Tom Athanasiou

Tom Athanasiou is a specialist in global climate equity—the great problem of shaping a planetary climate transition that is fair enough to actually succeed, both within the U.S. and around the world.

Tom coordinated the international Climate Action Network’s Equity Working Group in the critical years between the 2009 Copenhagen and the 2015 Paris climate summits.   He was a key organizer of the Civil Society Equity Review effort before the Paris meeting, and co-directs the Climate Equity Reference Project, an activist think tank that aims to shape the longing for climate equity into a driver of extremely ambitious action.  He is a writer as well as an activist, and works within both the US and the international Climate Action Networks.  He is prominent in the emerging debate about America’s  role in an international climate mobilization.

As a writer, Tom is a long-time political ecologist and technology critic. He ghost-wrote Hubert Dreyfus’ Mind Over Machine (Free Press, 1986), an early critique of artificial intelligence, and then, while working as a project manager at Sun Microsystems, wrote Divided Planet: the Ecology of Rich and Poor (Little, Brown, 1996). As a policy activist, he co-authored (with Paul Baer) Dead Heat: Global Justice and Global Warming (Seven Stories, 2002) and co-authored the influential The Right to Development in a Climate Constrained World (Heinrich Boell Foundation, 2008). He continues to actively write and blog about global climate equity and related issues.  For a reasonably complete list of his most recent essays and reports, see here.

COP 28 flags at Dubai

After Dubai — Towards a “just, orderly, and equitable” fossil fuel phase out

The COP28 text does not simply call for transitioning away from fossil fuels but rather stipulates that this transition must be “just, orderly, and equitable,” a much more challenging prospect.

February 13, 2024

bleached coral

The Planet Will Warm Past 1.5°C. What Now?

The challenge now is to limit the depth and duration of the 1.5°C overshoot and thus the destruction that occurs during and after it.

April 6, 2023

climate justice march

COP27: Almost nothing–but something real–changed

The loss-and-damage breakthrough at the latest global climate confab has put equity front and center of the debate.

December 5, 2022

Hurricane Florence

The Upcoming UN Climate Talks in Glasgow Are a Make-or-Break Moment

This year’s climate summit—COP26, in UN-speak—will be the most important since the 2015 talks in Paris, and this will be true however the meeting unfolds.

October 5, 2021

world map

Biden’s Climate Agenda: What’s Missing?

We need a Green New Deal. But we also need a new internationalism, an emergency internationalism, and a solidarity than includes distant strangers as well as strangers within our own borders. Without it, we haven’t got a chance.

May 12, 2021

Global climate map

Global Inequality in a Time of Climate Emergency

If we had to choose one voice, one single slogan, to represent the pivot we’re now passing through, as Wen Stephenson suggests in the Nation, we might well pick the Czech playwright and ex-president Vaclav Havel and his notion of “living in truth.”

June 19, 2019