Sure, the crisis is a complex challenge with no one solution. But while carbon pricing may not be a silver bullet, it's one we're going to need in the chamber—and critically, support is growing all along the political spectrum right when we need it.
First, a quick primer. Carbon pricing as a concept is basically just what it sounds like: attaching a market price to carbon pollution emitted from burning fossil fuels. From there, things get a little more complicated as there are several ways to do it.
Carbon Tax: The simplest approach, a carbon tax assigns a price to each unit of carbon emitted or the carbon content of a fuel, either for designated industries or entire societies. There's a clear cause and effect: the more carbon you burn and emissions you put into the air, the more you pay. Plus, the price rises over time, gradually putting more and more pressure on people or industries to cut their emissions.
Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS): Usually called "cap-and-trade" in the U.S., the principle is that a state, provincial or national government establishes a market with a limit on how much a designated set of industries can emit in a year (the "cap" part). The government then distributes and/or sells allowances to emit a certain amount to everyone in the market. If a company, for example, is going to emit more than it originally bought, it has to buy more from someone else in the market who's not planning to emit as much (the "trade" part).
Fuel Tax: This is where a government will directly tax a fuel based on the amount of say, coal itself, rather than the carbon it produces when burned.
Hybrid Instruments: An increasingly popular option, hybrid instruments combine elements of a carbon tax and an ETS.
There's more to say about each of these—and we've put together the 2017 Handbook on Carbon Pricing Instruments to say it—but the important thing is that each uses market forces to encourage people or companies to burn less carbon—and so put less pollution driving climate change into the air.
Even big energy CEOs know that climate change is real and we have to take action today. #StandWithReality:… https://t.co/eKpEy2E1Xx— Climate Reality (@Climate Reality)1493294860.0
There's a flip side in that introducing some form of carbon pricing in turn makes low and no-carbon alternatives like solar and wind a lot more attractive because they don't carry the same costs as coal, oil, or gas. Users save money while investors start shifting more into renewables as demand for the better economic option grows, encouraging more development that encourages prices to drop even further. And on and on in a virtuous cycle.
The important point: done right, carbon pricing shifts the transition to a clean energy economy into high gear. And does it by making one part of our economic system a little more fair, a little more just.
That's because carbon pricing – as economists would say—helps to internalize externalities. As normal people would say, in many cases, those responsible for carbon pollution—think power plants, fossil fuel companies—aren't the ones paying the cost of climate change. That goes to kids suffering from more frequent asthma attacks or families watching wildfires devour their houses or a hundred other examples. Carbon pricing reverses that dynamic and puts something closer to the big-picture costs of carbon into the price of burning it.
Best of all, carbon pricing can appeal to pretty much every political persuasion—and in a time when at least in the U.S., Republicans and Democrats seem to have trouble agreeing on anything other than the virtues of spicy salmon rolls and bacon cheeseburgers—that's an important thing. More and more conservatives like carbon pricing because – if done right (and that's a big "if")—it can significantly cut government regulations and give businesses greater degrees of freedom, while achieving much of the same result. Better yet, carbon pricing can be designed to become revenue neutral, meaning the money generated from the plan goes back to individual taxpayers in one form or another.
This is the approach an all-star team of Republican thought leaders and policymakers from the Reagan and Bush administrations has taken, though there is a real danger of cutting regulators like the EPA almost completely out of the picture in exchange for a carbon price, as this plan would do. Meanwhile, one economist has even boiled an approach to carbon pricing he thinks can stop rising temperatures and heat up the economy down to one page.
On the other side of the spectrum, progressives like carbon pricing because, with the right design, it can help both cut down emissions and make the world a little more fair. Two factors in particular go into making this happen. First, structuring any plan to ensure that lower-income citizens get more in benefits than they personally pay in costs. Second, using a significant part of the revenue generated to actually lower emissions by investing in clean energy—and focusing investment in communities that are already suffering from climate impacts or fossil fuel industry pollution.
Progressives also like carbon pricing because it works in the real world. Scandinavian countries—Finland, Norway, and Sweden—were the first to embrace carbon pricing back in the 90s and contrary to the scare tactic stories you might expect, have actually seen their economies grow. After introducing a carbon tax in 1991, Sweden, for example, has seen emissions drop by 25 percent while its GDP has grown 60 percent—all with what has become the highest carbon tax in the world.
It's not just idyllic Scandinavian countries making carbon pricing work either. Until the election of a premier friendly to fossil fuel interests in 2012 stalled annual rate increases, British Columbia was showing how a revenue-neutral carbon tax could work in North America to cut emissions without impeding economic growth.
More carbon pricing is on the way, too. China—the world's largest carbon polluter—has been running ETS pilots in seven major industrial cities across the country with a view to launching a national system some time this year. In the U.S., lawmakers in Washington State, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont have learned from past setbacks and are working to introduce plans at the state level. Plus, Canada just announced a new plan requiring all provinces to develop some approach to carbon pricing by 2018—or adopt a hybrid federal plan that's one part fuel tax and one part ETS.
