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The Clean Revolution is launched

23 September 2011
The Clean Revolution is launched

By Jim Walker, International Programmes & Strategy Director, The Climate Group

On Monday at Climate Week NYC we launched the Clean Revolution campaign, a three year effort to fundamentally reframe the debate on climate change and sustainability, restoring positive energy to the conversation and positive momentum to business and government leadership on the issue.

You can read the event write-up here.

We are delighted to be partnering with the United Nations family of organizations and the World Bank in this effort, and also for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to have supported the campaign with a written letter in the global edition of the Financial Times.

We are passing the point of no return. 
Accumulated greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere are about to push safe climate goals out of reach.  At this defining moment for humanity, climate change is slipping dangerously down political and public agendas in the West amidst a perfect storm: the global economic downturn; reduced confidence in climate science and in international negotiations; and fatigue with a pervasive ‘preaching’ approach to advocating action.

At the start of a half-century where the cities of the future will be built, a number of other mission-critical resource constraints are looming: global water and food supply, the spectre of peak oil, and energy security to name a few.

We believe the only rational route forward for the world economy is a Clean Revolution – a rapid transition to systems that use resources efficiently, manage climate change within 2˚C and provide prosperity and security for a projected population of nine billion people by 2050.

The seeds of a Clean Revolution have already begun to emerge, but this trend must become a much more radical, large-scale economic transformation within the next few years.

Specifically policy targets amongst major emitting economies must be consistent with a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, annual investment in low carbon technology must grow to circa US1Tn per annum, R&D spending must increase and global subsidies on fossil fuel must fall.  In addition, leading governments and businesses must aggressively pursue an innovation agenda for low carbon and resource efficient technologies.

Leadership is the fundamental ingredient for change. 
History shows that radical societal changes require strong leadership, but also that radical change has been the norm (think of the rise in life expectancy, access to electric power and information technology).

Today, pockets of climate leadership exist around the world in disparate settings – at different levels of government, in big business, through disruptive innovators and within technology developers.

Critically, most of the leadership we are seeing on the issue today is driven by the pursuit of opportunity, not the avoidance of catastrophe.  As our initial set of case studies shows, this opportunity can be financial, strategic and/or societal and gives increasing weight to the possibility of a prosperous low carbon future.

China and Scotland are using the development of low carbon energy to reinvent their economies.  Better Place and Suzlon are pursuing a future market for clean technologies.  Ikea and BT Group have combined a values-driven mission with a laser-like pursuit of cost savings from operational and design efficiencies.  And New York City and South Australia have both benefited from strong individual leadership from the top to drive green policies in their jurisdictions. Head to to read more about these Clean Revolution success stories.

The Clean Revolution campaign will support opportunity-driven leadership amongst the small community of influential people and organisations that can make a difference quickly.

We will continue to make the case for the desirability of a low carbon future, focusing on the multiple benefits this future can bring.  In addition we will analyse the experience of leaders on the issue today, looking at the drivers, benefits and challenges of being at the forefront of the transition to a low carbon economy.

Peer-to-peer interaction is critical to speeding the adoption of new leadership - new social and business norms mirror the spread of new technologies (think about the recent rise of tablet PCs and Smart Phones).

Through our members and partners we are working with global advocates who can bring credibility and weight to the message and who we hope will benefit from a finger on the pulse of today's climate leadership.

The Clean Revolution campaign is underway.  We look forward to working with our coalition to fast track the new generation of leadership.

Go to now. 

Back to Jim's Clean Revolution Blog 

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