176: COP27: Loss and Damage in the Spotlight
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 on building a sustainable future.
First up we have some exclusive news... *drumroll*... We are excited to announce that Outrage + Optimism is now part of the TED Audio Collective! This news represents an exciting continuation of the collaboration between our organizations, which began with our strategic partnership with TED Countdown.
The TED Audio Collective is a curated collection of podcasts sharing ideas on a range of subjects, including psychology, business, and design. Be sure to check out some of the other podcasts in the collective!
Back to this special COP 27 episode... co-hosts Christiana Figueres and Paul Dickinson talk long-distance with co-host Tom Rivett-Carnac, who’s on the ground at the COP27 UN climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Also, Christiana interviews Simon Stiell, the latest Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the podcast announces a new partnership with TED Audio Collective.
First, Tom calls in from COP27, where the top item on the agenda is “Loss and Damage,” which refers to the historical responsibility of industrialized nations for the climate crisis and the moral case for compensating poorer and developing countries suffering the brunt of its many devastating effects. What is fair, really?
Next, Christiana discusses getting things done, accountability, and the power of meditation with UNFCCC Secretary Simon Stiell. They expand on COP27 and the role of oil and gas companies in the conference. You won’t want to miss this engaging conversation.
The team closes with their reflections on the midterm elections in the United States (votes are still being counted) and what a divided Congress means for President Biden’s climate agenda. And finally, producer Clay brings us the goods on O+O’s new partnership with the TED Audio Collective and today’s tune from British guitar-goddess and artist, Anna Calvi: “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy.”
Enjoy the show!
NOTES AND RESOURCES
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Check out more podcasts from The TED Audio Collective
Want to join our Book Club? Read Jon Alexander’s ‘CITIZENS’ and email your question from the book to firstname.lastname@example.org to be invited to an invite-only session with Jon and us!
Go listen to Abigael Kima’s coverage of COP27 on the Hali Hewa Podcast
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Be sure to listen to ‘Indies or Paradise’ -Clay
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Tom: [00:00:00] Okay, listeners, this is a completely new experience for me. I'm normally sitting in front of my computer talking with a few notes, not as many as Paul. Today I'm wandering around a busy conference center speaking into my phone because I'm at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh. And we're going to get into all of that in a minute. But first of all, we at Outrage + Optimism have a very exciting announcement for you. A few years ago, we launched this podcast really with no idea what we were doing. We got brilliant people idea. No idea. We've got brilliant people like Clay and Sarah who on the line here to help us. But we were sort of making it up as we go along. But now we have formed a partnership with TED. So from now on we've joined the TED Audio Collective. This podcast will be part of that collective. That has huge implications for the future of the podcast. Very exciting. Big day to celebrate. But for now on with the show.
Christiana: [00:00:47] Oh boy, do you mean. So have we grown up? Is that what you're trying to say?
Paul: [00:00:52] Never.
Tom: [00:00:53] I would never accuse you of growing up, Christiana, but we have a new and exciting phase of our of our childhood and adolescence.
Christiana: [00:01:00] Thank heavens. I would be very concerned.
Paul: [00:01:03] Don't grow up. Don't grow up. It's a trick.
Tom: [00:01:05] All right, here we go. Hello and welcome to Outrage + Optimism. I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.
Christiana: [00:01:22] I'm Christiana Figueres.
Paul: [00:01:24] And I'm Paul Dickenson.
Tom: [00:01:26] This week we bring you an update from what is happening at COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt. Plus, we speak to Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of the UNFCCC. Oh, and we have music from, Clay?
Clay: [00:01:38] Music this week from Anna Calvi.
Tom: [00:01:42] Thanks for being here. Okay. This is so this is a very unusual experience for me. I'm standing on my phone walking through an extremely busy conference center, at COP27, with loads of people staring at me, wondering why I'm talking so loudly into my phone. But I wanted to do this and bring you a real time assessment of what's going on over here. But first of all, you two. I miss you. How come you're not in Egypt?
Paul: [00:02:12] It's a very good question.
Christiana: [00:02:13] Because you are so well representing us.
Tom: [00:02:17] Well, I don't know about that, but I remember last year we got together after about three or four days and sat up late and ate curry and drank beer and talked about what was going on. And I'm very sad that we're not doing that this year, but I'm going to try and do my best to represent what's happening. What does it look like, first of all, from where you're sitting, Christiana? You're several thousand miles away. I cannot tell you the number of times people have asked me whether or not you're here, of course, but you're not. You're at home in Costa Rica. How does it look from where you are? What's your perception of what's going on with the COP?
Christiana: [00:02:48] Well, I must say, for someone who doesn't who doesn't get into the weeds of these meetings, a change of agenda is just sort of a change of agenda. But the political orchestration that needs to occur to change an agenda, and then what that actually means for the significance of the topic, not just for that meeting but for all COP's to come, is actually quite extraordinary.
Tom: [00:03:19] So you're talking about there is the negotiating to change the agenda that just happened at the beginning of this COP. Right?
Christiana: [00:03:24] Right. That's just where I was going to go. The fact that the agenda was not adopted by parties the way that it had been presented, but rather that there was a very important political orchestration on the part, of course, of developing countries to include loss and damage as a very important part of the agenda discussion, I think is, already raises the tone of the COP and already puts a or casts a political light on the COP that is very important. This is not just a COP that occurs in Africa. This is a COP that is going to focus so much more on loss and damage. Not that there wasn't that focus before, but because it has been elevated, it is going to to be a much more discussed and justifiably so, because let's remember the impacts that we've seen and let's remember the very, very clear indication that we'd already talked about that Pakistan being still underwater from the floods of months ago. Is the president chairing the G77? So all of those stars have aligned to now elevate loss and damage as as one of the main points of discussion at this COP. A good thing, I should say, for sure.
