Melting the Polarization Around Climate Change Politics

45 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2018

See all articles by Cale Jaffe

Cale Jaffe

University of Virginia School of Law


Climate change has become one of the most highly polarized political problems, but it was not always this way. As recently as 2008, leading Republicans and Democrats agreed on the implications of global warming research. This Article charts how the United States moved from a bipartisan agreement on the need to address climate change to the current state of seemingly intractable polarization. From the perspective of someone who has worked with environmental non-profits, this Article suggests that advocates need to disrupt the conventional wisdom on climate change politics if they are to achieve lasting success. Tackling a problem like climate change requires sustaining pollution reduction efforts over many decades, even as the political pendulum continues to swing. Because of that, environmentalists must embrace the goal of cultivating a working coalition regardless of who is in power.

Keywords: climate change, presidential politics, grassroots environmental advocacy

Suggested Citation

Jaffe, Cale, Melting the Polarization Around Climate Change Politics. Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (GIELR), Vol. 30, No. 3, 2018, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2018-38, Available at SSRN:

Cale Jaffe (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States


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