30 Sustainability Podcasts Worth a Listen

Rear View Of Man Listening Music While Looking At Mountains By Lake
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With the blossoming of sustainability-oriented podcasts, a little guidance might help you find ones worth listening to—which ones provide credible, expert analysis, which ones offer unique perspectives, and which ones are just as entertaining as they are informative.

Here is a subjective list of 30 podcasts worth exploring, with the disclaimer that everyone's tastes and interests are different. The podcasts below are listed in alphabetical order, not ranked.

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The Big Switch

Hosted by Dr. Melissa Lott, Research Director at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

The Big Switch is an excellent introduction to how our energy system is being rebuilt to address climate change. We need to transform buildings, homes, cars, and economy quickly and fairly to a net zero energy system. One of the most insightful analysts of energy in America, Dr. Lott asks: what does “net zero” even mean? What is the electric grid anyway, and how is it changing? Dr. Lott interviews experts in the field and makes their insights accessible to both newcomers and wonks alike.

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Breaking Green Ceilings

Hosted by Sapna Mulki.

Breaking Green Ceilings features weekly interviews with underrepresented voices of the environmental community. Sapna Mulki is a second-generation Kenyan Indian with an M.A. in sustainable international development from Brandeis University. Some key 2021 topics include Black women in nature, bringing buffalo back to native lands, and water affordability and equity in America.

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Broken Ground

The Southern Environmental Law Center. Multiple hosts.

The Southern Environmental Law Center was founded in 1986 by one of the nation's first environmental lawyers, Rick Middleton. Today it is the largest environmental organization in the South, fighting battles against polluters in a traditionally conservative region of the country. From sea level rise in the Mississippi Delta to the struggle between small farmers and oil pipeline developers, Broken Ground focuses on the environmental issues facing the South, with a specific focus on environmental justice. The New York Times calls the podcast “an environmental 'This American Life' for the South.”

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Building Local Power

Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Various Hosts.

Building Local Power doesn't always address issues of sustainability, but when it does, it does so with the understanding that monopoly power is one of the chief obstacles to a sustainable world. The episodes focus locally when demonstrating the global impact of monopoly power. For example, the show has highlighted the role that antitrust laws play in promoting energy; examined how small, local composting companies are often undermined by large industrial composting sites; and interviewed the founders of a local alliance of farmers and consumers who promote the links between racial justice and sustainable agriculture. Sustainable communities are local communities.

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The Climate Pod

Hosted by Ty and Brock Benefiel.

The Climate Pod's hosts, brothers Ty and Brock Benefiel, sound like they are just chilling at home watching TV, but they are well-informed and perceptive interviewers of an A-list of leading activists and experts on climate policy. Each episode is roughly an hour long, so issues are explored in depth. Guests include Bill Nye, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Dr. Michael Mann, Jeffrey Sachs, Michelle Nijhuis, Sonia Shah, astronaut Scott Kelly, and Tom Steyer.

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Climate Changers

Hosted by Ryan Flahive.

Climate Changers features interviews from leaders in the battle against climate change, from entrepreneurs to activists and educators. Lately, the podcast has focused primarily on regenerative agriculture, carbon farming, reforestation, and sustainable food, but earlier episodes focus more broadly on climate issues such as clean energy, carbon capture, and the Paris Agreement. Notable guests include Jane Goodall, Bill McKibben, Dave Montgomery, and Mark Kurlansky. Host Ryan Flahive is an enthusiastic climate warrior, sometimes breathlessly so.

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Columbia Energy Exchange

Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy. Hosted by Jason Bordoff and Bill Loveless.

Jason Bordoff is the former Special Assistant to the President on Energy and Climate under President Obama, while Bill Loveless is an educator in energy journalism. The Columbia Energy Exchange podcast features insightful discussions of the political dimensions of climate and energy policy with heavy-hitting guests including Gina McCarthy, President Biden's National Climate Advisor, Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, and Francesco La Camera, head of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Hosts Bordoff and Loveless are fluent in translating high-powered wonk-speak into ordinary language even novices can understand. You will come away with a good understanding of the politics and policies surrounding global energy.

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The Energy Gang

Greentech Media. Hosted by Stephen Lacey and Katherine Hamilton.

The Energy Gang is one of the pioneers of environmentally oriented podcasting, and one of the most popular shows in energy and cleantech. Its hosts are well-informed and well-connected in the world of renewable energy. Longtime former co-host Jigar Shah is now head of the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office and co-founder and former CEO of SunEdison, a solar energy giant. Katherine Hamilton is a policy consultant in renewable energy, former researcher at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and has an unrivaled Rolodex of contacts in renewable energy. Producer and co-host Stephen Lacey leads the conversation deftly and gracefully, often interjecting levity into a fast-paced discussion. The show is accessible to newcomers to the field but followed by leaders in the industry as well.

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The Energy Transition Show

XE Network. Hosted by Chris Nelder.

Broadcasting since 2015, The Energy Transition Show is among the top podcasts on energy, with interviews with leading experts in renewable energy and a host who himself is an expert and, until recently, a researcher at the well-regarded Rocky Mountain Institute. The podcast includes free and subscription versions, the latter being full episodes and access to transcripts, extensive show notes, and podcast extras.

