The political ramifications of a ‘green transition’ in the US

Last year, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. Considered by many to be the biggest climate and energy bill ever passed, the IRA included roughly $370 billion to help shift the U.S. to cleaner forms of power. And it was just one of three laws passed by the administration that will play into the United States’ move away from fossil fuels. 

The impact of these policies, however, will go far beyond our climate. Indeed, they form the core of “Bidenomics,” and they’re going to reshape our economy and our politics for decades to come. They will do so in ways we can predict, and in ways we can’t. 

On this episode, Dan Richards speaks with two experts on the politics of climate change about this unprecedented collection of legislation and how it will transform our economy, change our planet and possibly realign our politics. 

Guests on this episode:

  • Jeff Colgan is a political scientist, and ​​director of the Climate Solutions Lab at the Watson Institute. 
  • Robinson Meyer is a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times and the founding executive editor of Heatmap, a new media company focused on climate change. 

Hear from Robinson Meyer and many others about all things climate change at Heatmap News

Get 50% off your first year subscription to Heatmap using the code BROWN50 

Read Jeff Colgan’s October 2023 Op-Ed in the New York Times

Watch Robinson’s talk in October at the Watson Institute’s Climate Solutions Lab

Learn more about the Climate Solutions Lab

Learn more about the Watson Institute’s other podcasts


[MUSIC PLAYING] DAN RICHARDS: From the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, this is Trending Globally. I'm Dan Richards. Last year, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. It's been described as quote, "the most sweeping climate and energy bill ever enacted in the US".

And it was only one of three laws passed by the Biden administration that will play into our country's move away from fossil fuels. But the impacts of all this legislation will go far beyond our environment and our atmosphere. These bills form the core of what's being called Bidenomics, and they are going to reshape our economy and our politics. Some of these effects we can predict, or, at least, think we can, and some, we very much cannot.


So to get a better sense of the changes these bills will create politically, economic, and socially, I spoke with two experts on the relationship between climate change and our politics, Robinson Meyer and Jeff Colgan. Jeff is a political scientist and director of the Climate Solutions Lab here at the Watson Institute. Robinson is a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times and the founding executive editor of Heatmap, a new media company focused on climate change. I spoke with them both about the changing dynamics within the climate movement, the good, the bad, and the strange, as well as where the climate movement goes from here.


Robinson Meyer, and, Jeff Colgan, thank you both so much for coming on to Trending Globally.

ROBINSON MEYER: Absolutely, thank you for having me.

JEFF COLGAN: My pleasure. Thanks again.

DAN RICHARDS: So, Robinson, Rob, I wanted to start with you. In February of this past year, you wrote sort of in reference to the package of legislation that's been passed under the Biden administration promoting green industries that the, quote, "story of the 21st century American economy is being shaped now". What did you mean by that? And what is that story kind of revealed to us since then, since February?

ROBINSON MEYER: So what I meant by that was that basically there are certain industries that we know are going to play a big role in the 21st century global economy. Renewables, obviously, is a huge one, but also the battery industry, EVs, geothermal. If you want it to get spicy, you could say next level nuclear, any of the technologies used to heat and cool homes or buildings without emitting carbon pollution. We know that those technologies are going to play a big role.

And that's simply because we know that between now and the end of the century, we're going to decarbonize the energy system in some significant way. The question that's being decided now is whether America will play a role in those industries? And the goal of a lot of Biden administration policy is to give America a stake in those industries and to nurture an industry here that will be able to compete in those markets globally as they develop and as they grow over time.

DAN RICHARDS: Central to the Biden administration's efforts are three pieces of legislation that have been passed since he became president. So before we jump into the rest of the conversation, I asked Rob for a little refresher on those. They are all aimed to reshape our economy and to accelerate a green transition but in slightly different ways. Let's start with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the first of these three pieces of legislation to be passed.

ROBINSON MEYER: So the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was passed right at the tail end of Twenty Twenty-One, most of its money, I think, goes to the kinds of infrastructure that people think of when they think of infrastructure, roads, highways, bridges, tunnels. There's a lot of money for Amtrak in there. But there were a number of packages in that bill that were trying to do something new with the economy as well. The big ones, especially in the world of climate change that we think of, are these hubs in the law.

DAN RICHARDS: Hubs meaning places or regions in the US that will receive investment into what the Biden administration says are important industries.

