Brian Deese, Former Senior Advisor to President Obama, believes we can (literally) save the planet
As one of the most influential advisors to President Obama, Brian Deese was a key architect of the Paris Climate Agreement. He served as Senior Advisor during the second Obama term and worked as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He also served as Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. While Brian advised on matters across the economic spectrum, he is best known for negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement.
Brian gave us a reality check on the state of the climate change battle in the era of President Trump. Despite the Trump Administration’s rejection of the Paris Agreement, Brian remains optimistic.
While Brian acknowledges the clear and present threats posed by both immediate shifts in the climate and the naivety of the denial of the current administration (3:03), he poses three core reasons for optimism: “the economics are on our side” – the economy has seen sustained growth while carbon emissions have seen a sustained decline, and alternative energy resources continue to become cheaper and more employable alternatives to more dirty energy sources (3:52); “the political conversation that is happening about climate change in the United States is not happening anywhere else in this planet” – despite the frustrations we see in our lack of action in the United States, the rest of the world acknowledges the reality of science and climate change (7:32); and that “Donald Trump has made climate change an issue of action for states and cities in this country” – organically, a group calling itself “We’re Still In” including more than a dozen states, hundreds of cities, and thousands of companies, has agreed to maintain the standards set by the Paris Accords agreement (9:18). The states acting as part of this group represent more than half of all emissions in the United States, meaning that their actions are not only politically significant, but are also functionally key to continued carbon reduction and safety.
Brian further contends that, because of this unique time and place where regional governments are taking leadership in climate change, those individuals looking to join the arena can play a more vital role than ever as local constituencies possess a multiplier effect on their energies far greater than ever before (12:35). Before fielding a series of questions from the audience, Brian offers a plea to listeners to “think local” about the issue of climate change, because this is the mechanism to drive the most immediate change in our approach (14:01).
We would like to once again thank Brian for his sober and optimistic overview of the state of the fight against climate change both locally and nationally.