Open to the Public

Tom Athanasiou looking straight at camera, earnest and concerned, stubble on his face, black shirt, no hair, against a backgrounnd of books
Tom Athanasiou, EcoEquity, Climate Equity Reference Project, Extraction Equity Working Group

The Challenge of a “Just, Orderly, and Equitable” Fossil Fuel Phase Out
Speaker: Tom Athanasiou, EcoEquity, Climate Equity Reference Project, Extraction Equity Working Group
Tuesday, May 7, 2024
4:00pm to 5:00pm
Online via Zoom (details below)

About the Topic

Just before the recent climate summit in Dubai, COP28 president Sultan Al-Jaber, with some exasperation, came out with the following rather amazing statement: 

“Please help me, show me the roadmap for a phase out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.” 

Al-Jabar was posturing when he made this quip about caves, but he can almost be forgiven. We badly need a roadmap for a “phase out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development.” By noting the lack of one, he underscored its absence, and this is true even if he spoke as a flack of the fossil fuel cartel. 

How do we think about this challenge? Tom Athanasiou, a member of the Extraction Equity Working Group (EEWG), which was spun up by the Civil Society Equity Review to advance the discussion within the climate movement, will introduce the EEWG’s initial approach and discuss the state of play. 

About the Speaker

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

Tom has long believed that once the true scale of the climate danger became visible, despair would become a paramount political and cultural threat, and he now considers that, in this judgement, he was correct. Given this, his focus is on the public secret at the heart of the global climate reckoning, the one everybody suspects but few acknowledge —the planetary climate system simply cannot be stabilized without a global push to restructure the economy in fundamental ways.

Tom believes in debate, and is an engaging public speaker.

Recommended Reading

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Contact Rachel Christopherson at the Center for the Blue Economy at or (831) 647-4183.

Gratitude to Our Sponsor

We thank the Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Hayward Family Foundation.

About the Host:  the Center for the Blue Economy

The Center for the Blue Economy is a research center at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.  Our mission is to provide economic and policy analysis that supports the development of a robust and equitable blue economy for the 21st century. The Center uses the World Bank’s definition of the Blue Economy: the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health. 

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