175: COP27: A Little Less Conversation, A Lot More (Climate) Action
About this episode
Welcome to another episode of Outrage + Optimism!
In this episode, co-hosts Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac, and Paul Dickinson catch up on the whirlwind of political news from the last few weeks. They cover the defeat of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro by former president (and prisoner) Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, aka “Lula,” the upcoming COP27 in Egypt, the runup to the midterms in the U.S., and the ongoing political chaos in the U.K.
We also feature music from up-and-coming East London artist and producer Nikhil Beats.
THE BRAZILIAN ELECTIONS
The news of Lula’s presidential win is a victory for those who care deeply about the planet. Some of the planet’s most precious natural ecosystems are in Brazil, and deforestation in the Amazon skyrocketed during Bolsonaro’s four-year term. By contrast, deforestation rates declined significantly during Lula’s previous time in office from 2003 to 2010. And, importantly, climate change was a key part of Lula’s winning campaign, which he won by a narrow margin of less than 2% (50.9% to 49.1%).
Christiana warns that it won’t be easy to reverse Bolsanaro’s deforestation trends. Brazil is deeply divided, and Lula doesn’t have a Congressional majority. In fact, Bolsonaro’s party picked up a few legislative seats. And, she says, “Let's remember that the Amazon is so huge. It's ten times the size of France, and it’s incredibly difficult to monitor what is going on there.”
“[With Lula] we won't have policies and encouragement to continue deforestation. But causing damage is actually much easier than bringing around regeneration,” she explains.
Importantly, Lula doesn’t take office until Jan. 1, 2023. This means Bolsonaro’s delegation will be at COP27, the U.N.’s annual climate change conference scheduled for next month一perhaps a little less smug than if Bolsonaro had won, but in attendance, nonetheless.
Tom recounts how brutish (his word) Bolsonaro’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles was during COP25 in Madrid in 2019. “He was walking around yelling in other ministers' faces,” Tom recalls. “He was going, ‘It's like ‘Jerry Maguire,’ show me the f * * * ing money.’” It seems the newly-elected administration will be a welcome change.
Moving on, Paul expresses his delight in Lula's speech as president-elect, during which Lula speaks about fighting for zero deforestation. Paul explains, “Brazil is ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis. [And Brazil is] an enormous country possessing these vast lungs of the world, the Amazon. So it's our job to work with that administration and to support it every way we can and to make sure that his very bold and well-articulated vision is realized.”
A TOPLINE PREVIEW OF THE UPCOMING COP27 IN SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT
Next, the team discusses COP27. The theme of this year’s conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt will be implementation rather than high-stakes, multi-governmental negotiation. Christiana suggests, “it's time to implement and make sure that promises are kept and that we are actually bringing more and more stakeholders into the fold.”
Paul raises the question of the role of the private sector. He references a statistic from celebrated business academic Michael Porter: The U.S. business sector一with $20 trillion in income一is more than six times the U.S. government income of $3 trillion. He contends, “If you want to scale the solution to this problem, [the business sector has] got to be involved with it.”
“Business must support the government in introducing national decarbonization policy. Without this advocacy, greenwashing by corporates and others could go unchecked,” Paul adds.
THE U.S. MIDTERMS (AND OIL & GAS COMPANY PROFITS)
The trio moves on to the political situation in the U.S. First, the Republicans一with their climate denial stance一seem poised to win both legislative houses in the upcoming American midterm elections next week.
If Democrats and President Biden lose the House of Representatives or Senate, what does this mean for the nation’s climate agenda?
Our co-hosts agree it’ll be problematic. As Christiana points out, for Republicans, climate denial and inaction is “dogma” and “has nothing to do with economic reality.” Tom concurs but suggests that younger generations of Republicans may try and change that. He concedes, however, that “We're several election cycles away from that.”
Tom mentions a speech Biden gave recently accusing oil and gas companies一with their colossal profits一of nothing less than war profiteering. He says, “Over the last two quarters, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Total[Energies] earned $100 billion more than they earned in all of last year.” Considering the companies are using the funds for stock share buybacks一which only benefit existing shareholders一Tom’s assertion that their behavior is “outrageous” seems appropriate. It’ll be interesting if Biden continues this narrative at COP27, whether it sticks, and if the world is finally ready to support windfall taxes on fossil fuels.
WHAT ABOUT THE U.K.?
Tom attempts to transition to their final topic for the day: the U.K.’s ongoing leadership crisis. But after the group’s energetic discussion on oil and gas profits, no one has the energy to face this. They give it a collective shrug and agree to address it another time.
The episode closes with the amazing British-Asian fusion sound of Nikhil Beats and an exclusive performance of his song “Wisdom” ft. Eclipse.
See you next time!
NOTES AND RESOURCES
To learn more about our planet’s climate emergency and how you can transform outrage into optimistic action subscribe to the podcast here.
Find out more about Brazil 's Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Who is Michael Porter?