It's not only the urgency of the crisis itself that's driving policymakers to look at carbon pricing as a feasible strategy for cutting emissions. After promising to cut emissions as part of the Paris agreement in 2015, many leaders started looking into real-world paths to live up to their commitments. In a world where no country wants to be the one that can't honor their word, carbon pricing looks like a very attractive and practical path forward.
Even the CEO of Shell knows that we have to #ActOnClimate. #StandWithReality: https://t.co/FVn828hP4N https://t.co/VIxpPcREGw— Climate Reality (@Climate Reality)1494822122.0
The French writer Victor Hugo (author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables, among others) once wrote, "You can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time has come." For those who want to keep talking about glaciers in the present tense and pass a world we can be proud of on to our children, carbon pricing is an idea whose time has certainly come.
The contents of our mattresses are often an afterthought. That's a mistake, as research shows that the quality of your sleeping surface can significantly impact your health.
As consumers gain awareness about the health effects of sleeping on potentially toxic compounds, mattress companies are responding with new beds made from better materials. Today, you can choose from a broad range of mattresses made from all-natural components, including organic wool, cotton, and latex. Here's a summary of the best non-toxic, eco-friendly mattresses available today and how to decide between them.
Why You Should Choose an Organic Mattress
Traditionally, mattresses contain trace amounts of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that act as flame retardants and coatings on plastic components. While the popular view is that these VOCs are found in too low of concentrations to be concerning, a 2019 study published in Environmental Science and Technology indicates that body heat may transform them into toxic vapors that you breathe in through the night.
That's a reason for concern, as according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the potential health effects of VOC exposure include headaches and eye, nose, and throat irritation. In extreme cases, they may trigger cancer cell development or organ damage.
8 Top-Rated Organic and Natural Mattress BrandsEach product featured below has been selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the included links, we may earn a commission.
- Best Overall – Avocado Green Mattress
- Best Cooling – GhostBed Natural Mattress
- Best Hypoallergenic – Plushbeds Botanical Bliss
- Best for Lower Back Support – Saatva Zenhaven Latex Mattress
- Best for Couples – My Green Mattress Natural Escape
- Best 100% Certified Organic - Happsy Mattress
- Best Fair Trade Certified – Birch Natural Mattresses
- Most Affordable – Eco Terra Latex Hybrid
- Best Give Back Program – Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress
How We Chose These Products
When comparing the best natural mattress options, we looked at several specific factors to determine which ones stand out. Here are some of the distinguishing features.
The best non-toxic mattress brands today exclusively use certified organic textiles like cotton and wool.
Is it certified GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) or GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)? As the leading natural certifications for textiles and latex materials, GOLS and GOTS-certified products meet stringent requirements for responsible social and environmental practices.
The best nontoxic mattresses are compressed into boxes for shipping and then expand to full size once you unpack them. Environmentally speaking, smaller packages mean less fuel wasted on transportation. Others are sent in pieces or in full form and require a delivery team for installation.
Give Back Programs
The best eco-friendly mattress brands also support nonprofit programs that benefit the environment. We like brands where a percentage of your purchase may go towards a worthwhile cause.
Many of the best organic mattresses are handcrafted in the United States, which shrinks their environmental footprint by keeping production and transportation within a smaller area.
Standard practice in the mattress industry is to offer sleep trial testing periods. These range from three months to a year or longer.
Direct to Consumer
Direct-to-consumer mattress companies are increasing in popularity. They tend to be less wasteful than traditional retailers because the brand isn't putting resources towards maintaining showrooms.
9 Best Natural and Organic Mattresses of 2021
Best Overall - Avocado Green Mattress
- Materials – 100% GOTS certified cotton and wool, 100% natural latex, steel support coils
- Manufacturing – Handmade in USA
- Delivery – Mattress arrives compressed in a box
- Certifications – GREENGUARD Gold, Rainforest Alliance, eco-INSTITUT®, and Formaldehyde-Free certified, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified wool, GOTS and GOLS certified materials
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 100-night sleep trial, 25-year warranty
This mattress-in-a-box brand doesn't compromise its eco-friendly principles for low cost or convenience. The Avocado Green mattress boasts a gentle latex support system for balanced firmness that's ideal for larger people and those who sleep on their back or side.
Why buy: Avocado is a leading brand for affordable mattresses made from natural materials. The Green mattress makes this list for its affordable price point and five-zone support system with up to 1,400 pocketed steel support coils. Equally impressive, Avocado maintains control over its whole supply chain and employs strict social and environmental standards for every product.
Best Cooling - GhostBed Natural Mattress
- Materials – Natural wool, GOLS certified Dunlop & Talalay latex, USDA organic and GOTS certified cotton
- Manufacturing – Manufactured in the USA
- Delivery – Mattress arrives vacuum sealed in a box
- Certifications – USDA organic, Control Union certified, OEKO-TEX® certified, GOLS and GOTS certified materials
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 101 night sleep trial, 25-year warranty
The GhostBed Natural mattress offers five layers of natural comfort materials. Each mattress is made from natural wool, genuine Dunlop and Talalay latex, and organic cotton for solid support and air-flow cooling. This is an eco-friendly mattress made for comfort, cooling, and support.