ROBINSON MEYER: There is multiple billions of dollars in the law for a direct air capture hubs. These are hubs where the government is providing almost all the money to private companies, or universities, or to nonprofits, or to other governments to build industrial facilities that absorb carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. And that support around them a kind of ecosystem of innovation and little companies that kind of supply that big ecosystem.

DAN RICHARDS: So that is the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Bill number two, the CHIPS Act.

ROBINSON MEYER: The CHIPS Act was passed over the summer by, again, bipartisan majorities in the Senate that is aiming to address what we're seeing as potentially critical shortages that emerged during the pandemic in semiconductors in the United States.

DAN RICHARDS: In addition to stimulating the manufacturing of semiconductors, there's also $67 billion in the bill set aside for investment in cutting edge technologies, like quantum computing and nanotechnology, which will hopefully expand our options for clean, reliable energy long-term. But what about in the short-term? That brings us to bill number three.

ROBINSON MEYER: The Inflation Reduction Act, and this was a strictly partisan bill passed by narrow majorities in the Senate and House that aimed to fully decarbonize the American economy. And they aim to do it by aggressively using tax credits to incentivize companies and individuals to make the greener, lower carbon choice, whether it's buying renewables instead of natural gas, whether it's buying an EV instead of a gas car, whether it's buying a heat pump instead of a gas powered furnace.

And finally, in the IRA, there's a lot of lending that's meant to support companies with loans that they wouldn't be able to get from any other actor that are perceived to be in the national interest. For instance, a very low interest loan to help Ford construct a new EV facility that is massive. It will pay back that loan. We know that, but it's very hard to get financing for like an entire new factory. And so under the IRA now there's money to help Ford and other companies across the country get the kind of low caste financing they need to actually build infrastructure.

DAN RICHARDS: If economies run on the laws of supply and demand, the policies in the IRA are aiming to push for decarbonization on both sides of that equation.

ROBINSON MEYER: So they are meant to make it cheaper, and easier, and more streamlined to produce that kind of low carbon technologies, whether it be wind and solar, or EVs, or batteries in the United States, and to boost the supply of those things in the United States. And then at the same time, there's demand pull so that it goes to individuals, and consumers, and companies, and makes it a lot cheaper for you to actually buy those technologies once they exist. So that's how a lot of the policy is shaped.


DAN RICHARDS: Are there particular things in this kind of sprawling collection of things that have been done by the government in the last few years? Are there things that stand out to you that are sort of particularly surprising or exciting? Jeff, what stood out to you?

JEFF COLGAN: On one side of this, if you go back to October of Twenty Twenty, just before Biden was elected, if you looked forward to where we are now, you would say all of this is surprising because the expectation that the Democrats would have control of both houses of Congress and the White House, it was not a for certain thing. In fact, it looked quite unlikely, right? So the fact that the Georgia election happened to go for the Democrats, this was all very precarious and contingent on that.


ROBINSON MEYER: First of all, I would totally agree with Jeff that it is surprising to have climate policy at all. It is surprising to have this caliber of climate policy at all. I remember a few days after the IRA was unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Manchin, like going through to read it and being like, Oh, my gosh, they got everything in here. Like is it perfect? No. Could you have crafted a lot of policies in there better? Absolutely.

Is there a sincere effort to address every place where carbon emissions are coming from in society, at least, the ones where we know how to address? Yeah, there's a lot. There's just a lot of policy in there. And to some degree, it's interesting when you look at companies, they're like constantly tripping over themselves because they're discovering new policies that they hadn't previously thought about.

The second thing that I would flag as surprising is if you think about how we were supposed to deal with climate change for a long, long time, it was all about these highly targeted market interventions. And the idea was if you just put a price on carbon, you just do something that addresses this one thing, then you will see broad economic transformation. Just put a price on carbon, and then the market is much smarter than you are, and it will decide what to do.

That is the total opposite of the approach that's actually been taken by the government, which is, no, we're going to go sector by sector, we're going to look at the actual technologies that need to be deployed in order to reduce emissions. And then we're going to subsidize those technologies, specifically. And that is a huge change, a huge shock, not one that I think was on the radar for most of the Trump administration, much less the Obama administration.

DAN RICHARDS: Before we get into the ramifications of these bills and this huge shock you're describing, I want to look briefly back at the politics that brought us these in the first place because, as you say, that itself was a big surprise here. Jeff, you had a question for Rob about these politics.

JEFF COLGAN: So I actually want to ask him a different question, if that's all right.

DAN RICHARDS: Go for it.