Learn more about COP27
Want to participate in the COP27 Civic Imagination Lab? REGISTER HERE
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Tom: [00:00:12] Hello and welcome to Outrage + Optimism. I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.
Christiana: [00:00:15] I'm Christiana Figueres.
Paul: [00:00:17] And I'm Paul Dickinson.
Tom: [00:00:18] This week, we have much to discuss. The election in Brazil of Lula defeating Bolsonaro, upcoming COP27 in Egypt, the US midterms and what the hell continues to go on in the UK. Plus, we have music from Nikhil Beats. Thanks for being here. So, you two, it's been a few weeks since we've seen each other. It's nice to see you. Sorry you can't see me because I'm on the road and I don't have any zoom on. Plus, I'm not feeling very well. I got food poisoning, so apologies to listeners if I'm slightly off color, but it's nice to see you both. Great episodes, by the way, last couple of weeks. And so before we jump into this amazing news from Brazil, how are you doing? Everything all right?
Paul: [00:01:07] I'm good, Tom. I'm good. It's lovely to not see you now because your cameras turned off. Lovely to know that I sort of would see you or did see you earlier. Or we'll see you again or something like that. And. Yeah, no, absolutely great episodes. Amazing. Christiana, to hear your conversation with Isabel and Abi and I found it incredibly moving and it caused me to actually want to apologize to you, Tom, because I realized I was being silly because a while ago we were going to record on a Sunday and I said, you said you couldn't. And I said, 'couldn't or wouldn't?' And I was trying to be a bit smug and clever about the fact that you weren't going to record on a Sunday. And I feel really bad about that now because I realized you were probably spending time with your kids, so you just needed some time off.
Tom: [00:01:53] Sweetie.
Paul: [00:01:53] No, but really, I'm just, you know, I kind of I think it was last week's episode really made me realize we have to look after each other and not kind of push each other inappropriately. And, so I just wanted to say sorry.
Tom: [00:02:03] That's very sweet of you. Well, it was definitely a wouldn't rather than a couldn't the other Sunday because I was enjoying some time with my family. And I'm very grateful to you both for carrying the can when I did so, but you're absolutely right. We've got to look after ourselves and each other. So thanks, Paul. Christiana, how are you doing?
Christiana: [00:02:18] I'm doing well. I am in San Jose. Yes, it's very difficult when you live in these beautiful ecosystems to pull yourself away and come to a city.
Tom: [00:02:33] You're not getting any sympathy from me for that. But yes, carry on.
Christiana: [00:02:36] Anyway, here we are. But guys, we have so much to discuss. This is going to be just, so that listeners know, this is going to be a conversation among the three of us, mostly about things that are happening in the political world. We will not be interviewing anyone, but we have an amazing conversation coming up for next week. So can we spill the beans already? Maybe not. Maybe we won't spill the beans.
Paul: [00:03:06] Spill the beans. Spill the beans.
Christiana: [00:03:08] Spill the beans. Okay. So we will be interviewing Simon Stiell, who is the newly minted executive secretary of the climate convention as he gets ready for the start of COP27. So it will be very exciting to have his view.
Tom: [00:03:30] We like him. Right back to today. So let's kick off with what's been going on in Brazil. This was a major victory for anyone who cares about the future of the planet, the future of our natural ecosystems. As everybody knows, Bolsonaro has been in power with his administration for the last four years. The deforestation rates have just gone through the roof. And on Sunday was the second round of the elections in Brazil. He was running off against his previous against previous President Lula, under whose leadership previously deforestation reduced significantly. That was one of the key issues of the campaign. And he won. Lula won and defeated Bolsonaro by just a couple of million votes in a massive contra at less than 1%, but still an enormous outcome and hugely positive for the future of the Amazon. Christiana, you know that region so well. How are you feeling about Brazil?
Christiana: [00:04:25] Well, we were all biting our teeth, to be honest. I was following the vote count and Lula's lead did not come in until until the vote count was sizable. So it was a very, very contested race. And actually, Tom, the end result is that Lula won by just under 2%.
Tom: [00:04:50] Oh, good.
Christiana: [00:04:51] But still 50.9 to 49.1. But yes, that's very good news. Very good news for those all of us who care about the Amazon and about climate change and however very, very divided country, a deeply divided country, Lula does not have majority in Congress. In fact, Bolsonaro even picked up more in the legislative. It's a very, very fragmented legislative body. It's a very fragmented country. There is a rise of the extreme right with with religious groups. It's going to be very difficult, honestly, very, very difficult for Lula to to, I would say. Reverse the trends that Bolsonaro has started, because let's remember that the Amazon is so, so huge. It's ten times the size of France and it is incredibly difficult to monitor what is going on there. So it's not that an election will magically reverse deforestation and go into reforestation around the Amazon. It's just not going to be like that. It's going to be a struggle. It really is going to be a struggle. I would say we can rejoice that at least we won't have from the top. We won't have policies and encouragement to continue the deforestation. But as we know, causing damage is actually much easier than bringing around regeneration. So thank heavens that Lula is their third time president. But but a very, very difficult situation that he's facing. And I remind everyone he doesn't start until the 1st of January of next year. So it really is questionable whether that election will have any effect on the COP or not. The Brazilian delegation will be there, perhaps not quite as smug as if Bolsonaro had won, but we still won't have Lula's team at the Cup.
