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204: LIVE Q+A on Lifelines VS Deadlines

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About this episode

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

This week we are excited to share our Live Lifelines vs Deadlines Q&A session packed with brilliant questions from some of our listeners! 

Alongside our regular hosts, we welcomed back the fabulous Fiona Macklin and Dylan Tanner co-hosts of the original mini-series with Paul Dickinson, and were thrilled to once again offer O+O listeners the chance to peek behind the curtain on our live recording. 

Listen to the episode to find out how our hosts feel about what place the oil and gas companies should have at COP28, and should they be there at all? And is it time for the climate movement to unite around one single issue, and what should that be?

We close this week's episode by sharing an inspiring video which shows the moment 200 South African firefighters landed in Canada to help fight the wildfires.

Please don’t forget to let us know what you think here, and / or by contacting us on our social media channels or via the website.


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Fiona Macklin, Senior Adviser, Groundswell at Global Optimism

Dylan Tanner, Executive Director at InfluenceMap
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Full Transcript

Clay: [00:00:00] Hey everyone, Clay here. Today's episode is a live online recording from this week, where we invited listeners from every corner of the globe to come join us to ask questions straight to our hosts right on the podcast about Paul's miniseries Lifelines Versus Deadlines. And we'll get to that in just a second. We had guests jump on camera from their homes and offices, which you'll hear. But some things you won't hear, are that we polled the audience live about what we were discussing. There was a conversation in the chat section going the entire time in the background. Listeners were discussing amongst themselves, making connections and helping one another. It was fantastic to get together and for us to receive live feedback from everyone. But it's not over. The conversation is continuing on LinkedIn and you can still have your say. There's a link in the show notes to the post where we are still gathering feedback and engaging with all of you, and we want you to know that we will be doing more events like this and we want you to know about them in the future when they come up and to not miss those opportunities to get connected with others and with us. And so the absolute best way to find out about these events in the future and to join our community of friends who are committed and engaged in this decisive decade is to subscribe to our newsletter. It comes out once every two weeks. It's human readable and contains just the absolute best that we have to offer. We are dedicated to continuing the newsletter because we hear regularly that alongside the conversations in the podcast, our newsletter has been essential to those working in all aspects of climate action, business, government and civil society.

Clay: [00:01:45] We do our best to stay sharp on the issues, tilt the prism in the light of everything going on, to reveal the colours that we can take action on and invite you directly to these events happening that we want your involvement in, like the podcast recordings, for instance. So right below this episode on your device is a link to our website, outrageandoptimism.org. You can hit subscribe to the newsletter right there and those invitations and information will be delivered right to you. Thank you for signing up if you haven't already. Okay. On to the episode. Just a heads up that because it is a live recording, there are no redo's. And if you remember like COP 27, where Tom had sketchy internet in Sharm El Sheikh and had to actually walk outside the conference centre to talk to us. The internet is a little spotty in Bonn at the Bonn intersessionals to start where Fi joined us from, but we get it worked out early on in the episode and it's smooth sailing from there. As I'm sure you know, internet bandwidth is inequitably distributed among the 150 countries our listeners join us from, but we are out here in the world making the best of it. A quick thank you to everyone who joined us for the live recording. We had a great turnout and as you'll hear, one guest joined us from their holiday because, quote unquote, I couldn't miss this. I can't wait to have you take a listen. We look forward to seeing you and hearing from you at the next live recording. So without further ado, here's the episode. Welcome, everybody.

Tom: [00:03:17] All right. Hi, everybody. Are we ready to start? Thanks, Clay. Okay. So fellow panellists, nice to see you all. We're going to kick off now. So if we're ready to go, we're just lacking our lady of the Paris Agreement. Where is she?

Paul: [00:03:31] Yes, yes. Christiana Figueres will any second now, and there.

Christiana: [00:03:34] I'm I'm here. I was just trying to figure out all these buttons and things, so. But I'm here. I'm here.

Tom: [00:03:47] All right. Great stuff. Lovely to see you all. Thanks very much for joining us. Thanks, Clay. And great you'll be here helping us make it work. So, hello, welcome to Outrage + Optimism. I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.

Christiana: [00:03:57] I'm Christiana Figueres.

Paul: [00:03:58] And I'm Paul Dickinson. And I am delighted that in this special live episode we have my two distinguished co-hosts from the mini series Lifelines Versus Deadlines. So let me introduce them one by one, starting with you, Mr Dylan Tanner, you are best known for InfluenceMap. Can you remind our listeners what is InfluenceMap and what are you an expert in? Or what's the main thing you're an expert in? Because I know there are many, many different things.

Dylan: [00:04:25] Well, thank you, Paul, and thanks for allowing me to be part of this wonderful process, a real learning experience. And I think it's had a real impact. InfluenceMap is a non-profit. We're mission driven. It's the main global accountability mechanism to hold companies accountable for their influencing of climate policy. So it's directly relevant to the topic of discussion today. And I should say I'm not an expert on that. That goes to our 70 extremely talented and mission driven individuals around the world who track companies and trade associations and they know all about the shenanigans which are going on.

Paul: [00:05:03] You are making me think we should have asked them and not you. But it's great to have you on the show Dylan. Absolutely great. Now, Fiona Macklin. Fi, you were running the Race to Zero. Can you tell us about that and what are you looking at now and where are you?

