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202: No Matter What, We're Going Too Slow

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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, Christiana, Tom and Paul debrief on Paul’s recent mini series and discuss the news that insurers are leaving the Net Zero Insurance Alliance after the ESG backlash in the U.S. There is a big week coming up, with the Bonn climate intersessionals in preparation for the COP28 in Dubai later in the year. Finally, they discuss the devastating news of heat waves in India and Asia, and the fact that the World Meteorological Organization has said that there is a 66% chance that the world will exceed the 1.5 °C threshold in at least one of the next five years.

We introduce you to this year's Environmental Music Prize which aims to amplify the voices of artists who inspire action for climate and conservation. We feature three of the finalists; Meraki Mae, SheisArjuna and Sunfruits.

Also, don't forget we’re hosting a live Q+A session on the 12th June with Paul, Fiona, Dylan, Tom and Christiana to cover all those burning questions unearthed by the Lifelines vs Deadlines mini-series. Details about how to register your place can be found here.

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.


Don’t miss our LIVE Online Podcast Recording & Q+A - June 12, 2023. Click the link to register and save your spot!

Environmental Music Prize 2023

***Go to EnvironmentalMusicPrize.com to vote for your favorite 3 finalists by Sunday, June 4th!***

Edwina Floch
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Finalists Featured:

Meraki Mae - Warrior
Instagram | Facebook | Spotify

SheisArjuna - Vessel
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Sunfruits - End of The World
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Learn more about the Paris Agreement.

Exec Producer: Sarah Thomas
Producer/Sound Design/Editor: Clay Carnill
Production Coordinator: Mandy Clark
Social Media Manager: Kam-Mei Chak
Communications Manager: Zoe Tcholak-Antitch
Operations Manager: Katie Bradford

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Full Transcript

Tom: [00:00:12] Hello and welcome to Outrage + Optimism. I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.

Christiana: [00:00:15] I'm Christiana Figueres.

Paul: [00:00:17] And I'm Paul Dickinson.

Tom: [00:00:18] We're back this week for a chat between us hosts talking about the recent Lifelines versus Deadlines mini series that Paul has been hosting with friends. Plus, we touch on the backlash of ESG, the extreme weather, what Pope Francis has been up to. There's a lot going on. And we have music from the Environmental Music Prize. Thanks for being here. So, friends, we're back. It's been a few weeks. It's lovely to see you both. And I think we probably have to just start, Paul, by saying congratulations. I know you put a lot of effort into this little mini series with your friends, Fiona and Dylan, who are our friends too. And the three of you did a fantastic job. I love the Lifelines versus Deadlines concept. I thought the interviews were great. How did you feel about it?

Christiana: [00:01:06] Okay, wait, can I just, just jump in before Paul says how he feels about it? Tom, did you just say your little mini series? I think you said that.

Paul: [00:01:18] Thank you, Christiana. This is, this is important to me. Thank you.

Christiana: [00:01:21] Now, for two episodes that run well over an hour, kicking into an hour and a half each. You know what I think about long episodes, so I can't believe that you said little mini series. Little mini is like doubling, isn't it?

Paul: [00:01:41] I thought you were about to defend me from the belittling comments.

Tom: [00:01:42] Well, I was trying, I was trying to cover over the length. I thought I'd slide it through by putting that in there. I do know that three days before the second one went out, it was an hour and 50 minutes so someone did some editing.

Christiana: [00:01:54] Okay.

Paul: [00:01:55] It was always because it was completely full, for anyone who hasn't listened. Just like absolutely world class guests, zillions of them. It's all the guests. And we had to cut many of them down. But thank you, Christiana, for for stopping Tom from sort of secretly going under the radar and suggesting there was something little about what was essentially the biggest show on earth. Although you ask me how I feel, first of all, a total pleasure, privilege and honour to work with the brilliant Fiona and Dylan and so many fantastic guests. And just 400 short of the number of downloads you've got on your mini series. Not that I'm counting, but essentially the. 

