Podcast: How Equity and Economics Will Drive Climate and Energy Stories in 2012

In 2011, two deeply intertwined themes dominated international climate and energy stories: equity and the intersection of the economy and the environment.

“These two themes – equity and economy versus environment – will continue to shape stories in 2012,” says Manish Bapna, acting president of the World Resources Institute, in an interview on the Climate Progress podcast.

The Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, and protests in China all forced leaders and journalists to talk about issues of equity. And those movements all influenced climate and energy stories in some way.

“What’s quite interesting is that those notions around justice and around inequality played out not only politically…but also played out in the environmental arena,” says Bapna.

Protests in Tunisia and Egypt were sparked partly because of rising food prices – raising awareness of how climate change may impact agriculture and thus help drive political and social conflict.

The Occupy Movement helped breath new life into the Keystone XL protests, helping environmental groups delay – if not possibly stop all together – the tar sands pipeline that was considered a “done deal” last summer.

And in China, a wave of protests against oil spills, coal plants and air quality stimulated greater discussion of environmental issues in the country.

The events of 2011 came to a head at the Durban climate talks, where a last-minute agreement rested on fairness: “Equity has to be the centerpiece of the Climate discussion and our negotiations should be built on it,” said India’s Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan before agreeing to loose language that may bring developing countries on board for long-term emissions reduction commitments.

Meanwhile, as developed countries struggled with debt crises, high unemployment and sluggish economies, the political debate over the prudence of environmental protection raged on.

While some European countries rolled back support mechanisms for renewable energy, the region stayed committed to aggressive emissions reductions targets through 2020.

In the U.S., the picture was decidedly more negative. Energy became an extraordinarily contentious topic and conservatives pushed forward a political narrative that environmental protection and economic growth are diametrically opposed.

“This issue will undoubtedly be central to elections in the U.S.,” says Bapna. “And the way candidates respond will tell us a lot about how the President and Congress will deal with them in 2012.”

In this podcast, we speak with WRI’s Bapna about how concerns over equity and economic growth will influence a wide range of global issues, including climate policy in China, world-wide investment in renewable energy, and the conversation moving from the Durban climate talks and into the Rio +20 conference on sustainable development.

To listen to the interview, play the podcast above.

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8 Responses to Podcast: How Equity and Economics Will Drive Climate and Energy Stories in 2012

  1. prokaryotes says:

    Recent estimates put Shale Gas above coal, and make it clear that natural gas is not a bridge fuel to reach low carbon emission scenarios, prevent tipping points

    Why is CP not reporting this breaking story? The point is, we have to get rid of fossil fuels entirely!

  2. Stephen Lacey says:

    We are working on an extensive natural gas post right now.

  3. prokaryotes says:

    On the bottom line we need a Carbon Tax,

    about 3 mins into this video, James Hansen explains it

  4. prokaryotes says:

    I think this is a good interview, but after Manish Bapna starts talking about leadership change “Cheech and Ping?” the video ends abruptly.

    Please provide a direct download link (also a more sophisticated player would be great) and put this on itunes..


  5. Stephen Lacey says:

    Hi Prokaryotes —
    Are you listening to the player in Safari? For some reason, we’ve had some issues just in that browser.

    As you can see at the bottom of the story, we offer the program on itunes and a direct link to the RSS Feed.


  6. prokaryotes says:

    Yes, atm Safari. I missed that itunes link, looking it up now. Thanks!

  7. Leif says:

    If Capitalism and Corporations cannot work for the well being of the whole first, they must not be allowed to produce profits for the few.

  8. Michael. says:

    Although it happened in just the past few weeks, it’s also worth noting that protests in Bulgaria (not a country known for it’s protests) caused the total ban of fracking in the country and the revoking of a contract awarded to Chevron. This ban makes it the second EU country to do so – along with France.