Why buy: The GhostBed Natural mattress is a great option if you tend to get hot when you sleep, as it includes both a naturally cooling latex core and cooling airflow coil technology to help you sleep better. We also love that it is made in the United States with organic and natural materials like sustainably-sourced latex and USDA organic cotton.
Best Hypoallergenic - Plushbeds Botanical Bliss
- Materials – GOLS certified latex, GOTS certified cotton and wool
- Manufacturing – Handcrafted in California
- Delivery – Delivered in two boxes, the customer must assemble
- Certifications – GOLS certified latex, GOTS certified cotton and wool, GreenGuard Gold Certified, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 Certified, eco-INSTITUT® certified, Control Union Certified, Forest Stewardship Council Certified
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 100-night sleep trial, 25-year warranty
Plushbeds mattresses are handcrafted in the US from certified organic materials. Orthopedic specialists recommend them for their buoyant support and pressure point relief, along with an organic latex core you can customize.
Why buy: With Plushbeds' Botanical Bliss mattress, you get a non-toxic, hypoallergenic sleeping surface that keeps you cool through the night. This bed is dust mite resistant to eliminate most home's primary allergy problems and includes an organic cotton cover for comfort.
Best Luxury - Saatva Zenhaven Latex Mattress
- Materials – Certified organic cotton, all-natural Talalay latex, 100% organic New Zealand wool
- Manufacturing – Made in USA within 19 independent factories
- Delivery – Purchase comes with free white glove delivery and setup, including old mattress removal
- Certifications – OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, eco-INSTITUT®, Rainforest Alliance, and Cradle to Cradle certified
- Sleep Trial/ Warranty – 180-day sleep trial, 20-year warranty
The Saatva Zenhaven mattress is naturally hypoallergenic and made using environmentally responsible practices. The manufacturing process is entirely water-based and produces minimal byproducts. Even the certified organic cotton cover is protected by a proprietary nontoxic botanical antimicrobial treatment. Rather than using traditional flame retardants, the mattress contains a protective layer of organic New Zealand wool.
Why buy: As Saatva's premium mattress, the Zenhaven is made for low back support and a cooling, comfortable night's sleep. This 100% Talalay latex mattress contains durable materials for supported rest and boasts a flippable design for two firmness levels. This is the best option for a luxurious yet eco-friendly mattress.
Best for Couples - My Green Mattress Natural Escape
- Materials – GOTS certified cotton, GOLS certified Dunlop latex
- Manufacturing – Handcrafted in a certified organic factory in Illinois
- Delivery – White glove delivery service available for $199 for setup and old mattress removal.
- Certifications – GreenGuard Gold Certified, GOTS Certified cotton, GOLS certified Dunlop latex
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 120-night sleep trial, 20-year warranty
The Natural Escape mattress boasts a responsive zoned pocketed coil spring system covered with GOLS certified Dunlop latex for breathability. With an adaptive support system that conforms to the contours of your spine, the company recommends it for couples with opposite body types or who prefer different sleeping positions from each other. The mattress itself is button tufted to pull the layers together without the use of any potentially toxic adhesives or VOCs.
Why buy: The Natural Escape mattress from My Green Mattress delivers stellar lumbar support and proper spinal alignment—all underneath a comfortable organic cotton cover. It also provides limited motion transfer thanks to an upgraded innerspring system, making it a great option for couples as you won't disturb your partner when you move.
Best 100% Certified Organic - Happsy Mattress
- Materials – Organic cotton filling, organic wool, certified latex
- Manufacturing – Handmade in USA
- Delivery – Ships compressed in a single box
- Certifications – GOTS-certified cotton, Certified Made Safe, GOLS-certified latex, Forest Stewardship Council Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, GreenGuard Gold Certified, Underwriters Laboratories verified formaldehyde-free, Green America Certified Business
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 120-night sleep trial, 20-year warranty
Happsy's mattresses combine comfort, the latest technology in certified organic mattress design, and premium earth-friendly materials for a bed you can feel good about from every angle. In fact, the included zipper lets you peek inside to see what you're really sleeping on. The mattress utilizes a breathable coil system designed to wick moisture away to keep you cooler at night than sleeping on heat-trapping synthetic foams.
Why buy: Happsy is a small mattress brand focused on making mattresses with a conscience — meaning that all materials are chosen for being easy on the environment. The company forgoes all glues and adhesives in favor of its own pocketed spring design that keeps the mattress supportive, but never "bouncy."
Best Fair Trade Certified - Birch Natural Mattresses
- Materials – Organic cotton, wool, birch wool, natural latex, steel coils
- Manufacturing – Handmade in USA
- Delivery – Ships compressed in a box
- Certifications – GreenGuard Gold Certified, GOTS Certified, OEKO-TEX®Standard 100, Eco INSTITUT® Tested Product, Wool Integrity NZ, Fair Trade Certified Factory
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 100-night sleep trial, 25-year warranty
Birch by Helix makes a range of natural bedding options constructed in ways that support the environment. Each mattress is made from premium materials that together work to relieve your body's pressure points, no matter how you prefer to sleep. The company claims this premium product has natural flexibility that allows it to retain its shape to provide enough softness for coziness while still offering full-body support.
