1.5 degrees Celsius. According to a special 2018 report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that’s the maximum global temperature increase allowable before we see catastrophic impacts on food security, ecosystems, water access, frequency and extremity of weather events, and more. The report warns global leaders and policymakers that failing to limit the Earth’s temperature increase will result in a world that is unrecognizable – and extremely difficult to live in.
Given the urgency and magnitude of climate change, what are individuals’ role in helping to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius? How do our lives and habits need to change? How does our responsibility, as residents of the wealthiest country in the world, compare to those living in poverty? And how does individual responsibility for carbon reduction interact with corporate and industrial responsibility? Does it matter that we recycle and buy local produce and use public transit when the US continues to buy oil from Saudi Arabia and 85% of Americans drive to work?
To get to these questions Talk Policy to Me reporter and Goldman MPP student Reem Rayef spoke with Chris Jones, one of the makers of the CoolClimate Calculator. The calculator is an online interactive tool that calculates users’ carbon footprints (the amount of CO2 they emit per year) using information about their homes, consumption habits, and lifestyles. The calculator then provides custom recommendations to users on how they might “green” their lifestyles – from buying an electric vehicle to eating a vegetarian diet. The calculator can be accessed here: https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator
In this episode, the Talk Policy To Me team also kicks off a two-week challenge to drastically reduce their carbon footprints, using recommendations generated by the CoolClimate Calculator. TPTM hosts Reem, Spencer, and Sarah set goals and discuss challenges of living on low-carbon diets while being students with limited time and budgets.
Stay tuned for Part II of this two-episode series on personal carbon accounting.
Speakers featured on this episode
Chris Jones is Director of the CoolClimate Network, a university-governmet-industry partnership at the University of California, Berkeley. His primary research interests are carbon footprint analysis, community-scale greenhouse gas mitigation, environmental psychology and environmental policy.
Jones lead the development of the first carbon footprint calculators to account for the greenhouse gas emissions of all transportation, energy, food, goods and services purchased by households and businesses. This comprehensive method, called “consumption-based greenhouse gas accounting,” powers a suite of online tools that allow households, businesses and communies to estimate their complete carbon footprints, compare their results to similar users, and develop personalized climate action plans to reduce their contribution to climate change. Versions of these tools have been adopted by governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations throughout the United States and internationally. CoolClimate also develops and evaluates programs to engage, educate, motivate and empower individuals to take climate action. Examples include the Cool Campus Challenge and the CoolCalifornia Challenge. He also serves as Program Chair (8th year) of the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference.
How can we fix the stigma around welfare?
Welfare is deeply politicized and often stigmatized. Social support programs are strongly centered around beneficiaries working. Has it always been this way? Are we destined to be stuck with these political perspectives?
In today’s episode, UC Berkeley MPP student Sarah Edwards wraps up the three-part series around Universal Basic Income and the Social Safety Net. She examines a crossroads moment in our nation’s history when the Social Safety Net conversation began to talk about the “deserving” vs “undeserving” poor.
She then speaks with the California Budget and Policy Center’s Sara Kimberlin to explore California’s new policies driving the future of our safety net—and how we might not be as far from a UBI as it seems.
Special thanks to James Hawkins (MPP '18) for research support on this episode.
Interested in more on the UBI, social safety nets, and the complicated history of welfare policy? We recommend you try out the following:
- Listen to part 1 and 2 of this series—Part 1 features Goldman Professor Hilary Hoynes and Part 2 features Lori Ospina, the former director of the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (the first basic income demonstration in the United States).
- Read Brian Steensland’s book, The Failed Welfare Revolution: America’s Struggle Over Guaranteed Income Policy, that dives into the historic attempts to guarantee Americans basic economic security.
- Explore the California Budget and Policy Center’s reports on the impact of the CalEITC.
NIMBYism, geographical limitation, and weaponized policies have led the state to the biggest housing crisis in state history. Can state-level policies fix a very local problem?
California housing is an undeniable problem. Rents are too high and there is not enough housing for those who need it in the places they want it. But how did we get here? Why has the development of solutions shifted from a city level to a state level? UC Berkeley MPP student Spencer Bowen speaks with Ophelia Basgal and Elizabeth Kneebone from the Terner Center and California Assemblyperson David Chiu. Here are five intersecting causes of California’s housing crisis that they help identify:
- Limited land and diverse geography
- Production not keeping pace with booming job market
- Housing is expensive to build and new methods are limited
- Cities wield their power to slow down or vote down projects that they don’t like
- Proposition 13 and the California Environmental Quality Act have been weaponized to limit housing production
While this feels grim, all three of our guests share reasons to believe the future can change for the better. As Governor Newsom takes a strong stand on housing, California looks to rebuild a set of broken policies. Tune in to learn more!
Wondering how to dive deeper into the history of California’s housing problem and the future of policy change? Here are some thought from the team:
- Attend the monthly “Food for Thought: Lunch Series” on California Housing Crisis and Potential Solutions, sponsored by the Berkeley Institute for the Future of young Americans and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation.
- Watch Governor Newsom’s speech on his budget proposal, where housing featured strongly. Read the overview of the governor's proposed budget.
- Check out the blog from the Terner Center for Housing and Innovation at UC Berkeley.
Additional music heard on this episode is by Blue Dot Sessions. Photo by Ananth Pai on Unsplash.