Six Reasons to Be Hopeful About Climate Change
By Mike Bloomberg and Carl Pope
Through our work with cities, businesses and communities we believe there are more reasons than ever before to be optimistic about our ability to win the battle against climate change. Our new book, “Climate of Hope,” is filled with practical solutions for cities of all sizes, and reasons why we can all be optimistic. Here are six of them.
1. Climate change is a series of manageable problems that all have solutions.
Political and environmental leaders tend to talk about climate change as though it were one massive problem that can only be solved by a global treaty and that will cost huge sums of money to fix. It’s actually a series of manageable problems that each has a practical solution — and better yet, each of these problems has a solution that will strengthen the economy and improve people’s lives.
2. Cities are taking action.
Cities account for 70 percent of carbon emissions, so they are the places where the climate challenge starts. But they also hold the solutions, because there are many things mayors can do to reduce those emissions — and more and more of them are taking action.
Mayors don’t look at climate change as a political issue — they look at it as an immediate public health and economic issue, and they understand that the same steps that fight climate change also make cities better places to live.
City leaders are talking with each other and collaborating through organizations like C40 and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The Global Covenant now includes more than 7,400 cities that are home to 10 percent of the world’s population. The photo above is from the Climate Summit for Local Leaders co-hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo at Paris City Hall during COP21, where global leaders reached the world’s most significant agreement to address climate change.
3. Citizens are standing up for their right to breathe clean air
Coal-burning power plants are the single largest contributor to global carbon emissions and they take a terrible toll on public health. Around the U.S. and world, communities are leading the transition to clean energy and away from coal. Since 2011, communities working with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign have helped close more than 250 coal plants or convert them to cleaner energy sources. The drop in coal power is the reason the U.S. has led the world in reducing carbon emissions over the last decade — and the decline in coal use is saving about 6,000 American lives each year.
4. Renewable energy is surging.
The biggest reason for coal’s shrinking market share is the falling price of natural gas and renewable energy — and we could speed the transition to clean power by ending subsidies that favor dirty fuels. Each year governments provide around $500 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels — about four times what they spend to support renewable energy. Ending fossil fuel subsidies would create a fair market for clean power and free up money needed to invest in low-carbon infrastructure. It makes economic sense.
5. More businesses are taking climate change into account — and taking action to prevent its impacts.
For a long time, businesses had no way of measuring the risks they face from climate change — and that prevented them from taking action. Now there are a number of efforts underway to help companies measure and report their risks, which encourages investment in clean energy and other steps that will protect our economy from the impacts of climate change.
Businesses are acting for the same reason cities are: self-interest. The company that one of us founded and runs, Bloomberg, gets around 25 percent of its power from clean sources, with the goal of getting 100 percent clean energy by 2025 — and we’ve increased our energy efficiency by 40 percent. These steps save money.
6. A transportation revolution is beginning
Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in most of the world’s cities — but another future is possible, and cities are embracing it. We’re just at the beginning of a revolution in city transportation that is fundamentally changing the way we get around.
More and more mayors are investing in alternatives to cars and making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. At the same time, the combination of electric vehicles, driverless cars, and ride-sharing has the potential to dramatically reduce emissions and air pollution from the transportation sector. And the best ideas are spreading from city to city faster than ever before.
Climate action improves our lives in the here and now. It makes us healthier. It extends our life span. It saves us money. It makes it easier for us to get around. It helps connect people to job opportunities. It strengthens our economy, and it helps create jobs. There’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic.
What gives you hope for the future of climate action? Share it using: #ClimateofHope or share our message at climateofhope.com.