JEFF COLGAN: So earlier in the talk that you gave here at Brown, which was terrific, a question came up in the discussion about how much voters actually matter for climate policy and whether this is really driven by elites in Washington and lobbyists, or whether the voters really do matter at the end of the day. And I just wondered if you could chew on that for a moment and help us think about it.

ROBINSON MEYER: I guess what I'd say is that, if you look at the set of political circumstances that produce the IRA, what I would say is that there was a highly agitated and vocal group of voters, who include a lot of elites and activists, who were trying to target decision makers and influence decision makers to make certain decisions. You would see a media that felt very comfortable calling out Democrats BS, if they talked about climate change and then failed to do anything about it.

You would see a lot of members who had campaigned on climate change, but I don't think you would see the kind of mandate from the voters that now we absolutely must do something about climate change right now. I guess, I would add I don't know when voters-- I'm trying to think of when voters played a determinative role in any legislative decision. So they do-- it's a very loosely-- I feel like the mechanism is like very loosely tied, right?

JEFF COLGAN: Yeah, and it just strikes me there is that difference between voters mattering at that federal level, and then also voters can matter at the local, or state level, in ways that are quite different, right? So I totally take your point that elite ideas in Washington have mattered a lot for federal policy.

But then when we get to talking about, say, deploying renewable energy, whether it's offshore wind, or solar farms, or what have you, then it seems like what we've seen in different parts of the country is that a fairly small number of voters can actually block those deployments that, if you did polling, or voting, or whatever on the issue, you'd probably find that a majority of voters want it. But that small group of opponents are able to play the veto player.

DAN RICHARDS: It almost feels like since Twenty Twenty, or since Biden's election, or some time around then, the politics around climate change has shifted in a way that it hasn't in a while. And this is something I wanted to talk about later but, you know, let's get to it now. The traditional alignment of groups around issues related to climate change feels like it has been scrambled in the last few years. Whether it's the auto industry being interested in decarbonizing technology, like battery production, or examples of traditionally liberal progressive communities acting out of some sort of NIMBYism to block development of things like wind farms in their towns or cities, it feels like a hard moment to make sense of the politics of climate change. The red blue divide, the industry versus preservation divide, it's all been a little scrambled. And I wonder just how do you all think of that, and do you think it is a net good for climate policy, a net bad?

ROBINSON MEYER: I think there's an even deeper scrambling here that I had never really fully kind of thought about until this conversation. There has been like a generational scrambling in the rhetoric, and even the like vibes of climate policy, where I think in the nineties, and the two-thousands, even in the early part of the Obama administration, right, the original Bill McKibben idea of climate change is that it's the end of nature. Because if we tamper with the global climate system, there's no place on Earth where humans have not intervened in the climate system in some way.

Now what's interesting is I think in the past 30 years of climate science, what we've learned is that, well, we were probably already there, that human tampering with the climate system is like kind of endemic to humans, generally. But there was this very pastoral idea of what climate policy would look like that we needed to live within our means, that dealing with climate change was about pulling back. It was about reducing our impact. And that has now been completely supplanted by this entirely different approach, which says, no, no, no, climate change is actually going to require entirely different forms of production. If you were into climate change because you hated--

JEFF COLGAN: Factories.

ROBINSON MEYER: --factories, yeah, exactly, like small industrial facilities being across the landscape, that is the opposite of the vision now. And I do think that shift happened because of an earnest grappling by policy makers with what actually dealing with climate change would entail. Like I think it is a reality based shift, but I think it's one that is quite disruptive to old school environmental coalitions.

JEFF COLGAN: Can I just add one other shift that I think has happened that I haven't heard you mention yet? In the '90s, and even in the Obama administration, I think the discourse around climate change was still very much this is a problem of the future that is coming our way. And suddenly, the idea that climate change is now is an idea that is taking hold. And as we are recording this in October Twenty Twenty-Three, the summer of Twenty Twenty-Three, you know, pushed the needle a little bit farther on that idea that suddenly climate change is not a future problem. It's not a problem about our grandchildren. It's a problem right now, and it's getting worse.

ROBINSON MEYER: Totally. I totally agree. I think that is reflected in the realities that the policy is trying to target, right? Like the anchoring factor is that slightly more than half of emissions in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, was emitted after Nineteen Eighty-Eight. So all of the development that has happened since Nineteen Eighty-Eight is like half of the climate problem.