Why buy: We love that all Birch mattress wool comes from New Zealand sheep farms that meet Wool Integrity NZ standards, which ensures the animals are treated ethically at every stage of production. Plus, the cotton within each mattress is Fair Trade certified, making this a responsible sleep option.
Most Affordable - Eco Terra Latex Hybrid
- Materials – 100% natural latex foam rubber, organic wool, organic cotton
- Manufacturing – Designed and handcrafted in Los Angeles, CA
- Delivery – Free standard delivery across the US, White Glove delivery available for an extra cost
- Certifications – OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified, GOTS Organic wool, GOTS organic certified cotton
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 90-day sleep trial, 15-year warranty
Eco Terra offers a budget-friendly latex hybrid mattress that includes natural materials, unobtrusive pocket support coils, and a 90-day sleep trial. Eco Terra's latex mattress is available in both a medium and medium-firm firmness level to support a wide range of sleepers. The bed is free of synthetic foams and VOCs, favoring a three-inch-thick layer of Talalay latex instead.
Why buy: Eco Terra offers a more budget-friendly option than other latex hybrid brands, making this mattress an excellent choice for comfortable sleep without compromising on natural materials. One thing to note is that this latex isn't GOLS-certified, though the other materials are GOTS certified.
Best Give Back Program - Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress
- Materials – Dunlap latex, organic New Zealand wool, organic cotton, steel coils
- Manufacturing – Made in China
- Delivery – Arrives compressed in a box
- Certifications – Rainforest Alliance certified latex, certified organic wool, certified organic cotton
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 365-night sleep trial, Forever Warranty (lifetime guarantee against sagging and manufacturing defects)
Awara features premium Sri Lanka latex and wrapped coil springs to provide contour and a touch of bounce for supportive sleep throughout the night. At the core of this mattress are nine-inch pocketed coils that are thicker than standard. This gives the bed a firmer, more responsive feel that minimizes the sense of sinking when you reach the outer edge, so it's suitable for back, side, and stomach sleepers alike.
Why buy: Awara's natural latex mattress stands out for being slightly firmer than some other options. The mattress itself is made from quality materials with GOLS, GOTS, and Rainforest Alliance certification. Awara also partners with Trees for the Future to support forest systems throughout Africa. Every purchase funds the planting of ten trees throughout Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, or Tanzania.
The best night's sleep takes place on a mattress that won't make you or the environment sick. Today, there are more options than ever for finding the best organic and nontoxic mattress for your family. Seek out brands that use certified organic materials and that guarantee each bed is free from VOCs to rest easy every night.
Lydia Noyes is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, food and farming, and environmental topics. When not working against a writing deadline, you can find Lydia outdoors where she attempts to bring order to her 33-acre hobby farm filled with fruit trees, heritage breed pigs, too many chickens to count, and an organic garden that somehow gets bigger every year.
For decades, Earth Day has served as a global rallying cry for a cleaner, healthier planet. It's a symbolic day but only one day in a 365-day movement. But this Earth Day is different. Today we have renewed hope as leaders from almost 170 countries formally signed the Paris agreement created at last December's COP 21 climate conference. The agreement commits countries to a series of pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions and other steps with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius (with efforts to aim for 1.5 degrees). It isn't victory, but a hopeful sign that the international community is committed to get there.
There have been global climate agreements before, but nothing with this extraordinary reach, ambition and international backing. It sends a clear message that finally, as a planet, we're serious about moving away from the dirty fossil fuels slowly destroying our planet and finally stopping climate change.
After many hard fought fights, wins, losses, optimistic moments mixed with disappointing setbacks, the climate action movement has had its fair share of ups and downs which only makes this moment more remarkable. I was awestruck by the unanimous view among all the world's leaders who were present that they have to take significant steps now to address climate change and by the fact that there was no climate denial expressed by anyone. It brought me back to the lead up to the Paris negotiations when millions of individuals, businesses and NGOs across the globe demanded their leaders do what's required to protect our planet. If you weren't at the UN ceremony, I can say that the world's leaders will be working together to protect your future.
[email protected]: The World Is Now Watching https://t.co/Ff3xfM7jj4 @UN #EarthDay #ParisAgreement #climatechange https://t.co/homqwfDrUo— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1461342277.0
With the Paris agreement coming into force and countries actively cutting emissions and turning to clean, renewable energy, we have both the framework we need to stop climate change and the tools to do it. Already, we can see how the agreement has transformed perspectives all around the world and spurred countries, companies, and citizens to get to work even before it's been formally signed. In just the four months since negotiators reached the agreement, Copenhagen announced plans to divest from fossil fuels, while the influential Rockefeller Family Fund began to do the same. Norway banned more than 50 firms from its sovereign wealth fund. New York State announced plans to go coal-free by 2020 while JP Morgan halted funding new coal mines. Investment in renewables reached levels double that of coal and gas.
The list goes on and on and reaches into nearly every sector. And it tells you that the world is changing in profound ways.
So let's savor this moment. Know that today, you're experiencing history in the making. Today on Earth Day, let yourself believe that finally solving climate change is possible—because, thanks to the Paris agreement, it is. Imagine a world powered by renewable energy and know that while we won't get there tomorrow, we will get there.
