Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis

Rate this book
Climate change: it is arguably the most urgent and consequential issue humankind has ever faced. How we address it in the next thirty years will determine the kind of world we will live in and will bequeath to our children and to theirs.

In The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac--who led negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015--have written a cautionary but optimistic book about the world's changing climate and the fate of humanity.
The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet. In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a carbon neutral, regenerative world. They argue for confronting the climate crisis head-on, with determination and optimism. The Future We Choose presents our options and tells us what governments, corporations, and each of us can and must do to fend off disaster.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published February 24, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Christiana Figueres

6 books56 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,098 (38%)
4 stars
2,088 (38%)
3 stars
994 (18%)
2 stars
224 (4%)
1 star
62 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 787 reviews
67 reviews2 followers
June 21, 2020
Hmmm...not quite what I had expected. I heard about this book through a review in The Guardian. They ran two excerpts from the book, which I found quite intriguing. The excerpts painted vastly different views of the world in the future, based on hypothetical actions which humanity can undertake right now.

But it turns out that these alternate future scenarios form only a small part of the book. They serve really as the attention-getting prelude to the remainder of the book, which is based on largely the same listless call to action which fills the rest of the shelves in the ecological section. The does provide a bit of motivation and ideas as to small steps each one of us can take individually. But on the whole I found it to be an impassioned yet weak call to action through voices of peacemongers who drone the same message of "change now" that you can find in hundreds of other books.

One of the factors that drew me to the book were the bona fides of the authors. Figueres and Rivett-Carnac were leading negotiators of the Paris Climate Accords. I suppose I expected that Figueres' deft navigation of the negotiations years ago would provide some unique insight information. But alas, that isn't the case for this book. Had I known that all they were going to put out was a motivational pamphlet about what we can and should be doing to save the environment, I would have saved my $23 for a *hardcover* book which offers little in the way of political advice, much less scientific evidence.

Given my lack of finding anything unique or more than marginally motivational in this book, I'm actually quite disappointed that the authors chose to publish this book, especially in hardcover edition. Could this not have come out directly in a paperback edition? Or digital only? The very fact of this publication in hardcover edition strikes me as a lack of true internalization of their own message.

I'm left with the distinct impression that this is only going to affect those who are already sympathetic to the cause. It's not going to change anyone's minds on the other side of the aisle. It really comes off as some sort of hippie peace-and-love editorial, which will not convince political hawks or the constituents that support them.
Profile Image for Dennis.
659 reviews269 followers
January 1, 2022
This book is somewhat similar to David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet in that it outlines two possible futures; one in which we keep leading our lives the way we do now and in doing so are creating hell on earth in only a few decades, and one in which we are committed to reduce emissions and limit global warming and thus creating a future that is actually worth living in. Both books are optimistic about what humanity, what we, you and I can achieve. Both are very clear about the urgency of the matter.

While Attenborough frames this against his career as a naturalist and broadcaster for the BBC, Figueres and Rivett-Carnac do so with the 2015 Paris Agreement in which they played a not insignificant role. Both books then proceed to explain several actions that take us closer to the future we all want to happen.

The Future We Choose also devotes several chapters to a necessary change of mindset. Something that Attenborough achieved more naturally, by just being the awesome guy he is. Generally speaking, this book here is a much more direct call to action that urges you to get your ass into gear, and that probably won’t convince people that haven’t already decided to do something, simply because it comes across as a little bossy. But frankly, climate change deniers won’t read this book anyway and the fact remains that the authors are simply right.

Let me put it this way, David Attenborough inspired me to be better, this book reinforced this wish and gave me some additional tools. In fact, the authors conclude it with an actual Action Plan.

Important and recommended. But maybe read A Life on Our Planet first.
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,787 reviews1,628 followers
February 27, 2020
By far the most prominent, urgent and important environmental issue our planet has ever faced, the climate crisis we currently find ourselves in means we are disappearing into the abyss and the topic can no longer be ignored if it is to abated. Regardless of what your opinion is on the main players in the arena such as extinction rebellion, young and bold climate activist Greta Thunberg, or David Attenborough their message is an extremely important one.

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis is a passionate ode to reality, a powerful call to action and a tour de force written by experts in their respective fields and immaculately and comprehensively researched to ensure it is equal parts accurate and fascinating. Although not an issue for me due to knowing this area quite well I am pleased to report that it’s a highly accessible read even for those with no prior knowledge and/or interest in the area.