And so in Nineteen Ninety-Three, which is really when right around the time that climate change begins to emerge as an American political issue, it was in fact true that with relatively small tweaks to how we did taxation, and how we did accounting, that you could gradually begin to bring down American emissions. You could gradually begin to like pattern new forms of development. And it would be a very gradual process to deal with this future based problem.

And as time has gone on, and we've done less and less decarbonization, then like the need to more rapidly downshift emissions has become more and more acute, and the urgency of policy has become greater and greater. It's also the case that a carbon tax maybe made more sense then because by just cutting carbon emissions by a few percent per a year every year, you would over time see the kind of development of new industries that has then in fact happened since then, that you would see a wind and solar industry develop. But for the timeline we're on now where we need to cut emissions extremely rapidly, we can't kind of leave that to the market anymore. The government has to be more involved in developing and deploying those technologies.

DAN RICHARDS: So the science and the reality of climate change has shifted over the last few decades. The incentives have shifted thanks to a lot of this legislation. And now decarbonizing is also something that's potentially good for business, which brings up the question, what does it mean if there's a growing sector of people involved in the Green transition, who maybe don't particularly care about the science of climate change. People who are making batteries because it's good business, not because they're worried about sea level rise.

ROBINSON MEYER: I think that there's a very interesting tension here in how the policy works because basically now we're seeing Democrats have tried to cede this new industry across the country. And that industry actually has like two objectives. In fact, the policy kind of has two objectives. On the one hand, the goal of all that policy is to lower emissions.

But at the same time, the reason you like put that industry everywhere, and you build factories in Georgia and Alabama, is that the actual business leaders themselves of these industries are trying to create bipartisan durability for now. The climate goal of ceding all of these industries, which is to lower emissions, and the political goals of all these industries, which is to create bipartisan durability for the programs that help them and bipartisan support for their industry, are basically in alignment. But it's easy to imagine a future where those things are not in alignment.

And in fact, the very things that we basically want business leaders and clean tech industries to do, which is like make as many Republican friends as possible so that all of these policies stay on the books, is not necessarily like harmonious with rapidly lowering emissions as quickly as we can. Now we hope that all those business leaders will maintain what many of them profess to be their goal, which is rapidly lowering emissions. But I think there is this goal between the durability of these policies in a bipartisan way and their actual ability to cut emissions that I'm really interested to see play out. I don't know how it's going to come out.

DAN RICHARDS: Jeff, where are instances in the Green economy that you see this sort of scrambling of positions, or realignment of political actors, and sort of new types of political tension?

JEFF COLGAN: One tension that I see is this difference between the needs of the Democratic party for cultivating ties to unions and to labor and the ties that the Democrats have with environmentalists, right. And so this plays out most specifically with the EV industry where you've got car manufacturers in the battery belt in the South where EV factories are going up.

And this is great. This is creating new jobs. But they are non-union jobs, and these are red states. And so there's a real question about who gets political credit for these jobs. And you can see some of that tension playing out, even with the UAW strike and Biden going on the picket line in part, I think, to bolster his credentials as a pro-union president that union members should rally behind.


DAN RICHARDS: There is another tricky balancing act that we discussed, supporting social and economic justice more broadly in these laws while still keeping them focused and prioritized around the goal of decarbonization. One interesting example--

ROBINSON MEYER: The way the CHIPS act will work is that there will be these large competitive grants to chip makers to build factories with a very large part of the bill picked up by the government. And one thing the Biden administration has said is that there has to be childcare at these facilities. That has been criticized by some journalists, including Ezra Klein at The New York Times, for like trying to pile on too much to these policies.

JEFF COLGAN: Like make these bills have everything.

ROBINSON MEYER: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I also think there was some anxiety among commentators that they were going to then take those childcare requirements and impose them on the climate requirements. That isn't what happened. I think, generally, what we've seen from the Biden administration is that all the equity goals and all the goals about creating a more just or fair economy can be managed by like the policies aimed at creating a more just and fair economy, and that the role of the climate policy is to like accomplish the decarbonization, or the economic goals, more directly along with a kind of broad approach from the Biden administration that the goal is to run the labor market at full employment, and that these bills are helping that by just creating more demand for labor across the economy.

DAN RICHARDS: I wanted to ask about environmental justice as well. These bills like we've described are going to be spurring industry. And is there anything being done in them to make sure that some of the downsides of those industries, you know, maybe pollution, changes to natural environments, that those aren't disproportionately affecting marginalized communities, which is historically what happens when new industries develop?