Tom: [00:05:05] So, so I wonder whether and it's been really interesting being here on the ground. I mean, all the world leaders have left today. The last couple of days, I mean, you know exactly what this orchestration is like from Paris and many other times as there's been all these statements from heads of state, I've seen multiple speeches from Macron and von der Leyen and George and Chancellor Schulz and a range of others. We can get into all of that. But just before we do, do you want to just give us a 30 second overview of what loss and damage is because our listeners may not all know?
Christiana: [00:05:35] Yes, thank you for that. The the lingo that we throw around. How durable. Let's see. Simply put, many of the impacts that are occurring, most of them on developing countries due to climate change are, I would say, impacts that occur. On a one time or increasingly frequent basis. But there are many impacts that are of a slow onslaught effect. So rising sea levels is a very good example that you don't. All of a sudden have a rise in sea level from one day to the next. But sea levels are rising, seawater is encroaching. And so loss and damage refers not. To not only to those impacts that are produced because of one natural extreme event, but rather because of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that is having a cumulative effect on temperature rise in the long run. And those are very hard to measure. And the industrialized countries have always been very, very concerned about the loss and damage being a politically important topic because it is basically a bottomless pit if they are to pay for this or support it because they don't know how much this is going to cost.
Tom: [00:07:16] Yeah, people are people here have begun to talk about it as like reparations is the language that I'm hearing. This is an issue that has been caused by one group of people and it's being mainly experienced by a different group and that is deeply unfair. The moral platform for that and the moral case for some payment to cover the costs that it's affecting people that they did very little to cause is completely clear. And that narrative and we should get into how the financing would work is really feeding through in quite a remarkable way. That's creating some interesting impacts here. But Paul, you wanted to come in?
Paul: [00:07:51] Not exactly, But but I always want to come in. So it's a sort of standing I want to come in. And this one is particularly about me actually being a little bit ashamed to be a European today, because at COP26 a year ago, a group of 130 countries representing 85% of the world population demanded a loss and damage funding facility to be set up. But it was blocked by the US and the EU. So it's back again on the agenda at COP27 and I really just think 85% of the world population have got to get what they want because, you know, the world itself is a kind of giant democracy. I hope that. I hope it happens.
Tom: [00:08:26] So I'm really curious to know, you know, a response from from both of you to something which I'm perceiving here from conversation I'm having, which is I think there is a common agreement that the platform, the moral case for loss and damage is totally clear, Right. As I as we as we set out earlier, there is there is no question about the historical responsibility for this issue, and there has to be some response to that. However, the countries that would be responsible for putting money into a fund of some kind are facing really challenging political scenarios in which they regard themselves as having, you know, serious cost of living crises. We know that's true. But also they have serious political problems where there are extreme parties that are prepared to come out and go against anything that is supporting others in other parts of the world. We're already beginning to see this in the narrative. In the UK and in the US, there are rightwing elements of the media that are saying we shouldn't be creating these funds, we shouldn't be supporting people. So I'm a bit worried that as this issue elevates and I'm not saying it shouldn't, it absolutely should. But as this issue elevates at the COP, then those governments are going to, from a moral perspective, have to put their hands in their pockets and come up with a response to that and then going to end up in an even tighter political position back home. What do you what do you think of that slightly dark prediction?
Christiana: [00:09:50] I think that's very realistic. But also, Tom, it's not new, right? We almost know we we almost, you know, think that this is a new dynamic. This has been the dynamic between industrialized and developing countries for years. And sometimes we make more progress than others. But the fundamental fact that Paul addressed that this is a complete moral injustice remains the truth, no matter which year you're looking at and no matter what the internal politics. The fact is that it is the historical responsibility of industrialized countries that have caused this. And yes, developing countries are increasingly contributing to the responsibility. But the historical consequence is or the historical responsibility is very clear. And so it is it's a very difficult dynamic because actually you can see where both sides are justified in what they are in what they're arguing. Certainly the G77, the developing countries are more than justified about arguing that they need the support. There is no doubt about that. And industrialised countries are justified from the short term, short term, not the long term from the short term political dynamic that they're dealing with. But from the developing countries side, the reaction always is, well, that's the excuse that you always use. You always come here to say that your domestic politics won't allow you to support us? So here we are, right in an age old conversation.
Paul: [00:11:42] Yeah. I just have one point Tom. I'm going to make us look. Look. There are lots of people struggling with a cost of living crisis in the rich countries, but there are also very large numbers of unbelievably rich people in the rich countries who are not suffering at all and are maybe using or their agents are using this as as a sort of an excuse not to deal with broader equity issues that are at the root of our society. You've got to remember, we're not globally so short of resources if we if we shared them.
Tom: [00:12:12] Yeah, no, for sure. So. So should we turn? I know we can talk to Simon. Still a few minutes, but should we turn maybe to mitigation? Because obviously so much of this COP is about loss and damage and adaptation, and that's exactly as it should be, because we are in Africa. This is a COP in which we're trying to elevate the issue of justice much more. But of course, within that, there is also the issue of are we really solving the problem? And just a comment on the mood here is talking to people going to different events, listening to conversations. I think there's a sort of. Level of low level of panic. Breathless level of anxiety. As the years have gone by and we haven't done what we need to do. Recent reports, as we talked about last week, are that our emissions will not get in the way that they need to. So I think there's an interesting question mark now around how the cops can really facilitate the kind of step up that is needed. The world's media looks here and says, are we really solving the problem? And of course, we're not really. So so so what needs to happen now in this forum to try and get us back on track, both in the next ten days and also over the course of the next critical year.
Christiana: [00:13:29] Well, Tom, you're on on site. What is what is your sense? And then I will react to that. But I'm I mean, what what you say is, again, the dynamic that we always see at these COP's. So actually, my question for you is, is there anything that you feel is different about that dynamic this time?