We no longer have the luxury of time to decipher the statistics and cultivate a thorough plan of attack yet it is of the utmost importance that we act now. In unity. Because we as a species cannot be saved unless we set aside and cast asunder our differences and evolve as a society. What is crucial to point out is that I have read many books that touted themselves as a climate saviour prior to this but this is by far the most empowering, eye-opening, inspiring and most appealing, and it gives us tactics to put into action to work each towards our own goals which will end up working collectively

Honestly, you would be both shocked and utterly dismayed by the climate books I have perused that leave you somewhat scared by their facts but offer no points of action to make a difference and seem reticent to offer anything but a depressed outlook and pessimistic doom and gloom. Seriously, though, it felt like the authors got some perverse pleasure out of terrifying the reader to death about the future of our species before basically admitting defeat. Thank the lord that this is a different kettle of fish altogether! Many thanks to Manilla Press for an ARC.
Profile Image for Viv JM.
692 reviews153 followers
March 4, 2020
This is an absolutely excellent book. A book on climate change could (quite rightly) be depressing, but not this one. Yes, the climate emergency is real and frightening but the authors argue not only that we must act but also give examples of what this might look like. They lay out what we need to do and how to go about doing it and the overall tone is optimistic and inspiring and very readable. I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone on this beautiful planet.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,691 reviews638 followers
October 8, 2020
'The Future We Choose' joined my to-read list due to positive goodreads reviews. I then bought a copy from the Edinburgh International Book Festival bookshop, as festival events whetted my appetite for a hopeful and inspiring book about action on climate change. Feeling in need of some optimism, I started reading it at the weekend. Unfortunately, while it is well-written and clearly structured, I did not get on well with it. I believe the reasons for that relate to me, the pandemic, and the content of the book itself in roughly equal measure. I will consider these three factors in reverse order.

Firstly, the book. It is short, covering a gigantic topic in just over 170 pages. There is a good bibliography at the end, much of which was familiar to me already. It is thus a high-level synthesis rather than a new perspective, likely intended for audiences who haven't read a book-length call to action on climate change before. The strongest and most interesting parts, in my view, described COP 21 and the process of securing the Paris Agreement. The authors were deeply involved with the negotiations and agreement at the Paris conference. Given how potentially powerful that agreement could prove, I found their account of it uplifting. Moreover, the book's explanation of the steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint and how to sequence them are very clearly set out.

While I think this is a good book, the cover and endpaper quotes are hyperbole: 'one of the most inspiring books I've ever read', 'there could not be a more important book', etc. What is more significant is who these quotes come from. The latter is from Richard Branson, whose concern about climate change is such that he requested his airline be bailed out as the pandemic has significantly reduced demand for passenger flights. Other quotes are from William Hague, who was a cabinet member of a UK government that treated climate change mitigation measures as 'red tape' to be removed, and the CEO of Shell, who presumably provided his through gritted teeth. These endorsements reflect the difficult line that the book tries to walk: conveying the need for extremely radical change to tackle climate change while not scaring or offending anyone. The approach taken is thus to focus on individual experience and action, with very little critique of systems. Populist neo-fascist politics and social media fake news are criticised somewhat, but this is the view on capitalism:

This new economic model will need better policies and strong institutions so that the great market forces of investment and entrepreneurialism can work towards regeneration instead of extraction. Finance and investment will play a key role. While we have managed capitalism moderately well over the centuries, with successful institutions such as law, taxation, and charity, we have not yet perfected it. Now is the time to do so.

I disagree almost entirely with this. A new economic model that genuinely prioritised the climate would not be capitalism. Possibly this paragraph is trying to avoid alarming people by stretching the definition of capitalism until it equals 'any economic system'? Fundamentally, though, capitalism is defined by the accumulation of capital. It is extractive rather than regenerative by its very nature and has been since it came into existence. To say that we have managed capitalism 'moderately well' is breath-taking in a book about the environmental catastrophes that threaten the survival of human civilisation, all of which are directly attributable to rapacious capitalism. Institutions such as law, taxation, and charity have facilitated this at various times and in various ways. I don't mean to dismiss them entirely, but treating them as sufficient to temper capitalism's destructiveness would be woefully naive. It's also shocking to speak of centuries of moderately well-managed capitalism without acknowledging slavery, a longstanding example of free enterprise supported by law.

Secondly, the pandemic undermines the intended optimistic message. How can politicians and individuals make climate change our first priority right now? We exist within global, regional, national, and local contexts constrained by a dangerous virus. I anticipate with huge interest and some dread the carbon emissions data for 2020. Interest because massive falls in flying, disruption of industry, and falls in other activities could cause falls in emissions; dread because I fear they will be insufficient and transient. Moreover, the data will be harder to collect and potentially less reliable this year. There is also the massive exacerbation of wealth inequality that the pandemic is causing, which is not only incredibly worrying in itself but will also have significant effects on politics and policy priorities. There is a calm certainty to the tone of 'The Future We Choose' that is unsuited to our chaotic and unpredictable reality. Apart from anything else, if and when Trump recovers from covid-19 will have a massive impact on the whole world. Feeling optimistic about the future and asserting influence over it are much more difficult now than they were last year. At the moment, certainly in the UK, it feels like this is coronavirus' world and we're just trying to survive in it. I don't imagine things are much better in many other countries, but do not know as I've been deliberately limiting my news access. Unfortunately Trump is impossible to avoid.

Finally, my more personal reasons for struggling with 'The Future We Choose'. The preceding points are of course related to my opinions and perceptions, however I also think my state of mind is incongruent with this book. This would probably also have been the case had I read it before the pandemic. 'The Future We Choose' talks about the importance of personal mindsets and individual action. While I agree that we can only work collectively if we each choose to do so, this emphasis on the individual seemed reductive. On the one hand, I genuinely do not feel capable of attaining the positive mindset presented here. If several courses of cognitive behavioural therapy haven't reduced my overwhelming fear, how could a couple of chapters on mindfulness, positivity, and radical regeneration? Naturally this book was not written specifically for those with quite intense anxiety. The principles are sound, I just really struggle to apply them. Now more than ever, I find it very difficult to feel anything about the future other than fear and dread.

On the other hand, the suggestions for action to reduce your personal carbon footprint underwhelmed me because I've already done the majority of them. Back in 2009 I made a plan to reduce my environmental impact: I stopped flying, got rid of my car, and began systematically evaluating everything I buy for environmental impact. Now I buy nearly all my clothes second-hand, or when that's not possible from ethical slow fashion companies. I'm a lifelong vegetarian and have reduced my consumption of dairy in favour of eggs, as well as convincing myself to eat boring kale because it grows in the UK. I buy my power from Ecotricity and use my central heating very sparingly, set at 17 or 18°C. I also talk about doing all of this with friends and family in an attempt to normalise it without preaching. (Except with my parents, who I straight up nagged until they got rid of their totally pointless second car.) I vote with the environment at the front of my mind. I'm not reciting all this to boast about it, but because none of it is remotely sufficient! There is so much that I have no control or influence over due to living in a profit-driven capitalist system. I think personal action is still worth taking, because it soothes my conscience a little, makes for a calmer and simpler life, and builds resilience. However it is not a substitute for systemic change and redistribution of wealth. For the past ten years I've tried to find a job in with some positive effect on the environment, and have totally failed. In these neoliberal times, academia and the public sector have similarly corporate priorities as the private sector, especially the former. I may be looking in the wrong places, but this book has nothing to say about considering climate change in the context of your career and working life. That seems like a serious omission, especially given the authors.

Unlike This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook, 'The Future We Choose' did not give me hope that there's something collective, beyond green consumerism, that can bring about transformation. I cannot believe that a global catastrophe caused by capitalism and technology will be averted by more capitalism and more technology. Is that my anxiety talking, or it is realism? In times like this, what mental health questionnaires classify as illness can also appear a totally rational response to the global situation. However that is outside the scope of this book.
Profile Image for Tanja Berg.
1,865 reviews426 followers
January 7, 2022
My mentor recommended this book to me and certainly some of the things I exuberantly discussed - reducing your own carbon footprint by less driving, growing own food etc - do crop up here. Other things I am less enthusiastic about, such as wind turbines. They are non-renewable and have devastating effects on biodiversity and habitat.

The chapters on the alternative futures are short, even shorter than in Dave Goulson’s “silent earth”. Most of this book is on how the Paris agreement came about and what you can do to perpetuate change. Even this is reminiscent of Goulson.

The book is certainly important, but it’s unlikely to reach any other audience aside from the ones already convinced. It almost didn’t get to me either, although I am, if anything, an enthusiastic proponent of biodiversity and sustainability.
Profile Image for Imi.
378 reviews110 followers
December 8, 2020
I am very unimpressed. Such a disappointment after hearing so many good things about it, but I got nothing from this. Maybe this would be a useful book if you knew literally nothing about what it's currently taking place on a planet (but then would you ever pick up this book), but I found it patronising, strangely self-congratulatory in tone (we've done nothing, yet, NOTHING), and extremely light on the substance. The two chapters on our possible futures (one the bad, one the good) were just bizarre. How is imagining a black and white, good or bad scenario at all helpful? The world doesn't work like that. And the list of "things you can do" was, again, patronising, and painfully obvious. So all in all not at all motivating in the way I was hoping. It's so hard to stay positive sometimes... :(
Profile Image for Linh.
260 reviews39 followers
March 11, 2020
Okay. I know everyone is going to have opinions about this book, the author(s--remember, there's two of them!) and what "climate" people think about it. I'll start.

First, it could have been 3 or 4 stars. It depends on why you read. For me, the extra star is personal; I like reading about issues that I'm engaged in, within contexts that I have experience of. (Which is to say, I'll consume almost any content about social movements and/or the UN; in lieu of current content available, I settle for psychological crime thrillers).

More seriously, the writing is good. It's simple and clear, this was an easy and largely quite pleasant to read. There were many sentences that managed to successfully simplify the complexity of the climate crisis in a way that was still accurate. I plan on borrowing some of these phrases after a particularly terrible recent instance of explaining net-zero in another language...

The Paris Agreement is complex and given the authors, it makes sense that they were able to distil down the process and intended outcomes. This section of the book is useful for old-hands, and mainly associate the city with the Eiffel Tower as opposed to multilateralism.

I found the final third of the book (about solutions, both at the systemic and individual level) to be far lighter though, in terms of substance. The book could have gone anywhere after the first two-thirds, instead the ending wasn't fitting and it read like things wrapped up before it delved into anything of significance.

I found the solutions segment to be a more holistic and realistic detailing of what's outlined in Paul Hawken's Drawdown. I wasn't expecting anything new because, yes, it really is true, we have the solutions at hand. Given some of the likely readers of this book, it could have gone into more depth around what this would look like through policy or existing hurdles.

The chapters about mindsets is what I derived the most value from. It pieced together my past interactions with the authors, and speeches that I had seen Figueres given on "stubborn optimism". The additions of "endless abundance" and "radical regeneration" were fitting. This book could have been reframed as a "business one" where these concepts get explored, with climate just being one potential use case. It would have broadened the audience; it also read like there was more to say here.

Lastly, Figueres and Rivett-Carnac painted some pretty good future scenarios. They could both go into speculative cli-fi!
Profile Image for John.
1,147 reviews85 followers
November 8, 2020
I wanted to like this book but it appears to be aimed at an audience already converted. The two scenarios are just that and the fact the USA is not in the Paris Agreement is skirted around. Yes, individuals matter and their mindsets.

I expect most people who read this book already do most of the recommended 10 actions such as challenge consumerism, plant trees, source their power from renewable energy,active on politics and eat less meat. Saying that I liked the ten actions.

Let go of the old world
Face your grief but hold a vision of the future
Defend the truth
See yourself as a citizen not a consumer
Move beyond fossil fuels
Reforest the Earth
Invest in clean technology
Use technology responsibly
Build gender equality
Engage in politics

Whats missing in this book is economics. Circular economy is mentioned in passing but the neoclassical theme is still there. Doughnut Economics for me was much more useful. Did any of the people who gave quoted for this book actually read it? The mention of a bomb on a subway stop at the 2015 Paris Agreement is not referenced and nowhere can I find information on it. Anyone who knows of an article, police report on it please share.

Overall its a good book and the optimism aspect I agreed with. The chapter on What you can do now was a good way to end the book.

I do question the way she employed her fellow author. It confirms the saying its not what you know but who you know when it comes to getting some jobs!
Profile Image for Amy Minh.
27 reviews1 follower
May 9, 2021
When I hear of climate change news, I am one of those people who still live in a bubble believing that it is something in the distant future. I am not emotionally invested in the issue. I do my share of recycling, biking, reuse, etc but I don't believe these small things would have any real impact. I know we are damaging our world but I don't have a real sense of urgency to fix it. 

The authors did a an amazing job outlining the two worlds we would end up with if we don't take drastic actions to achieve net zero emission by 2050: one with frequent/intense natural disasters with hot and polluted air (think Beijing air) or one with plenty of green space, shared vehicles, rapid trains for traveling to substain the projected population growth to 10ish billions.

It is not tough to decide which world we or future generations want to live in. The vivid descriptions of these worlds with real life examples is emotionally powerful to convince readers to remove their heads out of the sand and face our existential threat head on. It is not all gloom and doom and we, collectively, can still turn the trajectory of human survival from an ultimate doom to a regenerative world.

Hearing that from the two people who orchestrated the Paris Agreement, I feel hopeful and motivated to do more than what I am currently doing to cut down my carbon emission.

Some actions citizens can take to reduce their carbon footprint:
-Reduce meat intake
-Buy quality clothes that last and abandon fast fashion
-Plant trees
-Engage politically and elect politicians who care and ready to take action against climate change
-Ensure your investment portfolio are environmentally responsible
-Convert to an electric car
-Support business that are environmentally responsible
--Spread these ideas to friends/family
-Make living green as automatic as breathing
Profile Image for meg.
1,216 reviews12 followers
March 17, 2020
ok I'm in a weird headspace for this one because I read the first half weeks ago when I was feeling all-too-sanguine coronavirus and then finished it this week when I am feeling MUCH LESS SO but I'm gonna go with a resounding ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

I don't actually know what I hoped to get from this but there was very little new or groundbreaking information and I found the science and projections to be less rigorous than other books. I was looking forward to the list of concrete individual actions to take to prevent climate change but found them all obvious (eat less meat, drive less, don't buy fast fashion) or unclear and far too high-level (give up the past, be more optimistic, embrace AI).

I don't know. I just didn't get much out of this. I think I also was looking for more updates on what has actually changed and been accomplished since the Paris agreement but instead the book was very self-congratulatory on the mere fact that the accords were agreed upon and vague to non-existent on their actual impact
Profile Image for Laura.
313 reviews56 followers
June 16, 2020
For anyone looking for somewhere to start with books on climate change I would 100% recommend this. It's the most understandable and well laid out book on the topic I've read so far. Even my brain fog tainted brain could absorb it without having to reread and that's quite the achievement with such a heavy topic. For those already deep in the black hole of climate change it might be a little simplistic.
"Anger that sinks into despair is powerless to make a change. Anger that evolves into conviction is unstoppable."
"Industrial agriculture and the food industry, which often prioritize profitable food over nutritious food, are almost as big a driver of climate change as fossil fuels. Yet much of the food produced is never eaten. It doesn’t even necessarily get to the people who need it."
Profile Image for Juan Farfán.
52 reviews7 followers
March 23, 2020
Very unsystematic and colloquial tone. The recommendations are vague for the extent of the book
Profile Image for Agne.
5 reviews1 follower
April 12, 2020
This book is a book of hope in an uncertain time. It invites one to an adventure against overwhelming odds.

The book is a great introduction to anyone not too familiar with climate change and a way to move beyond thinking towards acting.
In tandem, the book can be interesting to one who's been in the field for a while - a refresher of the basics, some great new examples, referenced meticulously and with suggestions for further reads. I enjoyed the suggested actions to take, especially action 2 "face your grief but hold a vision of the future" - which is a challenge for everyone learning about and working with climate change.

"We can no longer afford the indulgence of feeling powerless." (Pg. 99)
Profile Image for Camelia Rose.
651 reviews86 followers
April 11, 2021
The Future We Choose is a climate change manifesto. Science have proved over and over again that if no radical actions are taken on top of promises made in the Paris Agreement, the world will be 3c warmer by 2100. If the world can't reach carbon neutral by 2050, all hopes will be lost. The goal is to reach carbon neutral by 2050 so that the global temperature will only be 1.5c warmer by 2100. First and foremost this is a goal for the world as a whole, including every nation on every continent.

The tragedy is that in the US, the richest country and the country with the highest carbon emission, climate change has become so partisan that half of its population vote against any effort to address it. Chapter 2 The World We Are Creating describes what the world will look like in 2050 if we do nothing. It is not a dystopian fiction, but a highly plausible scenario. Christiana Figueres, the architect of Paris Agreement, says, "Climate change is the mother of all issues." For both political left and right, no matter what your concern is, be it immigration control, economy stability and prosperity, health care, your children's education, or racial justice, climate change, if left unaddressed, will exacerbate your worst nightmare.

I have been one of those who "understand the science and acknowledge the evidence, but take no action because they don't know what to do, or because it is far easier no to think about climate change. It's scary and overwhelming. To a large extent, many of us stick our heads into the sand."

In The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac proposed three mindsets and ten actions, all applicable to both nations and individuals.
Three mindset:
- Stubborn Optimism (battle is not lost yet; keep fighting)
- Endless Abundance (perceived the scarcity vs real scarcity; in the batter of climate change, human race as a whole either lose or win as a whole)
- Radical Regeneration

Ten actions:
- Let Go of the Old World
- Face Your Grief but Hold a Vision of the future
- Defend the truth
- See yourself as a citizen not as a consumer
- More beyond fossil fuels
- Reforest the earth
- Invest a Clean Economy
- Use Technology Responsibly
- Build Gender Equality (especially in the third world countries, to break the poverty cycle and reduce population)
- Engage in Politics (it is your future and your children's future you are fighting for)