Tom: [00:07:16] Yeah, and Paul, it'd be great to have you come in on this. Just one quick comment about smug delegations. I remember and this is just a comment about because I agree with your temperance around the immediacy of which which will have an impact. But just to give listeners an insight into the type of people that this administration were, I remember a few years ago in Madrid at the Chilean COP that ended up getting moved to Madrid, and I was in the ministerial zone in the early days, and Ricardo Salis, the environment minister, was walking around yelling in other ministers faces, and he was going, It's like Jerry Maguire, show me the f ing money. I mean, he was just a brute the way he was behaving in that negotiation. So at least that's not the case anymore.
Christiana: [00:07:54] Minister from Brazil, you mean you didn't mention what country the minister was?
Tom: [00:07:59] I'm so sorry. So Ricardo Salas, the Environment Minister of Brazil.
Paul: [00:08:04] Show me the money. Show me the money. What? You know what childish, idiotic things for someone to say when the world is facing such a sort of spectacular and terrifying crisis. I was just delighted to read Lula's speech as president elect saying, Let's fight for zero deforestation. Brazil is ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis. Now, the key point is that, you know, you're talking about the president, an enormous country in possession of this vast lungs of the world, the Amazon. So it's our job to work with that administration and to support it every way we can and to make sure that his very bold and well articulated vision is realized.
Tom: [00:08:43] Yeah. Now, as you say, Christiana, one thing that it may not do directly is affect the COP negotiations itself, but it will, of course affect the tone. And I'm already in the Middle East. I'll be at COP27 next week in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. And it's going to be a kind of let's let's turn to that now, if we can. I mean, it's it's going to be a really interesting COP, I think. So. I've heard some analysis and I've done a bit of reading while I've been on holiday the last week. And I think there really is consensus that the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, ratified the following year, rulebook finalised in Glasgow last year. There is very little substantive negotiating that needs to be done this year at the COP. This needs to be dealing with issues of adaptation and justice, but also it needs to be moving forward heavily into the implementation agenda. How do we actually work together to do millions of relatively small things that actually will end up delivering an outcome of a decarbonised world? It's not going to be about the high drama of last minute negotiations in the way we've become used to thinking about COP's. So, Christiana, would you agree with that? And how are you seeing this year's COP?
Christiana: [00:09:55] I totally agree with that. And ironically, that represents a problem for the system and that is ironic. But the way that that process is set up and has been run and and all the rules of procedure are actually for a multilateral negotiation, that is the structure that it has. And there's huge momentum behind that process. And so the reality is, as you say, that we have gratefully come to almost the end of what has to be negotiated internationally and that it's time to implement and make sure that promises are kept and that we are actually bringing more and more stakeholders, i.e., private sector regulators, into the fold in the implementation of this. Now, as you will remember, Tom and Paul, we started that process of bringing other stakeholders in way back when in 2011, if my memory does not betray me, when we started with a tiny little thing called Momentum for Change and we had a little prize and that was our tiptoeing into bringing other stakeholders in, fortunately that momentum has actually grown exponentially, and now I would say there is actually much more activity, buzz happening in the zone. That is not the government zone and that is as it should be. I think the challenge for this COP and coming COP's is how do they bring those two zones that are geographically literally delineated because there is security between them.
Christiana: [00:11:56] And you can either go in or you can't go in. And and that very that wall there, that boundary that is really a physical boundary does not help because it represents a mental boundary as well. And so how does the structure open up and include or open up its arms to wrap itself around where the change is really happening, which is not in national countries negotiating with each other, but rather what is happening at the domestic level. What are regulators doing? What is the private sector doing? And, how is that changing the trajectory of emissions? So I think it's a but you will understand that there is a lot of resistance from those who have been negotiating in a particular way for, I don't know, decades and and that now want to keep that going business as usual as opposed to changing things so it's not. And we'll talk to Simon Stiell next week. And this is one of the questions that I would love to hear his views on. It's not an easy process, but it is a process that has to be done because we have to be able to set the focus and the attention to where things are actually happening and not continue to drown so much attention into where there is no more possibility for advance.
Paul: [00:13:34] Well, can I just ask about that possibility for advance in the in this inter-governmental negotiation? I agree with you, I suppose, although I don't really understand the UN process like you do, obviously. But I think that governments may be cooperating regionally on things like carbon taxes or regulation or whatever, but I suppose it's not really that's not really necessarily what happens at the COP. But but I mean, to agree with you, I'm very struck by comments I saw recently from the famous business professor, Michael Porter, and he was explaining what you just said, but in a slightly different way. And he said that if you want to scale the solutions to the world's problems, it is really about the other side of that business. And he referenced one particular statistic, which I think is interesting. He refers to the US economy and he says the government income in the US is 1 trillion and the NGO income sorry, the government income is 3 trillion, the NGO income is 1 trillion, but the business income is 20 trillion. So the business sector is five times the size of the government and the NGOs combined. So clearly, if you want to scale the solution to a problem, they've got to be involved with it. But for example, a lot of people know about these amazing science based targets which have been adopted by thousands of giant businesses, but science based targets without the accompanying necessary science based policy advocacy would logically be greenwash. So it is a time now for business to support governments to introduce national decarbonisation policy and perhaps to collaborate. But I guess you're saying that the COP isn't the place where nations would would would sort of negotiate things like carbon taxes, right?
Tom: [00:15:16] I mean, I think that sort of stuff has to happen, right? But bilateral and multilateral negotiation in 198 countries isn't really where you need to do that. So, I mean, the COP, the role of the COP, I think, is what Christiana is pointing to. It needs to evolve. I think also one one other thing in there that is I think actually quite a real issue is I've been involved in quite a few briefings for journalists ahead of this COP. And actually they're all really confused about what they're supposed to report. And it's really interesting because you get all the journalists on the phone sort of saying, well, what are we going to report to the COP? They're all going to be 100 heads of state and people want to come out with front pages of what did Biden achieve when he was there. And when I give a sort of message about implementation or I hear someone like Nigel Topping who's often on these calls talking about the progress of hydrogen and what's happening with steel, their eyes will glaze over and then you get a sort of like, you know, really negative message from a scientist who says we're all completely screwed and everything's going wrong. And then, of course, what happens is that's when their ears prick up because they see that it's newsworthy and that it can be picked up and it can be taken somewhere. So I worry that the complexity that is happening in the COP's is making them even more difficult to understand and even more difficult to report on. And that will make it quite hard for the world to get its arms around this new version of COP.
Christiana: [00:16:33] Well, and the reason why that is so is because the press is also has also been trained over years to report on the political outcomes of COP's. And and that's what they're looking for. They're looking for, you know, did 196 countries agreed to ABCD? And, and that's just not what they're there for. Yeah. Neither are the governments, therefore nor should the press be there for their actually, so to speak, barking up the wrong tree. But there have been trained to bark up that tree for so many years, but now the tree has moved and or is moving. I would say, the tree is moving. So it is it's quite a process of refocusing everyone, restructuring, reframing. Okay. When we all come together, what is the purpose of this? It's not an easy evolution process at all.
Tom: [00:17:33] Yeah, but we'll get more into this next week and sort of talk about the cop and talk to Simon. But one of the really consequential things that's going to happen in the midst of the COP is the midterms. Paul, you want to make another quick comment on the COP and then we'll go to the midterm.
Paul: [00:17:46] It's a sort of reflection. I think it's really fascinating to hear your analysis, Christiana. And I think in a way, everyone was spoiled by the Paris Agreement because all the world's governments came together and there was this extraordinary moment that gave the world, you know, great sense of lift and possibility and optimism and unity. Unity, very important. If the COP's aren't really about that, they are still a global focus of attention on climate change. So we might want to think with our listeners about how they can be re-imagined to serve this new function.
Christiana: [00:18:19] Yeah.
Paul: [00:18:19] Sorry, Tom, You were going to say good idea.
Tom: [00:18:21] No, no, no. Totally right. And something we should ask Simon about as well. But interestingly, and this has been the case before, most famously, of course, in Morocco, when President Trump was actually elected in the middle of the COP. This will perhaps be a bit less dramatic than that, but it's going to be dramatic nonetheless. President Biden will be in Egypt on the 7th of November. On the eighth is the US midterms. And these are obviously highly consequential for the Democratic agenda. The recent analysis from 538, who is the one that I follow most, suggest that there is a more than 50% chance that Republicans are going to win both chambers and only a less than 16% chance that Democrats will win both chambers. So we're going to be looking at quite a different legislative picture in the US, which will have big impacts given how divided that country is. So I suppose we have to assume that we are going to be day two of the COP and Biden is going to lose control of Congress. And one of the impacts of that is that developing countries will know that that is undermining his ability to provide climate finance to support them in the midst of this. So what happens then if he loses the House or the Senate or both, does that is that recoverable in terms of tone and outcome for the COP?
Christiana: [00:19:48] For the COP? Yes, sort of. I mean, it does affect the tone. Obviously. It will be the Biden administration's team that will be there. So I think the the impact will be muted. What is I think going to be highly impacted is how far under those conditions, how far can the Biden administration continue to push forward on the legislation that they have passed at national level? What can they continue to do in the different states? How far can the energy transition to just put a generic term on it that Biden has been pushing forward so courageously and to such good benefit of US citizens? How far can they continue to push that over the next two years? That to me is is the real consequence of the midterms.
Paul: [00:20:52] I mean, I can't I can't speak to the the nature of US politics, other than I am terrified that there's some awful feedback loop whereby climate refugees at the border caused the public to elect right wing governments that support more fossil fuels that cause more climate change refugees at the border. There's this kind of nightmare feedback loop going on at the moment. But look, you know, underneath all of the politics, you know, an absolutely brilliant thing has happened. And I'm not changing the subject, Tom, because we have to go back to the realities of the US political situation. But, you know, dawn is broken on Earth. Reuters reported that investments in wind and solar projects are expected to outpace oil and gas drilling for the first time in 2022. And DMV, which is another shrewd consultancy, have said the same things. So, you know, whilst all this kind of negative stuff is going on, we may have actually quite literally turned the corner or got over the top of the mountain. So can we hope that the the midterms don't result in just a whole I mean, is the Republican I suppose here's what I'm really saying. Is the Republican Party going to stay wedded to kind of climate denial, inaction and and sort of throwing sand in the cogs? Or is there a chance. Load More
Christiana: [00:22:02] Yes. Yes, they will remain wedded to that. Yes, they will, because for them, this is dogma. This has nothing to do with economic reality. Right. The fact that we have more investments into into wind and solar has nothing to do with dogma. It has to do with the fact that renewables are cheaper than than the incumbent fuels. And that is especially in Europe, but in other countries of Asia as well. People have realized that they do not want to be victims to the weaponization and the blackmailing of of oil and gas on the part of regimes that are completely unpredictable, such as the Russian regime. So, you know, for both political but also economic reasons or economic reasons that we're already there, plus the new political reasons, then we have more and more investment into wind and solar, but despite those two very powerful realities. The dogma continues and and and Republicans will, you know, will will still bite into that apple and not let go.
Tom: [00:23:17] Yeah, I think there's I mean, there is a pathway. I think if you if you look below the surface where there is a certain element of certainly young Republicans and others who are looking for trajectories to change that. But I think we're several election cycles away from that, at least a few. But I don't think it's any closer than that. I mean, one thing we should point out is, I mean, Biden will obviously come and give a big speech in Egypt. He just gave this really quite interesting speech last week in Washington where he accused oil and gas companies of war profiteering through these massive profits that they're making at the moment. I mean, the numbers here are just huge over just the last two quarters ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips and Total earned 100 billion more than they earned in all of last year. Exxonmobil itself earned 20 billion in a quarter. So what he's doing here is he's trying to equate in voters minds the fact that it's these oil companies that have been profiteering. And we talked before on this podcast about how Republicans are putting stickers of Biden at the pump across the US saying, I did that. He's trying to shift that narrative. Be quite interesting to see if that's part of his message at COP. If he comes trying to build international consensus around windfall taxes on fossil fuels, that I don't think there's really been a global attempt to deal with yet because it is outrageous at this moment. And what they're doing with those profits is they're buying back their own shares from their shareholders, basically distributing it back to their owners, which is just such an outrageous thing to be happening. While in the UK we're facing a situation that millions of people are going to be choosing between fuel and food. And that's the case all around the world as a result of these price spikes. Do we think that this is the moment in which there might be some momentum behind this windfall tax that has been mooted but hasn't really gained momentum yet?
Paul: [00:25:12] I mean, hysterically? Well, Christiana.
Christiana: [00:25:15] No, go ahead.
Paul: [00:25:16] As I say, this hysterical exchange between the chief executive of ExxonMobil, actually, yes, as you said, and this profit, quarterly profit, just a quarter of a year. 19.7 billion. By the way, that's more than the GDP, the annual GDP of Rwanda and Madagascar, who combined have 40 million people. And ExxonMobil has made more money than 40 million GDP in three months. But so so the chief executive of Exxon said there's been discussion in the US about our industry returning some of our profits directly to the American people. And that's exactly what we're doing in the form of our quarterly dividend. And President Joe Biden, bless him, actually tweeted, I can't believe I have to say this, but giving profits to shareholders is not the same as bringing down prices for American families. Thank you, Mr. President.
Christiana: [00:26:07] Thank you. Biden. Yeah. For pointing out the obvious, like, duh. It's just appalling. It's appalling.
Tom: [00:26:16] And I have to say so I'm an oil and gas conference right now in the Middle East. I came to Egypt early for a few early meetings and was asked to come and speak at this conference. And I've not often said yes to this sort of thing for obvious reasons, but I did this time in the hope that I could have a bit of an impact. But one thing that I've witnessed here that, Christiana, you've seen much more than me is how oil and gas executives speak when they think there's only other oil and gas executives in the room. And I've been quite shocked, actually, at the degree of self satisfaction and scoffing at these ideas and sort of slightly patrician talking down to the idea that anyone can control them or that activists might have a point. I found it quite abhorrent. Surprise you or not?