Christiana: [00:02:33] Oh, are we competing? Oh my goodness.

Tom: [00:02:36] Oh, we are always competing where Paul is concerned. 

Paul: [00:02:37] No, we are not competing. Competing is childish, it's small minded. It doesn't achieve anything. Competition is what actually is ruining our species and so.

Tom: [00:02:43] He's saying this because it was less than my mini series. Otherwise he'd be saying.

Paul: [00:02:46] Oh, so you're repeating what you were denying that I was saying. Did you, can I ask you both, in all seriousness, in honour of the fantastic guests and co-hosts I had, any one reflection from each of you? Because your people that I admire and so does the world. What did you think of the kind of point we're making? Because I was trying to frame it as a kind of follow on from momentum versus perfection kind of I wanted to sort of dig into kind of why things are so crazy.

Christiana: [00:03:11] Well, speak about why. Sorry, Tom. Speak about why. I know it comes very early in the mini series, but I was bowled over by the interview with Senator Whitehouse, the kinds of detail that he knows about the why things are not happening the way they should is really astonishing. Absolutely astonishing. A, that this is happening. B, that he knows it and C, that if he knows it and he puts it on our podcast, it has to be public information. So the fact that it's public information and still doesn't stop the nightmare is really quite humbling.

Tom: [00:03:51] Yeah. No, no, he's fantastic. And I was very jealous also that you had Naomi Oreskes on there, who I've long admired and always wanted to have on the podcast. So congratulations on that. And I thought her insights and her analysis on the history. I mean, we often think that we're kind of doing our best and struggling along and trying to make change without being aware of this vast campaign to prevent the progress that we've been trying to make that's been unfolding. And we sort of know to some degree it's out there. But when you hear the kind of guests you had set it out in that kind of clear, step by step way, it's just absolutely, I was completely bowled over and stunned by the revelation of this awful malintent that has manifested, that slowed humanity down. Um, and I also love Paul that clearly as we get deep into inside your brain, Fiona's ability to bring out timeless French philosophy is, is matched by your ability to quote Terminator 2. So I thought that that also sort of like, was just a wonderful insight into where we really. Load More
Paul: [00:04:52] You know, more art critics than you think favour Terminator 2 as quite a significant movie actually. And those who've watched it over 30 times like me will will remember the scene with the carving in the table. It's a pivotal moment.

Tom: [00:05:08] I remember it well. Now we, I have actually lots of questions for you about the podcast, because I got quite a few messages from corporations after you put it out around the relevant relative importance of policy engagement versus actual action by corporations. And there is kind of a tension in there. If you're saying to corporations you can't do everything, should you focus on making more visible the way in which you're shaping policy, or should you focus on taking action yourself? Of course, the easy answer is you need to do both. But there may be a prioritization in some cases, but I'm not going to ask you that now, because two weeks from now we're going to do a live show where we bring listeners on to ask questions of you and the other co-hosts, Fiona and Dylan. 

Christiana: [00:05:50] Live, live.

Tom: [00:05:51] And Clay is going to tell us right now exactly when that is.

Clay: [00:05:54] Yeah, so Monday, the 12th of June 2023, mark your calendars. 11:30EST, 4:30BST, 5:30CET, of course, check the show notes for a link to sign up and save your spot. We're looking forward to seeing you there and bring your questions. Okay, back to you.

Tom: [00:06:15] So I'd like to just pivot now because one thing, one observation that I had, Paul, is that much of these the interviews that you had were focused on the ways in which corporates are lobbying politicians and perverting what really should be happening. But there's been a lot of news this week about the ways in which politicians are weirdly lobbying corporates and not only politicians but others as well. And this is to do with the apparent collapse of some elements of GFANZ amid political attacks in the US. Um, listeners will have seen this I'm sure, insurance companies have been pulling out of GFANZ. Three of Europe's biggest insurers and large Japanese and Australian insurers have quit the Net Zero Insurance Alliance amid growing US political pressure and legal fears which have plunged this initiative, according to some people, into crisis. So, so let's start there. I think this is really interesting, we know that there is an organized pushback to to ESG, environmental, social governance, as it's called. And we also know from Paul's research and other things that there is a strong coordinated hand that sits behind that. So let's start, Christiana, what do you want to share about this issue and how you're seeing it?