Tom: [00:13:55] So that's a good question. So I feel like I feel like it's a level greater than I've witnessed before in the COP's that I've been to. I think that there is a generalized sense of, you know, we're getting much and of course, climate change, we're used to the warning light flashing for so long and it's hard to see it anew. But I feel like that is kind of with us here much more than I've seen for a few years. I feel like the COP itself is like trying to evolve and turn into a forum in which we can talk about action, demonstrate the momentum that's currently happening, and and that's to be applauded, that transformation that's happening. But it was also designed for a different time and with a different objective. So it's not really that comfortable how those different pieces fit together. So I think it's a question lots of people are asking, including the presidency of the COP next year. How do we have a global, it's not the happiest of phrase sort of war forum, a global moment where we come together and really try and do the work that's needed because at the moment it's slightly feels like we're missing the mark.
Christiana: [00:15:04] Yeah, we're we're missing the mark. I think as we have discussed here, certainly in the governmental space, we may actually be stepping up to the mark in the private sector and the and the the other space that is actually doing the the currently the heavy lifting. But we'll get to that in a minute. I also have another question for you, Tom. Is it palpable that this COP is taking place in Africa from a political perspective? Has the fact that it is Africa sited sited in in situ in Africa? Has that had an impact on the the the feelings, the discussions, the nuances, the focus? Can you can you tell if you close your eyes and you listen to the discussions, can you tell that the COP is in Africa?
Tom: [00:15:57] Okay, so I would qualify what I'm about to say by, you know, acknowledging that I've not been sitting in the in the closed door negotiations. And obviously he did to play a critical role of chairing many of the discussions. So I don't know in terms of the inter-governmental negotiations whether that feels that way in there, but just walking around. Not really is the honest answer. I think that the COP's have become, I think, quite sort of they're much sort of flasher and with more money than they were in the old days, the pavilion stations, the number of people here, the number of sort of events and dinners, it's kind of all built much more into what feels like New York Climate Week or the World Economic Forum. And the COP's have previously felt like to me. And that feels a bit complicated, to be honest, that change.
Christiana: [00:16:48] Yes, very complicated.
Tom: [00:16:50] Particularly because it's in Africa. So the differential builds even greater between what's happening here and what's happening outside the conference center.
Christiana: [00:16:59] Hmm. Yeah, I think what you're saying is it has turned much more into an event rather than a true reflection of very difficult political discussions.
Tom: [00:17:12] Yes, that's a very good way of putting it. Exactly.
Paul: [00:17:15] Okay. So can I try and offer a little bit of optimism?
Christiana: [00:17:19] Please do.
Paul: [00:17:21] So I. I was excited, actually, that. Well, first of all, John Kerry made some great points about countries needing to emphasize their NDC's and they need to strengthen their their nationally determined contributions. How critical that is, which I think everyone understands. But then the Secretary General Guterres, commented on Catherine McKenna's high level expert group on net zero emissions, and he made a brilliant observation about their incredible work. He said that when companies or investors make these commitments to net zero, he said management must be accountable for delivering on these pledges. Well, obviously, I guess. But then he said this means publicly advocating for decisive climate action and disclosing all lobbying activity. So the Secretariat of the United Nations is inviting private sector actors to publicly advocate for decisive climate action. Now, I like that, frankly. And he went on to say that governments must design policies, pass legislation, approve budgets to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. The other thing I thought was great is he talked about I got a bit nostalgic, actually, because he said he called on all the the the voluntary initiatives to standardize and put the data on the UNFCCC website. And I thought back to 2014 when the three of us worked together on that one, not so much you, Christiana, because we were busy, but Tom and I did.
Paul: [00:18:46] So the point being where I'm going with this is to say all the, you know, the UN is sort of said like, well, these commitments, if you're making all these commitments, we've got to have the policy and the policies and the NDCs and we're now actually going to getting a kind of holistic picture at the UNFCCC website of all the national plans and all the corporate and all the investor plans. And it should be possible. You know, maybe we're going to use machines because it's quite complicated, but it should be possible to see exactly who's doing what, who's responsible, what laws we need, where, and we can work on this as like a project to just get carbon out of our economic system as quickly as possible. I don't want to sound Panglossian like this is all fixed and it's going to be easy, but we've basically got all the data in one place now, and the Secretary general I think, did a great job of focusing everyone's attention on it because he said, you know, if we don't do that, we're on the road to hell. So that's me optimistic-ish.
Christiana: [00:19:41] Okay. Road to road. Road to Hell is optimistic. I like that.
Tom: [00:19:46] That's as good as it gets.
Christiana: [00:19:49] Tom, perhaps it might be helpful to all of us if you share with us what, two or three issues, top line issues, should listeners be having on their radar screen? One of the most difficult things that the COP is that there's so many issues that are being negotiated in so many different so many different negotiating bodies, and it's very difficult to keep track of all of these things unless, of course, you are a mitigation expert and you want to follow that or an adaptation expert and you want to follow that or loss and damage or whatever your expertise is. But for those who actually are much more generalist, what two or three top line issues, would you suggest that we keep a focus and and look to the press to follow over over this week, which is the first week, and then we can perhaps ask the same question next week?
Tom: [00:20:51] Yeah, no, it's a great question and I think the answer is an age old story, Christiana, that you are as familiar with as anyone on the planet. The world is struggling to work out how it deals with this issue. The technology is largely in place. We see amazing reports coming out of the technology that can drive down emissions, but we haven't yet worked out as a society what's there in this great transformation and this being a COP in Africa. There is, notwithstanding what I said earlier, there is a justifiable and completely appropriate focus on will the industrialised countries help the developing world, first of all, to adapt and deal with the impacts and where adaptation is not possible, provide funds through a loss and damage fund to actually compensate or support at least some part incalculable loss that we're facing. If the answer to that question is yes, this is a moment of global solidarity, then I think we lead in to the next critical issue, which is where where are we on actually reducing the problem so it doesn't have to be any worse than it would otherwise need to be. And I think there there's interesting things to watch at the moment while the world leaders are still here in terms of announcements where we are. But even more interesting is the pathway that's being set up by people here at the moment on what's called the global stocktake, the great global process of assessing how close to or far away we are from the 1.5 degree target that will unfold over the course of the next year before we meet again in the Emirates in a year's time, in order to assess where are we and what can be done. But as you know, as I said, in such a balanced way, those two things have to go hand in hand or neither of them are going to make the progress they need to.