Tomorrow, however, it's time to act. There is real and hard work ahead of us to implement the Paris Agreement in every country that signs it and the fossil fuel industry and its powerful allies have no intention of going gently into that good night. Witness, for example, the current action against the Clean Power Plan here in the U.S. brought forward by two dozen state attorneys general. Plus, we need to make the commitments to cutting emissions now in the agreement even more ambitious if we're going to keep warming below 2 degrees.
Which countries won’t be signing the #ParisAgreement on #EarthDay? https://t.co/i154kS1gDa via @EcoWatch— TckTckTck (@TckTckTck)1461309603.0
But also know that increasingly, millions and millions of people on every continent are waking up not just to the threat climate change poses to the future of our precious planet, but also to the reality we can solve it. They're speaking up for change with a voice so loud and strong that politicians can simply no longer afford to ignore it.
And more than anything, more than any meeting of politicians, more than any agreement, that simple fact gives us hope.
Let world leaders know you support the Paris agreement—and your president, prime minister or representative know you're ready to get to work to implement it at home by signing our petition today.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Yesterday during the first official visit by a Canadian Prime Minister to the U.S. in 19 years, the two countries made a historic and precedent-setting announcement to curb methane emissions. In addition to pledging cooperation on implementing their emissions reduction commitments under the Paris agreement, advancing clean energy and preserving the Arctic, the two North American countries both committed to cutting methane emissions from their oil and gas sectors by 40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 and to explore additional avenues for reducing methane emissions.
While at first glance this announcement may seem to have a particularly niche focus, it is critically important to helping solve the climate crisis in three key ways:
1. The Announcement Demonstrates Continued Momentum for Internationally Agreed-Upon Climate Action
Last December, a year of bilateral announcements and national emissions reduction commitments culminated in the Paris agreement, where the entire global community made a historic agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions. It was an exhilarating moment—but now countries around the world must turn their attention to the hard work of implementing their plans and increasing the ambition of their commitments over time.
This agreement between the U.S. and Canada is exactly the kind of inspiring, additive action we need to continue the momentum from Paris. The more joint announcements, the more ambition can be increased, the more countries expand their actions to include global warming emissions beyond carbon dioxide, the greater our chances become of winning the climate fight.
2. The New Plan Expands Upon Existing U.S. Enivornmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safeguards on Methane
Although carbon dioxide is the global warming pollutant with which most people are familiar, methane is nevertheless a highly potent greenhouse gas that, according to Environmental Defense Fund is responsible for about a quarter of today's global warming. The U.S. and Canada are among the top five largest emitters of oil and gas-sector methane in the world. And in the U.S. alone, oil and gas operations leak enough methane to power millions of homes.
The U.S. EPA was already in the process of developing new rules to limit methane emissions from new oil and gas operations. The U.S. and Canada's announcement sets into motion a process for the EPA to not only look at new facilities, but to take action on existing sources of methane as well.
3. Canada's National Government is Echoing the Will of Its People and Provinces
There is a reason we held a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Toronto last year: Canada is a crucial player in the climate fight. In recent years, the country seemed to be on the wrong track at the national level, backing away from any leadership role on climate change. But courageous regional leaders like Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and local activists like our Canadian Climate Reality Leaders continued calling for stronger climate action as Alberta, traditionally a fossil fuel stronghold, elected a government that unveiled a plan for both an economy-wide carbon tax and a cap on pollution from oil sands last November. Today, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the national government has chartered a new course on climate action that better reflects the will of its people and regional leaders.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
2015 is shaping up to be the year when the world takes action on the global climate crisis. Business leaders, non-profit organizations, NGOs, national governments and citizens all over the world are mobilizing in the lead-up to December's United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris (COP21), where we hope national leaders will sign a strong emissions reductions agreement.
The Paris negotiations represent a critical opportunity for the international community to take a bold step forward to halt climate change. At The Climate Reality Project we believe COP21 is our best chance yet to secure a strong international agreement that includes meaningful emissions reductions commitments based on national circumstances, a system of periodic review for these commitments and a long-term goal of net zero carbon emissions.
To harness this global momentum towards COP21, The Climate Reality Project recently launched its Road to Paris campaign. The campaign focuses on garnering public support from the international community and citizens in eight key countries that are strategically significant for COP21: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Philippines, South Africa and the U.S.
In each of these countries, The Climate Reality Project's Road to Paris campaign will build on the work we've already undertaken, including training new members of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps and activating local branches, which will employ social/digital earned media tactics to educate and mobilize communities, hold events, and offer practical suggestions for grassroots action people can take to support and strengthen the commitments their national governments have made. Our partnership with Live Earth: Road to Paris will also play a significant role in the campaign and serve as a rallying point for in-country programs this summer.
So what does the Road to Paris look like on the ground?
In the U.S., our Road to Paris campaign will foster public support for the climate efforts already underway—most notably the United States' initial commitment for the COP21 negotiations and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan—and train a new cadre of Climate Reality Leaders.