Christiana: [00:07:29] Well, I wanted to share a story that is eventually going to illustrate a point, if I may. Quite a few years ago, I had a work colleague that is neither of the two of you who called me because I was going on a trip and said, my wife is having a very important birthday. Would you please bring me a birthday present for her? I said, of course. So he said, well, I would like a bag that is not too large and not too small, not too square and not too round, not too dark and not too light. And it went on and on and on. And I said, how on earth am I going to find that bag? It seems to me that we're in that situation because if you look at the ground on which climate action is trying to occur. We have, on the one hand, we have quite a few people who are very concerned because their perception is that we don't have enough action that is credible, that is effective, and that can be trusted in the face of the emergency and the urgency that we have for climate action. And so there is a huge expectation there on that side for what I would call perfection, to use Tom Carnac's words or impeccable performance.

Christiana: [00:09:01] On the other side, we have, as we've just mentioned, those who would want to tear it all down because their impression is that we're going too fast. So for some we're going too slow for others, we're going too fast. Why do I say too fast? Because we know that we have gone now, five years ago, we had global energy investment totalled 2 trillion, of which one half was for clean energy and one half was for fossil fuels. Today we have 1 trillion for fossil fuels and 1.7 for clean energy. Helped, of course, a bit by the invasion of Ukraine. But also just because those are the better technologies. So you see that we're in this in-between space in which for some we're going too fast and hence they have to bring it down because they're concerned, vested interests are concerned, they're going to be out of the game. And for others, we're going too slow. And they are understandably looking at the science, looking at the fact that we are running out of time and hence they want to impose more and more perfection on the reporting at least of climate action. So I ask you, what do we do about this? Here we are in the middle of either too slow or too fast.

Paul: [00:10:37] Well, I mean, the answer, as you know very well, Christiana, is that those who suggest we're moving too fast, that we are decarbonising too quickly are plain wrong. You know that. That the problem here is that we are not decarbonising even nearly fast enough. But of course, there will be a whole bunch of people with a lot of money, with a lot of money, and they will be saying we're moving too fast and this is upsetting our investments. This is upsetting potentially the, you know, the wealth that we have locked up in whatever high energy or sorry, high fossil infrastructure that there is. Now, the thing I want to focus on here is you started off, Tom, saying that these were political attacks. And it's true that there have been some quite pointed comments by people called state's attorneys general. So each state in the United States has an attorney general, and they are typically elected I think, 45 of the 43 states elect their attorneys general. Now, when you get elected, it's not the most you know, it's not the biggest thing in the world to get an election for an attorney general. It's not like the presidential election. So people don't pay that much attention to it. They'll pay attention to adverts however, you actually have to spend a very, very great deal of money on advertising to get elected. And so guess what? Some people have got a lot of money. I was looking at a particular trust called Donors Trust that channels money, particularly into right wing causes. They have revenues of about $350 million a year. They have $422 million of unrestricted reserves. I work in a charity and I know what, you know, we have a very few millions and we do an awful lot.

Paul: [00:12:12] These people have got hundreds of millions coming in each year. No one knows really where it comes from. But very specifically on these insurance companies, alongside state attorneys general who may have been put in office by kind of fossil fuel lobbyists. This is something I would argue. You actually have a group, it's actually called Consumers Research is a very old lobby group, but it was recently in the last 10 or 15 years, turned into a kind of right wing lobby group. They've received 12 million from Donors Trust. No one knows where that money comes from. They have threatened these insurance companies in the United States very specifically. They have said, and I'm now going to quote Reuters, who have said that these the consumers research is planning to take billboards to company headquarters to persuade them that they shouldn't be part of this UN initiative, the Net Zero Insurance Association. Now, the question I have, I suppose for you two, and also for our listeners is, if just so to say, secret money can bully an insurance company like that, we might want the insurance companies to have more kind of backbone, for want of a better word. But how do we as the climate movement, you know, show up? I mean, literally physically, would we offer a phone number where the insurance companies can call? And then if such a van does arrive, can we surround that van, ask the driver who they work for, who hired the van? Try and just, no, I'm absolutely serious. You know, if people are going to play silly games on the street, we have to play them, too. And we have to win because our children's survival depends upon these precise details, in my humble opinion.

Tom: [00:13:45] Can I, can I just push on that? And I want to go back in a second and ask Christiana about this, the answer to this going too fast, going too slow, but just to push on that. Do we really I mean, do we really buy that? I mean, these are massive global companies that do enormous amounts of message testing. They look at the way consumers are moving. They understand that action on climate change is broadly quite popular across OECD countries. Are they really changing their strategy and getting afraid because a few vans are pulling up in front of their headquarters? What's really happening?

Christiana: [00:14:14] No, no. 

Paul: [00:14:14] They're not changing their strategy, they're moving out of a group.

Tom: [00:14:17] That's pretty significant.

Christiana: [00:14:18] Well, yes, they're moving out of a public position, I would say, because they have been accused falsely of doing something that could be illegal. Problem here, and we should definitely get into this much deeper in a hopefully very soon episode is that they're moving into a space that is a little bit grey, that has really not matured enough for them to just laugh it off. There is enough concern there that they need to protect themselves. I'm sure their lawyers are hitting the ceiling going, whoa, whoa, whoa, we need to de-risk this public position that we have taken. So let us stand back from the public position until we can shore up enough confidence that we're standing on firm legal footing. And I think that is what they're doing. It doesn't mean that they are disinvesting from where they have been investing. They're not changing their portfolios because they know what portfolio is safer for them and which portfolio is more risky for them. So they're not doing that. This is all about the.

Tom: [00:15:31] That is that is supposed to be a scarlet macaw for listeners. It may sound like a duck to you, but it's the closest thing to a scarlet macaw on Christiana's phone.

Christiana: [00:15:39] It's actually a call exactly about what I'm talking about, but I shall take it later.

Paul: [00:15:43] Take the call.

Christiana: [00:15:44] Yeah. So I'll. I'll take the call later, but, and let's see if my suspicion is confirmed. But I do think that the the the concern here is that they feel that perhaps they're standing on shaky legal ground, which they're not. But that needs to be firmed up by their own internal lawyers, plus other lawyers that I'm sure are very quickly becoming experts in this. But it is very concerning that we see this, as I would call the phase two of intimidation. The phase one of intimidation was all the attacks on ESG. And and those attacks didn't go very far because those who are already invested with ESG purpose and principles don't think that it makes any sense to pull out. And so my sense is that since that didn't take them very far, then they go into phase two of intimidation, which is now these accusations of anti trust issues in these completely voluntary alliances. But but well, let's let's come back to it next week in more depth.

Tom: [00:16:55] Yeah.

Paul: [00:16:56] Yeah. I mean, just to say I think it's complete mischief making, but of course, it's very frightening when, you know, people in political office and high legal office make, do mischief making. You know, I think over 2 to 3 years it goes nowhere. But right now it's terrifying for the people involved.

Tom: [00:17:11] So, as you say, Christiana, this is a rich area for us to get into and we'll be back on this next week or soon after. But but to just summarize what you've both said, you've basically said, look, this is legal posturing from a whole range of well-funded people with mal intent who are trying to create trouble. Internal lawyers are going to need to work through this. But at this point, we feel like those internal lawyers will examine this. They'll say there is no legal jeopardy and we will return to momentum as we were before. And we need to just kind of keep on top of that. Um, just before we leave this topic, Christiana, you just said something very interesting about, you know, some saying going too fast, some saying going too slow. And Paul reminded us of the science. It really made me think about back in the UNFCCC days when you said probably in jest, our objective is to make everyone equally unhappy. You know, that sort of like that leads to a balanced text. What's your answer to your question about how we thread the needle between too fast and too slow from different perspectives?

