Few have done more to change the climate paradigm than Rhiana Gunn-Wright.
As an architect of the Green New Deal, Rhiana was instrumental in expanding the limits of climate policy, and telling a story far larger—and more inspiring—than curbing carbon emissions by taxing them.
The Green New Deal’s vision: affirmative investment in green industries, decarbonization as an engine of economic growth, and racial equity and job creation at the center of the national project.
“They wanted a World War II style economic mobilization that would cut emissions in 10 years, create millions of jobs, and…reduce the racial wealth gap. And so my job was basically to figure out how you could do that,” Rhiana tells Felicia and Michael.
Now director of climate policy at the Roosevelt Institute, Rhiana sees the legacy of that vision in today’s politics. Environmental justice is now an essential part of the narrative; and industrial policy, which she has championed for years, is becoming mainstream.
“Back in 2019 when I was doing all these interviews, not a day went by where people didn't ask me, ‘Well, why should equity be part of this? Why should racial justice be part of discussions about climate or decarbonization?’” Rhiana recalls. “And now you can't actually have a conversation about climate without mentioning equity and justice and environmental justice.”
Rhiana also talks with Felicia and Michael about why she thinks the Inflation Reduction Act is a mixed bag, why industrial policy must include transforming our approach to child care and elder care, and how to change people's understanding of where wealth comes from by telling a story of public investment and inclusion.
Presented by the Roosevelt Institute, The New Republic, and PRX. Generous funding for this podcast was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Omidyar Network. Views expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of its funders.
You can find transcripts and related resources for every episode at howtosaveacountry.org.