Archived episodes include an excellent 9-part introduction to Energy Basics to get listeners up to speed on how the grid works, how energy markets work, and even what energy is. With listeners in high places like the International Energy Agency and the U.S. government, the Energy Transition Show not only follows energy policy, it helps shape it.

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Hosted by Brendon Anthony.

Environmentality's Brendon Anthony is an environmental scientist professor and horticulture student whose informal podcasts feature current environmental news as well as less-covered issues in sustainable development such as orchards, fast fashion, aquaponics, and reef-safe sunscreen. With a busy teaching schedule and current Ph.D. program, Brendon's podcasts were frequent in 2020 but intermittent in 2021, but all are engaging.

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Getting in the Loop

Hosted by Katherine Whalen.

Getting in the Loop aims at “making circular economy fun and understandable". Episodes include interviews with economists specializing in studying the circular economy and entrepreneurs setting up companies based on circular economy principles. Episodes often highlight public or virtual events about the circular economy.

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Got Science?

The Union of Concerned Scientists. Hosted by Colleen MacDonald.

From the well-regarded Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Got Science? primarily covers a wide variety of environmental issues but also addresses the role of science in shaping public policy and vice versa. UCS's main areas of research include climate, energy, transportation, food, and nuclear weapons, and their podcasts feature interviews with the many UCS expert researchers in these fields. If you're interested in the science behind sustainable living, this is an excellent, credible place to begin.

Many episodes are also in Spanish.

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Green Dreamer: Sustainability and Regeneration From Ideas to Life

Hosted by Kamea Chayne.

Green Dreamer explores issues regarding environmental justice often from the perspective of marginalized peoples around the world. The podcast takes a bottom-up approach by focusing less on public policy than on the thought-provoking ideas of innovative thinkers and activists. Episodes with titles like “Deconstruction Saviorism from Herpreneurship and Voluntourism” and “Mapping for Abundance against Cartographies of Capital” approach familiar issues of the environmental movement informed by progressive academic insights and a “deep green” perspective. The academic rhetoric can limit the accessibility of the episodes, but the expert interviewees have important ideas to share.

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Hot Take

Critical Frequency. Hosted by Mary Annaïse Heglar and Amy Westervelt.

A relatively new podcast that calls itself “feminist [and] race-forward,” Hot Take is an irreverent, foul-mouthed, but always honest analysis of the mainstream media's coverage of climate change. Mary Annaïse Heglar is a climate justice essayist and one of the few prominent Black women in the climate movement. Amy Westervelt is an oft-cited, widely published, and award-winning climate journalist. The two hosts, along with frequent guests, take no-holds-barred attitudes in their discussions of Big Oil, Big Tech, Science Denial, Greenwashing, HBO, and other topics. Even if you aren't as deep into the weeds as they are, you will enjoy listening to them.

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How to Save a Planet

Hosted by Alex Blumberg and Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson.

How to Save a Planet is a Treehugger favorite for good reason: the hosts carry on informal ear-candy conversations between each other and with experts in climate and energy. Alex Blumberg is an award-winning journalist, and marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is, among other accomplishments, the co-editor of All We Can Save, a collection of essays from women at the forefront of the climate movement. A key feature of their podcasts is a Call to Action at the end of each episode, giving listeners tools and instructions on, indeed, how to save a planet.

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The Jane Goodall Hopecast

The Jane Goodall Institute of Canada. Hosted by Jane Goodall.

“Dr. Johnson, may I call you Ayana? You can call me Jane,” world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall says at the beginning of an episode of The Jane Goodall Hopecast, an interview with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. If you can't be inspired and charmed by Jane Goodall's podcast, you can't be inspired or charmed by anyone. Goodall brings the same passion and curiosity that has guided her entire life's work to the wide range of environmental topics of the experts she interviews, with a focus on the reasons there are for hope in a challenging world.

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Living Planet

Deutsche Welle. Various hosts.

Living Planet is an award-winning half-hour weekly environmental podcast from Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcasting network. With weekly episodes dating back to January 2013, Living Planet has covered nearly every conceivable environmental topic, from wild animals in the streets of Nairobi to oil spills in the Russian Arctic. Funded by the German federal government, Living Planet has a budget that allows its reporters to travel around the world and investigate local topics of global import.

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A Matter of Degrees

Hosted by Dr. Leah Stokes and Dr. Katharine Wilkinson.

A Matter of Degrees is a high-energy, humorous podcast “for the climate curious,” hosted by the most engaging college professors you will ever listen to. Dr. Wilkinson is the co-editor, along with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, of All We Can Save, co-author of the bestseller Drawdown, and a former Rhodes scholar. Time magazine named her one of 15 “women who will save the world.”

Dr. Stokes is a down-to-earth policy expert, author of Short Circuiting Policy, and professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Both hosts are sanguine about the obstacles facing the world as we combat climate change but also convinced we have the tools to overcome them. Fittingly, episodes alternate between exposés of the forces destroying the planet and profiles of the people determined to save it.

