Phil was the rarest of people — a committed environmentalist who was also brilliant at messaging.
I worked with him many times over the years and he was a shrewd and passionate strategic thinker. As my colleague Daniel Weiss puts it:
The effort to stop global warming lost one of its leading champions with the passing of Philip E. Clapp, Deputy Managing Director of the Pew Environment Group. He was the founder and President of the National Environmental Trust, which began in 1994 and merged with Pew in 2007.
The testimonials for Clapp are pouring in:
“Phil was an environmental hero who vigorously advocated the prompt reduction of global warming pollution,” said John Podesta, President and CEO of Center for American Progress. “His was a prominent voice for action, particularly in the international arena. He will be sorely missed.”
And others can be found in Grist:
“He was probably our best strategist,” said John Passacantando, director of Greenpeace. “It was so great working with him because he loved the hunt.” Fred Krupp, executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund, noted not only Clapp’s “considerable political and strategic skills,” but also “the intelligence and style” he brought to the environmental effort. Indeed, even his political enemies came to respect him. Said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), “while we were often on opposing sides of the political arena I always appreciated his commitment to public policy and passion for the environment.”
… “Phil was treasured by reporters on the climate beat, particularly during interminable treaty talks in gray humorless halls in places like The Hague and Bonn and Montreal,” said Andrew Revkin, environment reporter for The New York Times. “He was always ready — any time night or day — with a pithy but substantive remark.”
Rebecca Rimel, president and chief executive officer of The Pew Charitable Trusts, released a statement:
“Phil was a true visionary about environmental issues, their consequences and the most effective means to address them. He was masterful at communicating complex scientific matters in ways that would resonate with both the public and policymakers. His impact is immeasurable….
Phil will long be remembered for his extraordinary skill at framing the way issues are debated in government and the media. He brought a new level of sophistication to informing and involving the public in the key environmental concerns of our time. Phil was perhaps most visible as a leading strategist in the campaign to address global climate change, where his knowledge, expertise and political savvy made him a formidable champion….
We are experiencing this loss with profound sadness. We will deeply miss Phil’s friendship, boundless energy and quick wit. He was a vital leader in the environmental community, and we know that his death will be felt keenly by the many people he worked with around the world. On behalf of the board of The Pew Charitable Trusts and Phil’s colleagues throughout Pew, I would like to express our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
I will miss him — and so will the planet. My thoughts are with his family.