Christiana: [00:27:04] No, it doesn't surprise me. But what I think is I mean, that's just predictable, right? That's again, what they've been doing for years and years and years. And and they feel even more self justified now. But I also think that there is an undercurrent there in oil and gas that they are at least the more enlightened, which I would say are the Europeans. They, I think, understand that this may be their last hurrah and that this this is not going to stay like this forever. They understand that this is an incredible opportunity that has fallen from the sky, a pinata moment for them in which they have now these unbelievable profits, not that they worked for it, but they're just reaping the benefit from the absolutely horrible, terrible, inhuman war in Ukraine that gets more inhuman, by the way, every day and that they're reaping the profits from it. So, you know, we let's just contrast here the pain, the horror, the killings in Ukraine on the one side and these unbelievable profits of these companies on the other side that, you know, the fact that they don't put those two things together is really quite abhorrent. But as I was starting to say, they are beginning to realize that this could be their last big, huge profit. And why is that? I have been looking at the many different climate and emission reports that come out always this time of the year. Some press have been asking me when they call me, why, why, why do we get all these reports? Because it's the season for reports. We always get all these reports just a few days before the COP, so that is not unusual. So we've seen the world energy outlook put out by the IEA. We've seen the emissions gap report put out by UNEP, the environment program.
Christiana: [00:29:15] We've seen the Lancet countdown report, we've seen the report on emissions put out by the climate Secretariat himself. All of these reports come out on a yearly basis just before the COP. So so let's not get all upset about, oh my God, are these reports coming out now? Because we are we're facing catastrophe. This is absolutely the usual rhythm of these reports. The second thing is that all these reports do one thing, so let's understand what they're doing. All these reports assess the progress of the constant improvement. No notion, that is at the basis of the Paris Agreement, which means the Paris Agreement said we're not going to decarbonize and get to net zero by tomorrow. It's going to have to be a process. And that's why there's a long term goal by 2050. After that, then we have now deadlines that are sooner than that 2025, 2030. All of that is good. But the fact that we do have those checkpoints along along a timeline emphasizes the fact that this is a constant improvement process called in the Paris Agreement, the ratchet mechanism, but it's basically the concept of constant improvement. We have to continue decarbonizing. And interestingly enough, although the media did not really represent this, every single one of those reports say that there is progress this year against last year's assessments and against the ones before that. So the fact is we are moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, we're crawling in the right direction, but we've been crawling in that direction for several years. So there's no news in in in the fact that, yes, we are doing better than last year, although that's not the way most of the media represented.
Tom: [00:31:24] Yeah.
Christiana: [00:31:25] But what is important to remember is that all these reports say, yes, we're crawling in the right direction, but the speed and scale of progress is not enough for this decade. That we have always, always known. We have known that for quite a few years and there's no novelty there, although it is the basis of our concern. Now, what is completely new in this year's reports that was not covered by most of these, except by the IEA report, is that we have had a shift over to why are we crawling in the right direction? And that is we have actually always been thinking that the only way to decarbonize is to curtail supply and the oil and gas profits prove that we're not curtailing supply, that they're actually doing quite well. But what is interesting and the reason why oil and gas companies are beginning to understand that this is their last hurrah is because we are now in the presence of very, very strong demand destruction. So we're moving over from curtailing supply to demand. The fact is that because renewables are competitive in almost every geography and will soon be in every geography, they there is an economic reason to move over to renewables, but that is now strengthened because of the political reasons that I mentioned before of these countries not wanting to be victims of completely erratic states that are the oil and gas suppliers. So certainly in Europe, but also including in Asia. And that is the surprise. There is now demand destruction. So all of this goes to say sorry that that took so long. But all of this goes to say the oil and gas companies are enjoying their pinata moment. They're almost like at a three year old's birthday party, you know, whacking the pinata and scrambling on the floor to pick up, which is fun. But once that pinata is done, it is done.
Paul: [00:33:42] I mean, Christiana, if I can just say that you're so right to spot this extraordinary trend and we're going to have an opportunity in a few weeks time to talk to a friend of mine, John Alexander, who's written a book called Citizens. But I remember John towering over me, great big chap, and telling me that if I called people, consumers, he was going to knock my head off. Really? Because the thing is, consumers won't stop consuming because you framed someone as a consumer. And so economists like to say, well, consumers consume well, it's in the name, isn't it? Citizens don't necessarily consume Citizens think about themselves. They think about their children. They think about society. They think about their responsibilities. They feel part of nature. They see extreme weather and they say to themselves, I'm not going to put on the heating or I'm not going to buy a big car or I'm not going to put on the aircon, I'm going to adjust myself to a low carbon lifestyle. And that is happening all over the world at the most tremendous scale. And it's incredibly exciting and it's unstoppable and people haven't really got a way to model it economically. But I can I think it goes along with great excitement in industry about all the opportunities to provide the substitutes that low carbon products and services to get us to net zero quickly and efficiently.
