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210: A Jolt from Complacency with Pilita Clark

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About this episode

Welcome to another episode of Outrage + Optimism, where we examine issues at the forefront of the climate crisis, interview change-makers, and transform our anger into productive dialogue about building a sustainable future.

Pilita Clark, Associate Editor and Business Columnist at the FT is our very special guest this week and as huge fans of her work at Outrage + Optimism, Tom and Christiana were thrilled to host this fascinating conversation. In this episode, Pilita discusses with the hosts the changing landscape of climate coverage against the backdrop of the extreme weather events across the globe, delves into her insights from her recent article The fossil fuel industry will not lead us out of the climate crisis | Financial Times and explores why exponential growth in climate solutions is a narrative that technology is leaving editors with no choice but to cover. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did!

If you have not yet checked out Christiana’s rap on social media - where have you been? Go show our brave host some love and let us know your thoughts. You can find it on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn

Look out for our end of season listener mailbag special on Friday!



Pilita Clark, FT Columnist and Associate Editor
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Full Transcript

Tom: [00:00:00] So Christiana, there was a really interesting article that came out the other day from Pilita Clark, who I know you have been close to over many years at the FT, used to be Environment Correspondent. Now she's an Associate Editor and a Columnist. It's all about the end of fossil fuels and why we can't trust fossil fuel companies. So I think even though we've ended the season.

Christiana: [00:00:17] But we are ending, we haven't ended, we're ending this week.

Tom: [00:00:20] We're ending the season. Yeah. And we can make up the rules. So let's call Pilita and have a chat with her about that article, but also about what she's seen because the so many people have been writing to us asking about how climate is being covered in the media. It'll be interesting to get her perspective about whether it's changing and what needs to happen next. What do you think?

Christiana: [00:00:38] Totally, totally. Pilita is such a star. She has been a star for years on this, and there are few people who have been following the complicated climate dynamics from a journalistic point of view as closely as Pilita. So we're actually thrilled that she has actually agreed to take our basically last minute call and and be on the podcast with us for a few minutes so, in advance thank you to Pilita.

Clay: [00:01:07] She's actually here, so let's bring her in.

Christiana: [00:01:09] Oh, boy. Okay, go for it. Pilita.

Tom: [00:01:10] She's here? All right, let's bring her in. Pilita.

Pilita : [00:01:15] Hello

Clay: [00:01:16] Okay, since everyone's recording, Pilita just to confirm, you are recording on your phone?

Pilita : [00:01:21] I am.

Clay: [00:01:22] Okay, great. All right. Over to you.

Christiana: [00:01:25] Pilita. Thank you so much for coming on. Honestly, sort of. This was a very disrespectful last minute call to you because we totally, totally wanted to make sure that we got you in before the end of our season. It's been a long time coming and thank you so much for really being willing to jump in here at a very short notice. It's delightful to see you and to hear you.

Pilita : [00:01:51] It's a pleasure to be here Christiana, great to see you both.

Christiana: [00:01:54] So Pilita I usually kick off with with the opening question, but this time Tom is burning to ask you the first question, so I turn over to him. 

Tom: [00:02:08] Absolutely, yeah. Pilita so nice to see you. We're going to get into, you wrote this very interesting column this week about fossil fuel companies and where we can place our trust in institutions to help deliver a net zero future. And we're going to get into that in a minute because there was a lot in there that I thought was really of the moment. But I just want to start with very few people have the experience and the memory that you do around the climate world. I mean, you've been the Environment Correspondent at the FT. You've now been an Associate Editor, but still writing columns that look at the climate issue from a really very sophisticated level where you understand the tension between, you know, how we're going to try and drive momentum and the necessity of rigor and reporting and a whole range of other issues. I'd just like to invite you initially to open up by reflecting on, the current state of reporting on climate. It seems to the casual observer of which I count myself, that something is happening with the extreme heat this summer, with the change in which this is being reported. And do you see that from your perch inside the journalistic industry? Do you see conversations happening differently? What's going on inside the reporting world around climate? Do you sense a change? Because it looks that way. But I want to sense check that with you and what that change is. Load More
Pilita : [00:03:27] Yeah, thanks Tom. I mean, that's a really interesting question. I do think that there has been a bit of a change, actually, quite possibly quite a striking change, I would say just in the last six, seven, eight weeks when we've just seen this cascade of climate records being broken at a really quite, you know, substantial, significant level. And even though those of us who watch these things expected to see that with the coming of El Nino, that this warming pattern that we were going to see a lot of warming, I think we we kind of expected to see it, but we weren't quite sure how it would affect the way that these events were being reported. And I was really struck just the other day or probably the other week now, for example, when the World Meteorological Organization, I think, got so many requests from journalists to explain why all of these temperature records were being broken around the world and not, you know, not just in one region, not just in the US, not just in Europe, not just in Asia, but really everywhere. They were they were apparently so not necessarily overwhelmed, but they had so many queries, they decided to almost just have a sort of a bit of a press conference, an impromptu press conference to try to answer everybody. I mean, that sort of thing hasn't tended to happen before. And it's indicative, I guess.