Fiona: [00:05:15] Hello everyone. Hi Paul. Thank you so much. I am in Bonn currently for the intersessionals.

Paul: [00:05:21] And in a slightly low bandwidth environment.

Fiona: [00:05:24] It's already hitting. I'm so, so sorry. I may have to revert to turning off my camera, but great to be here. And I have had the pleasure of managing the Race to Zero campaign with the Climate Champions Paul but have recently made the decision to actually join Tom and Christiana very excitingly within Global Optimism, to work on a few projects that are really looking to inject positivity and agency into the system. So really delighted to be here and feels particularly appropriate to kick off with this podcast.

Paul: [00:05:49] Welcome to Global Optimism.

Fiona: [00:05:51] Thank you very much.

Paul: [00:05:52] One day they'll offer me a job, but I'm still waiting, anyway, Tom.

Tom: [00:05:55] Thanks Paul and huge welcome. Lovely to have you both with us. Now today is about asking questions and hearing answers from the recent mini series Lifelines versus Deadlines, which I loved. So congratulations to the three of you and to the team. So amazing conversations and great interviews. Just very quickly, before we do, I do think that we need to point out that something really significant has been happening this week in the world of climate change. And that is we know that people who are unfortunate and suffer with this have been facing bad air quality in different cities all around the world, in Africa and Latin America in particular in Asia. This week that's happened in New York. And we have seen unbelievable photographs of what's been happening, and it has raised the issue of climate onto people's minds. Christiana, do you just want to comment on the likelihood that you think that this will create a moment of realization as to what we're facing? That part of North America is literally burning and the wind is taking the impact of that smoke across this enormous city, and people are now thinking about this in a different way. So just before we get into the questions, any comments on that? Load More
Christiana: [00:06:59] Well, you know, Tom, I wish I could say, okay, this is it. This is going to be the the IT right. And this is the event that is really going to wake people up. But honestly, this is not the first time that New York is being hit with something. And every time that New York or Miami or, I don't know, San Francisco or and we always, you know, stand there with our palms together in front of our hearts and go like, okay, we are now praying that this is going to be the big wake up call. And then it isn't and then it isn't, in part because we have normalized this.

Tom: [00:07:43] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:07:44] We have witnessed so many extreme weather events, poor air quality, wildfires. We have witnessed so, so many consequences of climate change that we've just put it into life as it usually is. And this is not normal, but we have normalized it.

Tom: [00:08:08] Yeah.

Paul: [00:08:09] Yeah, just a tiny one Tom, I can't resist. Hurricane Sandy, which many of you will remember in, he looks for the year and doesn't find it, a few years ago knocked out half the electricity in Manhattan. Wall Street was without electricity for three days. What are we waiting for? Right. Let's get into the subject matter.

Christiana: [00:08:29] 2012 Paul, I just looked it up. 2012.

Paul: [00:08:29] Thank you. Thank you very much. 

Tom: [00:08:30] 2012. And actually, if you speak to people like John Marshall, who's coming on the podcast next week, who is a brilliant individual looking at communications, what he says is that we have not yet successfully made the link. So people see these things. It affects us for a moment, but we don't sustain the link between that and really what's going on in the deeper changes in our world. So yes, but but but so unfortunate. And the pictures have been absolutely striking. So we're going to kick off and I'm going to jump in and ask the first question, if that's all right. And then we've got a few people online who are going to join us along.

Paul: [00:09:00] That's a little unfair with people online. But okay, just one.

Tom: [00:09:01] So I loved your mini series and I was particularly struck by the comments that all of you made, that disclosure of lobbying practices, of the ways in which corporations are influencing governments is absolutely critical to be disclosed if we're going to make progress. And it just made me wonder about the last 20 years, all of the effort that we've made with all of these NGOs around disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, around disclosure of climate risk, a range of other things, all very good. But in retrospect, is it more important that instead those companies spend time observing, reflecting on and disclosing their lobbying practices? Now, of course, it's very easy to say they should do both. But for the purposes of answering this exercise, let's assume they can't. Everyone's resources are limited. So if you look at those two activities, measuring and reporting your emissions or being honest about your lobbying and drawing that into the light, which would you three as co-hosts of that mini series rather see companies doing? Dylan, yeah.

Dylan: [00:10:01] Maybe I'll jump in. This is where we are now in history. We have lots of information on which sectors are emitting what and incremental additional details will help, but there is virtually no information on how companies are influencing policy. So absolutely, I would want to see much more rigorous and consistent disclosure of the type that Senator Whitehouse is proposing as a ticket to get into COP and on and further, I would, well, let me just leave it at that. Oh, sorry. Further, I would say the actual disclosure will make it harder for them to lobby negatively because they cannot then promote the the opposite negative policy behind closed doors if it's out in the open.

Tom: [00:10:48] I see. Okay. 

Paul: [00:10:49] Fi.

Fiona: [00:10:51] I fully agree with that Dylan. And I also think that we're in an age now where AI is becoming so powerful and so influential, and I think we massively need to direct that technical capacity towards helping with this disclosure much more in a much more automated fashion and enabling that lobbying to to to become centre stage for these for these companies. So so I think in answer to your question, Tom, I'd really place an emphasis on on the importance of transparency in lobbying and letting the disclosure of emissions be something that perhaps is better automated and externally driven anyway, because I think it's important to have this sort of independence in disclosure as well.

