Climate policy will not be understood by most people through changes in the density of carbon molecules in the atmosphere or the source of the electrons in one’s circuits. Rather, it is the buildings, landscapes, and public works that stitch together everyday life where fights over climate adaptation and mitigation will be won or lost. As such, we view investments in the built and natural environment as a key instrument through which to imagine and construct the kinds of alternative futures described in programs like the Green New Deal, the Just Transition, and other redistributive climate policy frameworks.
The working group is focused on questions of how the energy transition, the climate crisis, and frameworks like the Green New Deal will transform communities, landscapes, and the planet over the next century. Some of these questions are technological and scientific, with links to the deployment of clean energy systems, carbon capture and sequestration technologies (including trees), and the broader push to “electrify” and then decarbonize everything. But our primary concern is one of culture—how the climate crisis and our local, national, and global response to it might transform how and where we live and relate to one another. Whether through experiments with aesthetics, climate fiction and other modes of storytelling, scenario-based modeling and visualization, or other forms of testing or landing climate policy in real places in partnership with real constituencies, this group’s work flows from a simple premise: that no one can or should understand climate change or the energy transition solely through the concentration of carbon molecules in the atmosphere or the source of the electrons in their circuits. Rather, they can and should comprehend it through the investments it makes possible in their everyday lives—through deep energy retrofits in their homes, through good-paying and dignified low-carbon jobs, through low-carbon transportation and recreation options, and through the broader, more quotidian infrastructures that stitch together everyday life.
The climate policy working group is led by Billy Fleming and Nicholas Pevzner. Fleming’s work has developed in close partnership with a transdisciplinary network of scholars, activists, legislators, and others in the climate justice movement, often through an organization named the “climate + community project” which he co-directs. His work has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Washington Post, and Dissent Magazine, among others. Pevzner’s work has included the topics of urban ecology and its integration into landscape design, as well as energy infrastructure and its spatial impacts within the energy transition. His research brings together interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues in ecology, forestry, sociology, planning, architecture, cultural landscape studies, and energy policy.