ROBINSON MEYER: So there's a number of policies in the IRA itself that are trying to address this specifically. I think most of them are around these ideas of environmental justice. So there are hundreds of millions of dollars in the law for what are called EJ Block Grants which are basically just they're going to grant a lot of money to environmental justice organizations to make environmental improvements to their community. And that is kind of the main equity idea in the law.

JEFF COLGAN: I mean, I think Biden's approach to environmental justice is sort of to say, look at the top line level, we want to allocate 40% of our resources that we're spending on climate goals towards environmental justice concerns. I think that was very smart messaging. Exactly what 40% means is kind of confusing question. But nonetheless, the sort of idea that that's sort of roughly speaking, what we're going to do on this question. There are, I think, risks in both directions about how much effort the Biden administration puts towards environmental justice. On the one hand, certainly, if they don't do enough, it will be, A, bad for the world but also, B, bad for maintaining the progressive political coalition--

ROBINSON MEYER: We think-- we think, yeah.

JEFF COLGAN: Yes, so it seems like there's at least a risk that certain wing of the Democratic party would say, look, we're not satisfied. But there is also, I think, to what Rob just said about those block grants of sort of allocating large sums of money to environmental justice organizations in various communities that exposes that spending to all kinds of risk, right. So you can imagine that even if 95% of that money is spent well, some of it is going to get wasted, some of it's going to get used on projects that don't end up doing what we hope that they would, and some of it going to be outright corruption. And that is going to be red meat for Republicans and more importantly the sort of right leaning media ecosphere. And so there is that risk, I think, both in going kind of too fast and too slow on environmental justice.

ROBINSON MEYER: This is the hard task of the Biden administration is that the values that it professes to, like economic or environmental justice, might be in conflict when you get to actual facilities that you are installing in actual places in the country. And that's where I think even Biden is navigating this whole thing with kind of, like, EJ on one side and labor on the other side. And to some degree, those two groups have always been the two things that any Democratic climate policy, especially any Democratic policy over the last five years, would have to balance between. And I'm still not certain that there's not going to be some kind of like final showdown where like these two groups are really, really in conflict about something. And I think what Democrats choose in those instances will be really interesting.

JEFF COLGAN: I mean, it probably is worth mentioning that there is like a sort of an overhanging shadow of well, OK, but you could have the choice of a Trump administration--

ROBINSON MEYER: Yes, correct. Totally.

JEFF COLGAN: --which doesn't look too attractive to both of those two groups.

DAN RICHARDS: I feel like we've talked on like a number of different dimensions about the tensions and the balancing act that needs to be happening right now to roll out these types of legislation and to make them successful and palatable to a wide swath of the country. What do you think are sort of the biggest threats to maintaining this balance? And what are the things that we need to look at to make sure this stays as something making forward progress? It doesn't get hung up in a huge showdown, as you said.

JEFF COLGAN: There's a couple different ways of thinking about this. I mean, I think the obvious answer to like the potential obstacle is a switch in the occupant of the White House is obviously a major factor here, or major uncertainty about the future. But I think there is a deeper question about making progress on climate change requires both policy and politics. And I think we have made some progress in the last three years on the policy side.

But to a certain extent, I think the politics has to be the next stage of seeding the right kind of political coalition to keep together this momentum on climate change. And also frankly, that I think has to be some recognition that there are some actors, not a lot of them, but there are some actors who are economically deeply entrenched with the carbon economy who are going to fight tooth and nail against this every step of the way. And so we probably can't buy those people off. We have to actually fight them. And so that conversation about what does that actually take is one that I think that the left has not truly had yet.

ROBINSON MEYER: I completely agree. The biggest threat to any of this is who wins the Twenty Twenty-Four election, and not only because who wins the Twenty Twenty-Four election is very important, and because the Trump administration or the Trump campaign is planning a lot of policy changes already in a way that it was never was doing in Twenty Nineteen, Twenty Twenty.

JEFF COLGAN: And none of the other Republican candidates are looking much better--


ROBINSON MEYER: Totally, but also because there's going to be a big fight over spending in Twenty Twenty-Five because that's when the Trump tax credits expire. And it's actually when a number of different kind of temporary congressional programs expire. So there's going to be a big fight over spending in Twenty Twenty-Five. A lot will be on the table in that fight. And who is in the White House, who is majority Congress is going to matter a lot for it.