Christiana: [00:22:41] Hmm. Yeah. Just. Just two sentences on the global stocktake. Because, as you say, that's going to be the big thing next year. It is mandated by the Paris Agreement to take place next year. And the big discussion there is whether the global stocktake that is going to be based on self reporting of countries and governments is actually going to be representing reality or whether there's a need for something that is being called the independent global stocktake that is actually going to be based on measurements and that come from the private sector. And very likely we will be seeing both of those and it'll be very interesting to compare the results from the two and, and and the truth of where we are with emissions or emission reductions will probably be somewhere in between. I don't expect those two to come out with the same number. But as you say, Tom, this is the launchpad. This COP is, among other things, the launchpad for for that actually very difficult exercise that needs to be completed by next year for sure.
Tom: [00:23:54] And I mean, just one additional thought on that is, you know, I was talking to people and reflecting on this. There are three phases, you know very well the stocktake and the phase in which countries sort of do their self-reporting. And we get a rough sense of where we are should be completed sort of, you know, in the spring or early summer next year. And so just thinking our way through over the next year where the key moments are going to be, there will be a moment where and again, we're used to the red light flashing, but there will be a moment where we look at those numbers and how they add up. And we will see staring us in the face that enormous gap to where we need to be. And I actually think we need to already start thinking about that as a moment for rethinking how we're addressing this issue and standing back and saying, we now know we can solve this, but we also know that the processes and the systems that we have to try and solve it aren't yet working. And this is.
Christiana: [00:24:53] Exactly.
Tom: [00:24:54] I mean, we're used to hearing this, but this is our last shot at changing that and getting it right. And I think that moment of realization and risk and opportunity has to be something that we grasp and that we're ready for when it comes around.
Christiana: [00:25:07] Yeah. And so, so difficult. Right? So challenging because there's such enormous momentum that comes with the process and the structure that is set up. There's so many people who have been doing this for years and years and years and years and institutions, national institutions that are behind this process. And so all of that architectural political, personal momentum is basically for a status quo scenario of continuing to do what we've been doing before. And as we know, it's always much more difficult to change something than it is to let it run its course the way that it has been running for years. Yeah, but we are getting very, very, very important information that running its course, is just not cutting it. So. Wow, just hugely important moments coming up. And I think in many different ways that is going to be the conclusion that comes out of COP27 from many different corners of the negotiations and of conversations there. I think the conclusion is going to be we can't continue doing the same because we keep on getting the same results and we have to do something different. I think that's going to be sort of the the leitmotif I think of COP27. But let's see.
Tom: [00:26:37] Yeah, yeah, I'm doing something different is very difficult, as you say.
Christiana: [00:26:41] Very difficult, much more difficult than doing the same.
Tom: [00:26:44] And there's a lot of good stuff in the same thing. It's just that it doesn't meet the scale of the challenge at this moment, right?
Paul: [00:26:50] You know, it's not as difficult to change as you think. Somebody once told me if you think you can, if you think you have the energy to stay as you are, then you have the energy to change.
Tom: [00:26:59] That's an interesting way of phrasing it. Now, we also have a wonderful interview for you today. Christiana, you spoke to your newly appointed successor, not successor post one. Of course, the last is Patricia Espinosa, but now she's left post and Simon Stiell has taken on his post as the executive secretary. He is doing a great job chairing these meetings. I've seen him speak multiple times in front of world leaders, and he's clear and focused and practical. I think he's making a really good impression at his first COP. Anything you'd like to say about Simon before we go to your conversation?
Christiana: [00:27:36] Well, I must say, you know, other than the obvious that it is quite unusual for the United Nations to have three people from the same region, from the Latin American and Caribbean region. Three people follow each other for the same post. That is very, very unusual. And because we had Costa Rica in myself, then Mexico in Patricia and now and now Simon from the Caribbean. And what that says to me is it speaks very loudly for him because it means that the secretary general and those who interviewed and and recommended him to the secretary general were impressed enough with him to be willing to risk the political difficulties of having yet another person from the Latin American and Caribbean region. So I am I was yeah, I was I was quite impressed with that. And then after we have we have spoken to him several times, Tom, you and I, and now we have this wonderful interview with him. I think the secretary general was quite warranted in taking that political risk, in in recognizing the leadership and the strength that Simon brings to this process. And as we've just said, it is it is necessary. Right. That very brave courage that is necessary now is something that he brings and that we're actually quite grateful for. Load More
Tom: [00:29:22] Absolutely. That's really interesting analysis. You're absolutely right, because, of course, the impression he's making there has been really outstanding. So let's go to your conversation.
Paul: [00:29:31] A cause for optimism. Let's hear it.
Christiana: [00:29:38] Simon, thank you so much for joining us here on Outrage + Optimism just a few seconds before the COP formally begins, although I know all the informal consultations are already underway. I was thinking myself back this morning, Simon, to my very first COP, which was 2010 Mexico in Cancun. It's a whole 12 years ago. And I was just remembering the many, many different butterflies that I had in my stomach about going to my first COP, although I had already participated in way too many COP's before that. But as executive secretary, there's a little different feeling when you go to your first COP. So I just I would love to know how you're feeling for this COP, but also in the context, Simon, of why did you even apply for this job? I remember why I applied 12 years ago after the disaster of Copenhagen, but I would love to know why did you apply? Where do you see that there are opportunities here for you and your team to make a real contribution?
