Monday, February 22, 2016

Top 2 Climate Leaders of 2015: A President and a Pope

When it comes to advocating and acting to combat climate change both Pope Francis and US President Barack Obama have made very significant contributions in 2015. Globally Pope Francis has been a stalwart advocate of climate action and US President Obama was the world's leading change maker last year.

Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley deserves an honorable mention for being the greenest candidate to ever throw his hat in the ring to be president of the United States. Although he retired from the race, he should be recognized for putting a host of ambitious ideas on the table.

US President Barack Obama

President Obama is the best green American and the most sustainable actor on the world stage in 2015 due to his raft of climate actions. He promised to step up his climate efforts in the pledge he made in Alaska. This includes the release of his Clean Power plan, reducing Shell's drilling permits by half and then effectively shutting down Arctic drilling in US waters, the killing of the KXL pipeline project, and an Executive Order that mandates significant reductions to the amount of GHGs generated by the federal government.

Obama has also succeeded in bringing together some of America's leading corporations to combat climate change. He has reached out to people and young people in particular through Facebook. In addition to cutting GHGs the President also announced a number of renewable energy initiatives designed to help the US move away from fossil fuels.

Obama also signed a number of ambitious agreements with other nations including China, France, Brazil India and others. As the year came to a close Obama also played a crucial role in getting the world on-board to sign the final agreement at COP21 in Paris. Obama also pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund.

Pope Francis the Environmentalist

Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of a billion people around the world came out with his environmental Encyclical that rocked the world. In addition to releasing his Encyclical the pontiff has relentlessly advocated for climate action. His efforts have helped to energize and mobilize religious communities all around the world.

The pope has described combating climate change as a moral imperative. This call to moral action resonated far beyond the world's 1 billion Catholics.

His Encyclical lauded climate activists and derided climate deniers. The document called on the world to relinquish fossil fuels and embrace renewables. A point he has subsequently repeated numerous times. Prior to the release of the Encyclical the Vatican hosted a climate conference which called for a moral awakening the included rejecting fossil fuels.

The science based Encyclical supports the poor and criticizing the rich. It rebukes capitalism and calls for a revolution  While at the same time reaching out to politicians and business leaders. When it comes to Republicans the Pope did not pull any punches. He labeled them as climate deniers and condemned their obstructionism, undermining their religious support.

The pontiff also instituted a day of prayer for the care of creation and he was a stalwart advocate of a positive outcome at COP21

In fact Pope Francis has helped to inspire faith based environmental leadership.  He has energized faith movements around the world to champion climate action. From the wave of climate focused female leadership including some bold climate leadership from the head of the Episcopal Church. The Pope has even contributed moral weight to the wide range of faith communities that are divesting from fossil fuels

With the Pope addressing the moral dimension of combating climate change and the President engaging in multiple levels of climate action, these two men were a climate dream team in 2015.

No comments: