From irregular seasons to rising sea levels, the evidence of climate change surrounds us. It’s normal for the Earth’s climate to change due to the slow shifts in its orbit. This should be a natural cycle that occurs almost imperceptibly. However, as many of the climate change quotes we’ve compiled here highlight, human activities have given climate change a huge shove off its natural path in recent times.
Our most significant contribution to climate change is the use of fossil fuels to power machines and generate electricity. The process of extracting these fuels includes mining, drilling, and the use of explosives. These activities contribute to land degradation, ocean acidification, and air pollution. The problem does not end there.
We emit an unnecessary amount of carbon into the atmosphere by refining, transporting, and using fossil fuels/fossil fuel products. Carbon, a greenhouse gas, is largely responsible for global warming and other effects of climate change.
We can slow down climate change and its consequences if we collectively rethink our consumption practices. Globally, we should all be working towards reducing our footprints on the earth and its resources.
Wondering what others have to say about this growing issue? Here are 97 best climate change quotes to consider.
After graduating from Yale University in 1966 with a major in political science, John Forbes Kerry enlisted in the Naval Reserve. There, he served four months in the Vietnam War. After the war, the Navy awarded Kerry several medals, including 3 Purple Heart Medals. Kerry went on to become a U.S. Senator and served as the 68th United States Secretary of State until 2017.
Among his notable accomplishments is Kerry’s contribution to the fight against global warming. He publicly pushes for public and government action against climate change. In 2019, Kerry founded World War Zero, an American coalition to fight climate change. As Kerry’s climate change quote points out, the impacts of climate change are far-reaching and action urgent.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama was the first African-American to head the Harvard Law Review. Obama became a civil rights attorney and later a U.S. Senator. During his two terms in office as president, he passed bills, including the Affordable Care Act and the Job Creation Act. Notable were his regulations on power plants and factories to curb global warming by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Even after his term as president, Obama still speaks on the climate change crisis and our time window to act before it is too late.
“Climate change does not respect border; it does not respect who you are — rich and poor, small and big. Therefore, this is what we call ‘global challenges,' which require global solidarity.”
~ Ban Ki-moon
Jens Martin Skibsted is a Danish bicycle designer, author, and entrepreneur. He sits on the board of various councils, including the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization.
Skibsted actively writes articles for the World Economic Forum on issues such as carbon emissions from air travel. This climate change quote calls for better access to solutions already created and proven to mitigate the climate crisis.
“Climate change isn't something in the future. That narrative is fundamentally flawed because there are millions impacted and so many displaced already. That is the new inconvenient truth that no one wants to hear.”
"The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences."
~ Al Gore
Elon Musk is the name synonymous with Tesla and SpaceX. He is a South Africa-born engineer, industrial designer, and technology entrepreneur. In 2018, Forbes named Musk as one of The World’s Most Powerful People. Musk founded Tesla and its subsidiary, SolarCity, to offer alternative energy options for automobiles and electricity generation.
Musk has been involved in numerous philanthropic endeavors with the aim of reducing global warming through sustainable energy. SolarCity is currently the second-largest solar energy provider in America.
Considered as a national treasure, Sir David Attenborough is the voice we hear when we listen to Planet Earth or The Blue Planet (both on Amazon). He is an English broadcaster and natural historian. Sir Attenborough obtained a degree in natural sciences from Clare College in Cambridge.
Sir Attenborough has hosted and narrated over 90 documentaries, including the hugely impactful Blue Planet II (Amazon), where he spoke of our harm to climate change and our oceans. These documentaries aim to shine a light on the natural beauty of our planet. He actively supports environmental causes and has been outspoken about humanity’s negative impact on the natural world. As a result, his climate change quotes are widely shared.
“Climate change isn't an “issue” to add to the list of things to worry about, next to health care and taxes. It is a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message—spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions—telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us that we need to evolve.”
~ Naomi Klein
"We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it."
~ Jay Inslee
"I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe mankind has looked at climate change in the same way, as if it were a fiction."
