The New Yorker Features Christiana Figueres’ Leadership in Climate Change Action
Elizabeth Kolbert, the author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, has recently published a piece in The New Yorker called “The Weight of the World: Can Christiana Figueres persuade humanity to save itself?” The piece is about Figueres’ leadership in climate change action.
Christiana Figueres has served as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for the past five years. She will lead the organization in the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting in Paris, in December 2015, towards a global agreement on climate change action. As Kolbert points out, “Of all the jobs in the world, Figueres’s may possess the very highest ratio of responsibility (preventing global collapse) to authority (practically none). The role entails convincing a hundred and ninety-five countries—many of which rely on selling fossil fuels for their national income and almost all of which depend on burning them for the bulk of their energy—that giving up such fuels is a good idea.”
Kolbert gives a brief historical overview of the climate change negotiations and vividly outlines the challenges to worldwide action to reducing greenhouse gases emissions. If on the one hand she notes the economic and political barriers for countries like Saudi Arabia and China to commit to stringent reduction targets, on the other, she emphasizes Figueres’ assertiveness and energetic leadership throughout the process leading up to Paris, as well as her optimism that an agreement is possible.
For more information about Chistiana Figueres’ work as a climate champion, read our interview with her in the Global Leadership Dialogues.