Leah Stokes

Climate change and environmental politics expert.


Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2023. 


Short Circuiting Policy was named Best Energy Book of 2020 by the American Energy Society.


In 2022, Leah was named an advocate on TIME100 Next and as one of Business Insider’s top 30 global leaders working toward climate solutions.


Stokes works on energy, climate, and environmental politics. Within American politics, she focuses on representation and public opinion, voting behavior, and public policy. Within environmental politics, she researches climate change, renewable energy, water and chemicals policy. Her book, Short Circuiting Policy, examines the role that utilities have played in promoting climate denial and rolling back clean energy laws and she argues that organized combat between advocate and opponent interest groups is central to explaining why states are not on track to address the climate crisis. 


The Anton Vonk Associate Professor of Environmental Politics in the Department of Political Science, UC Santa Barbara, Stokes is also affiliated with the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and the Environmental Studies Department at UC, Santa Barbara. She completed her masters and a PhD in public policy at MIT and also an MPA in environmental science and policy at Columbia University. Stokes also has a BSc in psychology and East Asian studies from the University of Toronto. She is a senior policy advisor at Evergreen Action, and senior policy counsel at Rewiring America. Prior to academia, she worked at the Parliament of Canada and Resources for the Future.


Short Circuiting Policy: Interest Groups And The Battle Over Clean Energy And Climate Policy In The American States (OUP, 2020). Contributor to the anthology All We Can Save (Penguin Random House, 2020). Co-host of the podcast ‘A Matter of Degrees.’ Articles published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, CNN and elsewhere. Stokes is frequently quoted in national media.


Media picks


“Prolific scholar and energetic practitioner working towards climate solutions.”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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