To take a step back, the United Nations has called for each country to submit an initial commitment—officially called an intended nationally determined contribution (INDC)—for reducing carbon emissions domestically. Countries around the world have waited to see if the United States would make good on President Obama's own calls for climate action. At the end of March, the country did just that, committing for the first time to reducing carbon pollution based on real world targets with real world policies, by announcing an INDC that would reduce national greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The U.S. plans to accomplish this largely through existing policies like fuel economy standards for vehicles and the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever national standard that would limit emissions from existing power plants. This proposed rule is significant for the United States because 40 percent of the U.S. carbon pollution that drives climate disruption comes from power plants—the rule would cut emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, making it the largest single action that the United States has taken to address climate change.
Our goal with the Road to Paris campaign is to help provide the political and social support for the commitment the U.S. has already announced, helping to provide a bold example to encourage other countries around the world to commit to their own strong national plans. Through these efforts, we can build a powerful movement for change at COP21.
And while this year is meaningful in the context of the year-end negotiations, the Road to Paris won't end at the conclusion of COP21. Beyond December, climate change will continue to be a critical issue for countries all over the world. Particularly in the U.S., it is increasingly something that voters care about—a recent national poll of registered voters in the U.S. showed that a majority of voters favor candidates who will take action to fight climate change.
For exactly this reason, the Road to Paris campaign in the U.S. includes a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this May. The training will not only help to empower the great work of community leaders on the ground there, but will also capture Iowa's unique political significance—as the first caucus state, Iowa's voters will help determine the issues and candidates that will feature in the presidential race for the next 18 months.
The Iowa training—which will take community leaders and equip them with the knowledge and tools to communicate effectively around climate change—is one of two trainings in the U.S. this year—the other will take place in Miami, Florida in September.
As we look ahead to COP21 and beyond, we must hold leaders of all political parties and at all levels accountable for taking action to combat the largest threat the world has ever faced. We have the solutions to solve the climate crisis and—as the Road to Paris campaign shows—the international community is beginning to take action. Now we must work together to mobilize individuals, organizations and leaders to build the momentum we need to stop global climate change altogether.
Note that a version of this article appears in the May issue of Formiche.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Last week, the U.S. took an important step forward and joined the European Union, Mexico and others in announcing a national commitment for reducing carbon emissions. Of course, with the climate negotiations happening in Paris at the end of the year, this national commitment is extremely important in demonstrating to the international community that the U.S. is serious about solving climate change.
But here at home, climate change is also becoming an increasingly hot-button issue. Recent antics like Senator Inhofe’s throwing a snowball on the Senate floor to “disprove” climate change and the series of Senate votes to establish that climate change is not a hoax indicate that politicians can no longer evade questions as to their positions on climate change. Just last week, a national poll of registered voters in the U.S. showed that 58 percent of voters favor candidates who will take action to fight climate change.
It is critical that we hold our leaders of all political parties and at all levels accountable for taking action to combat the largest threat the world has ever faced. We have the solutions to solve the climate crisis and the international community is beginning to take action—now it is a question of mobilizing individuals, organizations and leaders here in the U.S. to take urgent action.
The good news is that community leaders across the U.S. are already taking up the cause and implementing solutions. At The Climate Reality Project, we seek to find those individuals and equip them with the knowledge, tools and drive to communicate effectively and activate their communities on what can be done to solve the climate crisis.
It is for this reason that we’re bringing our highly effective international Climate Reality Leadership Corps program back to the U.S.—our 28th training will take place May 5-7 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
At the training, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and I will join scientists, strategists, organizers and technical specialists to discuss the science of climate change, the direct cost climate impacts are having on communities around the world and solutions available to solve the climate crisis.
Iowa, of course, holds unique political significance—as the first caucus state, Iowa’s voters will help determine the issues and candidates that will feature in the presidential race for the next 18 months.
Additionally, increasingly extreme weather, exacerbated by climate change—including heat waves, drought and flooding—will have major negative implications for Iowa’s extensive agricultural production.
Finally, climate change may hold serious health consequences for the people of Iowa—the Natural Resource Defense Council estimates that more than 240,000 people in Iowa suffer from asthma, a condition that may worsen as climate change causes air quality to deteriorate.
In Iowa next month, the training will not only explore these negative impacts of climate change, but will also focus on the solutions at hand, building on Iowa’s strong history of supporting renewable energy.
What You Can Do
We’re looking for those passionate individuals from all political parties and backgrounds to join us in Iowa and help demonstrate to our leaders that Americans want climate action today. Our Climate Reality Leaders are critical to bringing together climate voices to call for national climate policies that will have an impact globally.
We hope to see you there.
Applications open now to be trained in Iowa by former Vice President Al Gore and other experts to become a Climate Reality Leader. This is the first of three North American trainings to be held in 2015, with others to follow in Toronto and Miami.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Earlier this month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for India to continue to be a leader in international conversations on climate change. Next week, U.S. President Obama will travel to India to meet with Indian Prime Minister Modi, where he will likely explore how the two countries might collaborate on climate change efforts in advance of the much-anticipated UN climate talks taking place in Paris at the end of the year.
This focus on India highlights the pivotal role the country will likely play leading up to the negotiations: despite the fact that India has not historically generated high per-capita carbon emissions, the country’s massive population and rapid economic growth mean the country’s development path will have environmental consequences both for India’s citizens and the rest of the world.
