Our top 10 most-shared climate headlines of 2017

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 6 minutes
20 December 2017

LONDON: 2017 has been a formidable year for climate action – with businesses, sub-national governments and civil society stepping up to limit global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, as indicated by the Paris Agreement on climate in 2015.

Today, we look back at some of these actions through our most popular tweets, to showcase how innovations and solutions are all around us – and accelerating this change.

1. There are now 769,000 renewable energy jobs in the US, with an annual growth rate of nearly 6% since 2012

Last January, the United States Department of Energy released a report stating that in 2016, solar energy employed 43% of the US workforce for the electric power generation sector. By comparison, in the same period, traditional fossil fuels combined made up just 22% of the workforce.

To date, the solar industry has employed nearly 374,000 people in 2015-16 in the US electric power generation sector, double the number of jobs in oil, coal and gas combined – while a separate report showed how sustainability accounts for 4.5 million jobs in the country.

The news gained momentum across the US political landscape, proving once again that green business is good business, as demonstrated by the forward-thinking companies that are part of our programs on renewable electricity, energy productivity and electric transport.

2. "The business case for investing in renewable power is very clear": Jeff Seabright, Unilever

Another leading business voice reinforcing this idea was Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever, who in a Climate TV interview during Climate Week NYC 2016 – speaking to “those who want to be leading the pack and really be part of the future and part of the solution” – stated that “now is the time to invest, now is the time to get on board and really embed climate smart strategies into your business strategy.”

In November 2015, Unilever announced its aim to become ‘carbon positive’ in its operations by 2030, as part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. In 2015, the multinational emitted more than one million fewer tons of CO2 from energy produced than in 2008 – a 65% reduction in absolute terms compared to 1995.

3. "We need to bring back nature into our cities. We used to have birds, now there's just too much noise. A lot there's to be done: we need to ensure more people use public transport, give space for bikes." - California's Governor Jerry Brown

This year, at the Conference of the Parties 23 (COP23) in Bonn, California’s Governor Jerry Brown championed the Under2 Coalition – of which The Climate Group acts as secretariat – a group of more than 200 governments committing to limit global warming below the 2 degrees Celsius threshold.

Sub-national governments are at the heart of climate action, because they are closer to citizens and often more ambitious than their national counterparts on finding bold climate policies.

4. Our CEO Helen Clarkson meets Suresh Prabhu to discuss India's Nationally Determined Contributions

In June, our CEO Helen Clarkson and our India Director Jarnail Singh met with Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, to help sub-national governments and businesses to grasp the opportunities of a low carbon economy.

In February 2018, The Climate Group is organizing our third India Energy Access Summit, to sustain the country’s developmental goals through access to clean energy for all, while accelerating the deployment of decentralized renewables.

5. Leading companies make business case to go 100% renewable

With the cost of energy coming down so dramatically, leading businesses are increasingly shifting towards renewable energy. This helps lower business risk and increase energy security by reducing exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices and gaining greater control over energy costs.

Our RE100 program shows how action on renewables also helps companies deliver on their emissions reduction goals.

6. World first as 100 multinationals target 100% renewable electricity

This year has also marked an important milestone for RE100, which reached – and later passed – the 100 members milestone in July. Together, these companies are sending a strong signal to policymakers and the general public that a 100% clean energy economy is the inevitable direction we’re going to move toward.

7. Quick Fact: Plug-in cars sales in the US were at their highest ever in 2016

During Climate Week NYC this year The Climate Group launched EV100, our global initiative that brings together forward looking companies committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and making electric transport the new normal by 2030.

The program comes at a critical moment to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles, with plug-in car sales in the US at their highest ever in 2016. Last year, a total of 157,181 plug-in electric vehicles were sold in the country – up 37.6% over 114,248 sales in 2015. To date, a cumulative 570,187 plug-in electric vehicles have been sold since 2008.

8. Our CEO Helen Clarkson responds to the US Executive Order on climate

The US political situation continued to keep our Twitter audience engaged, when in March the US administration decision to end the Climate Action Plan and review the Clean Power, which our CEO Helen Clarkson called a major step backwards for the US”.

She commented: “National policies to reduce US emissions and boost clean energy to date have helped create jobs for nearly 800,000 Americans, with another 2.2 million Americans working on energy efficiency. With the clean energy sector growing globally, and with the EU and emerging economies such as India and China all embarking on clean energy transition policies, the US should be doubling down on its current efforts, not turning back.”

9. Under2 Coalition of sub-national governments calls on global states and regions to join climate fight

Similarly, governors and mayors from the Under2 Coalition issued a statement to “speak with one voice” against the decision to review the Clean Power Plan.

In a joint statement, they said: “As members of the Under2 Coalition, we know that the climate crisis demands global action at every level. As Washington, D.C. delays, the work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our cities and states continues.

“Our commitment to limiting global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius remains. We will not waver. And we will continue to enlist like-minded cities, states, regions and countries around the world to join this fight.”

10. At Climate Week NYC, business, governments and society discuss how climate action can be grown in scale and pace

This year’s climate action has been catalyzed once again by Climate Week NYC, the first major gathering of international climate leaders since the US announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

During the event, we launched a report authored by NewClimate Institute and The Climate Group, powered by CDP data, which showed that the commitments from cities and businesses can take the US halfway to meeting its Paris commitment by 2025.

We also launched the Climate Optimist campaign in partnership with Futerra, which aims to spread the word about climate action that is happening, rather than just doom and gloom.

Climate Week NYC “demonstrated bold, ground-breaking action from companies, from the sub-national governments we work with, and many others from across the globe,” said our CEO Helen Clarkson. “We think that this amounts to an unstoppable force of action, whatever turns are taken by the White House. That’s reason to feel optimistic.”

  • Keep track of our work in 2018 by following us on Twitter @ClimateGroup
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