Our planet is changing at an unprecedented rate.
Melting ice caps, wildfires, floods, droughts, and other intensifying weather patterns are regional symptoms of a warming planet. Established science is clear: climate trends over the past century are indisputably caused by human activities. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels to power modern societies has resulted in the preeminent challenge of our time: climate change.
We are the first generation to experience that our actions have had consequences for our climate. We are probably the last generation that can still do something about it.
Goldman Prize Winners awarded for Climate & Energy
Since April 2018, Tero Mustonen led the restoration of 62 severely degraded former industrial peat mining and forestry sites throughout Finland—totaling 86,000 acres—and transformed them into productive, biodiverse wetlands and habitats. Rich in organic matter, peatlands are highly effective carbon sinks; according to the IUCN, peatlands are the largest natural carbon stores on Earth. Roughly one-third of Finland’s surface area is made up of peatlands.
In a groundbreaking victory, Marjan Minnesma leveraged public input and a unique legal strategy to secure a successful ruling against the Dutch government, requiring it to enact specific preventive measures against climate change. In December 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the government had a legal obligation to protect its citizens from climate change and ordered it, by the end of 2020, to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 1990 levels. The Netherlands’ Supreme Court decision marks the first time that citizens succeeded in holding their government accountable for its failure to protect them from climate change.
Julien Vincent led a successful grassroots campaign to defund coal in Australia, a major coal exporter, culminating in commitments from the nation’s four largest banks to end funding for coal projects by 2030. Because of Julien’s activism, Australia’s major insurance companies have also agreed to cease underwriting new coal projects. His organizing has produced a challenging financial landscape for the Australian coal industry, a significant step toward reducing fossil fuels that hasten climate change.
After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, Japan was forced to move away from nuclear power and, in its place, embraced coal as a major energy source. Over the past several years, Kimiko Hirata’s grassroots campaign led to the cancellation of 13 coal power plants (7GW or 7,030MW) in Japan. These coal plants would have released more than 1.6 billion tons of CO2 over their lifetimes. The carbon impact of Hirata’s activism is the equivalent of taking 7.5 million passenger cars off the road every year for 40 years.
As a direct result of Chibeze Ezekiel’s four-year grassroots campaign, the Ghanaian Minister of Environment canceled the construction of a 700-megawatt (MW) coal power plant and adjoining shipping port to import coal. The coal power plant would have been Ghana’s first. Ezekiel’s activism stopped the coal industry from entering Ghana and steered the nation’s energy future away from coal.
In 2017, Lucie Pinson’s activism successfully pressured France’s three largest banks to eliminate financing for new coal projects and coal companies. She then compelled French insurance companies to follow suit: between 2017 and 2019, mega insurers AXA and SCOR announced plans to end insurance coverage for coal projects.
Partners in Climate & Energy
The Goldman Prize is honored to partner with a variety of environmental organizations around the world, each of them united in the goal of protecting our planet. From our nominating partners to global organizations to grassroots NGOs led by Prize winners, they are all essential parts of the environmental community.