And as energy demands rise, India faces the singular difficulty of continuing to promote its impressive economic growth and raising its people out of poverty, while simultaneously playing a critical role in avoiding the worst effects of climate change, which—if unchecked—would put more than 60 percent of its citizens at grave risk.
The good news is that India is already taking important steps toward sustainable economic growth. India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change includes measures to increase energy efficiency and install significant solar capacity in the near-term (100 gigawatt by 2022), helping to meet its goal to double its total renewable capacity by 2017, all while reducing the country’s carbon intensity by 20-25 percent by 2020. These efforts demonstrate that India is taking the threat of climate change and the promise of renewable energy expansion seriously, which is an important step forward on the Road to Paris.
Yet there is far more to the Indian climate story than the Indian government’s efforts leading up to the international negotiations. There are more than one billion people living in India, many of whom are not waiting for international debates in order to take action on climate at a community level.
It is the energy from these types of community activism and engagement projects that we at Climate Reality look forward to seeing next month when we host the 27th Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in New Delhi (Feb. 22-24). There, we will convene scientists, decision makers, leading businesses and representatives from all sectors of Indian society to equip them to understand climate change and its solutions, communicate effectively about climate change and organize their networks towards action.
This training is part of our goal to help give community leaders all over the world the tools they need to effect change in their networks. Through these trainings, we have met inspiring activists and trained more than 7,000 Climate Reality Leaders from more than 100 countries.
Will you be the next?
To become a Climate Leader by attending the training in India, apply to attend by Jan. 30.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
In the run-up to the COP20 climate negotiations happening right now here in Lima, the world has seen some major developments for international climate agreements. While countries do not have to make public their national greenhouse gas reductions commitments until March of next year, major players including the U.S., China, the United Kingdom and Japan are already making bold agreements about what they will do.
In the last few weeks alone, the U.S. and China announced a landmark climate deal outlining new commitments by each of the countries, while several countries—including the U.S., the United Kingdom and Japan—made large financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund, which will help less affluent countries fight climate change.
This is an exciting time for the climate, and especially exciting to watch the conversations on the ground here in Lima.
With all of these commitments and goals, the natural question arises: how will countries meet these ambitious goals?
The good news is that the decades of international inaction did not forestall climate action on a local scale, and success stories abound even in countries that have yet to make international commitments. Earlier this year, we featured some of these success stories during our 24 Hours of Reality: 24 Reasons for Hope broadcast, but I want to share them again here.
Though Australia has remained cool on climate commitments, an organization called Cool Australia is challenging young Australians across the nation to take positive climate action.
Field Report - Cool Australia:
In order to achieve its recently-announced goal of peaking CO2 emissions by 2030, China must expand its share of non-fossil fuel energy to around 20 percent. The good news, is that China is already embarking on an ambitious plan to expand its wind power.
Field Report – China’s Wind Quest:
While the world waits for a commitment from India, the world’s second most populous nation, the Barefoot College program is already harnessing human potential along with the sun to improve millions of impoverished lives.
Field Report - Barefoot College:
Also in India, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is working to improve the lives of the nearly three billion people who rely on wood- or coal-powered open cookstoves, while reducing carbon pollution along the way.
Field Report – Cleaning up the Cookstove:
As a nation, Mexico has made financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund. At the same time, though, people in the country are battling recurrent drought and heat trying to protect chocolate, which is threatened by climate change.
Field Report – Mexican Cocoa:
The Philippines has begun accounting for climate change in its national budget. But on a local scale, the island of Sibuyan has recently converted its energy mix to 90 percent renewable, and they’re eager to share their success.
Field Report – At River Camp in the Philippines:
In just 10 years, South Africa became a leading wind power producer in Africa, creating one of the fastest and most high-tech energy revolutions in the world. Yet the country still struggles to utilize renewable energy in the face of an abundant coal supply.
Field Report – A Clean Wind Blows in South Africa:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
On Sept. 23, the world will gather in New York City at the UN Climate Summit for what Selwin Hart, director of the U.N. climate team under Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls “a major turning point in the way the world is approaching climate change."
Although climate impacts are already being felt around the world, young people today are the ones most vulnerable to a changing climate. That’s why a few weeks ago, The Climate Reality Project challenged youth across the world to question the status quo on climate change and ask their leaders “Why? Why Not?” questions.
Questions like “Why are you not taking climate change seriously? Why not embrace actions that will lead to a future powered by affordable, clean renewable energy?” Young adults from all nationalities and backgrounds logged on to YouTube to submit recordings sharing their perspective on climate change and disbelief that more was not being done.
We received thousands of responses from 87 different countries in a matter of weeks. It was an overwhelming demonstration of millennials rising up to share their voice on this global issue so critical to their future. Our next generation of leaders, inventors, teacher and activists understand while they have their lives ahead of them, we do not have time to waste.
I am excited to announce that eight young adults have been selected to represent their generation at the UN Climate Summit on Tuesday, and give a voice to millennials in the conversation around climate change. Check out their submissions below and listen carefully–they are the questions we should all be asking ourselves.