There is an argument that telling individuals to reduce their carbon footprint is futile and people adapt less carbon-intense life style just to make them feel morally superior. In the battle of climate change, actions speak louder than words and results matter more than intentions. Time to abandon the notion that planting trees only eases the guilt of tree planters. Make a ten year's plan to cut your own carbon footprint by 60% by 2030. It is doable. Buy less, buy local, reuse and recycle, consume less meat, fly less, drive less; divest your pension from fossil fuel industry; plant trees; if you can, live in an eco-house; vote for politicians who care about climate change.
Profile Image for Led.
124 reviews44 followers
December 20, 2020
This was my first particular reading about the climate change. Since the authors were the main persons of the 2015 Paris Agreement, I was after knowing the specific actions the common citizens could take in relevance to the treaty. To make the best out of this, in choosing our future, I recommend doing a pre-reading. A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future , the next I read, is a very good material. Direct information on the international treaty is available on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website.
Profile Image for Kadir.
73 reviews2 followers
October 13, 2021
“When the story changes, everything changes.”
We all need to change our lifestyle because the danger is real and we are all in this together.
Profile Image for Paul  Perry.
376 reviews206 followers
July 11, 2022
Something of a corrective to David Wallace-Wells' The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. The first chapter gives as bleak an outlook as that book, if we remain on our current course, but the next paints a future where we have acted and kept temperatures below 2C above pre-industrial levels. Not rose-tinted, but very positive.

More importantly, the authors state what we need to do now to achieve this, starting with changing our mindset to one of Stubborn Optimism, and moving to ten positive actions - Letting Go of the Old World, Facing Grief but Holding On to a Vision of the Future, Defending the Truth, Being a Citizen not a Consumer, Moving Beyond Fossil Fuels, Reforesting the Earth, Investing in a Clean Economy, Using Technology Responsibly, Building Gender Equality and Engaging in Politics.

All this is very specific, and ends with a call for each of us to make a plan on how to reduce our carbon footprint.

Inspiring, important stuff. I'll be placing it on rotation along with other calls for positive change such as Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist and An Optimist's Tour of the Future: One Curious Man Sets Out to Answer "What's Next?".
Profile Image for Kate Lyons.
2 reviews2 followers
September 12, 2022
I think this book is a great idea. The climate movement needs more optimism and universal calls to action, and less shaming and confusing science.

As someone who works in the energy and sustainability industry, I don’t think this book was aimed at me. All of the calls to action were very familiar to me and are things that I try to implement in my life. I would recommend this to those who are just starting out in their climate journey and want a book that will give them a baseline knowledge of what’s at stake and motivation to fight.

A few things generally annoyed me throughout the whole book and are the reason why I’m still not a huge fan of it:

1. There was scarce mention of racial justice, but a whole chapter dedicated to women’s rights. For two people on the forefront of global climate action to basically ignore this issue, I think, is a tragedy, and speaks to how far the climate movement still has to go with its inclusion of BIPOC in the vision of a carbon neutral or carbon negative society.

2. I also would have liked to see a younger voice show through. As a 23 year old, this felt like the same old ho hum climate motivational language that has been used for years. I think the book would have benefited from considering young adult and youth perspectives on actions and global collaboration.

3. Finally - I know the book was an attempt to be approachable and digestible for the average audience, but I found myself growing consistently frustrated with the simplification of some scientific and economic principles. That, combined with the citation of many op-Ed’s got me heated as I repeatedly turned to the references section with a confused look on my face about a claim.

Overall, great idea, not so great execution. Obviously the masses may feel different if they are new to the movement, and for them, I’m sure this book does the job it set out to do.
Profile Image for Dan Connors.
321 reviews45 followers
February 15, 2021
For all of history, mankind has seemed to live on the edge of disaster. The ever-changing climate of the earth has threatened to wipe humans out just like the dinosaurs several times. Luck has provided us with a relatively stable climate for the past 10,000 years, and we take it for granted at our peril. Our comfort zone is maddeningly tiny. If climate is too cold, we can't grow anything and survival depends on keeping warm. If the climate gets too hot, our bodies get over-stressed by the heat and again our crops die. The secret to our survival depends on staying in that sweet spot of mild, temperate weather where our farms, cities, and bodies run at their best.

I've been following the debate on climate change for decades, and not much has changed except the direness of the predictions. The science and data are clear- Planet Earth is warming up, and the most likely culprit are greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane that are increasing in our atmosphere and trapping heat. We can see the results of global warming everywhere- with the melting polar caps, shrinking glaciers, and disappearing polar bears.

Increasingly, this slow-moving disaster has been hitting closer to home. Rising average temperatures all over the world's cities have led to observable changes-
- much more rainfall in some spots while drought hits in others,
- increasing levels of wildfires threaten what's left of our disappearing forests,
- rising sea levels are eroding coasts and polluting drinking water,
- tropical storms such as hurricanes and cyclones are increasing in number and intensity
- disappearance of plant and animal species, or arrival of new species adapted to changing climates.

This book is one of hundreds that have been written about climate change, and the authors were intimately involved in the writing of the Paris agreement in 2015. I would have loved to read more about how the Paris agreement came to be, and the authors touch on it briefly. Somehow the organizers at Paris were able to get all the countries to the table, and get agreements from the established polluters (US, Europe, Japan), the up and comers (India, Brazil, China) and the 100 or so smaller nations that are feeling the brunt of climate change and trying to bolster their economies.

