Book review: Climate of hope

What do you get when you bring together a major sustainability specialist and a financier / businessman turned politician ? A book on climate change solutions, of course!

Climate of Hope was written by Carl Pope, former Executive Director of the Sierra Club and Michael Bloomberg, billionnaire businessman behind the eponymous business empire and former mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013.

While being less than 280 pages, this book is replete with solutions to climate change and actually reinforced my optimism on the climate front. Starting with a 101 class on the issues at hand, the book then tackles all the solutions we have been knowing for years: energy efficiency, electric vehicles, solar and wind. The books cover them with up to date figures – it was published earlier this year – and in an eloquent way.

But what I really loved about this book is how it mentions and explains little known or less mentioned solutions. Eating less meat, farming better… Agriculture and land management gets a whole chapter. Biodigestors and compost are explained, Alternative solutions to current farming practices are explained as well as their importance. As are restoration practices. Mangroves and peat bogs can be major carbon sinks and the fact they get explained and mentioned are excellent.

A whole other chapter is dedicated to something relatively new to me: finance and how it can help cut down emissions. Green bonds are explained,  as well as how cities in developping countries are needing help to get their green projects financed. And who else could explain this that someone whose career was dedicated to this field ?

The duo of Pope and Bloomberg works maravillously, with chapters being written by both of them in alternance. Hurricane Sandy gets mentioned at the very end of the book and this is a great way to conclude. If mayors around the world want to avoid a Sandy-like catastrophe in their own cities, they should not repeat what NYC did then and do what Bloomberg and Pope advocate.

Very empowering to the mayors and businesspeople around the world, Climate of Hope has more a top-down approach than a bottom-up one. It is more a plea for action for the covenants of mayors and a summary of the solutions they can apply than something people like you and me could do. However, it is worth noting that this book is bi-partisan, as Bloomberg was elected as a Republican but now considers himself as an Independant.

I have found very minor flaws to this book: nuclear gets advocated briefly -it ceased to be relevant since Fukushima with increasing costs – and battery / energy storage are either not mentioned or too briefly.

But overall, this book deserves a solid 18/20. Whether you are new to the climate change scene or looking for more hope after the major surprise that was the election of Donald Trump and the setbacks it represent on the federal level for the United States. Not all hope is lost !


Image credits: Book cover. Flickr, Coline Buch

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