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144: Conflict Fueling Outrage: It’s Time to Quit Fossil Fuels

As the news from Ukraine unfolds quickly, detailing the tragedy Ukrainian citizens are living through, our hosts Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac, and Paul Dickinson cut straight to the roots of what is fueling this conflict - Our global addiction to fossil fuels.

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About this episode

What is our response as a global community to this crisis and many other current violent crises when many will argue climate action isn’t affordable and we should ramp up independent oil and gas production? Will we gather ourselves around the moral clarity that we need to end the violence by breaking our addiction once and for all?

Because our addiction is fueling the conflict we are watching our neighbors and our neighbor’s children suffer. It’s time to quit.

Mentioned links from the episode:

Full Transcript

Tom: [00:00:00] Hi everyone. We are very aware that we normally give you our episodes of Outrage + Optimism on a Thursday, but this week events have been moving extremely quickly in Ukraine and Paul, Christiana and myself had an opportunity to get together and talk about what's happening at the weekend. So therefore this is an early release, but we'll be back as usual next week with our Thursday release. Here's the episode. Hello and welcome to Outrage + Optimism. I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.

Christiana: [00:00:36] I'm Christiana Figueres.

Paul: [00:00:38] And I’m Paul Dickinson.

Tom: [00:00:39] This week we dig into the unfolding events in Ukraine and ask the questions about what these terrible events will mean for the future of climate action. Thanks for being here. So listeners, we are spending a second week looking at what is unfolding in Ukraine and asking ourselves questions about the broader implications. Regular listeners will know that last week we had a fantastic couple of conversations, one with David Miliband and one with William Hague, where we delved into some of these underlying issues. But the events are now moving so quickly we felt it merited revisiting it. And so it's just the three of us today, and we're going to have a conversation about what's happening, what we think should happen, and what all of us can do at this critical moment to try to take us on the right path. Load More

The invasion of Ukraine has obviously led to a significant amount of anxiety about the dependence on Russian energy, particularly in Europe. That is, of course, apart from the moral outrage of what we are seeing unfolding right now in Ukraine. Now, this hand-wringing takes a couple of forms. One, as I said, is the moral outrage. We have literally paid for the bombs that are now being dropped in Ukrainian cities. And the other is practical. If we shift off Russian energy supplies, we will at minimum see a spike in prices and potentially rolling blackouts next winter. And maybe this could lead to political swings against the energy transition. And we're already seeing some people claim that climate action is something we can't afford when we're potentially facing energy shortages and that drilling and expanding capacity is now the only solution. On the other hand, not to minimize the suffering in Ukraine. This could be the moment when we realize that not only do we have a strong environmental imperative to get off fossil fuels, but also an extremely compelling political argument to so therefore decarbonization should shift even further up our agenda. Christiana, you are so good at taking these complicated issues and finding ways to explain them with pictures or with analogies that really help people to understand. So let's kick off with you. How do you see this situation?

Christiana: [00:02:45] Well, analogies, as we know, are always imperfect and incomplete because realities are so much more nuanced and intricate. But a possible analogy that we could use to understand where we are could be the following. So let's entertain the scenario that I am a patient that has been diagnosed with lung cancer, caused by smoking, decades of smoking. The cancer is not yet terminal but getting very close. And I have all kinds of medical warnings about that. In addition, on top of that, I learned that the provider of the cigarettes that I've been smoking is a terrible bully and is using the money that I pay him, in this case, it is a him for the cigarettes to do horrible things to other people, literally kill other people. So here is the question, how do I react? How do I respond? What are my choices? So one option, of course, is to decide that the problem that I'm actually facing is is the bully himself and that I need or want to continue smoking. So the solution to that problem is for me to start planting tobacco in my own backyard and to start my own little home rolling industry so that I can produce my own cigarettes. And that way I don't have to buy from the bully. I'm not giving him my money, but I continue to smoke despite the immediate threats to my health. That is one option and that is being put forward as an option to the Russia-Ukraine crisis by some people. The other option that we have is to say, Whoa, wait a minute, I can actually use this moment to choose to break my addiction to smoking. Despite the fact that it has had me in chains for decades, I can choose to break the addiction altogether and move to healthier habits. That means I no longer pass my money to the bully. I starve the bully of his income and I save my own life because I stopped smoking and put myself into the recovery treatment that gets me to much healthier status.

Paul: [00:05:20] So that's a great analogy and I think sets out the situation precisely. And I want to sort of be serious for a minute and express a certain degree of personal shame, for want of a better word, that I didn't really respond in my gut to the terrible kind of use of Russian forces in Syria, cities like Aleppo being kind of laid waste. But now it's on Europe's doorstep. I've always, you know, like many, many people have been very concerned about Putin's influence. But now it's kind of here. So this is super serious. It's on all our screens. And I don't want to make any any lightness about this disaster for the world. But I do want to point out that a lot of people seem to be saying that we can't get ourselves off kind of fossil fuels and we're totally dependent upon Russian output. And I know some countries more than others. But just look at the global level. You know, it's a globally traded commodity oil, and only 11% of total production is Russian. And by the way, friends, scientists say, and we all know this, that we need to reduce emissions 7% each year, every year throughout this decade. So in terms of galvanising us into action, this could be seen as a necessary prompt, and we may discover that there's a we that can do this together.

Tom: [00:06:37] So that's great. And let's devolve this down to a sort of a clear, rational argument about what we think the way forward is. And Chris, you know, I love your analogy. And in that analogy, of course, the idea of planting tobacco so we can continue smoking when it's killing us, of course, is insane. And what you're describing there is the tendency in some countries to now increase domestic production so they can keep consuming. You said at the beginning that no analogy is perfect and of course the one there is, nobody needs cigarettes. But we do need energy to a certain degree. And what we need to do is actually shift it to a cleaner source of energy. But from what we said already, the moral case to ban as far as we can in the West, to ban imports of Russian gas and oil is overwhelming. Indeed, the Ukrainian climate scientist who served on the IPCC spoke out recently and specifically said that Russia is using the money the West has spent on fossil fuels against Ukraine in the war. But Europe is currently resisting the idea of a complete ban. So the moral case for a ban is clear. The economic case against a ban is clear because it would lead to a massive spike in energy prices and potentially blackouts. What's the climate case? From a climate perspective, do we think it makes sense to ban Russian sales of oil and gas into Western Europe and North America?

Christiana: [00:07:51] Well, let's start by underlining that it really is our addiction to oil and gas that has paid for Russia's invasion for the Ukraine. That is quite different to other fossil fuel related geopolitical confrontations that we've seen in the past, where there is an attack in order to protect either the provision of or the transport of fossil fuels. That's quite different. This is not about that. This is the funding that is being used for the invasion of the Ukraine is coming straight from our pockets. We who are addicted to oil and gas, to put it very clearly.

Tom: [00:08:29] Increasing all the time as the price of oil goes up.

Christiana: [00:08:31] Exactly. Exactly. And so to to to put a number on it because of the crazy price of especially oil and well of oil and especially gas that we have seen since last year, those skyrocketing prices have actually meant that Russia's gross domestic product last year was 7% higher than they expected because 60% of their exports are oil and gas. So of course, they just raked it in. And that is what allows them to put what I would argue is a small fraction of that into invading Ukraine. So it's, one really has to understand the tragedy. It's a tragedy that we have financed this war because of our addiction. And that is a total mea culpa.

Tom: [00:09:33] And actually, sorry to interrupt your flow, but I mean, we've also financed the Saudi strikes in Yemen by the same logic. Right. And most conflicts throughout history have been based on this kind of dynamic.

Paul: [00:09:44] And then all these kind of thoughtful people are saying, well, you know, we're in a new kind of the great game of world powers and we've got to drill and give ourselves energy independence. And that's rubbish. It's absolute rubbish. And I and I ask myself this question, why do we feel so powerless? You know, what is this great force that stopped us believing in anything? Which is where I feel we are at the moment. You know, once again, you look at your media and you see already 2.6 million Ukrainians have had to leave everything their homes, their country, their friends, their family, their lives, their work and just run away across the borders to get away from the war. And why I think so many people love President Zelenskyy of Ukraine is because he believes in something. And by believing in him, we begin to believe in ourselves again. And that's an important kind of muscle that we've not exercised for far too long. Putin, this kind of evil puppet master, has been manipulating our democracy and doing all kinds of crazy stuff. And I'm not going to talk about that. We all know how much evidence there is of that. But look here, the puppet master. Come out from behind the scenes and started blowing up our neighbour's children in front of us with our money. So we wake up now.

Tom: [00:10:57] So that's the moral case, right? Absolutely. And, Christiana, you might want to call on that, but let's also go back to the ban on exports.

Christiana: [00:11:04] Yeah. So from a climate perspective, I think the the the two sides that we hear being argued fall along the acute and the chronic that we have talked about so often on this podcast. So because so many people say, look, we have to deal with the acute problem, whatever the acute problem is right now it's Russia invading Ukraine, but the acute takes on many different, many different forms. But in this case, the acute the immediate threat is the military invasion of Russia upon Ukraine. That is an assault on the self determination of an independent country. It is assault on the existence and the lives of many Ukrainians, and it is an assault on human coexistence, if you see that from an international perspective. The chronic issue that we're dealing with, which is more mid term, is a threat on human existence per se, because climate change is an existential threat. So we see ourselves sort of facing two enemies here. One is an enemy that is right in front of us. That's Russia invading Ukraine. And the other is an enemy that is creeping up on us from behind because we have turned our back on it. Had we faced that enemy, we probably would be in a much better situation. But we have turned our back on the speed and scale necessary to deal with climate change. And hence now we have an enemy in front and an enemy creeping up behind. And the question is, is this actually a dichotomy? Do we have to choose between one and the other? Because we hear many voices saying we have to choose between the two. And I think we would say, no, that's a false dichotomy. We do not choose between the two. We do both. Can we use the same measures to address both enemies? Absolutely. Because we can a decrease our energy use. And Paul, I think you have a really helpful list on how do we decrease irresponsible energy use. We can increase our energy independence. And in so doing, we can stop relying on unpredictable regimes for something that is as critical to our well-being as energy.

Paul: [00:13:21] Let's beautifully put, Christiana, and I think the point I want to make about radical action, for want of a better word, is it's not that radical and these problems are not going to last forever. So, look, if we assume that our societies want to carry on kind of with our way of life, that phrase that people who are often very critical, you know, say, oh, you know, what's going to upset our way of life? Well, maybe a little bit, maybe for a short time, maybe for two years or three years whilst we modify our infrastructure. But embracing lifestyle change is a valuable thing to do. You know, we spend 15% of our GDP on furlough for COVID, you know, millions and millions of people, hundreds of millions of people around the world staying at home, not working, paid by the government. What about a little bit of government leadership looking at things like the Ukrainian Solidarity Energy Challenge? Let's give €1,000 to everybody who wants to insulate their household. Let's put 100% tax on fuel on for all people on salaries of over 200,000 a year. Let's say no outside heaters for two years, let's say total available stores of gas capacity to be put on the news every night so the country can come together each country and see what's happening. National car sharing initiatives. Regional and national energy efficiency championships, Ukrainian winter wear jumpers and pajamas. Let's get our fashion designers to make us more cozy in bed without using Russian gas. The home battlefront against drafty homes, national bottle reuse projects. You know, there's a lot of energy in glass. Airfares doubled for the next two years. Give away free heat loss detectors. You could go on and on and on.

Tom: [00:14:50] So what you both pointed to that is that we do have options, right? That actually in this scenario, it's very tempting for commentators to sort of wring their hands and become a bit panicked about the fact that this could lead to some kind of restriction of supply, a ban on Russian exports of oil and gas, which is obviously being debated or hasn't happened yet, and that will lead to a price rise. But what you've both said there, and I think is an interesting direction for us to just dwell on for a minute, is that what we should actually focus on is use this moment to communicate that actually demand management is also a credible response to this. And not only the climate crisis that was been with us for a while, but we also now have the tangible example of innocent civilians being shelled as a spur to action, as you just described, Paul. I mean, I've been fascinated to see on social media these memes that are coming out with pictures of these poor victims, women and children and others that people are accompanying with little statements like, I would use less energy for her or I don't mind my energy bills going up to support them. That's really interesting. And actually, maybe at this moment, rather than like wringing our hands and refusing to obey the moral argument and talking about new liquid natural gas terminals in Russia and other things that we can get into, we should just say there's going to be a couple of years of transition and we're all going to have to use a bit less while we finally put proper insulation in renewables. This is a European issue we're talking about here all across Europe.

Christiana: [00:16:18] Yeah, as long as we do both at the same time, same time, it's not about only decreasing our energy for a period of time. It is about absolutely avoiding all unnecessary energy use and doubling down on the investment in clean energy generation. We have to do both at the same time.

Tom: [00:16:39] And that's not currently coming up. I mean, even the German Chancellor, Olaf Schulz, who's been giving some remarkable speeches, came out and said it's possible, you know, we can't rely on a supplier that explicitly threatens us, but we can't do this all at once. So therefore, we need new liquid natural gas terminals in Germany. We're probably going to have to burn more coal in the short term, and that's how we're going to get through. It feels to me like this is a moment for political leadership to actually say we can't just continue to use endlessly more energy, and this has to be about demand management too. Paul?

Paul: [00:17:09] Well, yeah, and also a massive increase in the Defence budget, but I would like to see more and more of the defense budget going to the energy independence budget because, you know, management consultants are famous for these two by two graphs. You know, you've got one axis that says national security and you've got another axis that says ecological security or environmental security. And in the top right hand corner is energy efficiency and renewable energy. And we can go big on those. But I also think there's a realization here, which is fascinating related to the nature of business itself. You know, we consider these things, we call them commodities. But actually what we've suddenly discovered is that behind commodities, sometimes there are tanks shelling apartment buildings. You know, commodities are not commodities. You know, all ships are not the same. And that realization suddenly puts another dimension on business. Maybe it makes it a little bit more of a kind of significant ethical, noble pursuit, even. But it means that we as citizens investing our money in buying things and the businesses that we interact with all have to have a cognizance and an awareness that there isn't just a happy jolly world out there with commodities. There are real issues with real people, and we've got to take real responsibility personally. But actually, that feels better than the kind of crazy sleepwalking we've been doing for the last couple of decades.

Tom: [00:18:33] Christiana, let me ask, what do you think the political through-lines are to also including demand management and a realization that we have to actually take personal responsibility as well as just change our sources of energy?

Christiana: [00:18:48] Well, what is so strange about energy efficiency and demand management is just sort of an updated and more sophisticated way of understanding energy efficiency. But for years and years and years, energy efficiency has been described as the sleeping giant, and energy has been described as the 20 dollar bill or the 20 pound bill that is on the street, and that we step over and we never pick it up. And it is such a mystery, right, it's also been called the the megawatt, you know, the wattage that we do not use. It is such a mystery that we are so wired for consumption of more and more and more and more that when what is expected of us is actually less, less energy, we don't jump at the chance. We're so much about more as humans. I don't know why we're so wired to more and more this, more that. And when we say, well, actually, we could have the same, or almost the same well being status by and implement all of Paul's list. Why are we not jumping at that? Why? Why do we allow that degree of irresponsibility?

Tom: [00:20:06] And just one answer to that, and I know Paul wants to come in as well, but we had Yuval Harari on this podcast a while ago, and he repeatedly makes the point that the fundamental basis of nations is stories. And actually, I would argue and I would make the case that we haven't had a compelling story around energy efficiency. It just hasn't grabbed people as an organizing principle that gets them excited. But if you look back at other times in history when we have had a compelling story, World War Two being the principal example, use of public transport went up 90%, pleasure driving was virtually eliminated. Right? There were all these adverts saying, When you drive alone, you drive with Hitler. It became this big story about what you do. So maybe this moment can actually be a coherent story about the fact that we're doing this to protect and support vulnerable people who are being targeted.

Paul: [00:20:54] Yeah. No, I'm just going to chip in on this exact theme. I spent a few years with a friend looking at energy efficiency quite closely in industry, and the reason why people don't do it is exactly what you said, Tom. It's just not a priority. The business case is there. You make money almost straight away. I mean, not huge amounts of money, but quite a lot. And you can buy the equipment. It's very low risk. And the only reason people don't do it is because it's not a priority. Well, guess what? It suddenly is.

Tom: [00:21:20] So how do we do that? How do we make that case? What's what's next? I mean, what I would love to see I know he's got a few other things on, but amidst everything else, kind of I'm sure that listeners saw that video that the Ukrainian government put out demonstrating what an attack would look like over Paris and making the point that if another European city was attacked, that would precipitate a different response. But somehow we also have to connect those terrible attacks in Ukraine with our continued spending money with the people who are causing that harm and giving them the cash to buy more tanks and rockets.

Paul: [00:21:51] Well, can I present this almost as a question for you a little bit, Christiana, because I'm referencing a conversation we had yesterday, but we'd been watching the rather inspiring Garry Kasparov, the former chess player who's become quite active in Russian politics. And he said, look, this war, for want of a better word, is about banks and not tanks, and spoke about a different kind of warfare that's kind of connected to the financial system or the corporate system or or a participatory citizenry, once again, getting really kind of involved. And actually, you know, the markets, I suppose, having votes in a certain sense, how do you see that potentially emerging in future years, Christiana?

Christiana: [00:22:36] Yeah, the banks and tanks. I thought that was such a nice crystallization of what we have been talking about now for, I guess, a couple of weeks, which is a very interesting evolution of war tactics, so that Russia is using war tactics, what we could argue last centuries, war tactics by rolling in tanks and displaying their military power with physical weapons, whereas the West has, for very understandable reasons, chosen to first display a very different new kind of warfare tactics, which are all the economic measures of containment that they have imposed upon Russia, coupled, of course, with military support that is being supplied into Ukraine, and coupled also with the fact that the nuclear capacity of countries acts as a deterrent. We heard the Ukrainian president express some lament about the fact that he gave up a lot of his nuclear power. But it definitely the fact that Russia and the United States have most of the nuclear power of the world is a deterrent for both of them to go farther. Question is how far will Russia go, in the very real realization that the West is not going to enter into a nuclear war with them or with anyone else? So he is really clawing into that and swiping at the edges of nuclear war by just attacking the two nuclear electricity plants. That's not nuclear weapons, but

Tom: [00:24:36] So reckless.

Christiana: [00:24:37] But it has the capacity, right? So he's just going above and beyond any rationale, any and any reason, any human reason. And he is taking advantage of the fact that he knows that he can, in addition to the military warfare that he has going on, he's actually unleashed a psychological war against the West. And the reason why he can do that is because he knows that they know that he doesn't give a damn about any collateral damage. He is perfectly willing to throw bombs into hospitals, into children's homes, into civilian, into schools. Civilian. He's perfectly capable of that, it has shown. And he is doing so. So he doesn't give a damn about collateral damage. But he also knows that to come back to our first topic, that we are still addicted to the damn oil. And here is a moment that I would love to put something on that is a little bit provocative, because one could argue that because at least 60% of Russia's income and GDP is oil and gas, one could argue that oil is actually their currency, their real currency. And so the question is, is this invasion of Ukraine an overt slash, covert, conscious slash, unconscious, intended or not intended provocation to the West to produce such panic that we actually grab on to the branch that we were just beginning to let go. He is not. Benefitted by a global economy that begins to move beyond oil and gas. He's definitely not benefited by that because he's so dependent. But a country the size of that is not going to fare well in an economy that is moving away from oil and gas. So is he causing all of this in order to stop decarbonization? Is he doing this so that we panic and turn back to oil and gas? Whether that is from Venezuela. Good luck with that one. Or, you know, now phone calls by Biden not being answered on the part of Saudi Arabia? But our reaction to turn back to the oil and gas economy, out of which we were beginning to emerge instead of accelerating the movement forward beyond oil and gas toward renewables is exactly in his interest. So the question is, do we want to play to his interests?

Paul: [00:27:37] You know, I'm sure you're right, Christiana, either consciously or subconsciously, if the export income of Russia, which is so dependent upon oil and gas, if we reduce emissions at 7% a year for the next ten years or eight years, and, you know, that's going to just massacre the accounts of Russia. Now, none of us particularly want to make the Russian people financially suffer prior to this Ukrainian disaster. But the point being, this is just the reality of decarbonizing. We've got to do it because of the science. We've got to do it because of climate change. But yes, this is a moment where we and you make the point brilliantly, Christiana, we have to hold our nerve. We have to focus on the objective and we have to double down on the work we have to do. And we probably have to make some sacrifices over the next few years, but we'll get there and the world will be a much safer, better place at the end of it.