Simon Stiell: [00:30:51] Well, thank you, Christiana. And the butterflies haven't kicked in quite as yet. It's still the orientation. Making sure the team is settled, started to engage parties. So it's just trying to get a sense of the temperature. But in terms of what inspired me, I am an idealist and that is something that has kind of stuck with me from a very, very young age. And this sounds a little crass, but this sense that we walk this planet and you have to make a contribution. And that idealistic goal of wanting to make some sort of difference. And I've been in the climate space for a number of years with my previous job as Minister for the Environment and Climate Resilience, and that's of a small island developing state. So on the frontlines of climate change, living that real experience. I grew up in the UK, but I moved back to the Caribbean island called Carriacou, belongs to Grenada Tri Island states, but I moved back there over 20 years ago and during that time I experienced two hurricanes. I see we live on the coast. It's a 13 square mile island.
Simon Stiell: [00:32:25] We see the impacts of climate change every single day. Where my parents are the sea is now encroaching on their property. We see issues of water scarcity. I said. Not to mention, you know, the very dramatic impacts of a hurricane. You experience that and you you get a sense of your direct vulnerability. And I look at some of my other experiences growing up in a developed country, but my working experience there, working in some very dynamic industries where change and continual transformation was all part of that business model. I came from a technology background, worked with some very innovative, very inspiring companies during the tech boom. And I understand what happens in boardrooms, what happens in industry, decision making dynamics there. So from boardroom, cabinet room to living room gives a unique experience as to where we are right now. So we focus on the challenges that climate change brings and applying that knowledge to to where we are now. And what needs to be done in this transition gives me a very interesting perspective. But instead what drives me is to make a difference.
Christiana: [00:34:10] Well, that's thank you for that, because a beautiful composition there, Simon, that allows you to understand where so many different parties are coming from. But all of that needs to be blended. And I love that word that you use. All of that needs to be blended into what has traditionally been for so many years and a negotiation, a multilateral negotiation among 196 parties to come to agreements. And yet today, as you have well put it, we're into full operational Paris Agreement. And so we need to move over from that negotiation, focus over to the operational part to the implementation. What do you see the COP's, what is the potential that they hold within them, this one and future COP's? Because you will be there for at least three years. Where do you see COP's going in terms of their role in being able to support and accelerate both the decarbonisation as well as the strengthening of adaptation and strengthening loss and damage support?
Simon Stiell: [00:35:29] I think I mean, you presided over the Paris Agreement, which kind of set the pathway, told us what needed to be done and as I did say Glasgow laid out how things need to be done. And what is significant about COP27 and all following COP's, you know, the rules are there, the prescriptions are there. It is about getting stuff done now and whether that's with regard to mitigation, NDC's. Every country has its NDC, its prescriptions sector by sector, area by area as to what needs to be done and how to do that, whether it's in adaptation with national adaptation plans, long term strategies. So it's about now ensuring that all of the mechanisms required and what is at the heart of that is finance flows to enable that to happen. But it's to see at all levels, whether it is at state level in terms of what they need to do, whether it's cities and municipalities and what needs to be done there. Companies in terms of transitioning and being 1.5 aligned all the way down to households and what we as individuals need to do. You know, it's to get to a point and implementation is where everybody is everywhere is doing everything possible every single day to address and avert the climate crisis. And it's about.
Christiana: [00:37:25] That's my question. Simon Sorry, but that's exactly my question, because we are, as you have well, very eloquently put, we are moving over to the implementation and yet we are handed or you have inherited a structure in a form that has developed and was conceived and was designed and has operated for a completely different purpose, which was the multilateral negotiations, which have to a large extent been successful, way too delayed. But they have, as you said, they have delivered the what and the how. And so now it's about more the who and how fast. And so for the Who, which now incorporates not just national governments but subnational governments, the private sector, the financial sector, the corporates, as you have mentioned, how how how does the structure that that you have inherited, does that need actually to begin to innovate in order to be able to be more responsive to the needs of this decade?
Simon Stiell: [00:38:35] It needs to evolve. So the process has been focused very much on delivering to this point. And if you look at the skill sets, the focus areas that are now required, whether it's within the Secretariat, within who are the custodians of the process, how much time we're focusing on the words, there are still elements. Those negotiations will always be there and will continue, but it is that shift to implementation As a secretariat, how do we now spend our time? And one of the obvious areas is in terms of accountability, holding entities to account in terms of what they're supposed to be doing, what they're doing, what they're not doing, and being able to track that catalyze action. And we have that panoramic view of what is taking place partnerships, collaborations that need to be initiated again, to move to to move things forward, to to catalyze that that action. And whether that is with companies, whether that is within the financial sector, whether that is within within countries, we're in that unique position to stimulate that. And that requires a different mindset and a different application of the knowledge that that we have and has said this unique position to be able to bring parties together and bring new entities into the conversation.
Christiana: [00:40:23] You know, some new entities that are going to be there this this time that who were not allowed to come to last COP are the oil and gas companies, very important entities in respect of how quickly do we decarbonize? I would love to know from you what do you expect from them this year? They they are reaping in unprecedented profits for no no particular reason of their own, but rather because they're being able to take advantage and profit from the absolute the inhuman, disastrous war on on Ukraine. Those incredibly brave people and those who are profiting from that situation are the oil and gas companies. So what expectation do you have of them? Probably a combination of short term because of the profits that they have reaped in this year, way beyond anything they possibly could have imagined or has have ever had, but also long term, the contribution of the oil and gas companies to the energy transition. How do you think about those companies?
Simon Stiell: [00:41:42] Well, in the short run, Secretary-General made a call just recently call for a windfall tax on the energy companies and the revenues generated there are to be applied to areas such as loss and damage. If that were to become a reality, would send a very strong message in terms of corporate responsibility, especially at this time. And I think it's about having honest conversations. There is a lot of concern about greenwashing and the need for integrity in the in the process integrity within within the sectors and the pledges that they make. And I think coming out of this COP and one of the frameworks that will carry over to subsequent COP's is that accountability framework, setting the criteria, setting the benchmarks to which companies must follow. And of course, they must be held to account.