Christiana: [00:05:01] And Pilita, if I could just add to that, it's not that we're breaking records of the past one, two, five, ten years. No, a hundred thousand years. So this is really way beyond anything that we ever even imagined.

Pilita : [00:05:19] Yeah, that's right. And so it's it's the margin by which these records are being broken. The alarm that we're hearing from scientists. And I think that it has sort of done away with that idea that you often used to see in reporting, particularly in the UK, I have to say, but not just not exclusively in the UK. You know, the idea that we're just having some great weather here and you know, it's time to get out is, you know, get out onto the beach and, you know, it's all going to be it's going to be a great summer. You know, this summer has just been frightening for so many people. Not and not just here, but, you know, as I say, many countries around the the northern hemisphere. So I think it has changed the way that people who are not really focused very much on this issue think about climate change and think about what's happening. I think it's really made people think again about what is being done to address this problem and is it really something that has been going at the pace required. And so I would say that, you know, even before this happened, just going back to your original question, Tom, you know, I would say that long before the way that climate change has been reported has has clearly changed a lot.

Pilita : [00:06:34] You know, just the sheer number and the scale of resources being devoted to it, it's just really exploded, I would say. You know, just most serious organizations now have many more people devoted to the issue and covering it than they had even, I don't know, three, four, five years ago, probably. So I mean, it's by no means uniform, but it's it's certainly increased and it's kind of, on top of that, I would say that as well as devoting specialist climate reporting resources to it, pretty much everybody is turning into a climate reporter now at a pace that they probably weren't expecting to previously. So, you know, there was quite a natural division for a long time between the people who would be covering natural resources, fossil fuels, oil, gas, coal, other commodities and climate reporters, for example. Now, you know, that's no longer the case. I mean, everybody not just in those energy fields, but in every sector. Now, whether it's transport, tourism, industry of any kind, everybody has to think about climate change in a way that they didn't have to before.

Christiana: [00:07:46] And Pilita, in that context, what is your sense of the coverage or the attention or the space that journalists are giving to climate denialism.

Pilita : [00:08:01] You know, I, I would say that, you know, in a paper like the Financial Times, in fact, most business newspapers, business news organizations, it's quite it's when you are required to essentially tell investors whether or not it's a good idea to think about a company positively or negatively, you have to be very accurate, very careful. And so it's always been difficult to give too much weight to anyone who's really exaggerating any sort of risk or any sort of threat or conversely downplaying it. Um, but you know, clearly there are some papers and some news organizations that are kind of doubling down in a sense, not so much on climate science denialism at all, but more on climate inactivism or the cost and difficulty and expense of climate action. I would say there's a real we're seeing in many countries probably a bit of a backlash and sort of gathering sense that, you know, this this climate thing is real and we're not denying the problem, but we are very concerned about how we're going to pay for it. That sort of reporting has probably increased in many countries, I would say. Uh, just because, you know, the fact is that the policies that have long been talked about in many countries are actually starting to be implemented or at least talked about more seriously. And so inevitably there's you know, you find you find people who are, you know, genuinely concerned about the cost and the implementation and often not genuinely concerned at all, but just desperate to ensure that it goes more slowly than they would like it to than, than the the proponents would like it to.

Tom: [00:09:54] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:09:54] And Pilita sorry to, to, to push you one one notch further on that. But it does seem to me that because of this these extreme weather temperatures and and record breaking events, we're also getting even more polarized than we were before. And the just almost inconceivable levels of of temperature increase that we're having are causing, on the one hand, what you've just described, which we welcome, but also on the other hand, are causing those who continue to think that climate is a conspiracy of the few against the many. And, you know, I don't even know how to describe the conspiracy theories around around climate, but it it does seem that we are even more polarized, perhaps numerically there are less and less of those deniers and conspirators, but their voice is actually pretty loud. And how do you how how what is your sense as to. Obviously, you don't control social media channels. So so that we'll leave that one out because I think that is the medium that is being used. But are there any respectable media channels that are still giving credence to those, honestly strange ideas?