Christiana: [00:18:07] Well, I didn't say it in jest because that is actually the the mark of a good negotiated result is that no one gets 100% of what they wanted, but everyone gets at least a decent chunk of what they wanted and everybody goes equally happy and equally frustrated. And anything different than that means that some parties have actually gotten more than they should have from the perspective of others. So that is the mark of a negotiation. The problem is that this is not a political negotiation.

Paul: [00:18:47] Correct.

Christiana: [00:18:47] As Paul just mentioned, right, this is the survival of humanity. So it's not like we have to find somewhere, you know, somewhere that people can agree on, whether we're going too slow or too fast. The fact is, no matter what, we're going too slow. And so scale and speed is really, really important. And the fact that there are so many trying to bring down both scale and speed is, I don't know, criminal.

Tom: [00:19:16] Yeah, probably.

Paul: [00:19:17] I mean, there is just another kind of negotiation. You know, I was watching the other night about a whole bunch of nice 18 to 20 year olds, 300 of them on on I think what's called a Higgins boat that landed at Omaha Beach in 1944 on D-Day and were all immediately executed. But then plenty more of their colleagues went along. And we we we stopped fascism in Europe. But, you know, they put their lives on the line and they died because it was important. And when I think people won't, you know, suffer an increase in airfares or taxes on energy or meat or whatever, I think to myself, you know, what did we lose that previous generations had.

Tom: [00:20:00] That's very nicely phrased, what did we lose. Um, well, just, just just staying on the negotiations thing for a bit. We have next week quite an important week because the intersessionals, as they're called, are happening in Bonn. So this is the negotiations that happen between the COPs where you sort of prepare for the COP and get the agenda sorted and try and smooth the way. It's an interesting moment for it to happen, isn't it? Because we've talked before on this podcast about Dr. Sultan and the role he's playing as the COP President Designate, as he's called. He'll be the president of the COP in Dubai at the end of the year. And Simon Stiell, of course, still sort of getting his feet under the table at the UNFCCC. Just a few days ago, we saw lawmakers in this remarkable letter from both sides of the Atlantic, European Parliament, US Congress come together and write a letter addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Simon Stiell, President Biden, Ursula von der Leyen calling for them to intervene and and request or require the removal of Dr. Sultan. I think, again, this is something that we'll we'll get into down the road. It's been interesting to see how it's been responded to in the UAE. I think there's a sense of overreach by those lawmakers. I've certainly heard perspectives from people in this country to say, well, okay, they're deciding to posture on this, but they haven't produced a 100 billion. They haven't reduced their own emissions. This feels a bit rich. What do you both think about this?

Christiana: [00:21:22] Well, just from a strictly legal international law perspective, it's preposterous to ask for the removal because it is the sole, the sole privilege of the host country to decide who the COP president is. No one else has any any opinion that is worth considering. So it's it you know, it's just to me, it's really pathetic when somebody doesn't even bother to read the rules. What are the rules? Who has the right to name a COP president? This is not a political, international choice that he was set up as a candidate. And you know, all the countries were asked to vote whether yes or, no it is the purview of the host country, period. So preposterous to just step over that and and and write such a letter, no matter how you feel about it.

Paul: [00:22:24] Yeah well, Christiana you are, as ever, completely right. I think the reason the letter was written was because Dr Sultan is also chief executive of a major oil company. And I think the point I would make here is that there are, I think, tens of thousands of people in the oil and gas industry who are really good kind people, who really want to help and want to be an important part of the transition. Some of them, I think, feel a bit trapped in a system. But there's a history of the oil and gas industry behaving incredibly badly. I'll give you one factoid. There was in October 2021, NPR in the US referenced Greenpeace, who did a sting operation on an Exxon lobbyist who said and was recorded saying, did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes, we were looking after our investments. We were looking out for our shareholders. That terrible behavior in the past has chronically damaged the reputation of the oil and gas industry today. And I think that there's a need for the oil and gas industry to come forward and to distance itself from the bad deeds of of a preceding people in the same industry. But I mean, obviously, he can't be removed. But I mean, that's that's the issue here. It's about trust in an industry and how to regain it can.

