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Pessimism paralyses.  The best thinkers on climate change including those quoted here advocate optimism and lead advocating and initiating innovation and creativity.  Lead with optimism.

Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations

“I am an eternal, impatient optimist. The environmental challenges we face are daunting but I believe we have the knowledge, ingenuity and tools to transform our planet. We owe it to future generations. In the last year, the state of our environment has been making headline news and young people are on the streets holding us to account. This groundswell of commitment grows each day and I am incredibly optimistic because time and again, humanity has risen to the challenge and I believe we can do so again. As anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.”

Jacinda Ardern, PM of New Zealand

"You may well argue that, based on our current trajectory, now is not the time for optimism.  But if we only talk about the loss of glacier mass or sea level rises we run the risk of a society that believes all is lost and that it is simply too late. It is not. No one has the luxury of copping out. Not those who deny climate change, nor those who believe it’s too far gone.  Now is the time for optimism and for hope and crucially a plan.”

Youssef Nassef, Climate Adaptation Director, UNFCCC

"What makes me optimistic? I believe in the ability of humankind to imminently reverse the degradation of its interface with nature - an imperative condition for our continued existence on Earth."

Gonzalo Muñoz, The United Nations COP High-Level Climate Action Champion

Gonzalo Muñoz, The United Nations COP High-Level Climate Action Champion.

"There so many reasons why to be optimistic, but at the same time we have to increase our optimism for what I expect to be a fantastic 2021." 

The United Nations COP High-Level Climate Action Champion joined us in Caroline Ward's wonderful Optimist Heart weekend series at The Centre for Optimism with Victor Perton.

Gonzalo Muñoz, The United Nations COP High-Level Climate Action Champion.

There so many reasons why to be optimistic, but at the same time that we have to increase our optimism for what I expect to be a fantastic 2021.

Part of what makes me optimistic about climate action are things I think that are not that visible to some people engaged in climate action.  Why?    Because most of the time, we're mostly concerned about what nations are doing or arguing that nations should do more, or what nations should be capable of doing.

In last five years, we've set an expectation that is the fulfillment of the Paris agreement. And what we have to do is quite simple. Of course, sometimes even simple things seem to be hard to achieve. We have to be net zero by 2050, the latest.

What that means is that each of us, not only at the national level, at the individual level, at the organizational level, business level, city level, we require to start measuring our emissions and contributing to reducing the emissions and contributing to implementing the capacity of nature to sequester that carbon.

Only one year ago, a little bit more, we launched an initiative putting together everybody that was understanding that and was willing to follow that indication from science. We created a coalition called the Climate Ambition Alliance, putting together nations, but also non-party stakeholders. Meaning as I said, cities, major regions like the states in Australia, investors, universities, schools, all of them together working to be net zero by 2050, of course, with a very credible mechanism…

So, one year ago we were probably quite worried about the future. Now we can see the future as something that is not only feasible, but it's something in which we can get related personally. So that makes me be a lot of optimistic, realistic in terms of there's a lot of jobs to be done. But the change on trajectory that we have seen in one year is amazing. It's beautiful. It's possible.

Vicki Barmby,  Manager, Climate Science at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

"What makes me optimistic? I have been working on climate change for over 20 years. It would be easy for me to look back at that time and think we have not solved it. Instead, I look at what is to come and the small wins along the way that will make the big change that we need to see possible. We are at a tipping point, and that tipping point will see amazing change. I am truly excited about that."

Finn Oldfield

"Embracing radical optimism therefore seems to me like the perfect starting point to assuage our collective climate anxiety – and to help us all form a long-term commitment to climate action. It is a necessary first step to imagining new narratives for our environment – because there is no singular, perfect story to save humankind. And by becoming more optimistic, perhaps we can create our own."

Rajiv Joshi, Commissioner of Scotland's Just Transition Commission

“My optimism grows when I remember that we are part of nature, and inspired by her model, we have the capacity to give more than we take from people and planet - to be the Re-generation!”

Bruce Davis, Managing Director of Abundance Investment

"Optimism fuels invention. Optimism fuels change. Optimism finds ways to solve problems.  Climate change is a cause that needs optimism."

Thomas Waitz

"We have to stay optimistic or we won't find solutions to implement the Paris agreement into practical policies.  We keep optimistic that we will find solutions"

Michael Mann

“People ask me how I can possibly be optimistic about prospects for averting dangerous climate change in the face of the obstacles standing in our way.  I tell them it's simple. It's all about the re-engagement of young folks we are witnessing today"

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK

 "I have always been deeply optimistic about the potential of technology to make the world a better place. If we get this right, future generations will look back on climate change as a problem that we solved by determined global action and the prowess of technology."

