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WATCH: Experts discuss the keys to compromise and action on climate change

Climate change and environmental issues can no longer be considered partisan if any real progress is going to be made, according to experts who participated in a virtual discussion hosted by the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy on Feb. 22.

Michael Vandenbergh, the David Daniels Allen Distinguished Professor of Law, director of the Climate Change Research Network and co-director of the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program at Vanderbilt University, and Benji Backer, president of the American Conservation Coalition, talked about realistic ways to move the needle on environmental issues, including public-private partnerships and better bipartisan communication.

“Roughly 45 percent of the American population supported doing something about climate a decade ago, and that number has moved up to 55 percent. But that’s still not enough for one party to get new legislation. It’s just not enough to speak to your own crowd,” said Vandenbergh, co-author of the book Beyond Politics: The Private Governance Response to Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Backer explained how the universal American value of competition could be the key to finding solutions to climate change.

“We need that competition of ideas because in American history a competition of ideas almost always ends in success,” he said.



The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy is a nonpartisan initiative that aims to elevate research and evidence-based reasoning into the national conversation. Drawing on original research, evidence-based papers and crucial conversations from Vanderbilt’s world-class faculty and visionary thought leaders of all political persuasions, the timely endeavor aims to give policymakers and the public the tools needed to combat conspiracy and unfounded ideology with evidence, data and respectful discourse. The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy can make a meaningful contribution to solving society’s most pressing challenges and bridging our deepest differences.

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