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Climate Leadership Now

19. Hold on to Innovation: A Letter to My Students

Dear friends,


I am sorry to see you go. Yet, I am hopeful that you are moving on better armed to work on the climate and energy challenges ahead. As you know, I am pessimistic about Team Humanity's talent for collective effort. However, no one likes to wallow in negativity, and I have observed that I really do feel uplifted and even inspired when I see great innovations in the works. May I humbly suggest that, as you go forward, aligning yourself with climate and energy innovations in some way—as investors, inventors, employees, policymakers, or educated citizens—can bolster not only your spirits but also your net worth?


Should you or anyone you know have an interest in what high schools should be teaching on climate and energy, take a look at the new curriculum material coming this year from MIT, and, perhaps, take a moment to support its integration into local schools you care about. https://ceepr.mit.edu/cate/


Thanks for all you do.


Professor Andre


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18. Teaching climate leadership online? Here are some favorite exercises.

Hunt for Oil (Original In-Person Version from The Lead for the Planet Handbook; Online Version Below)
Length: 30-45 minutes


How much oil do we have on the planet? How much do we use? Assessment of oil supply typically depends on whom you ask. In this exploration, the class will look for currently recoverable reserves of oil on the planet. To be "currently recoverable," oil must be said to exist in a particular place, and it must be both technically and economically recoverable. 

Working in pairs, scour the internet for opinions about how much oil is left on the planet. Then, using current statistics on world oil usage available at the EIA (Energy Information Administration of the US government), calculate how long that oil will last the world.

Share your calculations and sources with the class (as on a white board or electronic document) and describe your results.


The class compares their results and evaluates both the sources and the probable quality of their information.  Introduce anecdotal information on oil availability in the future if you find any.

What are the current consequences of oil depletion? What ae the likely future consequences?

Learning Objectives:

Identify sources that provide information on fossil fuels.

Assess the credibility of those sources.


Hunt for Oil (For Online Courses)

How much oil is there left in the world?

The online version of a short paper written by a small group.

1.     Research and write this short paper for your professor:

In a small group to which you will be assigned, read about Practices 3 and 4 in Lead for the Planet and view Scott, Jared P. (2016). The Age of Consequences. (On the impacts of climate change on national security and global sustainability. 80 minutes.)

Use the sources provided there and other sources you identify to answer these two questions:

How much oil is left worldwide and how long is it likely to last given consumption patterns? (Show your math.)
What is the current strategic position of the United States with regard to oil resources and energy depletion?
Write a 750- to 1000-word summary of your findings with at least eight references.

Choose one group member to submit your MS Word document to your professor using Turnitin.

2.     Post a summary of your findings to the class discussion board:

In 250- to 300-words, each group should state the number of barrels of oil they believe are left in the ground and their estimate of how long they think the oil will last.

Show all of your sources, describe why you think your set of sources represents a variety of perspectives, and reflect on how you chose the numbers that entered into your final calculation.

What standards did your group use to evaluate the sources?

What group process led you to your final decision?

You will not be able to see your classmates' comments until you make your initial post. At that point, review the class's findings (from their posted summaries) on how much oil is left. Consider Macalister (2016) and react to these findings as if you were an oil company strategizing for the next 100 years (which is part of what they do, in reality). Post your strategy for the class.

Reference: Macalister, T. (2016, May 21). Green really is the new black as Big Oil gets a taste for renewablesLinks to an external site.. The Guardian.


En-Roads for Online Courses
Using the En-Roads interactive climate simulation, anyone can draw on recent scientific data and modeling to predict global temperature changes. Go to the En-ROADS website. and try it out. Get a feel for what it will take to bring down global temperatures in the short and long terms (such as 2040, 2100).

Here's a video that walks you through one possible scenario: Testing "Keep It In the Ground" in the En-ROADS Simulator.

Although En-Roads offers a set of goals that can add up to keeping global temperatures "under control," it does not tell us how to achieve them. Imagine that each of its 18 interventions is matched with a probability of actually implementing it. How would the outcomes of the simulation differ?

