Accelerating Climate Progress: Prominent Leaders Share Their Insights

Our American Climate Leadership Summit last September brought together more than 200 CEO-level leaders from a variety of sectors. With “solutions” as the focus of the event, these leaders spent the afternoon sessions collaborating on key priorities for accelerating climate progress in 2017 and beyond.
Now that we’re a few months into 2017 (and have a new administration in the White House), we thought it would be worthwhile to revisit those strategies and recommendations. Here’s a synthesis:
1. Share personal stories. Though acceptance of the reality of climate change is growing, along with concern, it can still seem like a distant threat for many people. Others may be highly concerned, but feel powerless to do anything about it. Personal stories about climate impacts and solutions help put a human face on the issue, and also offer people a way to express (and thus, more effectively deal with) their anxieties.
2. Local action, leaders, and standards. With the Trump administration putting federal climate action in doubt, the leadership of cities, counties, and states will be more important than ever. As the leaders at the Summit pointed out, sharing local successes helps build ambition and dispel concerns about the transition to a low-carbon economy. Whenever possible, we should advocate local policies to implement clean energy solutions, and work to create high-quality public spaces to help people appreciate the outdoors.

3. Make climate inclusive and broaden the movement.
Many Americans may balk at being labeled “environmentalists,” even if they are concerned about damage to the climate and the quality of our air and water. Some may not see the value in new clean-energy jobs if those jobs aren’t going to benefit them personally. And though people of color are often the most deeply impacted by climate change, they may feel left out of both the climate movement and climate solutions. It’s important to find ways to connect with Americans in terms of their own values and priorities.
The Summit leaders suggested focusing on local and regional collaborations and partnerships to break down silos between sectors. We also need to communicate inclusively by making climate solutions patriotic, emphasizing co-benefits, and involving children and people of color.
4. Price on carbon. The leaders at the Summit shared their belief that putting a price on fossil fuels is the best way to drive down demand for them. This idea may be gaining traction – a few weeks ago, a carbon tax plan endorsed by a number of high-profile conservatives generated big headlines.
5. Mobilize voters. In September, with the presidential election on the horizon, the Summit leaders stressed the need to exercise political will to win elections and focus on a highly devoted voter block that insists on solutions. The results of the 2016 election throw that need into even starker relief. Climate change was not a top priority in the election, but surveys show that voters do support clean energy and environmental regulation. We must help give these voters the means and motivation to take action and ensure their voices are heard.
For more key insights and strategies from our 2016 Summit, download our Recommendations Report. We’ve already started planning our 2017 American Climate Leadership Summit, which will take place in mid-autumn – stay tuned for updates!
In the meantime, we’re collaborating with our partners on a variety of exciting initiatives designed to address the elevated priorities of climate justice and inclusion, and engage Americans from all walks of life. To get the latest, subscribe to our blog or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

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