~ Leonardo DiCaprio
"Most reputable scientists agree that climate change is real and that the effects are likely to be bad. But nobody can say for sure exactly what 'bad' means. The safest and most equitable way out of this horrific mess is simple: cut fossil-fuel emissions."
~ Michael Specter
Quite the decorated musician and record producer, Brian Eno has worked with the likes of U2 and Coldplay. In 1996 Eno, along with others, started a foundation to educate the public on the long-term future of society.
Eno is a trustee for ClientEarth, a charity of environmental lawyers who work to protect the earth and its inhabitants. ClientEarth works with the law to create systemic change, including combatting climate change. Eno is one of a growing number of climate activists speaking publicly about climate change and our collective need for better practices. Eno's climate change quotes remind other artists that they can also use their platforms to promote these critical messages.
Also known as Little Steven or Miami Steve, Steven van Zandt formed part of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band. His career as an activist started when he created a group named Artists United Against Apartheid. Steven and some other celebrity musicians created an album to raise awareness of South Africa’s racist policy of apartheid. Other activism efforts include a charity single dedicated to saving the rainforest.
Joanna Lumley is a British actress, former model, and activist. Lumley protests against trophy hunting and fights to protect wildlife. She is the public face of the Gurkha Justice Campaign, aimed at providing Nepalese-origin Gurkha veterans with the right to settle in Britain.
Joanna is also a supporter and narrator for a documentary by Survival International, which fights for the indigenous rights of a tribe in India.
Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller was an American systems theorist, architect, designer, and futurist. Harvard University expelled Fuller twice, but he was later elected as an honorary member by Phi Beta Kappa.
Bucky’s lifelong interest was to use technology to improve housing and make it inexpensive. Fuller also contributed to several workshops and designs to help people better understand, benefit, and utilize the earth’s limited resources.
Related: 19 Pollution Quotes
The UN Climate Action summit in 2019 convened a number of climate scientists, world leaders, young people, and more under the theme "A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win."
Many prominent figures addressed the assembly resulting in some now-famous climate change quotes. In her climate talk, Greta Thunberg said:
"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
~ Greta Thunberg
"Clean air and water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation -if, admittedly, a daunting one."
~ Leonardo DiCaprio
As the climate change quotes highlight, the time for human beings to step up and address the climate crisis is now.
On the 9th of August 2021, the IPCC “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” issued a further warning in the strongest terms as to the challenge we face to prevent a climate-led ecological crisis. In advance of COP26, the report predicts that unless we act to deliver “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” we risk missing the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C.
“It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed,”
“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming”
~ Panmao Zhai (IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair)
The need to protect mother earth, and all the life it nurtures, and avoid mass extinction is becoming more pressing. Our consumption of natural resources is simply too high, and we have to act with increased speed to reduce our emissions.
“Climate change knows no borders. It will not stop before the Pacific Islands, and the whole of the international community here has to shoulder a responsibility to bring about sustainable development.”
~ Angela Merkel
Seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, was born in Ghana. He studied at various international institutions, including Graduate Institute Geneva and MIT. Kofi Annan received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 alongside the UN for their work for a better and more peaceful world.
Annan, in his capacity as Secretary-General, supported several climate change causes around the world. In an interview (the source of this climate change quote), Annan called out the people and groups who choose to stand on their doubt to protect personal gain and income.
"We must face up to an inescapable reality: the challenges of sustainability simply overwhelm the adequacy of our responses. With some honorable exceptions, our responses are too few, too little, and too late."
~ Kofi A. Annan
"The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for."
~ Ernest Hemingway
"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."
~ Native American Proverb
“Men argue. Nature acts.”
Human activities are responsible for the accelerated climate change we’re experiencing. And with the right mindset, policies, and actions, human activities can also reverse these effects. In the words of the former President of the U.S., “We can still act now, and it won’t be too late.”
Collective action is essential to manage climate change. As the selection above of some of the best climate change quotes, and more below ably point out, if we all support our planet, it will continue to support us.