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:
- Democratic presidential candidates are pressured by advocates on their plans to address climate change, but hold off on committing to anything specific.
- 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.
- Cities and states up their game on reducing emissions from the transport sector – by deploying funds from the VW settlement and announcing other initiatives.
- 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.
- 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.
- The new House Climate Change Committee displays infighting amongst Democrats, but major policy plans such as a Green New Deal do not emerge (yet).
- Global emissions plateau – or at least get close to plateauing by significantly reducing their rate of growth compared to 2018.
- Carbon pricing continues to expand at the state level, but fails to attract enough attention on Capitol Hill.
- 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.
- 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!