ACLS19 Climate Leader Q&A: Ken Kimmell

The American Climate Leadership Summit 2019 (ACLS19) on May 1-2 will feature conversations with prominent climate experts and advocates. This year’s theme is “Breakthrough,” and we’re looking for just that — breakthrough strategies and ideas to help transform climate action into a true national priority.

ecoAmerica asked our ACLS19 speakers to shine a light on their climate breakthrough moments and ideas. We’re pleased to provide the latest interview in our speaker series, from Ken Kimmell.

Ken Kimmell, is the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a leading science-based nonprofit that combines the knowledge and influence of the scientific community with the passion of concerned citizens, to build a healthy planet and a safer world. Ken has more than 30 years of experience in government, environmental policy, and advocacy. He is a national advocate for clean energy and transportation policies.

What was your climate breakthrough moment?

I don’t know that I have had one single climate breakthrough moment, but one thought that keeps coming back to me is this — addressing climate change is not a pass/fail course. That is,  there is not one single climate temperature goal that if we meet, the problem is solved, or conversely if we don’t, our efforts are a failure. This thought animates my work because it means that all of the efforts that we collectively engage in matter, and even if we fall short on meeting some of our climate goals, it is still critical that continue to push as hard as we can.

What do you wish more Americans knew about climate change?

Two things: First, that we are already being harmed by climate change whether we acknowledge it or not.  Many Americans are experiencing climate change directly through tidal flooding, hurricanes, inland floods, forest fires, heat waves and droughts. Other Americans are indirectly experiencing climate change as they are paying an “involuntary carbon tax” — the ever growing taxpayer costs of response to these disasters. And second, I would also like Americans to know that the solutions are at hand and we can make rapid and dramatic progress with the tools we have — it is a matter of political will to scale up the solutions.

What are current climate breakthroughs or initiatives that inspire you/give you hope that we will effectively address climate change

States and regions declaring ambitious goals and putting the policies in place to reach them, taking advantage of the remarkable development of zero carbon or low carbon technologies including wind, solar, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency practices. As a Massachusetts resident, I am particularly excited about the imminent construction of gigawatts of clean and cost-effective offshore wind energy in the Atlantic ocean.

What do you hope ACLS19 will accomplish in moving the needle on climate action?

ACLS19 will encourage all of us to focus on scaling up the solutions for which we have the technology now, and scaling up RD&D for those we don’t yet have.


Hear more from Ken Kimmell at the American Climate Leadership Summit 2019 in Washington, D.C. on May 1 and 2. Click Here to Register

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