Paul: [00:11:30] And let me just finish off this, Tom. In an earlier iteration of this question, before we started recording, you talked about the burden on companies. You know, like it was a real burden to be able to report on this and then to be able to report on that. And I want to try and bring into the mix that actually, if we want to reduce emissions 7% a year, we're going to need a whole bunch of new policy regulations, laws, legislation. And therefore, if that's actually designed to help companies that have got technologies that are that are solution products and services, the solution, it shouldn't be seen as a burden. It should be seen as a commercial opportunity. So that would be that would be my take on it is like, don't think of this as something you don't want to do, actually help craft the regulation. So if you look at Tesla, they did incredibly well by getting subsidies to support them and they became the most valuable car company in the world.

Dylan: [00:12:13] Well, Paul, that's exactly what the climate positive companies are doing. They're shouting from the rooftops, we need this. But they're getting drowned out by the strategic negative lobbying at the moment.

Tom: [00:12:25] Um, Christiana I don't know if you want to come in.

Christiana: [00:12:27] I have, I have a question, actually, if you're. I have another question to start with.

Tom: [00:12:31] Go for it.

Christiana: [00:12:33] So to the three of you or maybe to Fi and Paul because I take it the two of you together came up with the title of your miniseries.

Paul: [00:12:44] It was Fi came up with the title, not me.

Christiana: [00:12:46] Oh, boy Fi, now you're in the hot seat. Why did you entitle the series with the little word versus inside there between deadlines and lifelines when we know that we need both. And the conclusion from your fantastic discussions is that we need both. But I'm wondering if there is something else in the back of your mind that you were trying to contrast more than the evident need for having both.

Paul: [00:13:21] And if Fi comes up with a very good answer, I might have been involved in naming it. It kind of depends.

Christiana: [00:13:25] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Fiona: [00:13:27] I think this is very much a collective effort. No, I think that's I think it's such an important question and I think fully, fully agree with the absolute need for both. I think similar to the momentum versus perfection, I think both things go hand in hand. However, in my mind, the way that I see climate action at the moment is we are we've we've heard so much about the deadlines and these deadlines come closer and closer and they're critical and as we know that their scientific limits. But but my sense of how we work psychologically as a species is that deadlines are quite paralyzing. Whereas if we flip the narrative and look at lifelines and positive progress and and really force ourselves to to think about the benefits that we can win from acting on climate early and sort of induce a sense of competition that I think is really needed and is really valid in the climate action space. I think that will in my mind, that's an important flip and perspective to to see if we can move forward. So, so that was the perhaps the provocation because I think it's perhaps a perspective that we've not necessarily tried yet and we need to try different strategies. So, so that was the thinking behind it Christiana. But, but Paul and, and Tom, I'd be really interested in your perspective as well.

Paul: [00:14:45] Well, I'm look, no, I just agree with everything Fi said. I think this idea of humans being frozen like rabbits in the headlights is like a big risk at the moment. You know, all this bad news about climate change, it's kind of like, can't do anything. Forget about it. That doesn't work. We have to empower people to move.

Tom: [00:15:01] Wonderful. Okay, so in which case I'm going to invite our first listener to put themselves on camera. This is Roger. Roger, if you want to join us and ask your question, welcome.

Paul: [00:15:12] Roger is here from IMEX Group.

Roger: [00:15:15] Hi, everyone. I'm here in the wonderful city of Brighton and Hove on the south coast of England, which I know some of you know very well.

Paul: [00:15:24] Very well.

Tom: [00:15:25] And the internet works in your house. Sorry, it doesn't work in Paul's house when he's in Brighton. But anyway. Sorry. Carry on.

Roger: [00:15:30] Well, in the office at least.

Tom: [00:15:31] Okay.

Roger: [00:15:32] So, yeah, I work in meetings and events. So like you, I know how important it is to get together and to meet face to face for to have the best collaboration. At the same time, we're getting frustrated with fossil fuel companies saying one thing, but then doing keep keep on doing all the bad stuff in the background. So my question is, what are the conditions we should set for fossil fuel companies if they want to remain part of the conversation, for example, to take part at COP, but also other events.

Tom: [00:16:08] Good question. Yeah. Who would like to jump in?

Clay: [00:16:11] I just want to flag that Christiana was giving a double thumbs up. So listeners who are listening to this later, you can hopefully hear that.

Paul: [00:16:19] I think a year ago there could have been a dispute between Dylan and Christiana. I've got a funny feeling they will now agree. Why don't you go first, Dylan, and see if Christiana agrees?

Dylan: [00:16:28] Great question, Roger. A nice nice to meet you. So first off, it's not just the fossil fuel companies. So if you focus on just them, there's others who are active in utilities, steel, automotive, etcetera. So in my view, as Senator Whitehouse offered, and the investment community is demanding, all companies should produce a thorough disclosure on all of their lobbying, their money flows, their memberships, anything that they use to influence climate policy and for admission to COP, there should be some kind of benchmark which you must reach to show that you are not negatively influencing. And that's an accountability mechanism that can be agreed upon. But the pieces here are in place, and I think there has been a proposal that's been signed by President Biden to this effect when it comes to to COP. And so we'd like to see that route pursued. But covering more companies other than just the oil and gas majors.

Christiana: [00:17:25] Wait, Dylan, can you unpack that a little bit? A proposal that has been put on the table by President Biden specifically for attendance at the COP.