Pilita : [00:11:24] I really don't think that there are. I'm struggling to think of any Christiana, you know, if you're if you're talking about people who think that what, for example, you know, this the climate science is wrong and that what we're seeing now is being caused by sunspots or natural fluctuations in the sun's energy.

Christiana: [00:11:49] For example.

Pilita : [00:11:50] For example. Okay. I mean, I'm really struggling to think of any mainstream news organization, any respectable news organization that is giving a huge amount of weight to those ideas on a regular basis anymore. As I say, I think the the whole discussion has changed and the way that people who want to complain about the level of climate policy action that we are starting to see in a number of countries now really accelerate. The people who are worried about that are not trying to say that there is no such thing as climate change. They're really just trying to say, hang on, do we really think that it's a good idea to be spending this much money on renewables and can we really afford things like the Inflation Reduction Act. And is ESG a sensible investing strategy or is it just woke capitalism that is going to damage a lot of ordinary investors. It's you know, that's the that's the sort of strategy, I would say, that is being taken.

Christiana: [00:12:57] Yes.

Pilita : [00:12:58] Mostly, not entirely. I mean, it's not to say that you can't occasionally find people who will still bizarrely have have strange ideas about exactly what's happening. I mean, actually, I was just looking at something at the the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is a group that you'll be both very familiar with, was just, for example, running a I think it had a story about the El Nino hysterics are at it again. And we always know when there's an El Nino that there's going to be warmer temperatures, you know, completely gliding over the fact that, you know, this El Nino is coming on top of an existing layer of warming. And so it was always going to be potentially more alarming and dramatic than ones in the past. So, you know, I mean, you see that sort of thing. But I really think that it's confined to social media. Not that, you know, not that that doesn't matter. Clearly, it does matter a lot.

Christiana: [00:13:57] Yeah absolutely, absolutely.

Tom: [00:13:58] But it's always going to be there to some degree. Some level of that.

Christiana: [00:14:00] An uncontrollable. 

Tom: [00:14:03] Yeah. So I'd love to ask you about this this column that you just wrote and you write a lot of brilliant columns. I have to say, I always read them. Everybody should. But this one was very interesting because you talked about, there was a few things in there I'd love to dig into. One was you basically said fossil fuel companies aren't capable of leading us out of this challenge. We're going to have to find governments finding the courage and the platform to take us further forward. And there's been a there's I think there's been a kind of collective realization. We have certainly tried to engage with fossil fuel companies over the years, but we've recently sort of identified the fact that, windfall profits have not been reinvested in transition. There's been a whole range of other evidence that actually they can't lead this change. So was that a shift in your thinking and what led you to this? Or did you just feel that this was the moment to write this piece?

Pilita : [00:14:51] I felt it was the moment to write this piece because, you know, we'd seen all of this extreme weather and all of these records being broken, and it was inevitably focusing attention on the use of fossil fuels and the immediate thinking, the immediate way that people think about this often is, well, what are the fossil fuel companies themselves going to do. Because they have increasingly themselves wanted to engage with this. And I remember, Christiana, when you were at the UN, in fact, when both of you were at the UNFCCC, you, you know, you went out of your way, I would say, to engage. And it was quite a moment when it first started to happen because it wasn't necessarily something that had been happening a lot before then. And I think some leaders of some oil and gas groups in particular were very keen to portray themselves as being part of the solution and part of the energy transition, a leading part of it. And, you know, I just think that as time has gone on, it has become more and more evident that even for the many people inside these companies and I would say there are many, many people who legitimately who really do want to.

Pilita : [00:16:03] Who really do want to be part of the transition and think that their company is going to be able to. I think when it comes down to it, it's just incredibly difficult for them to do that because ultimately their owners or their shareholders are very concerned legitimately that in, I would say in some cases, they're very concerned about whether they're going to be able to do that, whether they're going to be able to part of this, be part of this transition and maintain the same level of financial returns that they've been accustomed to. And the companies are trying to basically please a mixed bag of shareholders very often, if you look at the big western oil and gas companies, on the one hand, they do have a lot of shareholders who we see every general meeting, and really want them to take climate risk into account and really want them to take the energy to do more to show that they're taking the energy transition seriously. On the other hand, when you have a year like 2022 where something I think it was just the six largest western oil and gas companies made more than $200 billion between themselves.

