Climate Hope for 2024

Eric Benson
5 min readJan 8, 2024

What was promising from 2023 and inspires Climify guests in 2024

Sunset over a field of windmills
Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

Welcome to the future, humanity! 2024 will be the year when the world unites, despite political and ideological disagreements, to create the Solarpunk tomorrow we need. Sanity and hope will reign supreme helping to drastically decrease GHG emissions, while the loud obnoxious minority is ignored.

However, as impossible as that description of 2024 may be, the world can indeed make powerful progress on ending fossil fuels forever and drawing down our GHG emissions. Despite the failures of the 2023 UN Conference of Parties — or COP28 last year, there were some true positives from the deliberations. For me, the biggest two were the zealous focus on reducing methane emissions and the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund to provide a (small) safety net for developing nations.

(If you would like a more detailed review of COP28, both Drawdown and the World Economic Forum have fantastic critiques).

Good Stuff from 2023

2023 was the warmest on record. That isn’t “good stuff,” but there were many climate accomplishments to celebrate. Distilled put together a list of 17 “you might have missed” in 2023. I found a few from their list to be especially meaningful and provide baselines for continued improvement going forward.

There are many more positives (small and large) peppered all over the internet that bring me hope for 2024 and beyond. However, the long list of achievements feels a lot like two steps forward and one step back (to quote the amazing Paula Abdul). We simply aren’t doing enough quickly enough. Despite the increase in the use of renewable energy, 2023 saw emissions from fossil fuels reach a record high.** Seriously, WTF are we doing here? With that statistic in mind, it’s more likely we’re taking one step forward and two or three backward.

Inspiration for 2024

So, how can we feel our positive strides in 2023 made any difference if emissions still rose? Good question. It’s a really really good question. My answer, and that of climate experts like Dr. Jacquelyn Gill, is to realize that a continued determined push forward to reduce our GHG emissions is the only logical path we can take. Apathy and embracing the status quo (like a morning drive-thru at Starbucks) will undoubtedly backfire and help the corporations and politicians that help cause this mess to win. As Dr. Gill says,

…1.5 is better than two degrees. Two degrees is better than 2.5 than three than four, right? My God, every fraction of a degree is worth fighting for.

So, to find more inspiration for improving my climate actions, I reached out to three thought leaders from the past three seasons of the Climify Podcast.

Climate hope for 2024 by Carissa, Raz, and Nisha

Nisa Mary Poulose (Season 3, Episode 6)

Q: What makes you hopeful in 2024 when it comes to climate action/justice?

A: “People! Humanity is not the problem, some humans are. The vast majority of the people on our planet hold deep ancestral knowledge of how the Earth works and what needs to be done to restore and regenerate the planet. Humanity is the solution. When I look around and see the number of people on Earth, it gives me a strange sense of hope. Because most people are willing and able to commit to caring for the planet. Most people take their ‘duty of care’ seriously. While the system and the racial, political, and economic hierarchies disempower and disable the people who understand and care for the planet at the grassroots, the truth is that the vast majority of people on Earth prefer to care for the Earth than destroy it. The unfortunate reality is that our global system prevents people from embracing stewardship through oppressive means. While I have no solution to quickly and peacefully dismantle the extractive and colonial system, it gives me hope that there are still enough people to care for and defend nature, against all odds.”

Carissa Cabrera (Season 2, Episode 14)

Q: What makes you hopeful in 2024 when it comes to climate action/justice?

A: “I’m extremely hopeful at the strides taken for solutions and justice at the federal level. For example, the millions of dollars being provided to underserved communities through grants made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Also, the Ocean Justice Strategy and Ocean Climate Action Plan were shared by the White House this year and serve as not only commitments and priorities but also frameworks for future funding. Our momentum is building tremendously as a groundswell of solutions is being resourced directly!”

Raz Godelnik (Season 1, Episode 9)

Q: What makes you hopeful in 2024 when it comes to climate action/justice?

A:Ezio Manzini, the great design scholar, wrote once:

‘Being a designer means being an optimist. Given problems — even the most difficult problems — all we can do is to presume the possibility of solving them. This is not because we do not see difficulties. Designers must be realists. We presume that we can solve problems because we have no alternative. To be designers, we must make proposals, and we base these proposals on the opportunities we meet.’

This quote is a reflection of my mindset as I step into 2024. I don’t view the upcoming year through the lens of hope or despair, but rather with optimism for the opportunities to enhance our fight against climate change. I observe encouraging signs indicating a growing understanding of the necessity to make climate solutions engaging, relatable, and beneficial in the short term — not solely reliant on scientific facts, which, while crucial, aren’t always enough to accelerate action. While it may be difficult to be optimistic about the political landscape of climate change, I’m more optimistic about our capacity to challenge the current system through innovation and thoughtful design in new and stimulating ways. I’m looking to see more enthusiasm for climate solutions similar to our excitement for icons like Taylor Swift or our beloved sports teams, and I believe that 2024 will move us one step closer to achieving this.”

What gives you hope?

** Some believe 2023 was peak emissions (if countries meet their emission goals). Maybe that’s a positive?



Eric Benson

Associate Professor and Chair of Graphic Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Co-founder of Re-nourish & Fresh Press Agri-Fiber Paper Lab.