This was a herculean task, and it fell apart in 2017 when Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement. Any agreement like this only works if everybody agrees to share some of the risk and pain of transforming their economies. President Biden has put the US back into the agreement, but the resistance to the science of climate change is still substantial in the US, as it is in other developed countries with a lot to lose.

The Future We Choose starts off by imagining two scenarios- one in which we do nothing, and one in which we meet the current goals of no greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Some people think that the worst that can happen would be a few glaciers melt and some shorelines recede. The reality would more likely be that large parts of the planet become basically unlivable, with air and water quality declining and erratic weather altering all agriculture as we know it today. Huge migrations of humans and animals would result and the economic and political ramifications are enormous. The rosy picture they present for the carbon-neutral future seems pretty out there, but things like electric cars and trains, giant tree farms, community farms, and smart technology aren't that hard to imagine for the future.

The authors recommend three mindsets to propel us to what we need to do to transform the planet: stubborn optimism, endless abundance, and radical regeneration. One thing that bothers me about many climate change proponents is their rosy, optimistic views about how easy this is all going to be. The oil, gas, and coal economy is what got us where we are, and the thought that they will just roll over while everything changes is hard to believe. There are so many moving parts to this problem, it's hard to see how we get it all done in just 30 years. But the authors insist on optimism and a mindset that avoids zero-sum games where the loss of oil money isn't replaced by something better.

It's not exactly like we have a choice. Either transform our entire economy from an extract and burn model to a grow and regenerate model, or watch the whole thing fall apart anyway. I can understand why there are so many climate deniers- the scope of the changes necessary are too much to comprehend, so they instead ignore the whole thing. Some are welcoming the coming climate apocalypse, assuming either that Jesus will come to rescue them, or that their privilege will keep the effects bearable.

This book recommends ten climate actions that move us away from fossil fuels and towards a fairer economic system.
1- Let go of the old way of doing things. Completely transform agriculture, transportation and energy consumption (the three biggest sources of greenhouse gasses). This is the big one.
2- Hold onto a vision of the future to overcome the inevitable grief that change brings.
3- Defend the truth. That means stand up for the science that tells us what's going on and stay away from conspiracy theories and pseudoscience backed by oil companies.
4- See yourself as a citizen first, consumer second. Become a more responsible consumer. (Which is hard to do in an age of materialism and individuality)
5- Move beyond fossil fuels and plan on using 100% renewables in your own life.
6- Reforest the earth. Stay away from products that destroy the most trees- beef, soy, palm oil and lumber.
7- Don't fixate on Gross Domestic Product, which doesn't take into account externalities like pollution and look to the Happy Planet Index for true economic health.
8- Use tech and artificial intelligence responsibly. Machine learning can be a great partner in figuring out how to transform our ecological footprint.
9- Build gender equality, because women are apparently better stewards of the environment.
10- Engage in politics. Vote, protest, speak up. Especially the young folks. Politicians look to the big money donors until they start to get scared when public opinion turns against them. Even corporations are starting to get worried about climate change, and they will listen if their customers vote with their money.

Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% before 2030. Cut them to nothing by 2050. These are impressive goals that the authors of this book say are necessary to reach Paris agreement goals of limiting any further global warming to 1.5 degree centigrade worldwide. How do we get there? Not much detail in this short book about that.

Part of me is terribly pessimistic that enough will happen. The Donald Trump era has driven a bulldozer through any idea of shared reality or shared sacrifice. Getting a majority to believe in science and give up their gas guzzling SUV's seems a tall order in 2020. But 30 years is a long time. Some national weather disasters may raise the urgency level at some point.

Humanity's best weapons are its ability to communicate and collaborate, which is what sets us apart from the apes and all other animals. With information flowing at faster speeds and larger amounts, there are few limits to how quickly we can innovate as the need arises. Already there are many promising things in the works- nuclear fusion, carbon capture technology, improved batteries, cheaper, more plentiful solar energy, and a tasty meatless meals. It will take a lot of creativity and innovation, and the future of the planet is in the balance for the 21st century. You can already see things in motion, and the change has accelerated in just the last few years. Hopefully more books like this one and more climate agreements will show Planet Earth that we deserve to be here and survive into the 22nd century.
Profile Image for Bryan Alexander.
Author 4 books277 followers
October 3, 2021
The Future We Choose is a very short and accessible book. Its purpose is to encourage readers to take climate actions. In that it succeeds.

Otherwise... it's just too light. It doesn't explain global warming. It doesn't lay out the politics, even though its authors were major organizers of the Paris accords. It feels like a series of blog posts or op-eds.