Pilita : [00:17:15] If you are an investor in that company, if you're a long time investor in that company and you're getting you know, this is this is a stellar year, by the way. It's not like every year that happens. But nonetheless, you have invested in the idea that you're going to potentially see the sorts of returns, the sorts of profits in a market that is essentially not governed by a cartel as in OPEC, but nonetheless, you know, has a has a cartel operating that has historically been able to intervene and stabilize falling prices, has helped to support prices. Why would you want to get out of that into renewables, which are entirely, for example, an entirely different beast very often, although in fact, as it happens, a lot of renewables companies last year did make incredible profits as well. But nonetheless, you know, they operate more like regulated utilities a lot of the time. You know, when it comes to the returns that you don't have that same record of returns. So to me, it's not at all surprising that these companies, even those who I was going to say, the most progressive, I would say the least un-progressive, even those that are really.

Christiana: [00:18:23] Nice rewording.

Pilita : [00:18:26] Who are very, very much, you know, they have a senior leadership that wants to who wants to transition, they find it intensely difficult. And I'm afraid I don't see a way that they are going to be able to do it by themselves. I think governments really need to be setting setting in place policies that essentially make it cut demand for their products. That's the only way that we're really going to see change.

Tom: [00:18:56] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:18:57] Well interestingly, Pilita, the data shows that demand is actually falling. The data shows that demand for coal has definitely peaked and declined in OECD countries, demand for the other fossil fuels has peaked and declined. And in general in the market, the demand for fossil fuels has at least peaked, aided by several things, certainly by the crazy, crazy prices that brought these this level of income and profits that you've just alluded to. But let's just remember where that came from. Not because these companies all of a sudden made quantum leaps in their performance at all just because of the Russian invasion on Ukraine and the weaponization of fossil fuels, and therefore for no benefit of their own, for no effort on their own. They've had their have these crazy prices. So the fact that that dependence on the import of fossil fuels has become such a political and economic liability has really helped to for countries in this case for for governments to begin to increase their energy efficiency measures and and foster more investment into renewables just out of strategic reasons, they don't want to depend on completely volatile states to determine how they get there, how they get their power. So so I was really interested in that context Pilita that you are you make a very clear case that we will totally agree with and that I agreed with in a recent op ed of mine that says, you know, these these companies are just not going to be able to do it.

Christiana: [00:20:48] And so I have okay, given given up my patience with them. And you say governments have to now curtail demand. Here's my question to you Pilita. Demand curtailing can either come as a result of market forces, as I have just described, or it can come as the result of national regulation, because international regulation, i.e. the Paris Agreement is already in place. So, it would seem to me that we need both. What we're seeing right now is decline in demand because of market forces, because of the superiority of the technologies, their competitiveness, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But I think what you're saying is that's all very well and fine, but we also need the governments to curtail demand. In what areas or do you I would agree with the statement. I'm just interested in knowing do you see any specific areas or any specific sectors or in fact, any specific countries where you see this is beginning to happen, where we are beginning to curtail demand because of policies, measures and regulations?

Pilita : [00:22:08] Yeah. I mean, one of the reasons that the International Energy Agency, for example, says that it thinks that we could see peak oil demand very much sooner than originally thought and before, you know, sometime this decade is because of the extraordinary growth of electric cars, electric vehicles. And they took off because a very few select countries initially like Norway, decided to make it a kind of a complete no brainer to buy anything except an electric car. Now, they are rich countries. They had the resources. They were able to do it. But since then, we've seen a number of larger economies China, other European countries, the US, we're seeing, you know, electric car sales have just grown tremendously. In fact, I was just looking at a really interesting chart that was updated recently. If you plot the growth of the traditional motor car from 1900 versus the horse market, you start to see this crash in horses start to happen around 1920. Really dramatic point. And at the moment, if you plot the way that the electric car is going versus the original Model T, Ford Model T, it's actually on that same trajectory. It's this really sharp trajectory. What we haven't seen at the moment, though, is the existing internal combustion engine, car plot the same way or take the same path as the horse. It's still pretty much at an even keel.