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New Books in Environmental Studies

New Books Network. Various hosts.

For people who still have time to read in between listening to podcasts, New Books in Environmental Studies offers interviews with authors of recent works in environmental studies—mostly academics with books published by university presses. New podcasts come out frequently, often more than once a week, and cover a wide range of environmental issues, from garden history and bird-friendly habitats to the forests of early modern China and conservation practices in Borneo. You don't need to have a degree in environmental studies to follow along, but it helps.

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People Places Planet Podcast

The Environmental Law Institute. Various hosts.

A pioneer of environmental justice dating back to the civil rights era, the Environmental Law Institute has over 50 years' experience shaping environmental law and public policy, both in the United States and abroad. The People Places Planet Podcast offers diverse perspectives on environmental issues from wetlands protection to animal rights. While its expert interviewees are from the legal and public policy fields, its focus is on the intersection of ordinary people and the environments they live in.

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The Renewable Generation

The Renewable Generation. therenewablegeneration. Various hosts.

Bringing the energy and clarity of purpose of three young people's perspectives, the Renewable Generation features informed but informal discussions of current issues in energy, climate, and environmental issues. The 30-60 minute podcasts are intermittent, and no new podcasts have been released (as of this date) since April 2021. While the podcast states it is a “show about climate change: by young people, for young people,” the issues covered are broader discussions of environmental politics, ethics in business, bitcoin, and jobs in sustainability. The three co-hosts are recent graduates of the University of California, Berkeley.

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Redefining Energy

Hosted by Gerard Reid and Laurent Segalen.

Redefining Energy is not for beginners. But for those who already have gotten their feet wet, investment bankers Gerard Reid and Laurent Segalen explore how clean, sustainable technologies are disrupting not just the fossil fuel industries but the world of finance. Based in London and Berlin, the hosts focus mostly on European energy markets but have an instinctively global perspective, as do the frequent guests they interview. Have an energy dictionary open in front of you as you listen, and you will learn a lot.

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Resources Radio

Resources for the Future. Hosted by Daniel Raimi.

Resources for the Future was established in 1952 by a presidential commission to examine the nation's use of natural resources, but the research institution is an independent nonprofit. Resources Radio tackles a wide variety of issues, increasingly focused on climate change. It features interviews with experts on public policy as they affect environmental issues. Eminent interviewees include Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction, Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, and Nathaniel Keohane, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

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The Sustainable Futures Report

Hosted by Anthony Day.

The Sustainable Futures Report is a weekly podcast from the U.K. but with a global perspective. Anthony Day reports and comments on the major environmental news of the week, with occasional interviews with experts and discussions about creating a more sustainable lifestyle. The roughly 15-20 minute broadcasts focus more on the politics rather than the science of sustainability, with episodes covering meetings of the G7, international climate summits, and governmental policy.

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A Sustainable Mind

A Sustainable Mind. Hosted by Marjorie Alexander.

A Sustainable Mind's goal is to include the voices of women, young people, people of color, and others not regularly involved in conversations about sustainability. New episodes are sporadic and haven't appeared since March 2021, but previous ones include interviews with an Australian surfer leading efforts to remove ocean plastic, with fellow podcaster Kamea Chayne of Green Dreamer, with a co-founder of zero-waste hair salons, and with a sustainability communications professional at the Marine Stewardship Council.

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Sustainable World Radio - Ecology and Permaculture Podcast

Hosted by Jill Cloutier.

Sustainable World Radio's motto is “Working With and Learning From Nature,” reflecting its focus on developing and discovering positive solutions to the challenges our environment faces. Founded on the principles of permaculture, episodes vary from those with a how-to approach (how to create compost, how to create a perennial garden) with interviews with permaculture experts. A companion podcast from Jill Cloutier, The Plant Report: Every Plant Has a Story, reflects the host's exuberant love and abundant knowledge of plants from around the world, most of them familiar to most listeners but ripe for rediscovery.

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MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative. Hosted by Laur Hesse Fisher.

Each short (10-15 minutes) episode of TILclimate (TIL=Today I Learned) invites professional scientists to break down the basics of climate change: what is happening, what do we know, what are we doing, what do we still have to do, and what can you do? Most episodes cover sectors of the economy most affecting or affected by climate change: fossil fuels, carbon pricing, the electric grid, nuclear energy, carbon capture, and clean tech. For those more interested in reading than listening about climate basics, the MIT Climate Portal is an excellent place to begin.

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Short Takes on 3 Short Podcasts

Earth Wise: daily 2-minute podcast covering a wide variety of issues facing our changing environment.

Yale Climate Connections: 90-second takes on current issues related to climate change.

5 Minutes for Earth: 5-15 minutes podcasts about a wide variety of issues, from over-fishing to light pollution.

There are hundreds of podcasts related to sustainability, climate change, and the environment, with an unknown number added to podcast-land every day. Let these 30 recommendations be your jumping off point to many more. You're not going to save the planet just by listening to podcasts, but it's a good place to start.