Christiana: [00:43:02] Thanks for that for for that view. I know that they are probably nervous, I would say, about their participation at COP27. A, because this is their being let back in after they were not allowed last year. And I am sure that they know that there will be many eyes on them both for their accountability, as you say, in in greenhouse gas emissions, but also because of their very, very recent profits. So I dare say, Simon, I think it's a very good moment to approach them and and have, as you say, a very honest conversation to engage at least the more enlightened of them to to contribute as much as they can and should. And every year that responsibility is growing. But let me turn our attention here a little bit to a longer term consideration Simon. And that is the terms of the executive secretary are three years. You may be asked to stay for another three years as has occurred, but for the time being, there you are at the helm of this process for three years, for the next three years. So if my math, my Costa Rican math does not betray me, 2022 plus three is 2025. 2025 is a very critical year because climate scientists have told us it is by 2025 that we have to see the reversal of the current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions that is currently still rising by 2025. We have to have hit the peak and started the descent. How are we going to get there?
Simon Stiell: [00:44:58] Simple answer, but a not so simple answer. It's everybody doing what they're supposed to do. Yes. I mean, it is as simple as that. We know parties know what they're supposed to do. Companies know. Everyone knows it is about doing. And, what I would like to see over this period, it is to spotlight those who are doing well, who are examples whose best practices can be applied elsewhere, how to encourage those who can and are. But it's also important to spotlight those who aren't doing what they need to do and find mechanisms. And there are hard and soft tools, if you like, to encourage. But the the critical thing is, you know, you cannot wait for those who are behind to to catch up before we move forward together. You know, that period has well and truly ended. We do not have time for that. So those who can move faster must. Those who need to speed up must and those who aren't doing. As I said, we need to find ways to bring them along. But it requires everybody doing what they can now. Yeah.
Christiana: [00:46:33] All hands on deck because of because of the urgency. Simon, This I don't want to take more of your time because I certainly know the demands on your time. But I also know. Simon and this would be my last question to you before I let you go. I know that the seat that you are now sitting in is a seat of high stress, of high pressure coming from many different directions, all the directions. You can never make everyone happy, that's for sure. The question that I always had in the front of my mind is how do I navigate all of these? The needs plus the expectations and the capabilities. Where is the navigation through all of that, without losing myself, as you totally understand that we have to build up the resistance of the planet. I am sure that you also are aware of the fact that you, in your new role, you need to strengthen your own personal resilience as well, because we need you there for the next three years at least. So how are you going to be doing that? Where is your personal resilience going to be coming from?
Simon Stiell: [00:48:03] Starts from within. I know why I am doing this. I know what is what is expected of me, and I'm a pretty stubborn soul. So in terms of my own resilience, it's built basically on, you know, the story that's gotten me to where I am now. But I'd like to center, to be centered. I, in my very private moments, I meditate. I have a strong belief in the strength of that, those very quiet moments. I also come from a very strong family. I am very. A long way away from them right now. But I still feel them that they're still very, very close. What keeps me going is knowing that if we succeed and we succeed collectively, what an impact, what a real impact that will have on the lives of.
Christiana: [00:49:15] Millions of people. Yes.
Simon Stiell: [00:49:17] Yes. It's the entire planet. And, you know, it sounds like a lofty thought, but there are many of us.
Christiana: [00:49:25] But it's not because it's true.
Simon Stiell: [00:49:27] But I just have to I just have to turn to you, Christiana. And, you know, I get strength and inspiration from you, from Patricia. Those that have gone before me, those that are in these halls, you know, the 40,000 people are going to descend on Sharm el Sheikh, you know, all wanting the same thing, the expectations of those outside. That gives one strength.
Christiana: [00:49:52] Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.
Simon Stiell: [00:49:54] But let me ask you a question, Christiana. Tell me, what is so on the eve of COP27, what what advice would you have for me at this time?
Christiana: [00:50:09] Well, I learned many, many years ago from my daughters not to give advice because, however, not to give advice. But Simon, I honestly think that you have done such a beautiful job in how you have come to this, right on the heels of Patricia, who, as we know, did a super job under very, very difficult circumstances for six years. And you have come into this with with open ears, with an open heart, but with a very clear sense of direction and a very clear sense of purpose. And I just think if if for for me. Simon, sorry, but I never graduated from kindergarten. So I think in pictures and the picture that is coming up for me, as you ask me that question, is how how do you make it flow like a river? Because you will have many, many tributaries that will be coming from their own mountains with their own particular type of of water, with their own particular flowing down the many different riverbeds. But they will all flow into one river that you need to envision, that you have envisioned and you have created. And so how do you gather all of those tiny little river lids to form the much bigger river, which we need? It's not about building a highway, so identifying them and pulling them into your river because you know where you want that river to flow.
Christiana: [00:51:57] So I it's just the image that came up for me, and I really am thrilled with the approach that you've taken just in the first few months. I wish you and your team and please give my love to your entire team. I have high hopes, actually high hopes for you, for your leadership, for the process, despite the fact that we are so far behind. You know me. I'm a stubborn optimist. So now I have to ask you the last question that we always ask all our guests, Simon. We always ask them, since our podcast is called Outrage + Optimism, because we feel both are necessary. What are you outraged about? Most outraged about, and what are you most optimistic about? And you can choose to answer that either in the specific context of the COP or in the broader context of the process and where we are.
Simon Stiell: [00:53:01] I'm outraged at those who aren't doing enough who can, but I'm optimistic that we can get them to do what they need to do.
Christiana: [00:53:14] Well put. Nicely summarized. Simon, thank you so much. Wishing you absolutely all the best for your first COP. Tom will be representing us there. So do count on him for anything that he can support you with. And thanks so much. Thank you for taking this responsibility on with the openness and the depth that you have done, because you can be open but but not deep. But you're both open and deep about this. So thank you so much for that, Simon. All the best.
Simon Stiell: [00:53:50] Thank you very much.