Pilita : [00:23:48] And it's going to be just fascinating, I think, to see whether that happens. Now, the sort of demand policies that governments need to do more of, I think is they've got to make it a lot, lot easier for people to buy electric cars at the moment, even though they're becoming incredibly cheap. Some of these Chinese vehicles that are now being sold outside China are really very, very much cheaper than even the alternative petrol cars. The trouble is that in too many countries right now, the infrastructure, the charging infrastructure isn't there. It's really difficult to get, I mean, I know so many people in central London who tell me, I'd love to get an electric car. I'm definitely going to get one. I'm going to make sure my next car is electric, but I'm not getting one at the moment because I just know it's going to be so hard to use it because who knows where you're going to, what muddy field you're going to end up in the middle of what, freezing cold night because you can't find a charging station. So all of that, though, I think it's completely overcome. It's easy to overcome, not easy. It's possible to overcome, but it requires governments to not just set distant targets and say we're going to be banning the sale of new internal combustion engines from 2030 or 2035. Right now, they need to be putting in place all of the infrastructure needed to make to make it much more plausible and feasible for people to buy these things.

Pilita : [00:25:07] Once that happens, you start to see you can imagine that demand really falls quite dramatically. And it's it's kind of the same with renewables. You know, we've got the same infrastructure problem holding back the deployment of a lot more renewables. I mean, you both know you've had guests on, I know who've talked about the length of time it takes to get a new solar farm or a new wind farm up and running in, not just in a country like the UK, but right around the world, you know, these huge this grid gridlock. So these are the sorts of, once these obstacles are cleared, you can see that you could have a much faster deployment I think of things like electric cars and alternatives to gas fired power stations and certainly coal fired power stations. So, you know, it's that these are the sorts of measures that I think need to be to be happening a lot faster. And as you say, energy efficiency, which we saw last year, we know how to do, we're, we can actually do it relatively easily. But again, if there were policies, regulations in place that made it more feasible, it would be done a lot more than it is.

Tom: [00:26:20] And Pilita, the message you just gave is, I think what's missing from the landscape of the journalistic response to this. So I'm so glad you went there. So we're doing a better job of covering the climatic events and the heat. But you also then went into the fact that there exists in our system an exponential transformation towards solutions that we're not very good at thinking through. But actually and you do it in your article and you talk about an example of mobile phone deployment happening so much faster than anyone predicted without wanting to sort of engineer or manipulate your profession in any serious way, how do we get more journalists to tell that story?

Christiana: [00:26:57] But yes we do want to. 

Tom: [00:26:57] Yes, we do want to do that. How do we get more journalists to tell that story? Because actually, that is a story of optimism and hope and possibility that makes responding to climate change more of a powerful, compelling narrative rather than just, oh, there's wildfires in Greece, there's nothing we can do. You can't say we're not in a tough spot. We are. But also in that exponential transformation is the seed of a powerful narrative that people want to be part of that can build a movement to actually deal with this issue. But most journalists with respect don't understand that sufficiently to tell that story in a compelling way.

Pilita : [00:27:32] I'm not sure, I mean I know what you, I completely understand the point Tom, but I'm not sure 100% agree with it. Only because when when, for example, you get a company like Tesla suddenly being worth more, having a higher market value than Ford GM, actually, I think Ford and GM combined at one point. You know, so, you know, money really speaks. And when you see when you see that happening, there's no shortage of journalists who are rushing to report on it because it's it's news. It's different. It is something that is not just potentially going to happen sometime in the future, but it is it's happening right now. So and I think anytime something like that happens, you know, I it's not a, it's not that journalists don't want to report on this. It's just that it's very difficult to say for sure that, you know, the sorts of scenarios that I was just outlining are, you know, that they're definitely going to happen. But when they start to happen and when they start to affect the market, I would say that there's a huge amount of interest in it. You know, when you start when you start, you I'm sure you remember when Fatih Birol from the International Energy Agency recently said that this year investment in solar is going to outpace investment in oil production, for example. That was a that was a big story, you know, I mean, because that's something that's really.

Christiana: [00:28:59] By 1.7.

Pilita : [00:29:00] Well.

Christiana: [00:29:01] 1 trillion into fossil fuels, 1.7 trillion into renewables.