Christiana: [00:23:42] No, no, I totally agree with that, Paul. And you know, as I've said on this podcast just recently, I really am very, very disappointed, frustrated, angry that the oil and gas industry has chosen to use their unprecedented profits to increase dividends, buy back shares and even begin new explorations. I just think that is absolutely untenable. So I'm with you on that. However, if there are people around and and many of us are concerned, but if that is a concern, then you write a letter to the COP president himself fully respecting that the host country is the one that names the COP president. You write a letter to him and you say, here are our concerns. How will you address our concerns? But you don't go over his head and around him to request a solution that is legally impossible to execute.

Tom: [00:24:52] Well, I mean, what that suggests, Christiana, what you're what you're sort of saying without saying is that to a certain degree, it's also kind of virtue signalling, saying, you know, we want to be seen to be calling for this thing because we see the public outcry for it rather than actually taking a legal step that would lead to the outcome. So it's a political game.

Paul: [00:25:09] I got to just like wrap you on the knuckles for using a right wing trope of virtue signalling. But I hear you Tom.

Tom: [00:25:16] Fair enough. Speaking of virtue signalling, although I think it's probably not fair at all to say this. Pope Francis has had an interesting couple of weeks, hasn't he? What did you guys think of this?

Paul: [00:25:27] What, has he been involved in some kind of scandal? What's the deal?

Tom: [00:25:30] No, no, no. He's, I mean.

Paul: [00:25:33] Stolen gold. 

Christiana: [00:25:35] Paul Dickinson shame on you. Shame on you.

Paul: [00:25:37] Wait a minute, there's an enormous lightning bolt coming up.

Tom: [00:25:41] So Pope Francis, long a leader in calling out, you know. 

Paul: [00:25:45] Sorry Christiana, it's not like there's never been a scandal in the Catholic Church. I mean, I'm not saying.

Christiana: [00:25:52] But not with this Pope, not with this Pope Paul. This is a pretty unique Pope.

Paul: [00:25:55] Ok right sorry. Okay, cool. Gotcha. Sorry, Tom.

Tom: [00:25:58] Don't mess with the Pope. Pope Francis, I mean, he's been there for a while, right? Laudato Si' in 2015, the encyclical has come out and made some pretty harsh comments about how we're doing. The world is beginning to look more, look more, look more and more like an immense pile of filth. He said it's absurd to permit the continued exploration and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructures. The world must listen to science and institute a rapid and equitable transition to end the era of fossil fuels. He'd make a pretty good COP president, actually, wouldn't he?

Christiana: [00:26:29] We'd have to have the COP at the Vatican. How's that?

Tom: [00:26:32] A COP at the Vatican. Let's propose it with Pope Francis as the president.

Paul: [00:26:37] No, I mean, look, he actually you know, his words are noble and right and correct. I would probably personally accompany them with some words encouraging, you know, birth control in the Catholic religion, because I think, you know, it's not unreasonable to talk about population numbers driving many of our problems. But given.

Christiana: [00:26:54] Now now Paul.

Tom: [00:26:54] He came out as gay, the Pope, didn't he, a while ago.

Paul: [00:26:57] Not, not, not not this one. Not this one. But but like a gay Pope would be unbelievably cool.

Tom: [00:27:02] Amazing.

Paul: [00:27:03] No, honestly.

Christiana: [00:27:05] Now, now, now wait, wait. I really have to call the two of you on this because I think we are stepping into disrespect. So I don't believe that that's warranted with someone who has really, really tried his best and will continue to reform the Catholic Church. So let's a little more respect for someone who personally is very committed and who also is the head of millions and millions and millions of religious believers around the world.