Tom: [00:53:58] So I have to say, it was wonderful neither Paul or I were in that conversation, but we were both listening with rapt attention on the zoom as you were talking to Simon. What did you both leave that discussion with?
Paul: [00:54:08] I thought it was absolutely fascinating the way he said very, very clearly. The process needs to evolve. It kind of touches on conversations you were having earlier in the podcast and thinking about how the Secretariat spend their time and increasing a focus on accountability and his observation that one of the most extraordinary things about the UNFCCC is that it has a panoramic view over what's taking place. You know, with companies, with finance, it's in a unique position to bring parties together. This is what I really focused on, a unique position to be able to bring parties together and bring new entities into conversation. And I think that ability to sort of make new catalytic changes is kind of what you are, what you were wanting for reaching for earlier when you said that the system seems stuck where you are right now, Tom.
Christiana: [00:55:00] Whoops. Did we lose Tom?
Tom: [00:55:02] I think we did. No, I'm sorry. I'm still here. I'm trying to get a cab, so that's a lot at the same time. No, I. I continue with Paul, and I think that his personal commitment to this, his ability to take a balanced perspective, but also an ambitious perspective that both respects, of course, the role of parties to drive the agenda as they always have and as they always will in the UNFCCC process, but also to kind of show up as himself and to say you are all in charge of this process, but you are not allowed to fail within the confines of being in charge of this process. It's sort of what I got from that. And I think that that's right. You know, of course it's party led and of course governments are sovereign, but at the same time they have a responsibility to deliver an outcome. And I loved that he was willing to put his arms around that and be committed to making it happen.
Christiana: [00:55:52] So I have been thinking of a little descriptor for Simon, given what he brings to this, but also more importantly, what he brings to this at this moment in time and what is necessary. And so my little descriptor for what Simon, I think needs to do and knows he needs to do is, get ready for this.
Tom: [00:56:23] Yeah, we're ready.
Christiana: [00:56:25] Okay. A respectful rebel, I think. I think he does have to bring some rebellion into the process in order to deconstruct some things that have become calcified and they need to be reconstructed. But he has to do it in a respectful way of the process and the role of government in bringing those two things together is not easy. But that's the way that I'm going to think about him for a while and and see how he does with that. A respectful rebel.
Paul: [00:57:10] It's a very noble thing to do, to be a respectful rebel. I think you embodied that in your way, and with luck, he will embody the same concept in his way. I loved him saying, everybody needs to do their part. We need everybody doing what they can now. And maybe we need a respectful rebel to bring out that energy. Now, friends, the midterms are coming up right now. Literally, what's going to be the impact of those? Do we have a sense?
Tom: [00:57:40] Well, I mean, listeners can laugh at us if we're wrong, but I think we have to assume that by the time people are listening to this podcast, Republicans control at least one of either the House or the Senate, which of course means that for the remainder of the first term of President Biden's administration, he will not only control both houses of Congress, which means it's going to be much more difficult for him to get different bits of his agenda through. Of course, he's already passed key pieces. However, I think it is also going to have something of a chilling effect on the international sphere. We talked before in this podcast about how countries like the US show up and say we're doing what we can, but our democratic systems don't really allow us to go further. That is obviously going to constrain the space that they have to work in even more. And are they going to have the credibility on the world stage that they would want to have, given what everybody knows about how difficult their domestic policies are? So I think it's at least we've had two years to get key pieces of legislation through. But if that is the case, and that's the world listeners are in, by the time they hear this, it's going to be much more challenging domestically and internationally.
Christiana: [00:58:46] Yes, absolutely, Totally, totally agree with that. I don't think it's going to have an immediate impact on the COP because the Biden team is there, of course, and will continue. But it will have a chilling effect over over the next two years, certainly over what they can do domestically. They're going to have many new fronts open of attacks and and legal inquiries and investigations. And heaven only knows what the Republicans are planning. So they will have many, many new fronts open that they have to tend to. And and as Tom says, I think it'll also have a chilling effect internationally because they will stand there with a slightly softer, soft foot because of what they can deliver at home. So not an optimistic view of the midterms.
Tom: [00:59:45] No, it's very, very difficult.
Paul: [00:59:46] A little tiny bit of optimism from.
Christiana: [00:59:48] Go for it. Go for it, Paul.
Paul: [00:59:50] Tom. I watched a Tom Rivette-Carnac on the BBC Channel Four News yesterday and he said that even when Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, it was the only country was the US. And then later they came back in. It didn't follow. So that's a little bit of evidence that even if kind of climate denial or climate retarding politicians are in power in the US, it doesn't mean the world follows them necessarily. We can hold out some hope that, you know, actually a global consensus and extreme weather is as educated the world to a point whereby the US holding back doesn't really smash the applecart off the road, if that's a useful analogy, for sure, Yes, for sure. You agreeing with yourself, Tom?
Tom: [01:00:35] I know. I think I've seen a taxi. Hold on a minute. Are you free? Okay, no problem. Very difficult contact. Yeah. Yeah. So you're right, Paul, Of course. But we need that applecart. Not only be not upset, we needed to go in about 100 miles an hour, so anything that slows it down is going to be a bit of an issue. But, yeah, if we. You're right.
Paul: [01:00:55] If we could get a human on the moon in 1969, we can make an apple cart go at 100 miles an hour in 2022.
Tom: [01:01:04] All right. That's our objective. Okay. It's been a pleasure to talk to you. Tinged with sadness that you're not here, But I'm very glad that you are doing well in respective parts of the world. I'm here for another few days, so I will keep an eye on what's happening and hopefully the world will do what it needs to do and we'll move forward and we'll make the progress that is well within our grasp. But we just sometimes struggle to pull the trigger on. So lovely to talk to you both. Have a lovely evening. And exciting to be part of the TEDx universe. So that's a big change for us in Outrage + Optimism. And as ever in this podcast, we close by bringing you a piece of music that in some ways connected to the transformation we're trying to deliver in the world. This week, Clay will give an introduction and then we'll go to the artist. I hope you enjoy it and we'll see you listeners next week.
