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194: Making A Difference

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About this episode

The IPCC AR6 synthesis report that came out last week, offered a stark appraisal of the situation the global community faces due to its historic inaction on man-made climate change. BUT, it is the science behind this report that also most importantly offers us a clear path forward, a ‘survival guide for humanity’ as it has been dubbed in the media. 

Join Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac and Paul Dickinson in the first part of the episode as they discuss how to counter the disinformation and doomism surrounding the reception of the report and how we might move forward collectively to counter the inertia and remove the obstacles put in place by those with deep vested interests in business as usual.

Our special guest this week is Pete Betts, the much loved and highly respected civil servant with over 10 years as Director International climate and energy in the UK Government. Despite receiving a terminal diagnosis, Pete continues to dedicate his time and effort to climate change, specifically highlighting those who stand to suffer the most from its effects are kept in the forefront of decision makers minds as we attempt to face the challenges of climate change.  

Pete shares that the two most important questions we believe we should all ask ourselves: “Are you surrounded by people you love and that love you? And did you make a difference?”

How would you respond?

Tune in to hear the hosts unpack the answers to these two questions and reflect on Pete’s incredible life and contribution. 


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Full Transcript

Tom: [00:00:00] Hi everyone. It's Tom here. So as some of you know, Christiana and I are involved in something called The Climate Pledge, which is a commitment made by a group of companies that now are coming together to take shared actions to drive down their emissions to reach net zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement. We're very proud to be part of this. Together with Amazon, a series of short videos are being launched that detail the ways in which the companies that are members of the pledge are now working together and on their own to make real progress towards the goals that we all know are so important. And the series is called Future Forward. I would thoroughly encourage you to go and look for it. It's very inspiring. You can find it by searching for Future Forward. But what we're going to do now is just play you the audio of the overall trailer for the series. So it's a really inspiring series. Please do go check it out. Enjoy this now and we'll go straight into the episode after this. Thanks a lot.

Tom: [00:02:30] Hello and welcome to Outrage and Optimism. I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.

Christiana: [00:02:33] I'm Christiana Figueres.

Paul: [00:02:34] And I'm Paul Dickinson.

Tom: [00:02:35] This week, we finish up the Momentum Perfection conversation. We talk about the alarming report from the IPCC. We speak to the legendary Pete Betts and we have music from Aisha Badru. Thanks for being here. So it's so good to see you both. It's been a couple of weeks. We've been off on this mini series. I've missed you. And I thought we might just start by just touching on some of those issues that came up. It's been a really fun journey and we've had amazing comments actually come back. It seems to have sparked debate with a lot of feeling on both sides, which is probably a good thing.

Christiana: [00:03:23] Yeah, for sure. For sure, Tom. And it's been it's been, as you say, well, it's been fun for you and Fiona. And first of all, thanks to Fiona for.

Paul: [00:03:34] Thank you Fiona. 

Christiana: [00:03:35] Yeah. For, for giving us all of that time. But, but it has touched very deeply, I think, in, in many listeners. So one potential, idea that we can consider is whether we actually continue that discussion. But in a more, um, a more democratized way, let's say, not with you reaching out or beyond you reaching out to the key people that you reached out to Tom, but maybe inviting listeners to give their views on where they sit and where they are, how they feel themselves in this continuum basically, that is marked or bookended by momentum and perfection. Do you think we can organize a call in to hear directly from our listeners? It's kind of a nightmare to organize, but would be very interesting.

Tom: [00:04:36] I think it would be fascinating, actually. And I think that, you know, the strong feeling that we've seen an incredibly sophisticated and thoughtful comments on LinkedIn, on Twitter that have come directly back to us. We so appreciate all of the engagement. I think that would be great. So let's try and figure out with the team how we do that. Assuming Mr Dickinson agrees.

Paul: [00:04:53] I'm 100% in favour of it. I absolutely delight in conversations that have that spontaneity about them. And having read all the feedback on our recent survey, I know that we have brilliant listeners like I don't know how many there are, but I'd love to hear from them directly. So yeah, super idea. And Tom, big congratulations to you and the whole team for putting together an amazing series with such great insights and reflecting upon the importance of what you were doing. I went, of course, back to my favourite book, which was Churchill's book about Second World War, and this is what he said. He said, 'We are so few, the cause so great, that we cannot afford to weaken each other in any way'. And I felt that was the heart of what you quite brilliantly brought forward. So thank you.

Tom: [00:05:40] Thank you, Paul. That's lovely. And just.

Christiana: [00:05:42] Nice summary. Let's call him and have him say that to us. 

Tom: [00:05:47] Let's have him on the podcast, exactly. The other one I had, which someone sent to me and then I replied to LinkedIn, which I thought was great, was they said, what you're talking about here is what Lincoln described before he passed the Emancipation Proclamation, and he said, momentum and perfection. He described the fact that if you want to get somewhere, you need a compass and a map and the compass tells you true north. That's like your perfection sense of where you need to go. And if you don't have the compass, you get lost and you don't know which direction to go in. But if you don't have a map, which is like the momentum one foot in front of the other, then you quickly use your compass and just go straight into a bog or straight into a mountain range and you don't make progress. So it's the balance of these two things that helps you both know where to go and how to navigate in the world. So I like that was one of my favourite bits of feedback.

Christiana: [00:06:28] Second phone call that we're going to have to make. Good old Abe, what do you think about this?

Tom: [00:06:33] Thank you for all those comments and I would echo your thanks particularly to Fiona and the team and all of the guests. This was fantastic. Now, shall we start looking at some of these things that have happened over the course of the last few weeks as well as the year to come? One thing that has emerged is of course the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report concluded with the synthesis report that came out that actually boiled down everything that had been in the first three working groups to say, where are we on climate, what do we need to do and what impacts are we facing if we don't do it? And it made for some pretty sobering reading. So who would like to kick off with a couple of comments about this?

Christiana: [00:07:10] Paul will kick off.

Paul: [00:07:12] Okay. I will. Um, the IPCC report that came out was absolutely terrifying. And I'm going to pick up on one particular example of the problem I think we face. And I'm sorry if this sounds in any way repetitious, but it is true that Fox News Media, according to their own website, say they reach 200 million people a month. Tucker Carlson has 3.47 million viewers. He made a segment on the 16th of March that was 13 minutes long. And it was very carefully designed to undermine the science of climate change, he said if the world is indeed warming as it appears to be, that will make more arable land in places like Canada and Northern Europe. So like everything in this life. It's a mixed blessing, but you only hear the downside. These are not reports from experts. These are threats. And he then quoted the UN Secretary General and President Biden, referring to code red for humanity. He said in the details they are proven wrong over time. These people hate the earth and they hate nature. Now, the key point is with such vast outreach to have such coordinated denial of climate change science, globally on such a powerful media channel is, I think, the problem that the IPCC and the climate change community are facing. We continue to have people denying climate change. However, I checked with ChatGPT this morning and if you tried to say that cigarettes were not dangerous, you would actually get in trouble because we have laws regarding the importance of getting cigarettes out of society. So that's my, long story short, is I think that we are losing the terrifying message from the scientific community in what I cannot believe I'm saying this in 2023 is coordinated propaganda, for whatever reason, suggesting that it's simply not true. And until we deal with that problem, we're not going to be able to hear the scientists, I'm sorry to say.

Christiana: [00:09:15] Wow. Whew. Paul Dickinson. Very interesting perspective, Paul, because I was yeah, I was about to say that we've actually moved beyond denial, which you have now totally proven me wrong on. Thank you for that. Um, I was going to focus on how we have sadly moved from denial to doomism, but they are both two sides of the same coin.

Paul: [00:09:44] Yes, they are.

Tom: [00:09:45] And they're both flourishing. 

Christiana: [00:09:47] And they're both flourishing. Well, I didn't know that denial was flourishing as much. Definitely doomism. And my concern is that those two sides of that coin, as we have discussed ad nauseam here, lead to to inaction and paralysis and mental paralysis, physical paralysis, action paralysis or no action. And and that is the piece that is very concerning to me. Now adjacent to that is my constant questioning of why do these dire warnings that we get from the IPCC and let's remember the IPCC report because it's such a mammoth piece of work on the part of all of our sciences, it only appears every 6 to 7 years. So unless the sequence is is changed and it might be because of the urgency, we won't see another of these IPCC reports for 6 to 7 years, which means it puts us very close to 2030, which we know by then we have to be at half our emissions. And this report already gives us the preview that we have to be at 60% cut by 2035. So we are definitely getting into being squeezed into, urgency here more than than is comfortable for anyone. But I have been thinking about why do these warnings not lead to the necessary action at scale and speed? One part I would take up from you, Paul, because there is still funding into denialism. Another reason, of course, is because there are deep vested interests. Let's look at the unbelievably unprecedented profits that oil and gas companies have had just over the past 12 months, which, of course, leads into vested interests that have tentacles everywhere, very likely into both denial and doomism, by the way. Another reason is we know that policy is always slow, but why the heck is it so slow when we have the science staring us in the face? Another reason is the financial shift is slow, and I'm actually quite disappointed by the lethargy that I'm seeing right now in the financial space. But bottom line, bottom line, I'm most worried about the inertia in our behaviour, that's the piece that I am most worried about.

Tom: [00:12:46] Yeah. Now I completely agree with that. And the way in which the realities are not penetrating through is, is is a sort of exercise in, in dualistic thinking that's preventing progress. I mean, it really feels like we're in the don't look up movie of the meteor is coming and we're being told not to look at it. Now, I wonder whether, as I said, legendary Pete Betts is on the podcast this week. He's in the waiting room. So should we just let him in? We'll have a chat to him now so we don't leave him waiting and then we can come back to IPCC afterwards. So Pete Betts has over 35 years experience as a civil servant in the UK government, including ten years as Director of International Climate and Energy. He was also the lead climate negotiator for the UK and the EU delegations, capping more than 20 years experience in climate change and environmental policy. And as leader of the EU negotiations in Paris in 2015, Pete was instrumental in driving parties towards the Paris Agreement. It's also worth noting that Pete has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. It is terminal and we don't know how long he has, but he has vowed to continue pushing for climate advocacy for as long as he's able.

Christiana: [00:13:57] And I should say we're not being indiscreet about this. He is very public about his health situation, so we are totally within his range of permission.

Paul: [00:14:08] And it gives him a completely unique perspective.

Christiana: [00:14:10] Indeed it does.

Tom: [00:14:11] It does. And I think he's told us he's willing to talk about that. So we'll go there in the conversation.

Paul: [00:14:15] Okay. Let's do that. Sounds good.

Christiana: [00:14:16] Okay.

Tom: [00:14:17] So Sarah, maybe you could facilitate his arrival.

Sarah: [00:14:21] He's coming on now.

Tom: [00:14:24] And there he is.

Christiana: [00:14:25] Hey Pete.

Pete: [00:14:27] Hi Christiana. Hi everyone. Good to see everyone.

Christiana: [00:14:30] I'm so thrilled to, to see you there. How lovely. Load More
Pete: [00:14:35] Hi, good to see you. I'm, I'm, I'm spectacularly impressed with myself that I haven't messed this up so far.

Christiana: [00:14:44] We're also spectacularly impressed.

Pete: [00:14:49] Anyway, so it's all very informal I understand. So, I can relax and not.

Christiana: [00:14:52] Yes, it is, yes, you can totally relax. It is very, very informal. And we will go wherever you would like to go Pete, on this conversation.

Pete: [00:15:02] Well, I mean, I'm mean I'm keen to be useful and, um, you know, that's the main thing I can be at this stage is be useful.

Christiana: [00:15:13] Indeed. As usual, I would say, you've always been useful. Not a novelty. Well, Pete, so you know, Tom was at your celebration of life and he was very moved by your saying that at this point in in in your life here, that there are two things that are really important. But actually, I don't want to steal the thunder from Tom because although I have known and and worked with you for I can't even remember how many years, Pete, because we were we knew each other when we were both negotiators, certainly in the past century. And then when I moved to being the Executive Secretary and you were on behalf of the UK and at that time participating in all of the EU meetings as well and your leadership there Pete, and I know that your bosses put you very often in impossible situations, but I, I have such respect and tip my hat to you that you always found a way to both do what bosses wanted, but also to contribute to the bigger, to the bigger cause. And that's not easy to do that. That's a tightrope that is very difficult to walk. And I saw you do that more, more than once. So I know that I have thanked you in the past. But here is yet another deep vote of gratitude for having done that with the skill that you, that you did it Pete. And moving forward, I was sadly, as I said, not able to come to the beautiful, amazing celebration of life that was organized for you in London. And so I asked Tom to please go and represent me. And Tom, why don't why don't you describe your experience there?

Tom: [00:17:26] Wonderful, yeah, delighted to. And, Pete, so great to talk to you here. So, yes, I was very honoured to attend your celebration several months ago now. It was towards the end of last year and there were so many things about it that really touched me from the incredible turnout of hundreds of people that were there sort of crowding around you and wanting to talk to you, to the fact that you had three secretaries of state from different political parties united in their admiration for you and your contribution, which harkened back to sort of other political times where maybe connection was more possible. And it was wonderful to see that you used, used the moment to emphasize in a sort of subtle but very evident way that this is what we should be doing. But the thing that I really left with was at the end when you spoke and and you spoke very honestly and from the heart and you said, look, I'm in the situation that I'm in now facing this terminal illness. But the truth is we're all on this road. And whether we're months or years or decades behind, we all know where this is going. And you said you said there are at this point, there are two things that matter.

Tom: [00:18:30] Are you surrounded by people you love and that love you? And did you make a difference? And that's that touched me, obviously, for the profundity of of that comment. But the other thing that I noticed in talking to other people is the way in which it provided and I don't know if you intended this, it provided a level of appreciation for the importance of this work for people that are generally quite exhausted. People who are working on climate change can be a bit demoralized, can be a bit exhausted about the road we've got ahead. But hearing you say this is really what matters when when it comes down to it, did you keep trying, and was it was it something that you focused your life on to make a difference? So I'd love to start in the second one and come back to the first in a minute. But how how now do you think about the contribution, the immense contribution that you have made, to this whole field of getting the world to focus on climate. And how does that feel to you at the position that you're in now in your life?

Pete: [00:19:32] Well, first of all, it's a great honour to be on this podcast. And, you know, you know, I'm here with, you know, probably the strongest communicators in the world on this difficult issue. It's it can be very hard to connect with people on this issue. And, you know, I can't think of anybody other than the people on this call who do that better. So thank you very much for, you know, doing me the honour of allowing me to participate. So I guess I'm, I'm a bit of a nerd, so I, um, when I found out I was going to die, I started reading books by people who had had the same message, thinking that they would be all about how they were grappling with the challenge of mortality and and meaning and so on. And most of them were sort of gruesome accounts of their radio and chemo therapy in which I had no interest whatsoever. And I read a book called Juliet by somebody called Julia Samuel, who is now advising my wife and me. And and that's what she said, she said the thing. It's sort of research. The thing that makes people feel that they their life. Come to terms with death is feeling they've been loved and feeling they've made a difference.

Pete: [00:20:50] And that really resonated with me. So, um, when I look around the world, I'm, um, I kind of engage more with climate change emotionally than I used to. I mean, I always did, but, you know, I'm, I find I hate violence now. I'm not quite the same person was, you know, even cartoonish violence on the TV, I hate it. And when I saw, say, Pakistan, you know, what happened there and the number of people affected, it was it was it was really moving. And and I really fear for the future. And, you know, the latest synthesis report is, um, you know, in some ways it's not that surprising. It does. You know, it simply reconfirms what we already knew, that it's unequivocal what's happening and why it's happening. But I thought one of the things that struck me was, you know, that at any given level of temperature increase, the impacts are looking worse than they were in AR5. And I think we're seeing that around the world. And if you assert that too sweepingly, then you get the sceptics saying, you know, trying to suggest you're overstating the science. But, you know, that is what the this incredibly well, well-researched piece of work says.

Pete: [00:22:11] And just that the what we've seen in the last couple of years is is just shocking. And I don't know how to find a way to present that in my book, for what it's worth, in a way that will resonate with people. One thing I have been trying to do is just collect the records. Collect the gist, the broken records on rainfall, on drought, on frequency of storms, and just just set them out in a neutral way. Um, because, because and actually, you can already see that from the list I just did, from Googling that, you know, it's done. It's done. It's sort of, you know, the evidence just jumps out. So, I hope people who are engaged in this in this struggle shouldn't feel demoralized because actually so many things have got better. The transition and how you get there is so much clearer than it was when you and I were doing this two decades ago Christiana. Um, but, but it's also true that geopolitics look terrible. And I suppose I hope that if we can't have cooperation, we can kind of have a race to the top between the superpowers as they, you know, seek to show their value systems are better than the other. Maybe. Maybe I'm clutching at straws, but maybe I'm never I'm never as positive as you Christiana. I'm always a bit half empty. 

Christiana: [00:23:51] Yes, yes. Which is why you're so helpful. Because you bring the other side. But, but, Pete, um, my good friend Pete Betts said in that beautiful celebration, he said, we have to know that we made a difference. So now, because you and I have been at this for more decades than we can possibly remember. What is your answer to that question? Have we made a difference?

Pete: [00:24:22] Yes, I think we have. I mean, you've only got I mean, so again, I go to the numbers. I mean, you look at where we were heading pre Copenhagen and where we're heading, where we were heading after Paris and where we're heading after Glasgow and Sharm. And it's it's nothing like good enough, but it's much better than it was. If you look at the numbers of the costs of key technologies, you know, they're just much lower than they were. There is a development path for developing, you know, developing countries in particular where they can become more prosperous and give their people all the things that they want to, quite rightly, and that we have we take for granted. There is a development path and but there is there are barriers on that development path. And, you know, we've got to help developing countries overcome those barriers. And, you know, we're not doing enough on that at the moment. But yes, yes, we have made a difference. And, you know, if feel I made a personal difference, it was, and I think you did this, you know better than anyone probably, it's just just listening to people and building consensus, you know, which we did in Cartagena. The Cartagena Dialogue. And, you know, I think that was a unique piece of diplomacy. I don't think there was, I've never heard of anything quite quite like that anywhere else. And, you know, many of them on the on, you know, on the developing country side were women, particularly Latin American women, people like Andrea Garcia and, and Balla Camillo, Isabel. I mean, you know, just fantastic. And, you know, we didn't always agree, but we we trusted the other side side enough to know that if they said something, it was because they had reasons to say it and you had to listen. And when you did listen, it was amazing how often you found common ground. Either you ended up being convinced by the other side or you, you could find win win solutions. So I do. I am very proud of the way we did that together, many of us. And and it wasn't true of in other it wasn't true with all delegations, but it was really true in Cartagena. And I think Cartagena did make a difference and I think was the sort of germ of the High Ambition Coalition, which Tony did such a brilliant job on, at at Paris. So that's one thing I'm proud of personally. And what I think I did. I did make a difference just by listening and building relationships of trust over years.

Christiana: [00:27:03] Very true Pete, thank you for reminding me of the Cartagena Dialogue. I, I haven't thought about that in years. And as you were speaking, I went back to the original meeting in Cartagena, which is why we termed it that. And then fast went through many images of of how how sincere that group was. It was really everybody came there. Yes. With with the information that we all had with our minds, let's say. But more than anything, with our hearts and everyone we invited to join, we invited them with their with their minds and their hearts. And don't forget your heart here. So, yes, thank you. Thank you for reminding me of that, because I would agree that it was the seed for the High Ambition Coalition that came after it. And I would say it it it marked a difference in the tone of the negotiations. And I think we had an influence that went beyond the members of the dialogue. So thank you. Thank you for reminding me of that very, very important shift in how we listened and worked with each other. Beautiful. Paul. Sorry. I think I cut you off.

Paul: [00:28:25] Thank you, Pete. I wanted to look ahead a little bit. You you wrote something that I thought was just absolutely fascinating in the Financial Times a year ago, and you were talking about the upgraded commitments of countries, Australia, apart from Australia, I should say, but with the US increasing their, the EU, Japan, Canada. But then you said, and this is a sentence that just leapt out at me, yet none of these countries has the policies in place comma, so far, comma to deliver these targets. So if we're moving now into a realm where policy becomes the sort of deciding factor and perhaps it always was, but it seems lots of people are talking about that now, what roots do you see to the acceleration of policy? Because the success you spoke of earlier, which I think is very tangible and very real, you know, the falling cost of renewables, etcetera, is built a climate movement which is very broad now with quite a lot of capability. But as it starts to focus on policy with somebody with such rich experience of government, do you have a sense of how it can best be steered to deliver the outcomes that we all want?

Pete: [00:29:33] So I think it's a very mixed picture. Um, so, you know, as I've written the book, you know, what we've seen is a long history of ambitious targets being set in developed world, generally being met in Europe and almost never being met by developed countries outside Europe. Whereas now we have in the US, um, the IRA, which the Inflation Reduction Act, which does stand a reasonable chance of being delivered, I think, and that is overwhelmingly driven by industrial policy, by, you know, competition with China, by, you know, sense that, that the US wants to, you know, command the controlling heights of the of the global economy. Whereas, you know, if I look in Europe I see Germany, Germany again blocking at the last minute. Um, uh, phase out dates for internal combustion engines. Um, I am, I am worried about UK delivery. I think UK is extremely ambitious target, but they're a long way from being on track. So you need politicians who are capable of making a politically resonant case in every in every geography and at the moment, you know, I hate to say it, the Americans for the first time ever are doing a better job in delivering than are some of us in Europe. I do worry that the press don't get the Paris regime. So most of the of the key decisions for Glasgow were of course taken months before Glasgow and went utterly unreported. You know the NDCs by China, India. Well that came in in Glasgow itself, but Indonesia were unreported. You know, everybody focused in Glasgow on like Sharma's tears at the COP. Now I understand why he was in tears. You know, people, you know, people often are in tears at COP. But it's, but it's because it's telegenic. You know what we need to focus on is those key decisions taken in capitals months before and and the NGOs, for some reason didn't draw attention to to those NDCs. And China's was frankly disappointing and way below what their economy will do anyway. And I'm not picking out China. You know, we need to work with China. But the sheer numbers of China's emissions, you know, bigger than developed world mean that their decisions matter more than anybody else's. And. You know, I don't don't think the China experts I talked to told me that the system feels under no pressure at the moment to tighten. You know, to go for earliest or, cap dates for steel emissions or cement emissions or and, you know, we have to be prepared to talk about them and not sort of back off because it's politically incorrect to pick on a developing country. You know, China is just so big. And it's not because they're they're the workshop of the world. It's because 92% of their emissions are China's own, servicing China's own economy, which is driven by infrastructure development and which often is unneeded. And, you know, that's their economic model and somehow in amidst everything else that's gone on, we have to hope that. You know, the Chinese leadership will adjust their development model too.

Paul: [00:33:26] It's a brilliant point. It's a it's a brilliant point about how the agenda evolves. Thank you for that. I think that you're spot on with the, you know, the media not directing people to to where the attention is required.

Tom: [00:33:39] Pete, I know Christiana wants to come in, but just one one more question about your deep experience in diplomacy and the art of the possible in international negotiations. As you sort of look at what's been done and what's left to do, what other other are there any things that you feel like you would have liked to have moved forward that have not taken the momentum that you would have wanted them to see that you'd still like to see happen?

Pete: [00:34:03] Yeah. I mean, adaptation and loss and damage. I mean, I just don't think it's had the the intellectual input that it deserves, let alone the money and the and the and the action. And, you know, it's very clear that, you know, we're going to face massive, massive impacts in many parts of the world. The population of Africa is going to be 2.5 billion by the middle of the century, you know, and you think of the the stresses that are going to come on on that continent, given what's already there, and it's just not getting the attention it deserves. I'm pleased that loss and damage featured in both Glasgow and Sharm El-Sheikh, but I've not seen a coherent account of what it actually means. What are we actually going to do to help countries adjust and, and compensate for their damage they're, they have suffered, and will suffer. So that that is that is an issue that. I didn't understand enough and still don't and I'm trying to educate myself in this book. I mean, the book is fun. I'm learning an awful lot. But that is that is a massive, massive challenge for all of us.

Christiana: [00:35:24] Well, Pete, I totally agree with you. I think the list is a very long list of what we still have not done and wish that we could accelerate forward. I would agree with your priority of that list and the very painful piece of that of the inattention or inaction on loss and damage is that it is so linked to the lack of speed and scale on mitigation, right? The longer we delay the cutting of emissions, the deeper we're going to have to go into loss and damage. And that's not just math. That is human misery. If it were just math, it would be a different issue. But that's human misery. So I totally agree with you on that, on that priority. But Pete, you keep on talking about a book. I thought you were writing two books. Is that true?

Pete: [00:36:29] Well, I may write a second book. The first book is the most important one. That's the climate one, um, which is partly a chronological account of the negotiations I was in and partly an attempted overview of where we stand on the technology and the politics of climate. And some of the scenarios I would see going forward. There is a possibility of a second book which would be more autobiographical, which, which I expect there would be zero audience outside a narrow group of my family, um, and maybe not even them.

Paul: [00:37:07] We'll read it over here.

Speaker17: [00:37:09] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll read it. You already have three readers right here who are not in your family.

Pete: [00:37:15] I promise not to include gruesome details of my, um of my treatment, which is like so many of the other authors. And by the way I was shocked by how many of the authors were kind of left of centre politicians in the UK, and I was shocked by how quickly they moved to private private medical treatment rather than relying on the National Health Service. Because I've become even stronger proponent of National Health Service, which we have in the UK, you know, which is.

Christiana: [00:37:44] Good on you, good on you.

Paul: [00:37:46] That's a beautiful endorsement of our national treasure. Thank you.

Christiana: [00:37:49] That is a beautiful endorsement. Yeah, well Pete, on that on on the second book on the personal side, which actually reflects interestingly your choice of two books reflects the two areas that you mentioned at your celebration of life that are important, making a difference in your case on climate change. And there is no doubt that you did and and feeling loved and love those around us. So before we close, I just wanted to get your top view thoughts or feelings on that one? Because we all have lost very, very dear people to us. In my case, I certainly have. And I continue to lose very dear people. And as I'm sure you know better than anyone, that is a challenge for everyone. It is for those who are just going a little bit quicker than us. It is a challenge for the rest of us who are going a little bit slower, we think, but it may not be so. You never know. But that circle of life, understanding that that there is a circle and a cycle in life and that these loved people are with us or that we are with them for a certain period of time, but that that is impermanent, coming to coming to grips with that is very tough sometimes. Some days I would say a little bit easier and some days much more difficult. Well, what have you learned on that one, Pete, that you might be willing to share with us.

Pete: [00:39:42] Um, first of all, you know, I've been incredibly moved by you know, the way people have reached out to me, including you Christiana, because I know I've sometimes been a pain in the neck and. 

Christiana: [00:39:54] You were doing your job.

Pete: [00:39:55] And so and so, I really appreciate this. I mean, I particularly appreciate team members. I mean, I've had incredible, you know, messages. I mean, I've had young men, you know, in their 20s and 30s telling me they love me you know, which I would have been, like, embarrassed. Now I, you know, I love it. And I respond in kind. No, I think the I think all you can do, all anyone can do because like you said, it's going to happen to all of us. It's the human condition is carpe diem. You. We all live as if we're going to live forever. Sometimes we all see life as something to be endured, to be got through. I never use the expression, I'm looking forward to doing X anymore. No, I'm going to enjoy every day and every moment before I do X. So that's that's what.

Christiana: [00:40:51] Oh, what an interesting insight. Yes. Thank you for calling us on that one.

Pete: [00:40:57] No, no. So many people have told me that you know, they that my notes and I hope so, because sometimes, you know, I'm sometimes I'm embarrassed that I write these very self revealing notes. But most people, I think, I hope it helps their journey a bit and help them to think about how they value what they have, the people they have. And to be reminded that we all have to, you know, we're all mortal. And so we have to enjoy every second of every day. And that's what I try to do.

Christiana: [00:41:32] Maybe the book you think you're going to write is already being written as the collation of all of those notes.

Pete: [00:41:39] Maybe. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Um, you know, yeah. I mean, and, and some of the replies I've had have been very moving, you know, including from people I wouldn't have expected. So, yeah, maybe. Maybe you're right. And thank you so much for inviting me to this podcast. It's been, it's such an honour to be on a call with, you know, people like you who really have made a difference and who've been, you know, seminal figures in our movement.

Christiana: [00:42:10] Couldn't do it without you being a nerd, being a pain in the butt and being amazing at consensus building. All of the above.

Pete: [00:42:22] Very kind of you to say so. And I'm genuinely proud of the third, I think I have done, even though some of the people I was building consensus with were probably found me a pain as well. Sometimes, you know, I think they knew that I wanted to reach out and I wanted to build bridges with them.

Christiana: [00:42:43] Absolutely. I don't think there's one of our former colleagues who would ever doubt that. Pete, it's been so wonderful to have you. Thank you very much. And I know it is a huge effort to do these public facing things. So thank you so much for for giving us your time, your thoughts, your feelings, your heart today. And I hate to do this to you, Pete, but before we let our guests go, we always ask the same question, and that is from where you are right now, what makes you outraged? Not difficult to answer that one with the IPCC report in our face, but maybe there's something else that makes you outraged and what makes you truly meaningfully optimistic.

Pete: [00:43:34] What makes me outraged, I am astonished that people who, you know, regard themselves as intelligent objective commentators on the world still write things which are, you know, manifestly untrue about climate change. You know, people who are mainstream commentators in our in our public debate, certainly in the UK. It's it's just shocking to me that they would they would do that. And I've I started by naming them in the book. And I have to think about whether I, I continue to do that. 

Christiana: [00:44:13] Not a bad thing to do.

Pete: [00:44:17] What was the second question? I've forgotten.

Christiana: [00:44:18] What makes you optimistic?

Pete: [00:44:21] Well, as I said, the the progress we're we're making technologically and, and not so much in policy or in finance yet. But I feel the world is in for some difficult times and it's going to be the poorest who are going to get the worst of it. So you know, that's what if I can persuade the right people to talk to me, you know, I want to try and, you know, I can't do this authoritatively in any way, but I want to say something that will raise the profile of adaptation and get us grappling with it now. Uh, and you know, if we're going to have 2.5 billion people in Africa, you know, how, I don't begin to know. When you how how we we build the conditions where as many as possible of those people can live decent, full complete lives. You know.

Christiana: [00:45:23] Dignified lives. Yes

Pete: [00:45:25] Dignified lives. So that's that's that's slightly not answering the question by giving a a half empty answer too. But that is that is that is unavoidable now. Because because of what we haven't done.

Paul: [00:45:43] But being optimistic about technology, potentially leading a process of political and finance to mitigate those problems.

Pete: [00:45:50] Yes, I am. But I mean, I'm not a I mean, I read Bill Gates's book and it's too technology focused. It's not just about technology. It's about overcoming the barriers. So I was reading about the the project in South Africa to help them make the transition to renewables, and which sounds great, but then I found out that, you know, the miners, the coal miners all have like unionized jobs with pensions and, you know, proper salaries, whereas a lot of the jobs in in the in renewables are zero hours contracts.

Tom: [00:46:25] That's the barrier.

Pete: [00:46:26] Yeah. So all these political economy barriers as well are also um, you know, it's not just technology and finance. It's it's and it's and at the moment it's nowhere near top priority for politicians. So, um, I'm not a, I'm not like a techno optimist, you know, it needs, it needs, it needs an awful lot of policy and finance behind it. Well, and I think the stuff Nick Stern is doing with Amar Bhattacharya and, you know, and others, you know, is, is you know, if it could be made to work is very promising to try and liberate some of that finance but we're a long way from success.

Christiana: [00:47:07] Pete, you know what I celebrate about what I've just heard from you, is that this is Pete Betts. True to form. You just did now what you've always done for us, which is bring our feet back down to reality. Bring our feet back down and go, whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. Yes, that's a brilliant idea. And we haven't thought about this and that. You know, that piece of you that or maybe that's the main piece of you that centres us back, brings us back and, and shows where the weak link is, was sometimes annoying, honestly, but so helpful. So helpful because otherwise we just, you know, float off into lala land. So thank you so much for for being Pete Betts still and bringing us back to reality and saying put your finger here take a look at this so thank you so much for for for not not easing out and and truly bringing us back to the reflections that make us work just more deeply and and and more intentionally. Thank you so much Pete Betts, true to form. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your time today Pete. Thank you for all the work that you've done. Thank you for writing. We will definitely be, I was going to say, looking forward to that, but I'm not going to say that anymore. So what's the alternative? What is the alternative in this case Pete? Help me out here.

Pete: [00:48:45] Uh, we'll be pleased to read it when the time comes.

Tom: [00:48:47] We'll enjoy it when it comes. Nice.

Christiana: [00:48:49] Alright, okay.

Paul: [00:48:50] Thank you Pete.

Tom: [00:48:51] Thank you Pete. Lovely to see you.

Christiana: [00:48:52] Thank you Pete.

Pete: [00:48:54] Lovely to see you all. Thank you for doing me the honour of this call. I really appreciate it.

Christiana: [00:48:57] It is an honour for us.

Paul: [00:48:58] Honour for us. 

Tom: [00:48:59] Honour for us.

Pete: [00:48:59] Thank you so much. I'm very honoured. Thank you so much.

Tom: [00:49:06] So as we said at the beginning, Pete Betts, just a legendary figure in international climate negotiations, something you've known a lot better than me Christiana, but I've certainly seen the impact of it and just what a what a star to bring so much of himself to this process that of course we'll all go through to do it. So honestly and transparently, I just thought that was incredibly moving. Where are you both at the end of that?

Paul: [00:49:29] Um, I, I think the dignity and the impressive, unemotional, light hearted realism, which I think is the underpinning the foundation of real care. He really cares about the victims of of climate change. You know who that we all are in different regards. But his empathy and the way he calls out for us to recognize our duty towards the most vulnerable is very striking, very powerful. So I was very moved by just, you know, being in the presence of a big heart and a big brain that are connected.

Christiana: [00:50:13] Yeah, I agree with that, Paul. And as I said there at the end, you know, his everybody in a group always sort of contributes some in some role. And he was always the one to put his finger into the wound, so to speak, to say like, wait a minute, here's where this is not working. Very much, if you will play the Cassandra role. And I just and as I admitted there, I found it sometimes very annoying, but so helpful to the entire system because it just grounds you back into reality and makes you work all the harder. And the fact that at this point in his life, he is doing research, pulling together statistics, writing a book, having a second book in mind. And writing these personal notes that are yes, some of them are sort of information gathering, but mostly they are speaking out of his heart and how he is working through this this news about his health. And it is just so moving to see that other part of Pete, that personal softer wise with a with a capital W, wise side. He was always very intelligent still continues to be very intelligent. But he's also now moving into his wise side that is beyond his his intelligence and is just it is it is such a beautiful contribution and I would say such a, such a beautiful choice of what to do with your time when you know the the news that that he knows about his life. So, you know, if I ever admired Pete Betts, my admiration has gone like 150% deeper and and higher for him.

Tom: [00:52:26] It's it's so striking to see someone with such fierce intelligence pairing that with such deep wisdom that is developing as he reaches the phase of his life, as you say, Christiana. And and you know, something he said reminded me, I remember years ago living in the monastery, having this insight about how joyful it was to have nothing to look forward to because it didn't take you out of the present moment and you could just be where you were. I hadn't thought about that for years. And then when he said, I never say I look forward to things, I just enjoy my life as it comes. It's so simple, but it's so it's so totally transformational if you can if you can do that. So I just thought that was a gift that he was able to identify that and phrase that in the way he did and and what a contribution he's made. I mean, it's vast.

Christiana: [00:53:09] What a contribution.

Tom: [00:53:11] Yeah.

Paul: [00:53:11] Um, and I couldn't help noticing that he also spoke about the it was kind of uncanny that I'd been calling out the, you know, the misinformation, and then he identified it. But I mean.

Christiana: [00:53:23] Yes, yes.

Tom: [00:53:24] Yes, that's true.

Christiana: [00:53:25] And he's made a list, he has names. 

Paul: [00:53:27] And he's made a list of names. Well, this is a really serious point, actually. You know, I think one of the things that we really have to communicate to people, you know, Lachlan Murdoch, the Executive Chair and Chief Executive of Fox News or the company that owns Fox News, is that people will be held accountable in the future. This has got to stop because, you know, people can spend the rest of their lives in courtrooms, you know, having a miserable life because they made a mistake in 2023. It's just got to stop. By the way, on a on a if we've got another moment.

Christiana: [00:53:53] Paul, before you go off from that, I suspect that you also have a list of these people in at least in your head, if not in writing, I suggest that you send your list to Pete and and between the two of you, you come up with a pretty complete list.

Paul: [00:54:10] Honestly. I mean, look, it's not a nice thought that that that there will be some sort of, you know, difficult personal accountability in the future. But there are a lot of people with a lot of lists. And unfortunately, this is super serious. And I ask myself, you know, I'm involved in kind of, you know, this this kind of thing, and what if I'm doing the wrong thing? Well, I ask myself simple questions like, am I saying the opposite of the Secretary-General of the United Nations? No, I'm not. You know, it kind of reassures me. But on a positive note, I wanted to just finish on a kind of a positive note from my side, because I know we haven't got very long.

Christiana: [00:54:39] Go for it.

Paul: [00:54:40] I was speaking to someone called John Marshall from an organization called Potential Energy, and he's very focused on getting the dialogue right. And there's lots I could say he's done a wonderful kind of TED talk about this. But the he gave one particular example of communications, which I thought I would share with listeners because it's fascinating. And he talks about people living in Florida who I think are called Floridians, which is really weird because it sounds like they come out of flying saucer but if you say to people in Florida, do you want net zero by 2050, they say no. And if you say to people in Florida, do you want to do something about the flooding, they say yes. So ultimately, what we need to do is to find ways to simplify our messages. And, you know, I've been kind of banging on a little bit about policy, but I was speaking to some lovely people last night, and one of them was talking about how we actually want to see some competitiveness, fear of missing out, the Inflation Reduction Act. And suddenly the EU is like, well, you know, people are starting to ask, is is this jurisdiction competitive? Have they got the right laws to get to net zero? Will we invest or will we not? You know, is my money at risk? There's an inevitable policy response coming in. A race to regulation is now in a very exciting new narrative. I think we can be optimistic is emerging in the world. So that was my positive thought for the day. I'm sure Pete, if he was here, would stick his finger in and say, yeah, but but.

Christiana: [00:55:55] Yes, yes, he would.

Tom: [00:55:59] In a loving and helpful way. Exactly. That's great Paul. I love, and John Marshall, we've known and worked with him for many years. He's absolutely fantastic. And in fact, you saying that now makes me think there's a travesty happening, which is we've never had him on the pod. So let's correct that.

Paul: [00:56:08] Let's get him on. 

Christiana: [00:56:09] Yeah. How did that happen? Sarah, can we please put him on the list?

Sarah: [00:56:14] Sure.

Tom: [00:56:17] Brilliant. All right, well, unless there's anything else to add, I think that is a wrap for this week. We're leaving you with some music. Thank you for joining us. This very moving conversation with Pete. And we're leaving you with some music from Aisha Badru. So hope you enjoyed this and thanks for joining us. We'll be back next week. Bye.

Paul: [00:56:33] Bye. 

Christiana: [00:56:34] Bye.

Aisha Badru: [00:56:37] Hey, my name is Aisha Badru. I'm a singer songwriter currently living in central Florida, where I have a beautiful permaculture garden on about a half acre of land. My music centers around emotional healing, and I often tie in themes regarding nature into my lyrics. This song you're about to hear is called Path of Least Resistance, and it's part of my EP, Learning to Love Again, which will be out June 2nd. The song highlights the feelings of fear and hesitation that we often get when we're considering allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with someone again.

Clay: [00:59:55] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage and Optimism. I'm Clay, producer of this podcast. And hey, I'm back after a couple of weeks away. I've missed you. Aisha Badru is our artist of the week with her song Path of Least Resistance. Thank you so much, Aisha, for letting us spin this new track for our listeners. We're very much looking forward to the new EP when it comes out. A message to our listeners. Just like social media, you can follow artists on Apple Music and on Spotify and you can get notified when there's a new release. Say maybe an artist you heard on a podcast is coming out with a new EP. Please go check the show notes for links to Aisha's Spotify and Apple Music as well as her social media accounts. Thank you, Aisha. Now, did you have headphones on or like nice speakers for that song? Because there's some great bass in that song that you're not going to get while you're just, you know, holding up your phone speaker up to your ear. Yes, I see you doing that right now. Please stop. Get some headphones. Thanks to our guest this week, Pete Betts. It was such a pleasure to have Pete on and reflect about surrounding yourself with those you love and making a difference. It was I was talking with a few members of our team. It was really beautiful conversation and we were so thrilled to have him on. Thank you, Pete, for that and thank you for all the amazing work that you're continuing to do in the movement.

Clay: [01:01:31] We've put Pete's LinkedIn account in the show notes below. I'm sure he would love to hear if you heard him on the show today and enjoyed it. You can send him a message. At the beginning of the episode. We had a promo for Future Forward. It's a six part series coming from the Climate Pledge team. Those six parts are things like the future of water, the future of building, the future of farming five different directors across the six different films. And these six films are coming to Amazon Prime and the Climate Pledge website on Tuesday, April 4th. So mark your calendars. Tom said to Google it, but I'll do you one better. We've got a link in the show notes that will take you to a website climate pledge website detailing the series. And there's a link to host a screening of the film or films if you wish, you know, maybe host a Q&A with one of the filmmakers, maybe a cool opportunity to get some climate action going on in your community or your place of work. Check that out in the show notes. Just spoiler alert, everything is in the show notes. All right. A couple more things before you go. If you've been with us the last two weeks, you'll know that we just wrapped our two part series on momentum versus perfection. Thank you again for all the incredible feedback. It's been amazing to see how these episodes have done.

Clay: [01:02:52] And I should say these episodes are trending towards being our most popular episodes since we've launched this podcast four years ago. And of course, none of that really matters unless there's impact which your direct feedback and engagement online with us has really moved the conversation forward. And so in response, as Christiana suggested, we're going to be doing a live follow up episode where we'll record it live online and you can join us and ask a question. We'll be announcing details in the weeks to come. But the best way that you can make sure that you hear about the live event coming up so you can be there and you can hear it later, is to sign up for our newsletter. Follow us on social media at outrage and optimism and hit, subscribe or follow on this podcast. You don't want to miss it. It's going to be great to have you there. Oh, and if you're like momentum versus perfection, what are you talking about? Go back and check out the last two previous episodes in our feed. Tom and Fiona, who you'll meet in the episode, explore two different theories of change within the climate movement and ask if and how they can coexist to drive the level of scale and action needed. And there's some great music throughout the series. I'm just saying, okay, that is everything from me. Thank you again, Aisha. Thank you, Pete. It's great to be back. We'll see you next week.


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