Francesc Badia

"The Amazon, now on fire, has become the central political and geopolitical hot spot for humanity’s right to its own future. Optimism is the gasoline that must feed the fight."

in "The Open Amazon and its Enemies: a Call for Action and Optimism"

Bina Venkataraman, author of "The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age" 

"as tempting as defeatism may be, there are practical reasons not to jump on this bandwagon. Even if it were true that we’re nearing the end of the world as we have known it, what we would need, more than ever, is optimism. Not the Pollyannaish belief that we are destined for brighter days or the naive hope that the arc of history bends toward justice, but an engaged kind of optimism — where we see the possibility of social and political change, even amid despair, and then act to make it happen."

Krista Kurth, President of EcoEd

"Cultivate hope and stubborn #optimism. It is crucial, amidst all the climate catastrophes, that we keep hope and optimism alive. They empower us and drive our desire to engage, contribute, and make a difference. Christiana Figueres, one of the architects of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, talks about the need for us who care about the planet to become stubborn #optimists."

Climate Change and Innovation: Opportunities and Optimism

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General, United Nations

"The vibrant contributions of regions, cities, businesses and investors, and the fact that the public is engaging with governments makes me optimistic that we can reverse the trends of Climate Change"

Crucke Jean-Luc, Ministre Wallon du Budget

“If you really want to combat climate change, the weapon to use that does not result in fatalities is innovation. Counter pessimism with optimism and intelligence. This fuels innovation.”

Imran Ahmad

“Optimism is what keeps us moving, it helps in achieving our goals and a better society. My work on climate change and sustainability is driven by optimism, a sustainable future for all."

Shyla Raghav Vice President, Climate Change at Conservation International

"The incredibly powerful voice and commitment of young people makes me optimistic about our chances of solving the climate crisis."

David Roberts @drvox

“When it comes to climate change, there is no such thing as “game over” or “too late” or “screwed” or “no hope.”

David Wallace-Wells

"I don’t believe fear and alarm are the only options; there is a place for hope and optimism."

Gerald Kutney

"Science is a powerful force, and the science of climate change, especially, has gotten stronger every decade. The day is rapidly approaching that science will prevail and meaningful policies against climate change will be enacted. I am optimistic that climate change can still be beaten."

Dr Steven Moffic

"I am an optimist about the climate because even with the dire scientific projections and continued denial by politicians and some public, we have the ingenuity to discover safer energy technology and the psychological expertise to further overcome our denial of the climate risks."

While Australia Burns: What Psychiatrists Can Learn From Each Other

Climate Action as a Source of Optimism

Arek Sinanian's Optimism 

Arek Sinanian is the author of A Climate For Denial, a book about the cognitive barriers to accepting the science of climate change. He has been a practitioner, an engineer and advisor on climate change for 40 years. "I'm very optimistic about the future of climate change and the global efforts to mitigate it, mainly because I think there is a swell of awareness, a swell of public support for our corporations and governments to act more decisively and more urgently to address this problem. And particularly the young people, they're on board and as they become the leaders of tomorrow I think we're going to see huge changes, and I'm very optimistic. So let's do it. We can and we will."

Krista Kurth

"What makes me optimistic is the energy, commitment, and creativity of the youth climate movement; the resiliency of humanity rising to meet our common global challenges; and the basic goodness in the human spirit that leads us to care for each other and our planetary home."

Professor Daniel SchwartzBoeing-Sutter Professor of Chemical Engineering

I am optimistic about this being *the* consequential decade where we get on track for arresting global greenhouse gas emissions because:

  • The price/performance balance has tipped to favor renewable energy and battery electric vehicles, so society is on the cusp of a decade-worth of exponential growth in adoption.
  • The mobilization of massive companies like Seattle's Microsoft and Amazon toward addressing their roles and responsibility for climate change feels fundamentally different than in the past, and that matters, because you only become one of the five biggest publicly traded companies if you know how to execute global-scale goals.
  • The megatrends driving renewable energy and zero emission vehicle adoption are more about technology and manufacturing advances, as well as environmental/social responsibility goals of investors, consumers, and employees, rather than public policy actions, which makes it feel like a robust movement.

John Kerry, U.S. climate envoy

"What makes me optimistic is the larger look at the course that we’re on in many ways in terms of the relationship between nations. Fewer people are dying violently than at any time probably in human history. We’ve made enormous progress. If you’re a woman pregnant in the world today, you’re 50 percent more likely to give birth to your child. Your child is 50 percent more likely to be fed and go to school. We’re now on the brink, perhaps, of a first generation of children being born AIDS free. Look what we’re doing with vaccines today in the United States. We will have a vaccine for every person that needs it within a very short span of time.