That said, if you're freaking out about climate change and spiraling into depression about it, this may be just what you need to optimism and action.
Profile Image for Jecko.
100 reviews16 followers
February 21, 2021
This is my first proper reading (outside of any school requirement) on climate change and it reads as a succinct and impactful situationer on the status of the global efforts to address the biggest existential threat to humanity. As such, we are currently living in a critical decade where global carbon emissions must be lowered by half its number. Come the next decade, we have to reduce that count further - all of this towards a net-zero carbon emission by 2050. The climate emergency needs no more euphemisms. There are no more grace periods and extended deadlines for humanity. In the authors' words, we truly have procrastinated enough. Everything we do at this point can literally make or break the future we must choose.

Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac - architects of the historic Paris Agreement - do not shy away from the realities of the climate crisis, and they understand that the commitment needed prior engagement in any direct and needed action must be the first thing we need to inculcate and foster. This makes the book more than just the essential facts and figures. It is loaded with optimistic philosophy on the necessary steps (big and small, personal and on a global scale) needed to reach this goal of carbon neutrality. It offers viable solutions and insights on what can and must be done.

The Future We Choose sure isn't going to be the last text one needs to read in order to fully engage in the existential challenges of our generation, but I can already say it is a great starting point.
Profile Image for Kate.
488 reviews1 follower
September 12, 2022
In this comprehensive look at climate change and what we can do to stop it, Christiana Figueres suggests that the first step to long-term change in attitudes about the environment is a shift in mindset. She relates the commitment to climate change activism to the social activism undertaken by well-known non-violent activists such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. I appreciate that the author suggests changes we can make that actually seem feasible, such as researching politicians who truly support policies to combat climate change. The book does seem geared to those of us who have more, but overall it is a very accessible text that offers concrete suggestions about what ordinary people can do to slow climate change. I am glad I read it!
Profile Image for Shervin R.
153 reviews53 followers
February 15, 2022
Good arguments about the climate crisis. A bit repetitive but at least it was a short book.
Profile Image for Steve.
134 reviews7 followers
December 27, 2019
This review is from my blog Live Many Lives at www.livemanylives.wordpress.com

We are faced at this very moment with a climate emergency. Christina Figueres is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She took the role shortly after the failed COP15 in July 2010 and led the delivery of negotiations that resulted in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Tom Rivett-Carnac was the Senior Political Strategist. As a result, they feel like suitably qualified people to guide us through the nature of that emergency and provide some hope and crucially action that we can all take to face it.

The first section of the book covers the junction that we currently stand at and the two potential directions that we can choose to take. The differences are extremely stark depending on the future we choose. We can try to keep going down our current route, burning fossil fuels, over consuming and competing to pile pressure onto our planet’s resources and ecosystems, or we can seek to transform the way we live and accept that we are part of one whole and need to live in balance with the planet that sustains us. Both will transform our planet and our quality of life, but in radically different ways.

The next section considers the mindsets that are required to take on the task that we face. This is about the determined optimism and ultimately resilience that we will need in order to find hope in our current situation. We cannot stare into the future like rabbits into headlights. It is also about moving our mindset away from competing for resources that are perceived to be scarce (and creating scarcity through the dysfunctional behaviours of competition) towards collaborating to provide what each person needs at the point that they need it.

Having now set the scene and laid some groundwork the meat of the book looks at what we can actually do to face the crisis of climate breakdown. It is essential to understand that we can make a difference and that we need to take action individually, as well at the structural level, if we are to succeed in the transformation that our planet and species needs.

The suggested actions are a mix of orientations, ways of looking at the way we live and realigning some of our basic assumptions about what makes a good life, and specific things that we can do collectively and as individuals to move towards a new regenerative economy and culture. It is essential if we are to succeed in the grand vision that we each take personal responsibility for moving our own individual lives towards that vision.

We also need to understand that this is not about moving backwards or diminishing the human experience, but is rather a positive and creative vision of moving forwards into a way of life that combines both the awe and wonder of the natural world and the best of human ingenuity. The future is a move away from exploiting the earth and its resources to collaborating with it (and as an intrinsic part of nature ourselves) in a creative, regenerative project.

We are in the midst of an emergency, but The Future We Choose reveals that we are also fortunate to be alive at such a defining moment in our history. This is our opportunity to understand the meaning of our lives and to become a part of the bigger picture of life on earth in a positive way. The last 50 years have been a destructive search for meaning through consumption, a race to accumulate, but the next 25 or so are our opportunity to reshape our culture to the natural patterns of birth, death and regeneration and truly take our place in the world.

The Future We Choose is an urgent read, but it also requires an urgent response from us all. Take the first step now.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 787 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.