Pilita : [00:29:06] However, I think where you're absolutely right is that for whatever reason, I would say that it's difficult to tell stories like the tremendous growth of wind and solar, for example. So wind just got up to one terawatt, one terawatt of installed capacity globally this year. Solar did that last year. So wind did it after 40 odd years. Solar for actually, probably even longer. But the really interesting thing is that the wind industry thinks it's going to get up to two terawatts in 6 or 7 years or something, you know, something much faster than what it's taken and solar probably even faster. So those sorts of strides and what they mean for the clean energy industry, I think it's quite difficult to kind of to convey those because, you know, if I if I wander out into the newsroom or onto the street here in London and I say, you know, wow, you know, there was a terawatt of wind. Now we're up to they've just passed the one terawatt mark. You know, people have no clue what that means. Why would they? We've never had to really understand how the electricity industry works. And now, though, because we really care about climate change, we're kind of grappling with it. And it's it's not it's not straightforward and simple, I'm afraid. But not that does not for any for a nanosecond let myself or my colleagues off from, you know, it's our job to explain this. You're right. And we you know, we we do try to at the FT, obviously, and and so do a lot of others. And you know, the number of the number of people who've had to go to explain to very hard pressed time pressed harassed editors what a gigawatt is and how different it is to a megawatt and and really what 1.5 degrees means and what net zero is exactly. I mean, all of these, you know they're not.

Christiana: [00:30:59] God bless. God bless Pilita. God bless you.

Pilita : [00:31:04] It's not you know, it's all happening there. It's all happening. I can tell you.

Christiana: [00:31:07] It's all happening. But, you know, just to paraphrase Tom, the way we see it is there are two exponential curves here that are racing against each other. One exponential curve is the effects that we're seeing, the consequences of which this year's warming is one example, but not the only. The other, and that is being very well portrayed and messaged. But the other. But that's only 50% of the story. The other exponential curve is the one that is made up by the exponential progress of all of these technologies that are part of the solution. So wind, solar, batteries, EVs, all of those are on exponential curves of deployment and and development. And so to me, it's still you say, yes, it's difficult to to to explain, but honestly, otherwise, you're just focusing on 50% of the situation, not the other 50, not the second. And honestly, it's the exponential curve of solutions that's the exciting one. That's the news that you're always and, you know, journalists are always saying, well, it's got to be a news item, right. We we don't want. Okay. But that's the news. That is the news. And it's almost a daily news. The fact that these technologies are are coming on into the market so quickly. So is there anything Pilita that the climate community could do to facilitate, entice, enable, I don't even know what word to to verb to use here, the journal journalistic industry to take up those stories more seriously, more widely, more deeply. Yes, it's very technical, but, but all technical stories are there to be translated into stories that are human stories and that are understandable to, you know, every Jane, Tom and Mary on the street and and and you all do a brilliant job of that. So what what can we do? What can you do? We are, you know, really, really open to suggestions on your side, to us, on our side to you, because it's very frustrating, honestly.

Pilita : [00:33:26] But which stories do you think are not being told Christiana?

Christiana: [00:33:30] No, I think stories are being told, but not with the conviction, with the frequency, with the, you know, with the with the bang that they ought to be there. And I mean, there are a couple of journalistic avenues the FT, The Guardian and a couple of others that are shining examples but or shining actually exceptions to that rule. But why are they exceptions? Why are they not the norm?

Pilita : [00:34:00] Well, that's a big question. I mean, you know, I guess I would say that if you think about some news organizations in my home country of Australia, they would never in a million years have dreamt that they would be devoting so many column inches or screens worth of words to green hydrogen, for example. But it turns out that they've got a real live green hydrogen advocate of the highest order.

Christiana: [00:34:30] Genius. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes.

Pilita : [00:34:32] In the form of Andrew Forrest. And so they and they not only have one billionaire doing that, they've got another billionaire who's.

Christiana: [00:34:40] Another billionaire.

Pilita : [00:34:41] Another billionaire getting madly into.

Christiana: [00:34:44] The renewable energy hub in the north. Yeah.

Pilita : [00:34:46] Exactly. So they are being, I would say actually they're being forced to cover these stories simply because of what you're talking about, that the amount of money and the transformation of these once in fact, when I started as a as an environment correspondent, these once very niche energy sources, these renewable energy sources, you know, it's just it's nothing like it used to be. There never used to be anything like a person like Andrew Forrest in a country like Australia devoting as much time to these sorts of energy sources. So I would say that, you know, even though it's it's not necessarily something that a lot of organizations expect to be covering, a lot of them really are. I mean, it's not it's not like we're not talking about, I guess, The Sun, The New York Post, you know maybe a lot of a lot of other papers, I don't want to really name any I mean, you know, there are some organizations that are not as interested and and simply won't be. But I would say that we're at a kind of a, I can't remember another time when as much attention has been devoted to these to these technologies, to be honest. But I'm not you know, I'm not saying that it couldn't be more. There shouldn't be more. But actually, it's it's kind of it's quite something to see what there is.

