping make sure that certainly the climate policy doesn't make anything worse and also that it is playing a role in supporting communities that are most deeply impacted by climate change.
Jason Jacobs: Susanne, thank you for coming on the show. You are a good sport. This is the second time we've talked and every time we talk, I'm blown away by just how substantive the things... you just know your stuff and I feel like I learned so much every time I talked to you, so thank you for sharing that with me and thank you for sharing that with listeners as well.
Susanne Brooks: Yeah, I really appreciate the opportunity to be on the show, thank you.
Jason Jacobs: Hey everyone, Jason here. Thanks again for joining me on My Climate Journey. If you'd like to learn more about the journey, you can visit us at myclimatejourney.co, note, that is .co, not .com. Someday, we'll get the .com but right now, .co. You can also find me on Twitter @jjacobs22, where I would encourage you to share your feedback on the episode or suggestions for future guests you'd like to hear. And before I let you go, if you enjoyed the show, please share an episode with a friend or consider leaving a review on iTunes, the lawyers made me say that. Thank you.