Paul: [00:27:38] I think that might be more like billion with a B, so yeah, totally. I have no, I once accidentally insulted or kind of offended somebody who was a deep religious thinker. And I apologized and they said offense was given but not taken. I do hope no offense has been taken by any of our listeners.

Tom: [00:27:58] Yeah, it was obviously not intended. Thank you, Christiana, appreciate it. And the tone is probably wrong, but the intent was affectionate and I actually think a gay pope would be very cool and it's Pride month. So, you know, we should celebrate all of that as well. Um, okay. So what's caught your eyes this week? Anything else you want to cover off on our time together?

Paul: [00:28:17] I mean, when I was on a, like, a 17 hour binge fest to watch the last episode of Succession, I'm not going to do any spoilers for our listeners who haven't yet come around to it. But I do think it's quite interesting because clearly it borrows considerably on the Murdoch family and Fox News. You know, the fictional ATN brand is essentially Fox, and they have a whole scene where the election is being called and these kinds of issues. I mentioned that simply because I do look at Fox from time to time and I was reading some of Fox News's website and the level of vitriol that is being reserved for climate activists, particularly taking any kind of direct action. The right wing media is very, very interested in othering any kind of climate activist. It will always be said that what they're doing is insane and no one will ever write in the article. You know, we appear to be in considerable trouble with regard to climate change. The articles will always draw attention to the insanity of the action by the activist without ever acknowledging that they might have some grounds for thinking they should do so. That's what's been catching my eye.

Tom: [00:29:25] Can I ask you a question about that, Paul? Because I remember being at the CDP launch in 2007 when Rupert Murdoch spoke about the importance of climate change and how News Corporation were moving forward. Was that always disingenuous? Do you think he ever had a moment where he could have gone another way?

Paul: [00:29:38] So, I mean, on Succession, you know, the main character is is based, you know, clearly on on an amalgam. And I was reading a great article with with the writer of the show. It's based on a number of characters. But clearly one of them is Rupert Murdoch. And I think that the the the drama and art sometimes is very good at giving us a doorway into life. The point that Succession makes is that someone like that isn't intrinsically a bad person. But if you know, the profitability of of their media company is increased by behaving very, very badly, then they find themselves tempted into doing that and justifying themselves along the way. We talked about the extraordinary fine that Dominion Voting Systems received from Fox News for essentially, you know, kind of malicious news. So, you know, it's not like I'm making it up. They've been in court for it. Do people who own a company that makes malicious news to to make a profit, do they have bad hearts? I guess. But I think that they the heart is kind of made corrupted day by day and week by week. I don't think people start off with a plan to be bad. I think humans have typically noble intentions and they get pulled in the wrong direction.

Christiana: [00:30:50] Could I add, if you're done with that one, Paul, could I add if we're coming to a close, just yet again. The heatwaves across India and Asia, I mean it's just absolutely, absolutely heartbreaking, the fact that the World Meteorological Organization, WMO, has said that there is now a 66% chance that the world will exceed the 1.5 threshold in at least one of the next five years. I mean, that honestly takes my breath. It is, we've always known that we might. Perhaps. Maybe overshoot the 1.5 threshold, but here we are. They're saying it's going to happen in the next five years. This is much quicker than we had thought and it's much more severe. So I'm I don't just don't think that we can leave this week without yet again a voice of concern to come back to where we started, that we're just not acting fast enough at all.

Tom: [00:32:09] Yeah. No, thank you, Christiana. And that's obviously right at the heart of everything we're doing and that comes brings us back to where we started, right? The answer to your original question is we are just not decarbonising anywhere near fast enough. And we can talk about the economics and all sorts of other things that we can slice one way or the other and business feasibility. But it all just makes absolute no sense whatsoever when viewed through the lens of what you just said. And that's viewed through the lens of the impacts today. When you combine that with the impacts in the future, it just becomes deeply immoral and out of sight.