Tom: [00:34:55] Yeah. And Christiana, I think you connected a lot of different things there in terms of the the way the oil and gas industry is profiteering at the sunset of its life. It's in a minute with a new sense of exhaustion and dread. I think we should just briefly turn to the UK with it's sort of like continual crises that are going on. But I just want to put something to you because what you both what you said, Christiana reminded me of a completely brilliant article that David Wallace-Wells put out last weekend, which is sort of moving beyond catastrophe, the new climate politics. And you sketched out some elements that were included in that in what you just said, and that is we have really left this very late now. In the seven years since Paris, we know we have to halve emissions in this decade. The current trajectory from all the reports you just talked about, suggest that emissions are actually going to be 10% higher in 2030 than they were in 2013, then they were in 2020. We're getting to the point where some of the best case scenarios that we hope for in Paris are now basically becoming closed off to us. The sub two degrees, limiting warming to under two degrees is beginning to slip away.
Tom: [00:36:04] At the same time, the underlying economic trends that you talked about, the demand destruction, the you know, solar power has dropped 90% in the last nine years. Wind has dropped 55% in the last ten years. The cost changes have been so dramatic that some of the business as usual scenarios have also proved to be impractical. So actually the RCP 8.5, such as it was called, where the world just turns back to coal, is now off the table. So the sort of five six degree scenarios of warming this century are also now looking like they're not going to happen. So our climate future is kind of coming into view. It probably won't be that we can limit warming to under two degrees this century, but it probably won't be. That warming will go beyond about 3.2 or 3.3. And so that sketches out a vision in the middle there of a sort of damaged and changed and but fundamentally livable world in that window. This is what was set out in this David Wallace-Wells article. And I just wondered what you thought of that as a message, given the reality of the economics and also time passing.
Christiana: [00:37:16] Did you say three degrees?
Tom: [00:37:18] Yeah.
Christiana: [00:37:20] Forget it, forget it. No way, No way can we accept three degrees. I mean, the human misery, the millions of people who will lose their homes, their islands, their everything, their life. No way. There is absolutely no way. And just in case you haven't noticed, I'm really passionate about this because the moment that our thinking begins to accept that we're going to three degrees, we have completely lost humanity. We have lost it. We have completely lost what makes us human, which is solidarity. I am not going to accept that we are going to three degrees. I am sorry now. Yes, we're all biting our fingernails because we can see that the descent curve of emissions is still not steep enough. So of course we're biting our fingernails. But the question that remains is whether the demand destruction that we're beginning to see now will be radical enough to move us from the emissions path that is following a still linear curve to an emissions path that is actually going to be exponential because that's what we need and that is what will take us under two degrees. I am sorry, anything less is completely unacceptable.
Tom: [00:38:37] I had a feeling you might have strong views about that issue.
Paul: [00:38:43] No, I mean, I'm I'm working on a technology at the moment to to convert Christiana vehement on these issues into energy because, you know, fusion we've often talked about but it's some kind of a weird cable could possibly power the northern hemisphere. But I also I agree with you and I'm moved by your passion and your clarity of thought, Christiana and thank you for that. You talked about, you know, the Republicans or whatever are not going to lose their dogma. And I looked at dogma, a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. That authority, oddly enough, is the financial interests of fossil fuel companies, many of them private, private and owners of coal and and oil and gas. You know, the famous Koch brothers and a whole bunch of others. I think that they may come to more quickly understand that this is the national security of their country. This is global security. And it's fundamentally irresponsible, you know, at a crazy level to carry on trying to persuade the Democratic Party to kind of produce and disseminate fossil fuels without limitation. I think that could change quickly. I hope so, because that could get us down below this three degrees to two degrees, which is the only thing we can do with with clean consciences.
Christiana: [00:40:06] I have no idea where this three degrees camp came from.
Paul: [00:40:09] Or I was talking with Tom said, I didn't say it. He said three degrees and he said livable. But I'm not trying to power pressure on you or put you in the doghouse. But I just want you.
Tom: [00:40:18] To provide some clarity for Christiana. I really recommend it. I mean, well, basically what what David is saying and he's brilliant, right? Is that as time goes on, the top end and the bottom end get limited. And the band I mean, when we came out of Paris, it was like 1.5 to 6 all seemed somewhat feasible this century. And what he's saying is that the best scenarios and the worst scenarios are sort of, you know, beginning to be off the table. And we still it's not that we therefore accept three degrees, but we still have decision making power, but it's within a narrower band than it was as time goes on. I mean, as we know, winning slowly is the same as losing in climate change. And we're not winning enough yet to actually be winning. We're just trying to get over the hill. So I think the fundamental thinking that the band that we will aim for, you know, the worst case scenarios would be mitigated by economic changes and demand destruction. The best case scenarios will be taken off the table by the simple passage of time. So, you know, the intellectual underpinning of that is a reality. Not that we should accept three degrees, but that we need to keep fighting, to keep it at the bottom end. But it should be a warning that we can't delay forever. I mean, we know that anyway, right? But we need to cut. We need to peak and start reducing emissions now anyway. Anyway, Christiana is being very serious. Does anyone have the strength to think about the UK or should we just give it a collective shrug and move on and address it another time?
Paul: [00:41:40] Christiana, I think seems unmoved by the UK and its foibles and I can imagine why because it's a little country that isn't necessarily that important in the great scheme of things.