Dylan: [00:17:35] So it was generated by Senator Whitehouse's office who appeared on this wonderful podcast and his idea, I think he's he's he's taken or looked at some of our stuff about carbon policy footprint which means is what is your footprint on climate policy a statement in which there is now a standard around. So companies would have to release this in the public domain and have it subject to scrutiny. And he is proposed and this has been signed by the president of the US and by numerous EU politicians that this be a bar for admittance into the talks at COP.

Tom: [00:18:16] Christiana, what do you think?

Christiana: [00:18:18] Well, I'm chewing on that one.

Tom: [00:18:21] Paul.

Paul: [00:18:22] Um, Roger, I think you've got the best question in the world, and it's it's it's absolutely at the heart of this COP, particularly with the COP president being the chief executive of an oil company. It's inconceivable that the COP president is going to kind of think that oil companies shouldn't attend because the COP president would stop themselves from attending unless they happened to have fully embodied the role of COP president, which is not the same as the role that they currently simultaneously have of being a chief executive of an oil company. For me personally, I think it's about some recognition of past wrongs. I personally would like to see some kind of acknowledgement from oil and gas companies that that predecessors in the company have behaved irresponsibly, but the company is coming afresh and looking in a new direction, plus the disclosures that Dylan recommends. But Christiana, does this make sense?

Christiana: [00:19:11] Well, Paul, you know that that's not going to happen because that opens them up for for huge legal liabilities that there's just no way that they're going to open that gate to. So that just I mean, yes, it's it would be nice but their lawyers won't let them let them do that. But I'm really interested in Fi's answer to this because I'm also of two different opinions about it. I can see the logic, the crisp, clear logic of of having companies, in fact, even countries come to the COP because they are contributing in a positive way to the path of decarbonization that we have to follow. Yes. And we know that unless the entire global economy decarbonises, we're not going to get there. And so it doesn't seem very realistic, although it is very frustrating. It doesn't seem realistic to choose who you play with or to choose who you write policy with. Um, you know, if I just if I only take my good friends and the members of the family that I really like to my meetings, well, then we will just support each other and come out with nothing that is different to what we went in with to begin with. I think that having differences of opinion is precisely where you open up the not just the possibility, but the need to find common space. And that is what a negotiation is about. A negotiation is not about bringing only like minded people together. That's not a negotiation. That's a whatever, a collusion. Now, there's a real collusion. There's a positive collusion party.

Paul: [00:21:14] Collusion, collusion. Fi's got a point. And then I do want to come in on this point, but Fi, see if you can if we can hear you now.

Fiona: [00:21:19] Goodness. I'm so sorry. I hope that is a little bit clearer. I'll persevere.

Paul: [00:21:24] It is much better, much better.

Fiona: [00:21:25] Fantastic. Apologies, I think fully, fully agree. And what I'm in two minds about is, is I think specifically the question of bringing these entities to the table. I think the first is being so watertight on the definitions around this issue. I think we need to be very clear on what we mean by phase out, and that includes emissions. I think we need to be really clear on what we mean by unabated and making sure that all these concepts are that we are discussing are very clear and transparent. And then I think based on that, any fossil fuel company who wants to play and wants to come to the table needs to come with a very clear and transparent, viable plan for how they're going to phase down and out. And that that includes answering the question, what are they going to become? Because we know they can't viably remain in oil and gas company. So they need to be really clear about their vision for a reincarnation. And thirdly, I think they need to bring to the table the policies and the laws that they know will help get them there. And I think that's still a question that's missing. And they're very, very powerful at lobbying for other things. So I think they can use that lobbying force in a positive sense if they do want to come.

Tom: [00:22:37] Thanks so much Fi and that was almost perfect in terms of sound. We lost you a little bit towards the end. Paul.

Paul: [00:22:41] Almost, not quite. One last thing I wanted to share is, you know, the idea, you know, to some degree, yes. We need, so to say, the the parties at the table. But there is a World Health Organization framework convention on tobacco control. There are UN conventions on tobacco control that stipulate that tobacco companies cannot lobby policy makers. I mean, why would we expect the tobacco industry to get rid of tobacco? Why would we expect the asbestos industry to get rid of asbestos? It's something I think it says something about the times we live in that we sort of acknowledge that great powerful industries have equal power to government and we have to sort of somehow allow these powerful industries to sort of come along to the government meetings or else we'll all, you know, we won't be able to pull it off. We want to recognize that theoretically, you know, the government have got the army and the police and the prisons and they can enforce laws. Fi wants to come back in.

Fiona: [00:23:36] I won't interrupt but Paul, I think I really agree. What I would say is different between the tobacco industry is that they didn't necessarily have a better path or a better journey to go on. We know what can be positive that can come out of oil and gas companies and the positive future that they can envisage that they're just not bothering to envisage. So I do think there's an element of difference there and that it is their responsibility to call on the regulations that will benefit their new trajectory.

Christiana: [00:24:05] Yeah.

Dylan: [00:24:06] And if I could just come in on what, Christiana, I don't think the intent is to ban people who have differences of opinion. It's to call out those who are doing one thing and saying another. This disconnect and they're doing negative shenanigans behind the scenes at home and elsewhere and coming to COP saying we're part of the solution. So I think that's the intent of this to to call out this hypocrisy.

