Hopefulness is for most people a basic human impulse. In the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament, Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Hope generates steadfastness, enabling human beings to engage in their work vigorously. There are lots of reasons to be hopeful as we increase our work to confront the climate crisis.

Since the adoption of the landmark Paris agreement on climate change in 2015, global momentum to tackle the climate crisis has been building, even though there is still a lot to do. The Paris goal is to get the world to net zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. Progress has been made on almost every front, from bold corporate emissions-reduction targets and investors shifting away from coal to a surge of support for renewable energy. These companies are aiming for the Paris goal. There is a rising movement of youth activists from Uganda to India, highlighted by Greta Thunberg’s recognition in 2019 as Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

On Wednesday, the first day of his presidency, President Biden signed an executive order that ensures that the United States will rejoin the Paris climate accord. The momentum created in 2015 will now continue.

Private-sector leaders increasingly recognize that transitioning our high-carbon economy to one built on low-carbon activities is not only necessary to limit dangerous climate change impacts but also good for companies’ bottom lines.

Under the Science Based Targets initiative, over 1,000 companies have committed to set emissions reduction targets based on the science, and more than 340 have committed to set net-zero targets in their operations. The net-zero targets align with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F).

For instance, 92 companies – including Air New Zealand – have joined EV100, a worldwide initiative seeking to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by 2030. In addition, Microsoft, one of the world’s largest companies, has committed to shrinking its carbon footprint and investing in carbon-removal solutions to become carbon negative by 2030.


Worldwide, around 400 cities have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and more than 10,500 have joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. In the United States, cities are a major player in America’s Pledge, a coalition of cities, states and businesses committed to fulfilling the Paris climate accord’s target. Together, these entities account for almost 70 percent of the U.S. economy. If they were a country, their economy would be larger than China’s and second only to the full United States.

Through the United Nations-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, 33 major institutional investors with $5.1 trillion in assets committed to net-zero investment portfolios by 2050. In January 2020, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm, which alone manages $7 trillion, announced that it was shifting its financial strategy to center on mitigating climate change. With this move, it joined more than 370 other investors in an initiative called Climate Action 100+, whose members are engaging companies that produce two-thirds of global industrial emissions.

It is also very hopeful that President Biden has nominated experienced, diverse leaders in its climate change efforts, including Deb Haaland, the first Native American to hold a Cabinet position, who would serve as secretary of the interior. The former chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, will be the leader of domestic climate efforts, and John Kerry, former secretary of state, has been named special international envoy for climate change. Brenda Mallory has been nominated to run the Council on Environmental Quality and will be the first African American to hold that position.

But, in some ways, the most hopeful factor is that millions of Americans are soaring on eagles’ wings as they increase their efforts to confront the climate crisis. The vigor of their response makes many hopeful that we can protect our children and grandchildren from the harm caused by climate change.

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