MCJ Newsletter
My Climate Journey
Structural changes, politics and policy with Leah Stokes

Structural changes, politics and policy with Leah Stokes


Today's guest is Leah Stokes, a renowned climate and energy policy expert, strategist and researcher, helping leaders build clean energy practices into their long-term plans to secure our future. 

Listen on Spotify

But her resume doesn’t end there. Leah is an award-winning author of Short Circuiting Policy, an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and co-host of a top climate podcast called A Matter of Degrees, where she and Dr. Katharine Wilkinson tell stories about the powerful forces behind climate change and the tools we have to fix it. Leah is also senior policy advisor at Rewiring America and Evergreen Action, plus she was named a Grist 50 Fixer in 2020. While she has a pretty impressive bio, Leah is also a unique combination of pragmatic, progressive, commercial-minded, activism-minded, academic-minded, and scientific-minded, all blended into one powerhouse of a woman.

In this episode, Jason and Leah have a great discussion about her  journey, theory of change, and how it's evolved from when she first started doing this work to today. We also cover some of the barriers holding back the transition and the most impactful levers to facilitate it. Finally, we put controversial topics that people squabble over all the time front and center, and talk through them pragmatically and respectfully with the nuance that they deserve. This is an insightful conversation you don’t want to miss.

 *Leah will be participating in an MCJ Ask-Me-Anything event on Wednesday 11/02 in our Slack community. Get your burning climate questions ready. RSVP here

In this episode, we cover: 

  • [3:12] An overview of Leah's work

  • [5:56] Her motivations and how she started working in climate

  • [9:40] How her theory of change has evolved 

  • [11:27] Importance of structural change 

  • [15:27] Tensions between conservation, decarbonization and environmental justice 

  • [21:46] Leah's feelings toward fossil fuel company executives and the impacts of their denial campaign 

  • [28:47] The role of fossil fuel companies moving forward in the clean energy transition 

  • [32:31] The political polarization of climate change 

  • [35:48] A future of abundance with clean energy

  • [38:23] Leah's views on the state of the climate emergency 

  • [41:55] The role of the West vs. the rest of the world 

  • [46:19] GDP growth and falling emissions

  • [49:46] Speed round including nuclear, offsets, carbon pricing, and more

Visit our website for a full transcript of this episode.

Get connected: 
Jason's Twitter
Leah’s Website / Twitter 
MCJ Podcast / Collective

*You can also reach us via email at, where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded on September 22, 2022.

MCJ Newsletter
My Climate Journey
A growing body of knowledge about climate change and potential solutions. This series traverses disciplines, industries, and opinions with hundreds of deep-dive conversations with science, technology, and climate leaders.