People Places Planet Podcast

Welcome to ELI’s People Places Planet Podcast. Here, listeners can gain insight on some of the thinking behind ELI's work. Below you will find our most recent episodes.

Listen on iTunes Listen on Google Play Music Listen on Spotify RSS Feed

Don't see your favorite app? Subscribe and Listen

Communities are exposed to pollution through the air, water, and land. Multiple sources of pollution and other environmental stressors can add up over time to cause adverse effects to human health and wellbeing. This is known as “cumulative impacts.” Environmental justice (EJ) communities tend to face greater cumulative impacts, as they are disproportionately exposed to multiple environmental, health, and social stressors. This episode of Groundtruth discusses new regulations in Massachusetts involving cumulative impact analyses for air permit issues in areas near EJ communities. Join Lauren Karam, Beveridge & Diamond's Boston Associate, Stella Keck, a Senior Scientist at Roux, and Andrew Shapero, a Senior Engineer at Roux, to learn more about how states, like Massachusetts, and the EPA are addressing cumulative impacts in EJ communities.  

Building scientific agreement is a meticulous process. In climate science, this process has faced a lot of outside scrutiny. In this episode, ELI’s Staff Scientist Dr. John Doherty joins Host Sarah Backer to discuss the responsibilities of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and how they are communicating what we know about climate change. 

Relevant Resources: 
The Fifth National Climate Assessment Gives a Unique Spotlight to Climate Justice by Dr. John Doherty

The Climate Judiciary Project 

What do Wetlands have to do with wellbeing? As vibrant and critical ecosystems, wetlands provide economic, cultural, and climate benefits to communities worldwide. Yet, wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate. ELI’s Wetlands Program is working to prevent these losses and reverse the trend. From breaking the news on national legal developments to spotlighting local leaders, ELI is the place for all things wetlands. In honor of World Wetlands Day, host Sarah Backer sits down with Rebecca Kihslinger, Senior Science and Policy Analyst at ELI and the Director of the Wetlands Program, Staff Attorney Tess Wilkerson, and Research Associate Jesse Ferraioli, to discuss how ELI is advancing wetlands law, policy, science, and management.  

You can find the Sackett webinar, as well as resources referenced in this podcast episode here

A lot has been said about COP28. It has been described as a success, failure, and everything in between, but what actually happened? This week, host Sarah Backer is joined by Jennifer Huang, Associate Director of International Strategies at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and Kaveh Guilanpour, Vice President of International Strategies at C2ES. Jennifer and Kaveh discuss their experiences at COP28 in Dubai and evaluate the success of COP28 and the global stocktake in galvanizing climate action and adaptation.  

It’s undeniable that we take water access for granted – until we don’t have it or until water quality degrades, anyways. With at least forty states anticipating water shortages this year, using water efficiently is more important than ever. This week, Sarah Backer is joined by Mary Ann Dickinson, Co-Chair of the Water and Planning Network for the American Planning Association, and Adam Schempp, Senior Attorney at ELI, to discuss water conservation strategies, the influence of law, and progress toward achieving reliable and safe water supplies today and in the future. 

Associated BlogStretching the Water Supply: The Importance of Water Efficiency Measures | Environmental Law Institute (

Consumers are seeking out ethically made and climate-friendly apparel to gift this holiday season. But how do they know whether their purchases are truly sustainable or eco-friendly? This week’s podcast episode explores the rise of greenwashing claims and the role of the Federal Trade Commission in guiding the industry and holding companies accountable for deceptive marketing claims. Host Sarah Backer sits down with Carolyn Kennedy, a 2024 JD Candidate at the Georgetown University Law Center, and Derek Sabori, an apparel industry veteran with more than 26 years of experience to discuss legal and industry perspectives on sustainable fashion. 

The EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) develops the Agency’s national strategy to enforce compliance with federal environmental statutes. Led by Assistant Administrator, David M. Uhlmann, OECA sets national enforcement priorities, and coordinates with EPA regions and the U.S. Department of Justice to address environmental noncompliance, which can include civil and criminal actions. In this episode, Mr. Uhlmann joins Justin Savage to discuss OECA’s national and enforcement compliance initiatives for fiscal years 2024-2027, environmental justice, PFAS and climate enforcement goals. 

The United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 integrated goals that address global challenges, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, the environment, peace, and justice. Advancing the SDGs in the US would help to make the US a better place for all. In this episode, host Sarah Backer is joined by editors John Dernbach and Scott Schang to discuss their ELI Press-published book, Governing for Sustainability. The book provides a detailed set of recommendations for federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, as well as the private sector and civil society organized around the SDGs. Scott and John also discuss how the SDGs offer the US a comprehensive framework to build a more prosperous, equitable, resilient, healthy – in other words, sustainable – society.

Relevant Resources:

John Dernbach and Scott Schang, Governing for Sustainability Introduction 
Goldman Sachs, The Us Inflation Reduction Act Is Driving Clean-energy Investment One Year In The Nature Conservancy, Family Forest Carbon Program 
The Washington Post, ‘Greenhushing’: Why some companies quietly hide their climate pledges 
HarperCollins Publishers, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet 

Today is the first day of COP28, where participants will discuss the first-ever global stocktake, an assessment of global action on climate change to date. The global stocktake report includes an inventory of climate-related data which evaluates whether the world is on track to achieve the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. The goal is for countries and other actors to use these technical findings to step up political actions and set more ambitious national targets and actions, to accelerate global climate action. In this week’s episode, host Sarah Backer dives into the equity and environmental justice considerations of the global stocktake with Angela Barranco, the Director for North America at the Climate Group and Charles Di Leva, Partner at Sustainability Frameworks, LLP and Former Chief Officer of Environmental and Social Standards at the World Bank.  

Relevant Resources:  

Financial Times, UK, Canada and Germany lead fresh push against coal power at COP28 

Reuters, COP28 kicks off with climate disaster fund victory 

Glasglow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, Amount of finance committed to achieving 1.5°C now at scale needed to deliver the transition 

International Energy Agency, For the first time in decades, the number of people without access to electricity is set to increase in 2022 

The World Bank, Detox Development: Repurposing Environmentally Harmful Subsidies