Tom: [00:28:30] I agree with that. And that's a very interesting thought. Christiana, the point you just made, Paul, though, obscures the dual tracks which are contained within what Christiana said. Right. So he is trying to drive a wedge through what you say, Christiana, to say energy security goes one way, climate action goes the other. And if we go down the energy security path and weaken energy security, traditional sense, continue to invest in fossil fuels, we will double down on the infrastructure that ultimately will keep us dependent on Russian fossil fuels. The other route is the climate action, renewables, energy efficiency Route. And I think your analysis is right that the panic of the short term squeeze is leading many commentators to say, Oh, this whole net zero decarbonization thing was kind of a bit of a pipe dream. And now we can't be fragile, we can't be weak. We need to play the old great game and get back into this and start developing our own capacity of fossil fuels. Interestingly, that's not what, for example, the EU has been saying. They've been saying we're going to stay the course on this. The US has been saying we're going to stay the course, but actually it does make us very vulnerable. And the longer this goes on and the more we get to sort of supply squeezes, this is going to become more of an issue that's going to create this different. We need to make the case that this transition overall away from fossil fuels gets us off the supply of cigarettes that was going to give us lung cancer anyway.

Christiana: [00:29:56] Has given us.

Tom: [00:29:57] Has given us lung cancer. So we need to see this not as a choice, but as a sort of dilemma that we need to bring together the two different elements, because energy security is a real worry and politicians are right to be worried about it. But a combination of doubling down on renewables, quick transition, is the only way that you can genuinely move through the issue.

Paul: [00:30:19] But everything that's happening at the moment is increasing the business case for, you know, drilling more fossil fuels outside of Russia. And it's increasing the business case for more renewables and energy efficiency. So they're both business cases are improving. So all we've got to do is make the right choice. And I want to just put a bit of context on here and I'd welcome your views, Christiana. You know, how important really is Russia economically? It's about the same size as Texas. In the great scheme of things it's not necessarily that important, but it is in close alliance with the giant great nation of China. And to some degree, how we respond to this may impact how China develops. There is a new kind of economic iron curtain falling that's dividing, you know, call it the West from Russia, but which side of that curtain is China going to be on? And I think that we have a competition to show that with our technology, with our free markets, we can build a better society and one that China wants to be closer to our way of doing things rather than blowing up apartment blocks full of civilians.

Christiana: [00:31:28] Well, yes, but not quite that easy to get to that, because China is Russia's biggest customer on crude oil. And not only do Russian pipelines flow into China via the Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline, but actually just a few days before the invasion, clearly not a coincidence. Just a few days before the invasion, Russia and China agreed to build a new gas pipeline linking the two countries directly. So you can tell that Russia is looking out for its biggest customer and China is looking out for its biggest supplier. And they are basically aligning their interests there, which is why we haven't seen China come out against the the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, in addition to the fact that whatever happens to the Ukraine via the Russian hand could begin to open up a door to whatever happens to Taiwan or in fact, even to Hong Kong via the Chinese hand. Now we're talking big games, right? Big, big games. And so do we have a world that will divide into those two giants over there and the rest? That would be a tragedy to have to do that. The option, of course, is for China, as you intimated, Paul, to realize where are its interests, long term interests. Again, here we go. Short and long term, where are they best served? Because they do have very, very ambitious electric vehicle aspirations. They are the largest investor into wind technology, into solar, into charging, and they do require nickel, copper, aluminum, all of these things that Russia also exports to them. So, you know, could they I mean, I don't know how much that is wishful thinking, could they over time question then, is over how much time can they actually move their trade with Russia to support the economy of the future as opposed to the economy of the past?

Tom: [00:33:59] It's a very sobering issue that you raised, Christiana. And I think that the reality is that if you did see a sort of a bipolar world that goes back to the Cold War, it's actually not entirely clear that Russia and China would be on their own. Right. There's large parts of the rest of world. You think about Russia, Chinese expansionism in Africa and other different places where they've been investing in infrastructure. You might find a far greater proportion of the world goes on that side of the ledger compared to the one we instinctively think about in the West. And of course, the point that's implied in your comments but you didn't say explicitly is that's still a world that has to collaborate on climate change. Yeah. So the issue there, if you end up with a bipolar world, which is different to the previous Cold War, that world needed to collaborate on disarming nuclear weapons. But this is a much more complicated decoupling and you might well find it with that level of antagonism, the opportunity to deal with a shared global issue just evaporates.