Follow these instructions to discuss with your colleagues:

Consider what you have learned about taking action on climate change and plans (see especially "Designing plans that add up" in Andre, pp. 168-175, and "What's the plan?" pp. 211-221) and, in En-Roads, the 18 factors and the proposed actions modeled under each of them (click on, for example, 'Coal' or "Electrification" to see the details of the model.) Then complete the En-ROADS Goals Survey (created by your professor) to place each of the 18 proposed En-ROADs changes into one of three buckets (they do not have to be evenly distributed) according to whether you believe that, given Team Humanity's decision-making strengths and weaknesses, they are achievable.
In a post, describe your rationale for your ranking. (150-200 words).
You will not be able to see your classmates' comments until you make your initial post.

Post your initial response and respond to your classmates' comments.

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17. Change for Climate Change: Yale's Latest Book Picks

Up Your Game on Climate Change!

Yale Climate Connections just curated a collection of books and reports on change for climate change (January 2023). Author Michael Svoboda writes, "Each offers practical advice for individuals who want to persuade their communities to act on climate change… So if you want to up your game on climate change this year, resolve to read one of these books." 

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16. The (André) five-practice model

Many thanks to Petra Molthan-Hill and Lia Blaj-Ward of the Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, UK, for lending their expertise to contextualize and apply what they dub the "André five-practice model"  to educate climate leaders "at university" (as they say in their British English!).  In their 2022 Open Access article "Assessing climate solutions and taking climate leadership: how can universities prepare their students for challenging times?" they dig deeply into how to use the model to educate effective climate leaders. The full article is a significant read from Teaching in Higher Education that can help jumpstart university thinking about how to teach climate change and develop climate leaders across disciplines. 






Petra and Lia describe how my book Lead for the Planet: Five Practices for Confronting Climate Change, developed in classrooms over a decade, is "a relevant blueprint to help facilitate climate learning and leadership in university students not only in the specific US context of a university-wide module but also in other types of higher education institutions or national systems. Disciplines with a climate science orientation or with a direct connection to the natural or built environment would benefit from including it into their curriculum to help students develop a systemic perspective and make meaningful connections between ways of thinking about the climate, practising relevant climate action and be(com)ing climate leaders. Disciplines with a social science underpinning or with a broader societal remit (e.g. Business, Sociology, Education, Psychology, Media, Journalism) would find the blueprint a natural fit. Disciplines whose remit is further removed from climate science or planning and leading social action (e.g. Literature, Philosophy, Languages, History) would benefit from exploring how the texts they engage with construct messages about the climate and how these texts can be used as a basis for conversations which raise awareness and prompt more substantial and active engagement with climate debates."




They write..."Creating space within the curriculum for interdisciplinary conversations and reflection on the valuable and unique contribution of each subject area to making the planet a better place to live would enrich university learning. Equally valuable would be scope to consider how academic knowledge about the climate and relevant climate solutions as well as co- or extracurricular experiences at university converge to enable students' growth into rounded professionals and citizens."




The authors continue to develop theory that promotes the teaching of climate leadership, as here:


Molthan-Hill, P., L. Blaj-Ward, M. Mbah, and T. Ledley Shapiro. 2021. "Climate Change Education at Universities: Relevance and Strategies for Every Discipline." In Handbook of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, edited by M. Lackner, B. Sajjadi, and W. Y. Chen. New York, NY: Springer. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6431-0_153-1.


Molthan-Hill, P., N. Worsfold, G. J. Nagy, W. Leal Filho, and M. Mifsud. 2019. "Climate Change Education for Universities: A Conceptual Framework from an International Study." Journal of Cleaner Production 226: 1092–1101. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.053. [Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]




Sponsored by the United Nations PRME Working Group on Climate Change and Environment, I will talk about this (and invite you to engage in the conversation, sharing your local knowledge) March 24, 2022, at 11 a.m. EST. 






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15. Climate change philanthropy: Giving green, giving smart.

