What Does the New Era of Climate Leadership Look Like?

blog-new era of leadership-3.24.16Why did the Paris climate talks succeed while the 2009 Copenhagen talks did not? The tone and style of leadership had a lot to do with it – optimism instead of fatalism, a sense of opportunity rather than a fear of sacrifice, and a desire to protect all of humanity instead of narrow self-interests.
We’ve entered a new era of climate leadership. As this GreenBiz article points out, the new generation of climate leaders has certain traits in common:
Empathy. Effective leaders take the time to understand conflicting points of view. They care about people beyond their own circle and make efforts to be inclusive.
Bottom-up leadership. Strong leaders and smart ideas can come from anywhere within an organization – and innovative solutions can come from anywhere in society, including students and entrepreneurs.
Collaboration. A problem as big as climate change requires working together. Effective leaders are willing to share their ideas with others (even competitors), and also embrace great ideas that aren’t their own.
System disruption. Climate change won’t be solved by sticking to the status quo. Today’s climate leaders are open to unconventional approaches, and willing to move away from outdated systems.
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4 Traits That Define the Next Generation of Climate Leaders

By Laura Storm, contributor to GreenBiz
Friday, December 18, 2009, is a day I will never forget. It was cold, grey and foggy, as if the weather were mirroring what was happening in the city.
It was the final day of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen, and as the hours ticked by it became clear that we were witnessing a historic collapse of a global deal. The negotiations had completely disintegrated; heads of state quickly were fleeing the scene leaving people all over the world in shock and disbelief.
In the run-up to Copenhagen, I had been project director of the Copenhagen Climate Council, which gave me the chance to work with some of the world’s most energetic and dynamic individuals, from CEOs such as Sir Richard Branson and Jim Rogers, to scientists such as Steve Chu and Tim Flannery. In our time together we focused on raising awareness of the business case for a strong global deal by fostering dialogue with politicians and business leaders primarily in China, India and the U.S.
During that time, one thing became very clear. Although the science made a clear case for urgent action on climate change, it was difficult to get people around the table to discuss a practical approach.
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Image credit: Joe Brusky / Flickr

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