Christiana: [00:36:13] Yeah. Well, yes, I wish, I wish we had an Andrew Forrest and a Mike Cannon-Brookes in every single jurisdiction that forces the news to cover them. However, maybe we will get there. Pilita, thank you so, so very much for taking the time. And because I know that you listen to at least some of our episodes, you know what our final question is going to be. Oh no, she doesn't. Oh, that's even better. I love it. I love it. Okay, that's even better. So, Pilita, our final question that we invite each of our guests to address is from where you stand, what from the, you know, the the the view that you have over not not generally climate change, but the coverage of climate change. What makes you outraged? And where is there room for optimism and hope?

Pilita : [00:37:12] Now, I did know you were going to ask this, and I thought you were going to ask, what am I most outraged by and what am I most optimistic about?

Christiana: [00:37:20] You can do that.

Pilita : [00:37:20] And I actually was going to, I was going to say, you know, at the Financial Times, we don't really do outrage and we rarely do optimism. That's not true. We do, but we certainly don't do outrage. But, you know, when I when I think about what I'm outraged about, you know, I just look at what's happening across the world at the moment and the extraordinary margins by which these records are being broken. And then I look at all of the technological innovation and the policy work that's been done and the fact that we really do know what needs to be done to stop this. And I guess I don't know if it's outrage or depression, but the fact that we still are struggling so much with finding the political means to implement these solutions, I guess is what makes me feel quite outraged sometimes, but certainly quite depressed. And I worry sometimes about when that breakthrough is going to happen at the or whether it's going to happen at the scale required. But, you know, we are seeing, what I would say I'm optimistic about Christiana and which I would not have predicted two years ago. I'm just so extraordinarily, was extraordinarily surprised to see the Inflation Reduction Act passed last year and then to see the response not just in Europe but around the world to that legislation. I think it's just, you know, I didn't expect to see that happen in the US. And although I thought if it ever did, it might have the sort of response that it has engendered. It's just been amazing to watch it. And I think that that's why I'm ultimately optimistic that we are, in fact, going to end up solving this problem, hopefully.

Christiana: [00:39:12] Okay. Fantastic. I would agree with you that that IRA is a poor choice of acronym. But anyway, that that IRA bill came through was was a surprise to all of us. And thank heavens for that. Pilita, thank you so, so much. And thank you not just for taking the time today, but thank you for for staying the course here on very, very responsible coverage of climate and energy issues, that you have done for years. I remember meeting you when I was at the at the UN and I was always so duly impressed with the the seriousness and the responsibility with which you cover our topics and make them very understandable to people, which is actually the most important and most difficult part. So thank you very much, Pilita. Really appreciate this. And how wonderful to be having this conversation with you for our very last week in the season.

Pilita : [00:40:16] Thanks so much Christiana. It's great to see you and a huge pleasure to have been here today and to have talked to you and Tom. So thank you.

Christiana: [00:40:26] Thank you. Bye. 

Tom: [00:40:27] Bye.

Pilita : [00:40:28] Bye.

Clay: [00:40:29] Hey everyone, this is Clay back here in the studio. We have another episode coming on Friday this week, taking all of the questions that you submitted. We just finished recording it. It's a great episode, really fun. And we actually take a lot of questions, so be sure to tune in to hear if we got to yours. And breaking news, Christina will be our musical guest on that episode. She performs her very own rap that she wrote and recorded. It has absolutely been blowing up on the Internet this week. If you can't wait for Friday to hear that performance, it's in the show notes to watch and listen to. Highly recommend checking that out. I have it here. One Costa Rican news outlet published a picture of Christiana and Eminem together saying, quote, in Eminem's best style, Christiana Figueres has created a rap that gives us much to talk about. How's that? Do I have your attention now? So go check that out. So, yeah, mailbag episode on Friday. Thank you to Pilita Clark for joining us on the episode today on, as Christiana said, very short notice. Please go read her piece in the FT. As always, I'll link to that below as well. We know that this is an odd release schedule, but as this is our last week on the air before September, we wanted to make sure that you got this conversation with Pilita before we leave on break. Thanks for sticking with us. Okay. That's all from us for today. See you on Friday.


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