Christiana: [00:24:28] Yeah. Yeah. Well, Zoe, to those who are only listening, Zoe, Tom's daughter peeked in there because she was so interested in your answer Dylan. How's that?

Tom: [00:24:39] Exactly, exactly right.

Dylan: [00:24:40] I'll take it. I'll take it.

Christiana: [00:24:43] No, I think that's a very important differentiation and also to agree with with Fi, it's, you know, tobacco companies are basically have a yes or no future. Either you sell tobacco or you don't. Oil and gas is not that black and white. It's not either you sell fossil fuels or you disappear. For heaven's sakes. We are going to be using energy forever as long as we humans are here. So it's not that we can do without companies that are producing energy. It's that we need companies that produce clean energy and they have that option. So, so, so it is.

Paul: [00:25:29] Maybe that's the answer Christiana. Maybe energy companies can come to the COP, but fossil fuel companies can't and they have to decide what they are before they walk in.

Tom: [00:25:37] So we're going to have to move on in a sec, this is a really interesting conversation. Interestingly, I don't know if everyone just saw the poll that came up. 62% of participants on this call said oil and gas companies are an essential part of the future of COPs, which is not what I would have expected people would have responded. It's going to be such an interesting debate. And of course, the COP being in Dubai this year, this is more live than it's ever been. So interesting to hear the different perspectives. Are we all right to move on? Anything burning anyone wants to say? Yeah. Thank you for the brilliant question.

Paul: [00:26:03] Thank you, Roger, for a brilliant question that's got people going.

Christiana: [00:26:06] Yeah, thanks Roger.

Paul: [00:26:08] Seagulls, as they say, I don't really follow the team, but, yes.

Dylan: [00:26:11] Bye, Roger. Enjoy. Enjoy. Brighton.

Tom: [00:26:14] Giulia, are you there? Giulia Jones. Love to have you come on.

Paul: [00:26:19] Hey.

Tom: [00:26:20] Giulia, welcome.

Giulia: [00:26:22] Hi, everyone. Hopefully you can hear me okay.

Tom: [00:26:24] We can. 

Christiana: [00:26:25] Perfect.

Giulia: [00:26:28] So my question, I think is quite closely linked to a few points that have been raised, which is which is great. In episode one, the very deliberate and effective campaign by the fossil fuel industry to block any and all policy around climate change was discussed. And I was really struck by this idea that those who stand to lose the most from divestment from fossil fuels are very clear that this is the single most important thing they can do to ensure their survival, and they're spending billions to prove it. And the question was raised on the episode about whether the climate movement, by attempting to tackle the issue of climate change across so many different areas, is trying to do too much. I feel as though the fossil fuel industry has provided us with a little bit of a cheat code or a blueprint for what they know to be the thing that will fundamentally make the difference between us succeeding or failing to meet the Paris 1.5 degree target. Should we not take this as an indication that we, the climate movement, should be equally laser focused on one thing preventing this flow of money, and therefore the influence on politicians across the world, which is preventing bipartisan and unilateral policy on climate change. Policy we have and that exists. In other words, should we be blocking the blockers? And if we agree that we should, what does that look like in practice?

Tom: [00:27:43] Wow, that's a great question. Fantastic. Love that.

Dylan: [00:27:46] Great question.

Paul: [00:27:46] And I think Dylan was born to answer that question, first anyway.

Dylan: [00:27:49] No, I totally agree with you. And we've been clamouring for campaign groups to address this issue, at least with equal resources that you address finance or consumer behaviour and other things, because we see so many companies, so many institutions getting off scot free because of a focus on other areas. So we'd love to see campaigns, for example, highlighting the US Chamber of Commerce and its squeaky clean members in the tech and other industries, and the damage they're doing to climate policy as a mainstream campaign theme. You know, there's and I should say there's already a big effort by investors to address this issue. Politicians are working on it, you know, but we'd love to see the campaign, the climate community, as you call it, really address this full on as one of their top 1 or 2 or 1 or 2 issues.

Tom: [00:28:42] Fantastic.

Paul: [00:28:42] Fi.

Fiona: [00:28:45] Giulia, I think that's such a fantastic question and a couple of thoughts on it. One is that I also would highlight it's not it's not scarily not just the oil and gas industry, but also it's so politicized now as a debate. We're seeing a topic that's very close to my heart. When I was managing the Race to Zero was Republican attorneys general in the US threatening that collaborating on climate is illegal? They were trying to prevent banks and finance industries and others to to collectively work on climate action because they thought that infringed antitrust laws. I mean, I think that's that's absolutely crazy. And I and I fully agree that it feels like we are, as a climate community, increasingly divided in a time when we need to be most united. And Tom and Christiana, I know we've spoken about this and I think it's really interesting to try and understand how we collectively unite around sort of coordinates of possibility that give us a sense of unity, despite perhaps divergence in terms of how we think climate action needs to be approached, but at least unity in what we know we're fighting against and that that I think needs to give us strength at a really important time to rebut those threats and move forwards together.

Paul: [00:29:58] And can I just throw in one additional concept here. It's like, you know, the way you phrased the question, do we have to stop the negative lobbying money. I mean, I absolutely agree we should. And I remember, you know, actually one of the listener comments picked out this thing where we were talking in the first episode, Dylan, about like, isn't it really just about finding a carbon price. And if we had a carbon price, then everything would all the money would just flow in the right direction and we wouldn't have to worry about redesigning the financial system or whatever.

Dylan: [00:30:25] Absolutely. Yeah.

Paul: [00:30:26] But, but I also wonder if there is another thing to focus on. And I've been getting more and more excited by this idea of of green as greedy, like the degree to which ambitious companies should be pushing to, to put money in to getting laws that will reduce emissions and make them money. And I said this to a friend of mine and they said, well, that's just what the oil industry does. And I'm kind of like, yeah, but what if what if we were doing what the what the fossil fuel lobbyists were doing, but we were doing it to try and achieve emissions reductions at 7% a year. On the one hand, you know, we really want to try and cut their negative lobbying, which threatens, you know, vulnerable people and children across the world. But should we be encouraging that positive lobbying, even big brands using their capabilities, their media, their products, you know, the 600 billion that's spent on advertising every year, could that help build a consensus in society? So just trying to cut off the negative, but also encourage the positive. That was that was a question.

Dylan: [00:31:21] Yeah, no, that's a great strategy. I think the issue there is they're more fragmented and it's less of a priority at the moment for these multiple different industries who may benefit in the future from low carbon. And it's very asymmetric, as we discussed, and as Senator Whitehouse stressed over and over, the oil and gas industry is not only not only has unlimited money, but they have the focus and they have 30 years, 40 years of experience doing this and they excel at controlling governments. So you're up against an awesome force.

Paul: [00:31:55] What do you make of the poll there, Tom? And actually, I'm interested in what you think about it, if I can be so bold.

Tom: [00:32:02] Yeah. I mean, I think that, you know, just just from my own experience, particularly when we were we were trying to get the world focused on on the agreement in Paris, the clarity of purpose that comes from everybody having an objective and a timeline. And you you're either on the right or the wrong side of history at that moment, on the 12th of December, when the gavel comes down, which side did you want to be on? And that provided such a sense of like engagement and possibility. And everybody was trying to focus on that one thing and that provided this real sense of possibility. What's challenging now, of course, is that now we've moved into the implementation implementation phase is millions and millions of things need to happen well together at in different ways. And once you have that level of complexity and nuance in an entire system, it's not so possible to focus on the big political outcomes. But what you're very good question helpfully points us to is actually sometimes the climate movement is guilty of trying to prioritize its own thing. And if we could collectively say this year we're going to do a couple of things, we're going to do them really well. That's what the COP should really be in my mind at the moment, is, okay, we can't do everything, but this year we're going to give a big push to EVs and we're going to end fossil fuel subsidies. That would be huge. Next year we're going to do nature restoration and food systems. And if we could collectively come together and think, well, all players have a stake in that, we're not quite so sort of obsessed on if every company doing everything perfectly, but we're more focused on how can everyone have a role in delivering these big outcomes at particular times. That gives us focus. It gives us a time frame, it gives us collaboration, and I think that would help us move forward.

Dylan: [00:33:37] No, I love that. Yes. And stigmatize large trade groups like BusinessEurope and the Chamber who don't agree with with that agenda.

Tom: [00:33:46] Right, right.

Christiana: [00:33:47] So, Tom. 

Tom: [00:33:49] Yeah.

Christiana: [00:33:50] Can I give a level of complexity to that example that you just gave? Because the Paris Agreement can now post-factum be seen as something that was sort of black and white. You either agree or you don't agree. But the fact is we had 67 issues under negotiation being negotiated in five parallel tracks at the same time. And every single one of those 67 issues had tentacles into other issues in other tracks. Et cetera. Et cetera. So it was not as crisp and clear as simply, well, are you going to vote yes or no. And every single country, let alone every single stakeholder, was very attached to a particular subset of those 67 issues. And every time we moved an issue in one track, it moved the pieces of the chess game and the other track. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera. So we can do that. That's my point. We should not put ourselves in the box of saying we humans are incapable of complexity. Really? If we believe that, then we can't even live through a single day in our lives.

Christiana: [00:35:10] Just think of the many different issues, the many different relationships, the many different processes that we all participate in during one day that seem to be disconnected from each other. But we are the connecting point, so they're not disconnected from each other. So rather than simplify for me, the invitation and the challenges here is let's embrace complexity because life is not going to get any more simple as we move in to deeper and deeper into the 21st century. We're not going to get more simple. We're just going to get more complex and more intertwined and more interwoven, thank heavens. Let us embrace complexity and let us understand that because everything is connected one with the other. Then pushing on nature based solutions also helps on the other side with EVs. And there are people whose passion is nature based solutions who don't give a damn about EVs and the other way around. Thank heavens, thank heavens that we have that complexity within each of us and certainly across the movement. So I would not be scared about complexity. I would embrace it.

Tom: [00:36:22] So that's I think that's fantastic Christiana. It's good to to remind us of the complexity of that moment around the Paris Agreement. And. Absolutely. And all of those negotiation tracks were in the shadow of the big moment that was to come, right? So we knew the big moment was to come. So what I love about the question is, yes, we need to embrace complexity, but the way you make sense of that is with sprints to outcomes, right? You have to also drive sprints to outcomes so that you can, the way collaboration happens is when you get a sense of momentum and an outcome and then everybody pulls together towards that outcome. So I think it's a it's a great reminder and a really good question. Thank you Giulia, where are you joining us from, by the way?

Giulia: [00:36:59] So I'm dialled in from Dubrovnik in Croatia.

Tom: [00:37:02] Amazing.

Giulia: [00:37:03] I'm actually on holiday.

Tom: [00:37:04] Oh, wow.

Giulia: [00:37:05] I normally live in the UK but couldn't miss this.

Tom: [00:37:08] Enjoy your holiday. Nice.

Paul: [00:37:10] Better bandwidth than the UNFCCC in Bonn, though. So well done Croatia.

Tom: [00:37:15] Now. Steve Boyd, thanks for joining us Steve, where are you joining us from? If you can already speak, but while Clay turns your camera on.

Steve: [00:37:24] I'm joining you from Seattle, Washington, which is where some of you were recently here for a retreat, as I understand it. 

Tom: [00:37:33] That's right. A little bit north of you. Yeah.

Steve: [00:37:35] Yeah. Out on Cortez Island. I'm part of a group out of Harvard University trying to think about how we accelerate climate change and strategies for doing that.

Tom: [00:37:47] Amazing.

Steve: [00:37:48] Um, what I loved Paul and Dylan and Fi in your series over the last couple of weeks is this question and it's back to Giulia's question is if you have a dozen strategies around pushing for climate change and then a major factor of resistance coming from the corporate community, how do you think about that? And there's actually a theory around change that says that. And I'll use a northwest American example, which is a logjam. There is this idea that in a logjam there's a king log and at some point to get the logjam unfrozen, you've got to go in to the jam and pull out the king log. And that that's what starts everything flowing. And to Fiona's point and to Dylan's point, that may be a metaphor that might be useful to think about that the hindering force is the language driving forces and hindering forces. That's what's really critical at this point, is trying to identify the hindering forces and then go after those hindering forces with real vehemence, with real intention, with real focus. It doesn't mean it doesn't mean you give up on the driving forces.

Steve: [00:39:15] You want to be encouraging with all those driving forces. But the question I put into the into the chat as well as into the question and answer was really a question related to um, you know, where we are in terms of understanding resistance to change. And one of the things is that is obviously institutionally and systemically, the oil and gas companies are focused on creating resistance. They use the carbon personal carbon footprint to obfuscate the issue of kind of who is responsible for the condition we're in right now, focusing it back on the individual. So the idea again in this conversation, just learning about this carbon policy footprint, I mean, now that's a pretty radical idea because that's actually taking the system on at a very high level and creating an openness around that. And Dylan, I would really encourage your organization to think about that. But my question was really, um, you know, to think about in what ways our collective theory of change takes on the core hindrance, which is actually, um, people don't resist change. What they resist is loss or the perception of loss.

Tom: [00:40:49] I think that's such a good point, Steve. I really do. Like they resist the perception of loss and, um, and as a result of that, how do we help move beyond those hindrances? I think that's fantastic. Can I encourage anyone, Dylan or Paul, you want to hop in? 

Paul: [00:41:01] I'm going to start off, if I may, and thank you, Steve, for the king log idea, because I think, you know, it is what Churchill called the crux of the whole war. Like what is the thing that is the thing that is the thing. And of course, it's lots of things. But, you know, I was kind of a little bit chilled when when Senator Whitehouse spoke about the, you know, the catastrophic impact of Citizens United. And I knew very well what Citizens United was, but I asked him to repeat it so our listeners could get a second look at it. A 2010 ruling by the US Supreme Court that released the private sector in the USA. Wealthy individuals, wealthy corporations, wealthy investors released them from any limitation whatsoever on political spending and any supervision. And I recall particularly what Senator Whitehouse said, that when he came into the Senate in 2007, you had John McCain running on a climate change ticket. You know, as a as a Republican presidential candidate, you had multiple bipartisan bills in the Senate and in the Congress looking at a carbon tax in 2014. I remember John Kerry spoke about that at a CDP launch event. In fact, he said he had the votes even from from the fossil fuel industry. But he said coal went on television and started scaring Americans. United States'ians, I should say. And the point of my story is just, you know, it's this money. I think that if we if we want to try and cure the patient, that's the kind of lump we've got to cut out. But Dylan will probably have a more nuanced answer.

Dylan: [00:42:25] So I agree. They they don't fear change. They fear loss. And the big oil majors have gone through many years of this analysis. And remember, Beyond Petroleum, BP rebranded itself, went into solar, and that went down. They just they've they've figured out that it's much more profitable to lobby to block climate legislation than it is to engage in a shift to clean energy. Their margins on oil and gas, when they can control the system are massive. And and the current bumper profits have reminded them of that. And that's one reason they've backtracked on recent climate commitments. So I don't think it's a lack of information on the opportunities that await them. It's just that their short term business opportunities by holding back, you know, this is very short term thinking by individuals in the organizations who want that agenda.

Tom: [00:43:22] Yeah. Fi, you want to hop in on that one.

Fiona: [00:43:25] Yeah. Just really quickly to say and I fully agree with that and I think I think the the sort of opposition, as it were, has this fear of loss. And I think that's where we can come in with our hunger to win. And I think it's about the sort of collaborative competition that's needed. And I don't think we should forget the aspect of competition because there's so much to win in this. And I think it's easy potentially to be distracted by the other side lobbying threats that us. But but we have such clarity on what we we want to win as a climate community that I think that that's important to drive that sense of collaboration. Yes. But also competition to to get us to a better world.

Tom: [00:44:00] Amazing. Um, thank you. And Steve, thank you so much for the question. Really appreciate you dialling in and joining us. Thanks for joining us.

Tom: [00:44:09] So, friends, we only have a couple of minutes left and I'm really sorry as ever, we didn't get to all of the questions. If any panelist have the Q&A open, please do feel free to go in and type some answers. There's lots of really good stuff there and we'll maybe answer some of them in the show notes of this week's episode as well. Um, but as we just have a couple more minutes with Dylan and Fi as co-hosts of this podcast and the amazing expertise and insight that you have brought to Outrage + Optimism for which we're very grateful. I'd love to just ask you a closing question, if I may, and that is you have brought such deep expertise in different ways on the ways in which companies are and aren't helping us face this issue. You've dug into it together with Paul in great depth. And now as you leave and after this conversation, what are you outraged by and what makes you feel optimistic as you look at this issue? Unless Paul, you want to add any nuance to that question before your brilliant co-hosts answer it?

Paul: [00:45:03] No, no, no, no, I shall, I'd like to answer it myself but at the very end.

Christiana: [00:45:06] Oh boy, giving them the same medicine. Oh, no, no, no. This is called turn the tables. Go for it.

Paul: [00:45:16] Dylan, you're first.

Dylan: [00:45:17] Okay, so my organization, InfluenceMap, tracks hundreds of data points each day on hundreds of companies and trade groups and comes out with outrageous incidences of negative lobbying on a daily basis. So that's what I'm outraged about, continuous negative opposition to the climate policy that the scientists say we need. I'm optimistic about the sprinklings of positivity from the corporate sector, but mostly the fact that you are doing this podcast. And it got huge feedback, as far as I'm aware, as being one of the best you've done. And it's I hope it triggers seeds of embryonic seeds, that this is something the global climate campaign community, amongst others, can take and run with and really fight back.

Tom: [00:46:07] I love that. Saying that the podcast is a reason for optimism gets very high marks Dylan, so well done. And you clearly read the briefings, that's very good. Yeah. Fi.

Dylan: [00:46:15] Well, I was supposed to say that, but I got that right.

Tom: [00:46:17] You got the memo exactly.

Fiona: [00:46:21] Um, I'm actually, I've been thinking back to the start of our conversation and I think in particular today, I'm really outraged by the normalization of abnormality. And I think the smoke and the wildfires that we're seeing in in New York are really reminiscent of when I was living in Melbourne during the 2019 bushfires, and they are horrendously petrifying to live through and I cannot understand why we treat them as not something to sort of drop, drop all our tools with and start working. So that's, that's outraging me today and this week. But I'm also very optimistic about the potential for the speed and scale of change that is underway. And I think that is going to be a big lifeline for us in the run up to COP 28 and moving forwards to to hold on to and really double down on.

Paul: [00:47:11] Okay. Well, I'm going to grab this this opportunity to answer the famous question very briefly, picking up on our last week's episode. I'm outraged by the states attorneys general, the 23 of them who complained about insurance companies collaborating on climate change, using a format that looks like it was pushed on them by fossil fuel interests. I think that kind of behavior is just the worst in the world, abusing, you know, democratic offices, the very important legal offices to try and achieve an outcome that deranges very important organizations, big insurance companies who understand climate change, absolutely outrageous. What gives me optimism and when this show is broadcast, it will it will be the music that we end the show with. Um, and I'm just going to sort of try not to kind of lose my s apostrophe, apostrophe, apostrophe. Whilst I talk about this, but the exact reverse of that behaviour by those attorneys general is the behaviour of well, behaviour, the absolute celebration of the human spirit that we see. And Clay will indeed put the magnificent film in the show notes. So if there's any human on the planet who hasn't seen it yet, as Canada suffers with these horrific wildfires, 200 more than 200 firefighters come from South Africa and arrive in Edmonton Airport in Canada and celebrate the mission and the work that they do in song. And it is the it is the sound of humanity coming together. And it is absolutely if it doesn't, you know, touch your heart very, very deeply, you haven't got one. So to conclude this episode, if you're wondering what you're hearing, you're hearing an airport, an airport in Canada where more than 200 firefighters have arrived from South Africa and and try and feel that. And that gives me more than optimism. It gives me hope and it gives me a sort of fundamental belief that we are we are one people, one life. We will come together and we will fix this.

Tom: [00:49:21] Love that Paul. Thank you so much. Um, and I can't echo that enough. Click on the link. It's in the, it's in the chat here and you can have a look at that. Right, thanks everyone. This has been a real pleasure. Always enjoy this, Paul.

Paul: [00:49:32] Oh, my big, big thank you to my dear friends Dylan and Fi for bringing such expertise, such absolutely brilliant guests to this podcast, also to the unseen, very hard work of Catherine, Sarah, Clay and many, many other people to put it together, but no, Fi and Dylan, thank you so, so much.

Dylan: [00:49:51] Thank you. Right back at you.

Fiona: [00:49:52] Thank you.

Paul: [00:49:55] To be continued.

Christiana: [00:49:55] Thanks everyone.

Tom: [00:49:57] Thanks everyone. Clay, back over to you. Thanks for joining us. See you next time.

Paul: [00:50:01] See you next week.

Clay: [00:50:02] Thanks everybody, for joining. Before you leave. All right, everyone, it's Clay again. Thank you so much for listening this week. And here's the audio that Paul mentioned to play us out. See you next week.


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