Christiana: [00:41:50] Yes. I am unmoved in the context of the conversation that we just had prior to that. I'm just exactly sitting with that and have actually very little breath right now.
Paul: [00:42:08] We should honor that. We can end this podcast in a different way and in a different spirit.
Tom: [00:42:16] Well, there's a lot on the table, and as ever, the next few weeks are going to be critical. We're going to be all together in COP27, taking our responsibility seriously. Neither of you will be there, I don't think, this year, sadly. So look forward to staying in touch and everybody there will be doing their best to keep moving us forward on the right track. We will be back. I'll be talking to you from there next week, obviously, as ever. Thank you for dialing in. We're going to leave you with a piece of music, as I said, at the top end of this week. That is from Nikhil Beats. So we'll leave you with that and we'll see you next week.
Christiana: [00:42:53] Goodbye.
Tom: [00:42:54] Bye bye.
Christiana: [00:42:57] Listeners, I am so sorry to come back in here at the end of everything, but I would like to apologize because last week when I had a chat with Abigael, I wrongly, wrongly put her in the wrong seminar in Dharamsala. She wasn't down in Dharamsala, but she was not at the seminar of Mind in Life. She was at a seminar that is organised by the Better We, Better World Initiative one where I have been in the past and was truly inspired by the teachings of of the various Rinpoche that we met there. So I do apologise to the organisers of Better We and Better World Initiative, and I also apologise to Abigael that I put her in the wrong seminar in Dharamsala having made that correction. Please enjoy this week's music.
Nikhil Beats: [00:44:01] Hey, my name is Nikhil Beats. And today I'm joined by my good friend and extremely talented rapper Eclipse to play a song for you off my most recent EP. The song is called Wisdom. I've chosen this trope because of the relevance of the lyrics indicating that we all have supreme power and knowledge within us, enabling everyone to be able to unite when we unlock that wisdom and hopefully together we can overcome many battles. Thank you.
Clay: [00:47:31] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage + Optimism. This is Clay. I'm the producer of the podcast. This is the end of the show. It's just a quick wrap up. I'll tell you a little bit about the music. I'll send you on your way with some goodies out the door. Thanks for joining us. The track you just heard was Wisdom featuring Eclipse by Nikhil Beats. So this track is very fresh. It's on an EP that's titled Earthly Desires Lead to Enlightenment, and that EP is only three weeks old. It's such a privilege to be featuring new music. Like I said last week as well, the recording that you just heard is also a podcast exclusive. It's new. It's a podcast exclusive. So thank you to Nikhil Beats and Eclipse for blessing us with Wisdom. I have one thing to point you to, which is very timely. Nikhil§ Beats is playing a show in London at the Victoria on Wednesday, November 16th. Now that's less than two weeks away from you listening to this right now. So his last headline show in London totally sold out. So tickets are available in the show notes. Go check that out. If you go, send us a picture @OutrageOptimism that you went to the show. That would be great. Again, the show less than two weeks away, Wednesday, November 16th.
Clay: [00:48:58] Very short credits and wrap up this week because I actually had this whole thing planned I was going to talk about. But when this podcast ended in the spirit that it did, I tossed those plans for this week's credits and these two new things I'll leave you with felt entirely right. So. So I'm sure all of you like us are prepping slash bracing for COP27. And we've got our charts. You know, we've got our graphs, we've got our data, we've got our agenda, we've got our schedule, we've got our attachments. We've done the work. But if I could just take a moment to remind everyone, you know, as we approach these negotiations, strategy, communicating, long days, progress and setbacks, as Christiana has laid out, our optimism does not arise as the result of an achievement, but is the input with which we have to approach any challenging task. So what can we do to nurture our stubborn optimism? You know, a capacity for generosity, deep listening, compassion, loving speech, showing up for others, shifting our mindset and of course, doing the right thing. How do we nurture that? Two resources for you this week. Number one, our dear friend Sister True Dedications Ted Talk. She asks three questions and invites you for a walk together.
Clay: [00:50:24] Three questions, all only four words or less. I can't recommend it enough. Let her questions be an aid in helping slow you down to be fully present and embody who you are, where you're going, what you want. It's fantastic. Okay then number two. But still from Sister True Dedication. Now, she was recently on the 10% Happier podcast with Dan Harris. She gives six Buddhist strategies for getting along better with everyone. Pretty self-explanatory why this would be a good listen before COP27 or even I guess before upcoming holidays with family, but just a refocusing on taking refuge in our breathing, bringing mindfulness to how we show up in the world for our friends, those we represent, even our enemies. You know, what can we actively do to discover that we already have everything we need to be fully present to each other's suffering? And how do we dissolve those boundaries that hinder us from finding the breakthroughs that are necessary to deliver the outcomes that we so desperately need but, you know, can't often control? Yeah, so it's all about the input, as Christina says, and Tom does too. So links to both of those in the show notes. Ok, you have everything you need. Go be well. We'll see you next week.