I enjoyed moderating Climate Change Philanthropy: Giving Green, Giving Smart December 7, 2021, now available on the
Cary Library Youtube channel
We met amazing climate leaders from four major climate change charities. In the video, the Conservation Law Foundation, Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club describe their missions, highlight their climate change initiatives, and field participant questions. These established NGOs take on regional, national, and even international climate concerns through policy initiatives, litigation, and cross-border networking. They are all top charities as rated by Charity Navigator.
This program is a unique opportunity for concerned citizens and students everywhere to get an overview of how broad-reaching non-profits are addressing the climate crisis and how philanthropy plays a crucial role. To address climate change and shape a livable, sustainable future for the planet, donors need to think globally, act locally, and give universally.
The featured speakers are:
For the Conservation Law Foundation:
Caitlin Peale Sloan, Senior Attorney and the Vice-President of Conservation Law Foundation of Massachusetts. Caitlin Peale Sloan leads CLF's Advance Clean Power team advocating for renewable energy and long term climate policy, and serves on the Executive Committee of the RENEW Northeast Board of Directors. She also litigates cases against polluters to enforce the federal Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
For Earthjustice:
Moneen Nasmith,  Senior Attorney. Moneen Nasmith focuses primarily on addressing climate change and the environmental and health impacts of oil and gas infrastructure projects. She has represented tribes and community and environmental groups in all stages of administrative and court proceedings challenging various fossil fuel transport and export projects, including state and federal permits for oil and gas pipelines, crude-by-rail storage facilities, and liquefied natural gas export terminals.
For the Natural Resources Defense Council:
Jackie Wong, Director, Federal Regulatory Policy, Climate & Energy Program.
Jackie Wong focuses on developing state and federal policies to promote innovation and clean energy and decarbonize industry. Prior to joining NRDC, she was a senior advisor for energy and climate change at the White House during the Obama administration, where she focused on amending the Montreal Protocol to address HFCs, reforming the federal coal program, and ensuring protections in the Outer Continental Shelf.
For the Sierra Club:
Deborah Pasternak, Massachusetts Chapter Director
A lifelong environmentalist, Deb Pasternak studied marine ecology and fisheries management and has worked in the photovoltaics and wind farm industries. An educator and policy advocate, she has served the Sierra Club Massachusetts Chapter on their Energy Committee, as a trainer for their statewide Activist Trainings, and as Chair of the Executive Board before becoming Director.
Sponsored by the Lexington Climate Action Network and the Cary Library of Lexington, Massachusetts. 
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14. Resting up here. How about you?


It's been a complex and challenging year for writers. Certainly for this writer. Brought out a new book in September (did you know that 98% of the books published in 2020 sold fewer than 5000 copies? Just saying...) and did a lot of fun things to promote it – keynotes, seminars, blogs, consulting, online teaching. All this guesting via multiple and evolving technologies has been good but stressful work. 


I've had a few thoughts during this time and I've been meaning to blog about them. Like the idea that Bill Gates' recent book How to Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need is nothing short of a Hail Mary on climate change.


Gates is pushing innovation because it's his thing, but then he really didn't need to write a book about it unless he's seriously trying to send a message to us all. His implicit message is that Team Humanity doesn't have the chops to effectively address climate change through cooperation and politics. His explicit message is that the best way forward is to rely instead on innovation. Let's hope that he spots Gronk in the end zone.


Let it be said that I agree with Mr. Gates, and I am thrilled that his book and its important ideas made it into the two percent. On the other hand, I didn't write about that earlier this year when I might have. I've been quiet for the above stated reasons, but also because this year I found it hard to write about climate change while something like American democracy has been so imminently threatened. Talk about losing the Superbowl.


So now I'm resting up. Fishing. Admiring flowers. Counting the number of 90 degree days (while sort of not counting them). blossoms-pink-2.jpg


I recently mentioned my state of mind to a young friend, the kind of guy who drives from LA to Phoenix to be a poll watcher for the day. He exclaimed, "Me too!" We agreed that we don't want to talk about it quite yet.


Meanwhile, things are heating up. And here comes 2022.






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13. "Teach for the Planet": An Interactive Lecture at Georgia College


I enjoyed talking recently with the Faculty of Georgia College, Georgia's Public Liberal Arts University, about how to teach climate change in business schools and across the curriculum. Teaching climate leadership takes students a step beyond climate science to address what Team Humanity must do now. Educators will play a key role.


The session was based on Lead for the Planet: Five Practices for Confronting Climate Change (University of Toronto Press, 2020) and the accompanying free teaching materials available on this website. You can view it here: Teach for the Planet--Interactive Lecture at Georgia College


We got some great feedback (thank you!), like this letter from a b-school prof:


"Thank you for hosting the Teaching Climate Leadership workshop! I mentioned my participation in the workshop to my department members, and I explained again why we should have a Climate Leadership course. To my surprise, they now accepted my arguments. They agreed to have the class on the schedule for this fall as a trial. I will spend time over the summer reading Rae's book and materials to get ready. Participation in the workshop was a great opening to make a case for the course. I hope that at some point you can offer it again."


