I’m normally not a huge fan of making predictions, but as we start the New Year, I thought it might be fun (and a bit nerve-racking) to take an educated guess at what might come to pass in the world of climate politics in 2019. 2018 was a big year for climate – with devastating hurricanes and wildfires, landmark U.S. and international climate science reports, a rulebook for the Paris Agreement, continuing rollbacks of environmental protections by the Trump administration, and a growing chorus of subnational leaders that are stepping up to the plate.

2019 has to be a pivotal year for climate action, in the United States and across the globe. Here are my predictions:

  1. Democratic presidential candidates are pressured by advocates on their plans to address climate change, but hold off on committing to anything specific.
  2. Subnational networks like We Are Still In and the U.S. Climate Alliance significantly increase membership by engaging newly elected governors, as well as more businesses, universities, and cultural actors.
  3. Cities and states up their game on reducing emissions from the transport sector – by deploying funds from the VW settlement and announcing other initiatives.
  4. The subnational climate movement in the US continues to inspire cities, states/provinces, and businesses in other countries to form similar alliances, pushing key governments to go farther.
  5. Freshman House members continue to call for increased action on climate change, and more climate and energy related hearings are conducted in many relevant committees.
  6. The new House Climate Change Committee displays infighting amongst Democrats, but major policy plans such as a Green New Deal do not emerge (yet).
  7. Global emissions plateau – or at least get close to plateauing by significantly reducing their rate of growth compared to 2018.
  8. Carbon pricing continues to expand at the state level, but fails to attract enough attention on Capitol Hill.
  9. Most nations announce plans to reduce emissions further, but the aggregate is still not enough to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees C, much less 1.5.
  10. A major celebrity joins the global call for climate action, engaging millions of fans to participate and using music as a way to inspire change.

I’ll check back in at the end of the year and see what happened!