The winners include: Rajashree Agrawal, India; Saatvik Chandra Jha, India; Jeckree Mission, Philippines; Pato Kelesitse, Botswana; Yu Hung, Australia; Matthew Stamper, USA; João Pedro Eboli, Brazil; and Amy Farrer, UK (Honorable Mention).
Rajashree Agrawal, India:
Saatvik Chandra Jha, India:
Jeckree Mission, Philippines:
Pato Kelesitse, Botswana:
Yu Hung, Australia:
Matthew Stamper, USA:
João Pedro Eboli, Brazil:
Amy Farrer, UK (Honorable Mention):
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Today at noon, the Climate Reality Project will kick off 24 Hours of Reality: 24 Reasons for Hope, our fourth-annual 24-hour live broadcast on climate change. We’ve had great success with millions of viewers around the world for three years now, so naturally this year we are doing something different.
In the past, we’ve talked about Dirty Weather and the Cost of Carbon, focusing our broadcast on the negative impacts of climate change. This year, we are bringing you a different message. We are shifting the conversation to instead focus the spotlight on the reasons to be hopeful in the face of climate change. We hope to inspire viewers worldwide to join us in this effort as we celebrate innovative solutions, the courageous leaders, and the benefits of climate action.
Every hour during the broadcast, former U.S. Vice President and Climate Reality Chairman Al Gore will introduce a new reason to be hopeful about solving the climate crisis. Then we’ll spend the hour explaining why viewers should be hopeful, by featuring reports with activists, town hall-style discussions with experts like Reed Hundt and Dan Esty, and one-on-one interviews with celebrities like Maggie Grace and Bradley Whitford, man-on-the-street interludes with Ian Somerhalder, and artistic performances, covering everything from the benefits we are already seeing to the leaders in the global arena.
Click here for a full schedule of the hour-by-hour broadcast.
In addition to former Vice President Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project, a variety of international celebrities, musicians, advocates and other special guests will join the broadcast, including filmmaker Vanessa Black, singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, actor Mark Ruffalo and featured partners like Interfaith Power and Light, among many others.
But the broadcast won’t just be interesting people talking about what they’re doing—throughout the program we’ll be asking viewers to do their part, by dedicating a day to making a difference in the climate fight. Climate change is a massive and highly complex problem, but the combined efforts from viewers around the world help in hundreds of different ways. We will suggest actions which you can take, but you can also contribute in your own way using your own time: if you are a parent, maybe you’ll choose to organize a renewable energy fair at school; a young professional might pledge to become a Climate Reality Leader; a student might work to elect a clean energy candidate … Each and every one of these actions plays an important part in this global fight.
It is my hope that we can come together as a global community and make a commitment to fighting climate change every day for the next year.
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE
In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out a proposal to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. This proposal will be instrumental in meeting our domestic and international climate change goals. But the rule is not final yet: the EPA is taking public comments. This means everyone can weigh in—from the fossil fuel industry polluting our atmosphere to people like you who are paying the cost of carbon pollution today.
Here are three reasons why you should comment in support of the rule right now.
1. It will catalyze the growth of our cleanest technologies. This rule will limit pollution from existing power plants by requiring carbon polluters to reduce their emissions. This new system will create space for the rapid deployment of, clean energytechnologies, catalyzing the spread of clean solutions that already exist, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. It is these technologies that ultimately must become ubiquitous for us to counter the long-term impacts of climate change and grow a low-carbon economy.
2. It’s good for the economy. These regulations will provide benefits to consumers and to the overall economy. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the EPA reports show that this type of proposal will lower electricity bills for consumers through its efficiency measures. Given the space to grow, clean energy is either now or soon will be cheaper, cleaner and more reliable then fossil fuel based energy plants.The NRDC study also showed that this type of rule would create 274,00 jobs in energy efficiency in 2020, not to mention the jobs that will be created through the development of new renewable energy projects.The tremendous public health benefits that come along with this rule are good for our pocketbooks, too (not to mention for our loved ones: the EPA estimates that reducing pollution to the levels stipulated in the rule will mean avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children). Avoiding health complications saves money by reducing the need for things such as trips to the hospital, and those savings add up. According to the EPA, American’s will see health benefits in the range of $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030.
3. It will help us deal with global climate change. This rule would guarantee a reduction in carbon pollution in America and enable us to meet the carbon reduction targets that we have promised the world that we would meet by 2020. It also creates the global political space for other nations to follow suit. For example, right after the announcement, there were indications that China may be looking to cap their carbon emissions by 2016. With both the U.S. and China taking significant steps to curb emissions, for the first time ever there is true potential for an international breakthrough at the upcoming U.N climate talks. We cannot look back now—we must finalize this rule to have a shot at preventing the worst impacts of climate change.
But for all its benefits, the rule is already under bitter attack—from the fossil fuel industry and from the politicians whom they fund. That’s why we need to show the EPA and the Obama Administration that there is broad public support for finalizing this rule.
Make your voice heard by submitting a public comment here to tell the EPA to finalize this landmark rule. Do it so that we can ensure more clean energy in the future, grow our economy and get a handle on climate change.
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE