From President Obama to Robert Redford to Exxon Mobil, leading voices are calling attention to climate change. Want to know how global climate policy is actually made?  And the prospects for US-China cooperation to save the planet? Hear it firsthand from a former US climate negotiator and energy policy expert.

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Always simmering in the background, climate change is re-emerging as a topic of intense public discussion. Noteworthy recent developments include:

  • An American Association for the Advancement of Science report that reaffirms that “we are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts”

  • A study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that finds the impacts of climate change to be everywhere, with particular risks to the global food supply

  • The launch of climate.data.gov, an open data platform to help citizens visualize sea level rise, coastal flooding, and other consequences of a warming climate

  • A communiqué from Unilever, Shell, and 68 other leading companies calling on governments to enact policies to prevent the cumulative emission of more than a trillion tons of carbon and enable a “net zero emissions” economy by the end of the century

  • A report to stakeholders in which ExxonMobil expresses confidence that “none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become ‘stranded’ as a result of climate policy”

To assess all of this I sat down with Eric Maltzer, who for four years worked on clean energy and global climate policy at the US State Department (Eric’s full bio is below). Our hour-long conversation covered three sets of topics. We began by discussing the continuing effort to negotiate a new global climate treaty, focusing in particular on the role of China and the US-China climate relationship. We then turned to the politics of climate change in US and the question of how policymakers can communicate more effectively on this issue. We concluded by considering grassroots advocacy initiatives related to climate, such as 350.org’s fossil fuel divestment campaign, as well as discussing Eric’s perspective on the professional experience of working on energy and climate policy.

I hope that you enjoy the conversation and welcome any comments!

Photo Credit: Climate Change/shutterstock

From 2009-2013 Eric Maltzer served as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the US State Department’s Office of Global Change (i.e. America’s international climate negotiations team). In this role, he served as a clean energy negotiator for the 20-person team and as an expert resource on energy and climate change for U.S. diplomats and foreign counterparts.  Eric also managed the U.S.-China climate portfolio via the EcoPartnerships program and other initiatives.  Before joining the State Department, Eric was an environmental strategist in the Boston office of Esty Environmental Partners. Eric has a Master’s in Public Policy (M.P.P.) from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. from Yale University. He is currently pursuing his MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.