Many thanks to our co-sponsors: the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) and the Management and Organizational Behavior Teaching Society (MOBTS). Special thanks to my hosts Dr. Micheal Stratton and Dr. Harold Mock, and to Dr. Lorianne Hamilton, Chief Sustainability Officer in Georgia College's Office of Sustainability.  

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12. Global Governance, Meet the Tribe


Just did a deep read (so you don't have to) of a complex and useful book entitled "Global Climate Governance." It addresses the question of how Team Humanity might, or might not, solve the climate problem through cooperation.


Particularly useful for leaders is the authors' description of the universe of the specific organizations that are tackling climate change globally. All kinds of organizations at all levels of society are addressing CO2 reduction, climate adaptation, climate loss and damage, and climate justice. If you want to understand the big picture of where and how climate decision-making is happening, this short book is a must-read.


Authors Coen, Kreienkamp, and Pegram are on board with those of us who have observed that the 2015 Paris Agreement has failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but has at least kept people talking. They point to the potential of the Agreement to deepen cooperation by improving transparency around national climate policies and actions. They describe it as "a pragmatic attempt to address both coordination and cooperation problems through broad collective goal setting, dynamic ambition cycles and a shift toward national pledges and procedural commitments."


However, they caution that most countries "continue to have a strong incentive to avoid costly action on climate change, to wait for others to act and to negotiate for self-interested advantages." Their analysis is the latest take on the theory that Team Humanity is tribal. "Cooperation problems continue to stymie effective global climate governance," they write.


Helpfully, the authors frame the Paris Agreement as a paradigmatic shift. It is a "new phase of climate governance" that shifts action away from global institutions like the United Nations to "local institutional capacity." They note that one mid-range organization, the European Union, is "comparatively ambitious and successful" and may be a model for other regional approaches.


But, mainly, they argue, global change must now happen at the level of countries and their institutions. Even this will not be easy. Policy scholars Green, Hale and Colgan (2019) suggest there will be a "rocky road ahead" and "the stakes are whose way of life gets to survive."


Leaders may likewise conclude that they should focus on national rather than global solutions. Out go thoughts of "global institutional design" and "intergovernmental organizations." In come ideas like "bottom up" and "local" and "public buy-in."




David Coen, Julia Kreienkamp, and Tom Pegram.  (2020) Global Climate Governance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


Green, J., Hale, T., and Colgan, J. D. (2019). The existential politics of climate change. Global Policy Blog [online]. 21 February 2019. www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/21/02/2019/existential-politics-climate-change.

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11. Bet Less on Paris and More on Innovation

To know what you can accomplish, you have to know who you are. To confront climate change, we, the members of Team Humanity, should do more to grasp our strengths and weaknesses as decision makers. 


Many on the Team assume that cooperation is our primary strength. Therefore, they believe, the United States should stick with the Paris accords and honor its commitment to financing them. Never mind that Paris has no teeth and that the 1997 Kyoto treaty, which actually did, drove nations to quit the coalition before paying for their carbon pollution in actual money. 


As a psychologist who studies systemic change, I observe that Team Humanity amasses impressive lists of climate solutions, yet rarely thinks about how likely it is that any one of them can be implemented.  For example, given human nature, what is the probability that we will put an international price on carbon versus achieving an energy breakthrough like clean nuclear power? 


With the climate crisis looming, it is time to place our bets. 


Many people put their chips on cooperation, which depends in part on altruism.  Altruism within and between groups, known by researchers as "parochial altruism" (and by the rest of us as tribalism), is the act of being unselfish toward our own groups while at the same time being aggressive toward other groups. 


For thousands of years human beings have feared strangers from other tribes. Our very brains reflect this. When our group is threatened by an outgroup, our brain patterns for empathy and concern for the ingroup are strong, while our tendency to aggress against the outgroup grows stronger. What does this mean for solving global problems like climate change? Researchers on parochial altruism have little hope that we can overcome it.  Humans do have an intuition to cooperate, but this tendency is not strong enough to advance systemic causes like world peace.  The experts confirm what we already know from recent political experience: Team Humanity is still tribal. 


Cooperation also depends on trust. Even when people do not share a common group loyalty, they can sometimes work well together. Unfortunately, research suggests that this tendency is unreliable. Although Team Humanity should collaborate to solve complex global problems, doing so requires a commitment from diverse stakeholders that is difficult to achieve. Experts conclude that the nations of the world will not be able to work together and solve systemic problems like climate change because Team Humanity simply does have enough of the needed attitudes and skills. 


