They call it the “political will” problem. The technical solutions to climate change are here, they will pay for themselves over time and they enjoy public support. But politicians, especially in the United States, always find a way to get in the way.
Recent polling points in different directions.
One poll that asked voters to rank climate change is as unsatisfying as it is unsurprising: Half of voters say climate is a priority in this election, while the other half doesn’t consider it at all. Furthermore, a poll last year showed partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats on adopting renewable energy is as wide as it has been in years.
Those results track with the trenchant partisanship that has characterized American politics, and certainly climate politics, for some time now. But a closer look shows that even if the partisan gap on climate issues isn’t narrowing, it may be irrelevant.
Support for wind and solar is indeed trailing off among Republicans, but a full 72% of them still support building out solar farms. That’s robust support for a proven climate measure, even if it’s a ways off from 94% of Democrats who agree.
Extreme weather events are proving to be convincing, too. The majority of Americans who have experienced extreme weather events recently see a link to climate change, including 65% of Republicans. The ‘survivors-of-climate-disasters’ constituency is guaranteed to grow in the coming years, and support for climate measures may grow with it.
Aside from partisan divides, concern for climate change is also keeping up with demographic changes in the voting populace. Nearly two-thirds of voters of color said they were more likely to vote for a candidate that supports addressing climate change. That bucks a long-time trend in political polling that showed environmental issues were near the bottom for communities of color in the United States, who typically prioritized economic and safety issues.
In short: climate is still falling behind day-to-day issues like inflation and crime, but environmental concerns are on American voters’ radar on both sides of the aisle like never before.
One troubling trend has emerged in American politics in the last five years, during which time installation of renewables has spiked across the country.
No fewer than 41 officials have faced recall votes over the support for renewables in that time, including four officials in Michigan whose political fate will be on the line next Tuesday.
The gist of these recall efforts is usually some variation of the NIMBYism that has bedevilled clean energy rollouts all over the world.
Still, these votes are concerning because they tend to happen at the local level, where partisan politics have less sway than they do for state-wide or federal elections. And in the 19 states where recalls are allowed, it generally takes several thousand signatures to get them on the ballot, portending some public support, even if they are unsuccessful.
The pseudo-good news here: they aren’t always successful. Of the fourteen officials who have faced recalls specifically over renewable projects, eight got the boot while six survived their recalls.
What’s still unclear is to what extent these recalls reflect local concerns that could show up on the ballot next week. More than a few of these efforts have been fuelled by misinformation campaigns claiming that, among other things, wind farms cause birth defects in Portuguese horses.
Those fake news drives usually come from social media pages with names like “Citizens for Clear Skies” that appear to have shadowy connections with fossil fuel-backed groups.
Taken together, the recall efforts and pro-climate poll numbers suggest that American voters are possibly more motivated to do something about climate change when it’s in someone else’s backyard. Or it means that climate denial campaigns are taking a grassroots approach, now that national polling shows their message is falling flat across the country.
Check out some of the latest featured jobs below. If you don't see anything that speaks to you, you can always go to Climatebase to explore thousands of other opportunities.
"Zitara Technologies builds battery management software for companies with large deployments. Customers across industries (EVs, satellites, renewable energy storage) rely on Zitara's cloud-ready embedded solutions for advanced battery management that precisely predict and manage the charge of every vehicle or fleet asset. ..".
"Nira's mission is to convert the US power grid to be 100% fossil-free. Nira is a software platform that helps renewable energy developers (solar/wind) find the most profitable land to build new projects. ..."
"Public Exchange connects a wide range of academic researchers with policy, industry, and non-profit partners that need their expertise to tackle complex challenges. Our goal is to amplify social impact by making academic expertise more easily accessible than ever before, and apply academic rigor to addressing the world’s most intractable issues. ..."
"Bridger Photonics, Inc. (Bridger) creates and deploys innovative LiDAR sensors to detect methane leaks ..."
"BioLite is a for-profit social enterprise that develops, manufactures, and markets distributed energy solutions for off-grid communities around the world. ..."
"Antora Energy is electrifying heavy industry with zero-carbon heat and power. We make it possible and profitable to fully rely on renewable energy for industrial processes. ..."
"Edacious is on a mission to build a new food system based on quality. To that end, we are building technology to differentiate food quality from farm to fork with the goal of nourishing people and planet. ..."
"Headway Cooperative is the world's first climate tech co-op. We are 100% developer owned and operated, providing mission-driven software development for data-centric businesses solving climate change. Specializing in utility-scale energy and grid analytics, we partner with high-impact, high-growth companies like GridX that trust us to provide access to exceptional engineering talent and industry expertise. ..."
"Open Earth Foundation is a California-based research and deployment non-profit. We create Open Source technology to increase planetary resilience and avoid a catastrophic climate crisis. ..."
"Cement is responsible for about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as all of the cars on the road today worldwide. Cement has been widely considered one of the most difficult materials to decarbonize and has even been called out as the reason why we need point-source CCS. We have invented a way to make carbon-negative Portland cement that ..."
"Kara is a software platform to empower investors and technology companies to achieve their climate and social goals. ..."
"Sustaine brings renewable energy to small-medium businesses, especially in disadvantaged communities, through our software-based service. ..."
"Verna is a green-tech start-up, with a rapidly expanding customer base and over £2m in growth funding from private investors and the UK Government. We use data science to help people manage land in the best way for the environment – drawing down carbon and enhancing biodiversity, whilst making sustainable returns. ..."
"Sofar is on a mission to connect the world’s oceans. We design, build, and deploy the largest privately owned network of marine weather sensors to power the world’s best marine weather forecasts. ..."
"Patch is building the infrastructure for a sustainable economy by enabling gigatonne scale carbon removal. With Patch, companies can embed climate action into their own products, neutralizing the carbon impact of everyday transactions like shipping, travel and financial services, or neutralize the unavoidable emissions within their operations and supply chain. ..."
"Cloverly, an API for carbon offsets, uses technology to help businesses, organizations, and individuals become carbon neutral or even carbon negative. Cloverly has made carbon offsetting available in a wide variety of business segments for everything from ridesharing and flights to fintech and supply chains. ..."
"We're Twelve, a new kind of chemical company built for the climate era. Our breakthrough technology eliminates emissions by turning CO2 into essential products. We call it carbon transformation. Reinventing what it means to be a chemical company, we're on a mission to create a climate positive world and a fossil free future. ..."
OhmConnect alerts you and your smart home when dirty, expensive power plants switch on nearby and pays you for reducing your electricity use. ...
"Running Tide is an ocean technology company built to tackle humanity's most urgent challenge: climate change. We build cutting-edge solutions that integrate engineered and biological systems to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, restore ecosystems, and secure food systems. ..."
That's it for this week! Remember, you can always view thousands of more jobs on Climatebase.org.
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