Climate Champ–Michael Brune,, the Rainforest Action Network

by | Oct 27, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Climate Champion, Michael Brune, plus, and the Rainforest Action Network.



Climate Champion Michael Brune’s first foray into climate action came as a teenager. A Jersey Shore kid, Brune spent summers at the beach bodysurfing, until he developed a rash from swimming in the ocean, which came from a chemical plant dumping waste into the ocean. He says, “I was young and politically naïve, so I simply signed a petition and hoped someone would listen. But there were a handful of community groups that took hold of the issue and wouldn’t go away. They prevailed. Hospital-waste dumping was banned, the chemical factory was eventually closed, and the beaches were reopened with visible and immediate improvements in water quality.” 

Later road trips to the Grand Canyon, to America’s west coast, and the Canadian and Alaskan boreal forests cemented for Brune the need to combine his love of nature with his responsibility to protect it. That started at Greenpeace. He then moved on to become executive director of the Rainforest Action Network. The Rainforest Action Network was founded in 1985 to create branding and campaigns against large multinational corporations in  the pursuit of social and environmental justice. 

In 1999, Brune ran a successful campaign to get Home Depot to stop buying wood from old-growth forests for its stores. Time magazine made his action the top environmental story of 1999. In 2008, he wrote the book, Coming Clean: Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal. In 2010, Brune left the Rainforest Action Network to become executive director of the Sierra Club, which he helmed until 2021.

In 2014 Brune was named an International Leadership’s Hillary Laureate in recognition of his work on climate change issues by the Hillary Institute (as in Sir Edmund Hillary). He was also co-winner of the 2013 and 2015 Hillary Step for bringing together 60 NGO and indigenous leaders from across the Americas in preparation for the Paris Climate Accords in 2015. 

Why does Michael Brune matter to us? Two reasons, 14 years ago, he laid out an ambitious plan for moving America to a clean-energy economy…and two, 14 years ago, he laid out an ambitious plan for moving America to a clean-energy economy. Jez sayn’….

DEEPER DIVE: “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Green Stick”, Wikipedia, RAN, Sierra Club, Hillary Institute



Human activities are destroying nature at a rate much faster than it can replenish itself. The COVID-19 pandemic is a warning sign that the decline of nature is destabilizing society. A continued loss of nature threatens not only over half the global GDP, but more importantly human lives and wellbeing, with the poorest and most vulnerable hit first and hardest. As the climate crisis is deeply linked to the nature crisis, both need to be addressed simultaneously to drive a swift transition to a nature-positive, carbon-neutral future.

Hence the reason for the existence of the organization Nature Positive. Nature Positive recognizes that nature is important for its in own sake and is a key aspect of global processes – climate, weather, hydrology and chemistry – which drive biodiversity. Biodiversity in turn provides a range of nature’s benefits to people which is the basis for human well-being.

So in 2021, Nature Positive proposed its Global Goal for Nature. The goal defines what is needed to halt and reverse today’s catastrophic loss of nature. It is supported by a number of organizations that ask governments to adopt the goal at the international level, which each country, the private sector, communities and others can contribute to achieving.

A Global Goal for Nature – in parallel to the UN Climate Convention’s “net zero” emissions goal – would commit governments to be nature-positive by 2030 by taking urgent action to halt nature loss now. 

Why does Nature Positive’s Global Goal for Nature matter to us? We need to halt and reverse nature loss measured from a baseline of 2020, through increasing the health, abundance, diversity and resilience of species, populations and ecosystems so that by 2030 nature is visibly and measurably on the path of recovery.

By 2050, nature must recover so that thriving ecosystems and nature-based solutions continue to support future generations, the diversity of life and play a critical role in halting runaway climate change.

DEEPER DIVE: NaturePositive, Measuring Nature Positive



The Rainforest Action Network was founded in 1985 to create branding and campaigns against large multinational corporations in the pursuit of social and environmental justice. Its mission is to preserve forests, protect the climate and uphold human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns. RAN works toward a world where the rights and dignity of all communities are respected and where healthy forests, a stable climate and wild biodiversity are protected and celebrated. 

The organization is committed to doing what is necessary, not only what is considered politically feasible, to preserve rainforests, protect the climate, and uphold human rights. RAN focuses on forests, climate and human rights. So far, the Rainforest Action Network has provided funding to over 300 frontline communities, in nearly 40 countries across 6 continents.RAN campaigns involve stopping deforestation, supporting communities and defunding climate change, and by that RAN means forcing banks to defund and divest from coal, oil and gas projects. 

Why else should the Rainforest Action Network matter to us? It supports Traditional and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, including the right to sovereignty, self-determination, reparations and the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) regarding decisions implicating customary rights on traditional lands.

DEEPER DIVE: RAN, YouTube, Pulp Investigation