Paul: [00:34:50] Yeah, that's possible. But, you know, on the bright side, on the positive side, because somebody ought to be positive about the fact that we're at a moment where they really could you know, I've been much more scared by us all being asleep on this. Frankly, when I see big old industrialized society not really reducing emissions at all and everyone saying, well, nothing's changing, that scares me completely witless. I think this is a moment where you could see if you if you go back to your Cold War analogy, actually, the free market democracies behave better, frankly, between the end of the Second World War and 1990 than they did subsequently. And that's because they had an occasion to rise to. There was a need for our society to show it was a better society, not by propaganda, but by actually being a better society with more equity, more opportunity and more freedom. And there's no way that Russia and China are going to compete on freedom. So there's a real opportunity for us to to have those positive images that we take forward and that will help resolve this not in some negative conflict.

Tom: [00:35:50] That is the saddest happy story I've ever heard, Paul, because what you're basically saying there is that those countries can only behave well and become their better selves when they've got someone as an enemy.

Paul: [00:35:59] People said when the Berlin Wall fell down, you know, the other side of Germany hadn't got anyone to look at and say, I'm kind of better anymore. And then we all got completely lost.

Tom: [00:36:09] Okay. So this has been a fascinating conversation about this issue. Don't worry. I will go back to you. This has been a fascinating conversation about the issues that we're currently facing in in Ukraine and that really are just going to spread around the world and affect all of us. We are in a different world now to the one we were in two weeks ago that not only as a result of the devastating effect that this war is having on the Ukrainian people and the specter of nuclear war, that affects obviously far more as. But also the fact that in the context of this changing geopolitical landscape, we have to work out urgently how we respond and continue to deal with climate change. And and that's highly complex. And that's why you see these divergent narratives that are emerging from foreign policy thinkers, geopolitical thinkers. It's different to Europe, to North America. We'll keep delving into this issue in the coming weeks. But I'm curious to know from both of you any closing thoughts or other things we haven't gotten to yet?

Paul: [00:37:01] So, look, this is a time of of great challenge for the world and it's a time for great leadership. And I would actually like to quote President Zelenskyy, who said something very powerful in when he became president. He said, we're going to build the country of opportunities. And for that - I'm paraphrasing - we need people in power who will serve the people. And then he said, this is why I really do not want my pictures in your offices for the president is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids photos instead and look at them each time you're making a decision. That's leadership in the 21st century.

Christiana: [00:37:44] Yeah, and that's a really nice summary of of this tension that we've been talking about, about the short term and the long term, the acute and the chronic. And as long as we only look in one direction, then we will, if we are so binary in our mentality that we only have space for one, we will inevitably only look at the immediate. And that is why it's so important to not deny the immediate, to certainly stand up to those challenges, but also bring them in with the longer term and the chronic issues. Because as long as we just do one, we will go the wrong path.

Paul: [00:38:28] And all three of us know 80% of the world's energy today is fossil fuel energy. But it's not impossible. Impossible. It's just an attitude. It can and must be done.

Tom: [00:38:40] Yeah. So I think this is a very sobering time and a time of enormous opportunity to not only, of course, reflect on the terrible experiences that the people of Ukraine are going through at this very minute, which is just so difficult for us to fully comprehend what's happening, but also to take this moment as a departure for the future. Covid was one of those where we began to realize that the future didn't have to be a replication of the past. This has to be another one. And we have big choices coming at us right now. We said that several months ago when the COVID recovery funds started coming out. We said This is the moment we can make the right choice. We kind of didn't really grasp that moment collectively. We have to grasp this one. And I would say particularly listeners of Outrage + Optimism, the climate community is going to play a really critical role in this. The whole concept of decarbonization is going to come under sustained attack now, and that is going to be whether we should do it or whether we should expand domestic production of fossil fuels. And there's never been a more important moment for those who care about the future of the climate to actually hang together. And yes, there are differences between people around rate of decarbonisation and what's included in targets and other things. We kind of have to continue to focus on the important elements of that because they're important to get right and at the same time not allow those dialogues between us to distract from the overarching message, which is We have to do this and we have to do it now. All right. Thanks, everyone. We appreciate you joining us. We'll be back on Thursday next week. As usual, no music this week. It just kind of continues to feel not quite the right moment for that. But we'll get back to that soon, hopefully. See you soon.

Christiana: [00:40:14] Bye.

Paul: [00:40:15] Bye.


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