DAN RICHARDS: And if the politics went in favor of decarbonizing further in Twenty Twenty-Four and beyond, what do you want to see in the next piece of climate legislation? What's the next frontier of this movement?

ROBINSON MEYER: I asked legislative aides this after the IRA passed. It was actually in the run up to the Twenty Twenty-Two election. I was, like, the polling is actually not the worst for Democrats. Like what would happen if you were going to pass something else? And some of them were like, I don't know. We kind of put everything we had in the IRA. Like, we tried with everything we had. Like, now we'd have to go back and think more.

That being said, I think that something that is clearly on the horizon is one of the many goals of the IRA is to develop low cost or no cost substitutes for things that we use fossil fuels to do today. And once those no or low cost substitutes exist, if they're cheaper, they should outcompete fossil fuels. But fossil fuels are subject to the same technological learning curves and same market forces that the other types of energy are. And therefore, we should expect also some competition. The way you would really eventually do this is with some form of carbon price, with some surcharge on carbon emissions.

And there's lots to be said for that kind of scheme, right. Some of the research we have suggests it might be disinflationary. There's some research that the government, it seems, through the twenty-twenties into the twenty-thirties is going to be increasingly starved for revenue. So you can begin to see situations where we might return to this old policy playbook in tandem with the current policies. That would entail a kind of battle royale, I think, with the fossil fuel industries, with oil and gas that, frankly, politically, I don't think could be won right now. I think we have to be much further down the chain on electrification, Greening the grid, before we could get there.

JEFF COLGAN: Before there's enough support in the country for--

ROBINSON MEYER: Yeah, I mean it's almost like as basic as you need most voters or many voters to be driving EVs, or to plan to buy an EV, so that--

JEFF COLGAN: Or to be building them kind of.

ROBINSON MEYER: Exactly, so that they're not hit by higher gas prices. And I think we just can't overlook that because I think once we solve that technical challenge, then the political fights will get much, much easier.

JEFF COLGAN: If we do get another bite of the apple, here are things that I would love to see. One is a much better public network of chargers for EVs. The original IRA aspiration was to have 500,000 of those EV chargers rolled out in the country. What the bill actually has is only 50,000, and that matters, right. So deploying a public network so that people feel comfortable buying EVs is a big deal. And so we need to have those chargers visible-- as visible as every gas station in the country, right.

The second thing that I would go after is methane. Methane is this incredibly powerful greenhouse gas that is currently leaking out of our pipelines, houses, buildings, and refineries in this country at alarming rates. And there are tools that we have that we can deploy to stop that leakage. And so we need regulation on that. So those two things I would say are politically achievable and really ought to happen as soon as humanly possible. Although as soon as politically possible is a lot longer than as soon as humanly possible.

ROBINSON MEYER: Yeah, well, OK, I've been spurred to say one concrete policy suggestion. I have one concrete policy suggestion--

DAN RICHARDS: Go for it.

ROBINSON MEYER: --which is there's been a lot to develop the EV industry. And I think it's very important. And I think EVs are going to be an extremely important technology in the United States. If we had another bite at the apple, I think what we need is a National Transportation Policy. And a National Transportation Policy separate from EVs that does not require EVs. I think we need to start thinking as a country about, like, we need to have a way to get from Washington to Chicago for under $300 at a certain carbon intensity under eight hours. And it can be I think actually modal agnostic, but I think what would have to accompany that is like a real big change to how we handle other forms of transit right now, potentially, a change to how we handle highway and street level funding right now. But I think that a kind of more holistic approach to the transportation sector in the United States, I guess if I had a next bite at the apple, that's what I would want to bite on.

DAN RICHARDS: These all sound great to me. Jeff Colgan, Robinson Meyer, thank you both so much for coming on to Trending Globally.

ROBINSON MEYER: Thank you so much.

JEFF COLGAN: Thank you.


DAN RICHARDS: If you like this conversation, be sure to check out heatmap.news. You'll find more from Robinson Meyer and from many other phenomenal journalists and thinkers about the future of climate change. And in fact, there is a discount code for Trending Globally listeners right now for 50% off your first month of a Heatmap subscription. The code is BROWN50. That's all caps, again, BROWN50. We'll put that info and a link to Heatmap in the show notes.

This episode was produced by me, Dan Richards, and Zach Hirsch with production assistance from Eric Emma. If you like the show, please leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. And if you haven't subscribed to Trending Globally already, please do that too. Thanks so much for listening. We'll be back in two weeks with another episode of Trending Globally.

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