"So my optimism is that, you know, there are things we’ve done that have made life better despite the fact that we’re on this terrible course in the long run with respect to what we’re doing with the environment. But I think we can turn that around. I think we have proven again and again that when we put our minds to something, we can and will get it done. And I think that’s our record, and I believe in that. And it keeps me feeling optimistic and hopeful about the future."

Arwa Mahdawi, Guardian columnist in "Yes, the climate crisis is terrifying. But I refuse to abandon hope"

"Antonio Gramsci said that we need the pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will. Those, I think, are words to live by. We must not delude ourselves about the immense challenges the world faces, but we can’t let anxiety overwhelm and paralyse us. The world isn’t doomed quite yet – there is still a window of opportunity to change things. Particularly as, some well-respected climate scientists point out, we have the technology to save the world. We don’t need to wait for a miracle; we just need the will."

Elaine Albrich in Climate Change: Optimism Despite the Crisis

"I am optimistic about our ability to combat climate change. The enormous cost and human toll of global warning can no longer be denied or should no longer be accepted. There is a clear roadmap for the actions we need to take in order to mitigate the effects of global warming. And the rapid pace of technology innovation is providing the tools and technology to enable us to take these actions."

Daisaku Ikeda, President of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist network

"When young people's will to transform reality merges with an indomitable optimism, the possibilities are limitless."

(See January 2020 Press Release)

Malcolm Crompton Information Integrity Solutions

"What makes me optimistic is that the next generation may be waking up to the real issues of our time: climate change and the rise in income inequality and demanding action."

Saleem ul Huq, ICCCAD IIED

"The biggest reason for a renewed sense of optimism is the unleashing of the power of youth across the world to mobilize for actions in every country that recognizes  climate change as the emergency it is."

Rob Gell

"I am optimistic that the world's most influential corporations understand that 'business as usual' is not sustainable; that the major risks to business are now global warming-related; that the rapid switch to renewable energy generation is essential"

Miranda McKearney 

"it's the rising generation that makes me Optimistic - especially their leadership on climate change.”

Wendy Born

"The youth of today makes me really optimistic about the future. They have such direction and enthusiasm, and they are conscious of things like climate change and other world issues at such a young age."


Gerald Butts, Eurasia Group

"I'm going to say something you don't hear set very often when it comes to climate change. You should be an optimist. You should be a skeptical optimist, but an optimist nonetheless. Let me explain what I mean. We are scaling up climate solutions faster than even the most ardent among us thought possible a decade ago. Consider this. In 2010, about half of US electricity was generated from coal. This year less than 20% will be, and it's trending towards zero at increasing velocity..."

"I'm optimistic because the demographics are finally on the side of climate action."

Victor Joecks

"The reporting on the IPCC study also ignores the great strides humans have over the past century when it comes to climate. On average, in the 1920s, more than 450,000 people died annually from climate-related events, such as floods, wildfires, hurricanes and droughts, according to Lomborg. Today, it’s well under 50,000.

"This represents the biggest reason to be optimistic about the future climate — human ingenuity. Adverse weather events and the sea potentially rising a few millimeters a year aren’t the only variables. People can and have adapted to environmental changes, especially as global wealth grows. Think stronger buildings and better drainage systems.

"The sky isn’t falling. Outcomes have gotten remarkable better over the past century, a reminder that people can overcome whatever challenges the weather throws at us. It’s time to be a climate optimist."

Katelyn Prendiville

"I find that I'm generally most optimistic when I'm out in nature. Whether it's the beach, a forest, the bush or a park, this is where I'm able to rejuvenate, to think creatively, to strip back the complexities of everyday life and see the bigger picture. Whilst there are some issues such as climate change that it's harder to be optimistic about, particularly when you're aware of the scale and complexity of it, that doesn't mean it's not possible. I think it's important to find the things that unlock your optimism. For example, I'm energized when I hang out with smart, inspiring people doing important things to tackle climate change. They say that action is the antidote to despair. I'd argue that action, particularly group action, is a manifestation of optimism."

Renowned physicist Professor Brian Cox is optimistic that humanity can come up with the "tremendous technological advances" needed to reverse climate change.


Sue Reid has Reasons To Be Optimistic After Disappointing COP

"Investors are mobilizing on climate action more than ever before"

"Public pressure for Climate Action at the necessary speed and scale has never been stronger"

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