Paul: [01:01:50] See you next week.
Tom: [01:01:52] Bye bye, everybody. Lovely.
Christiana: [01:01:55] Bye.
Paul: [01:01:56] Well done on getting a cab.
Tom: [01:01:58] I think it's more good luck on getting a cab. Yeah. Okay. Bye.
Clay: [01:02:02] Hey, listeners, this week we have the incredible privilege of playing for you a song by the illustrious guitar goddess Anna Calvi. Here she is to introduce the song. I'm going to get out of the way. Be sure to listen through and join me right after for some more Outrage + Optimism news. Enjoy.
Anna Calvi : [01:02:25] Hi, I'm Anna Calvi. This is Don't Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy, which is about being free to express whatever part of your gender you want to and to feel free being somewhere in between and not being constrained by anyone's idea of what you should be. And what I'm outraged by is how little politicians seem to be doing when it comes to the climate crisis. And what I'm optimistic about is how amazing so many young people are at organizing and fighting for our planet, even though they shouldn't be the ones to be doing it.
Clay: [01:06:53] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage + Optimism. I'm Clay, producer of this this TED podcast. What! More on that in a second because first, Anna Calvi, pinch me. Is this real? Anna Calvi You've heard her before because she scored season five and season six of the absolute smash hit series Peaky Blinders, and she's been releasing great music for over a decade, including the track that you just heard. Don't Beat the Girl Out of My Boy off her record, Hunter. This is amazing. It's amazing to have her on. If you're looking for a second track to spin off that record, you can go check out Indies or Paradise. That's my Pick of the Week. And I was listening to Hunter in my car and I thought about it and I was like, This sounds like if Jimi Hendrix scored like a Spaghetti Western movie. One of her influences is Ennio Morricone. So don't waste another second missing out on it. Hunter, it's your it's your weekend. Listen. And oh, one other thing for Peaky Blinders fans, Anna released another EP this year with a collection of songs inspired by the show's lead character, Tommy Shelby. The name of that EP is Tommy EP. That's the name of it. Anna, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Big news this week. As you heard at the beginning of the show, we Outrage + Optimism are now part of the TED Audio collective. Yes, we are so excited because there are other great TED audio collective podcasts like WorkLife with Adam Grant. Christina sends his stuff around all the time.
Clay: [01:08:44] She loves him, TED talks daily and absolutely massive podcasts that helps you learn something new every day. Ted Climate. The TED Interview. Christiana has actually been on that podcast and of course I have a special place in my heart for the TED Radio Hour because it was actually one of the first podcasts I ever listened to. And for a big fans of the show, I started listening when Alison Stewart was the host, and then Guy Raz was the host for a while. And now I get to listen to the wonderful Manoush Zomorodi. So, I mean, we are in great company and we're just we're thrilled. So couldn't be more excited. All of those podcasts I mentioned and more are available wherever you're listening to this episode. But if you want to go check out more TEDx podcasts in the TED Audio Collective, you can go to TED.com/podcasts. Or if you're looking for podcasts on your podcast player, just look for the TED logo, that little red logo at TED. And while you're searching and I'm really curious and be honest with me, did you notice the new TED logo on our podcast artwork before you started listening to this, or are you just seeing it now? I want to know. Let me know. But it's not just the logo. Ted actually has this featured on their website now. So, Mom podcasting is a thing. TED.com/podcasts/outrage-optimism. Now don't memorize that. Long time listeners will know how I feel about bespoke you URLs. Just check the show notes. I've got it there.
Clay: [01:10:29] It's clickable. Oh man, this is special. We can't wait to share more as things begin to unfold. Thank you for listening. Stick with us. We're going to have a lot of fun. Last two things here for you. Exciting. We have a book club starting in December and it's kind of secret. Kind of not secret. We'll be having an invite only session with author John Alexander because we're reading his book, Citizens, If you want to read with us. And if you read the book and you have a question for John, here's a little invite for you. Just email your question that you have to email@example.com with question for John Alexander as the subject. We're going to go through all the questions that come in from you, the listeners, and then if your question is selected, you'll actually be invited to the online interview recording session to ask your question to John directly. So I don't have much more details on when that's happening. We just know it's happening in December. The link to his book is in the show notes. So grab his book, read it, send us an email with your question. More details on dates and times. Coming soon. It's happening in December, so stay tuned. Saving the best for last. Good friend of the pod and fellow podcaster Abigael Kima is posting frequent content keeping you up to date on the happenings at COP27. We just had her on our podcast. Not even a few weeks ago. And I kid you not. I just. I'm looking at my phone here.
Clay: [01:12:14] I got a picture on my phone from Zoe, our colleague who's at COP27, and it's a picture of Abigael on stage and behind her on the wall behind her, she's speaking on his panel and it says, Making farming sexy. I mean, what else do you need to know? You can subscribe and listen to her podcast. It's called Hali Hewa. Anywhere that you get your podcasts. And of course, I've got a link for you right in the podcast show notes. That's right there. It's clickable. Go listen to Hali Hewa. It's a great podcast. That's everything from me. It's late like 11:00 pm here, Detroit time. And I've been I don't know if all of you been doing this, maybe our listeners in the US, but I've been constantly refreshing these election results. Does anybody know why the New York Times stopped updating the election needle? You know the needle I'm talking about, right? They have a needle. There's well, there's actually several needles. Amy, I need them to update the needles. Shout out to my home state. I love you and I'll never leave you. Michigan, shout out to Big Gretch. If you like this podcast, please leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. We love hearing from you and we read every single review that comes in through the door. And our social media accounts are a fantastic way to stay up to date on everything optimistic in the climate world. That's @outrageoptimism on all platforms. Ok, hit subscribe so you don't miss another episode. We'll see you very soon. Bye.