Research on the failure of past societies bears out these concerns about cooperative decision-making. Historically, many—some experts say most—societies have failed to husband their natural resources and have subsequently collapsed.  Societies fail to make the right environmental decisions for a whole sequence of reasons—failure to anticipate a problem, failure to perceive a problem, failure to attempt to solve it after it has been identified (this is probably where we are now on climate), and failure to succeed in attempts to solve it (how hard have we tried so far?) 


A related weakness is the cognitive biases that undermine humans' ability to make effective collective decisions. For example, when leaders attempt large scale change, they find it hard to convince people to address distant problems that require current sacrifices. Based on his and others' research in this area, Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has expressed pessimism that humanity will find a path to success on climate change. 


Climate leaders must overcome parochial altruism to step outside their own sector and its interests. They must learn to lead as cosmopolitans and globalists.  They must figure out how businesses and governments can cooperate to develop and implement broad environmental policies, and how countries and regions of the world can work together. Social scientists think this is a very tall order. 


Bringing these findings to the climate conversation, we can see the challenge that faces superordinate groups like the United Nations and the European Union. Competing nation states faced with the depletion of the global commons may not be able to cooperate to fix the problem. 


Yet, although the decision-making prowess of Team Humanity may be less than we imagine, there is still hope. Fortunately, our limited ability to cooperate is not our only attribute. Team Humanity has many other decision-making virtues. These include creativity, openness to experience, intellect, competitiveness, assertiveness, and aggressiveness. 


These virtues are found in abundance among our innovators and entrepreneurs. Perhaps we should pass them more chips?

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10. The University Press as Innovator

The University of Toronto Press invited me to write this blog for University Press Week.  University presses publish bold, complex, change-oriented works. We need them now more than ever.


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9. A Climate Change Manifesto for University Education

Are universities offering their students the climate change education that they need? Young people will be dealing with climate impacts for the rest of their lives, and there is a lot they need to know. 


To promote climate literacy and leadership, students and professors should encourage their universities to adopt a comprehensive climate change curriculum. Every university student should come away with a basic understanding of:


1)    the Oil Age that began in the nineteenth century, and, in general, how energy sources influence human history

2)    the influence of fossil fuel companies on the business sector and government

3)    the emerging role of green energy and how it can be accelerated

4)    the basics of climate change science, including the effect of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases on global warming, and projections of these influences into the future

5)    the importance of finding the truth and contextualizing science politically

6)    how social science can guide decision-making about wicked problems like climate change

7)    how professors and their departments view climate science and stakeholder analysis, especially the roles of business and government in addressing climate change

8)    whether responsibility is put on students as individuals to find these topics in their university's curriculum, or whether their university takes the initiative to design this material into their educational experience (for example, in a series of required courses)

9)    the importance of looking beyond the titles of university sustainability programs to assess what they teach about climate change and energy evolution. For instance, do they teach from a strong sustainability paradigm (for the planet) or a weak sustainability paradigm (to protect companies alone)?

10) initiatives for green living on campus and in the local community


Responsible universities inject the climate change issue across their curricula and they practice what they preach. Even so, professors and students should hold them accountable to go beyond simplistic thinking ("We cover this in courses on business strategy") and greenwashing ("We are recycling in our cafeterias"). Courses should examine the big picture of climate science, stakeholder power, and global leadership, and students should learn how current and emerging leaders are tackling these challenges.


The time is now.

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8. Joining Aevo, the New Trade Imprint at the University of Toronto Press

I am thrilled that Lead for the Planet is the first book published under Aevo, the new trade imprint of the University of Toronto Press.  And to see that their first offerings include several that address the climate crisis!


In Solved: How the World's Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis, David Miller shares his expertise as the former mayor of Toronto and an international climate expert. Geoffrey A. Ozin and Mireille F. Ghoussoub discuss carbon dioxide as a resource in The Story of CO2: Big Ideas for a Small Molecule. 


"Written by leading experts for intellectually curious readers, Aevo UTP books delve into the major issues facing today's world." They "put the present in context and bring the future into focus." 


Authors take note! 


The University of Toronto Press is Canada's largest academic publisher.  You can find the latest Aevo books here: https://utorontopress.com/us/books/by-imprint/aevo-utp.





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