Paul: [00:32:40] Yeah, I mean, I'm just going to add a word from Vanessa Nakate, who I read an article from her on Al Jazeera just yesterday and she was talking about in East Africa, the climate crisis is having a devastating impact. She said, last September, I went to Turkana, Kenya, with UNICEF to visit children suffering from severe and acute malnutrition. 20 million people are currently facing starvation in the region, largely because of an unprecedented drought that scientists say was made 100 times more likely by climate change. And forgive me, but she goes on in Turkana. I met a six year old boy at a hospital where the worst cases of severe acute malnutrition are referred. His grandmother had not been able to access the life saving care he needed in time. Tragically, he passed away later that same day. 20 million people are currently facing starvation in the region. It's not a game.

Tom: [00:33:45] Thanks, Paul. I mean, I read that piece from Vanessa. I mean, what an incredible leader she's remained and her ability to shine a spotlight where attention really needs to be. That calls us back to the reality of what we're facing is is very real.

Christiana: [00:33:57] Which makes the attacks on ESG and on this antitrust nonsense just even more irritating.

Tom: [00:34:04] Oh, my god. I mean, it makes them criminally. 

Christiana: [00:34:07] Criminal.

Tom: [00:34:08] Well, criminal.

Paul: [00:34:09] Can you imagine that. You know, back to World War II, the allies get together to fight the Nazis. It's like, oh, no, you can't have all those different nations getting together, you allies. You can't unite. You know, Canada and the USA and Australia are all fighting together. Oh, no, no, no. I mean, honestly, would you would you would there be any problem with insurance companies getting together to to to avoid terrorism or to combat terrorism or to avoid theft or, you know, some kind of the whole thing is absolutely absurd. Thank you, Christiana, for reminding us that these different conversations we have are connected within the podcast. Thank you.

Tom: [00:34:44] Yeah, great. Okay. Well, there is a lot more to delve into here and we're going to do it in the coming weeks, particularly around ESG and the backlash and speak to some of the people involved, as well as what's happening with Dr. Sultan and COP28. So lots more to come. Lovely to be back. Nice to see you both. Even though, you know there's a lot that's going on that breaks our hearts. But we've got to look at that as well as the other stuff. And we will leave you now with three different pieces of music from the Environmental Music Prize. And Clay will walk you through what we're going to what we hope you're going to do. So I'm we're going to hand you over to Clay. Say thanks for joining us. We'll see you next week. And Clay will take it from here and explain what's needed with these three pieces of music. But thanks for joining us this week. We'll see you soon.

Paul: [00:35:25] Bye. 

Christiana: [00:35:26] Bye.

Clay: [00:35:28] Hello, everyone. So as Tom mentioned, we have three finalists from the Environmental Music Prize to play for you. And we're going to hear a little bit from those artists in true Outrage + Optimism fashion. And then we'll hear a little bit of their song, their entry into the prize. But before we do that, I was planning on just playing the music this week and sending you off to go vote. But then I was thinking, you know, this prize has a really inspiring origin story. It's having quite an impact. And, you know, we've gained quite a few new listeners since last year, and people who have been listening for the past year might actually need a recap as well. So who better to tell the story, give us a recap and share with our listeners what's going on, how do people get involved, what's the story, than Edwina Floch, who actually started the prize, you might remember she was on the podcast last year. She came on for our Australia episode and so I'm going to play you that conversation we had just yesterday. I hope it inspires you. It gives you all the information that you need to know on how to get involved and how to vote. And then we'll hear from three of the finalists. So without further ado, Edwina Floch. Here's that conversation. 

Clay: [00:36:38] So, Edwina, last year we debuted the inaugural Environmental Music Prize on this podcast. But for listeners who have joined us since then or need a recap, what is the Environmental Music Prize? How did you come up with this idea and who is the force of nature that is Edwina Floch. Please tell us.

Edwina: [00:36:59] Sure. So I guess the starting point is that I'm a climate concerned mum, not a scientist, but someone who has enough respect for the people that are looking at the data to understand that if they're terrified, I should be too. It's a worlds first prize designed to amplify the voices of artists who inspire action for climate and conservation. And unlike many other music prizes out there, it's designed specifically with the broad goals of the environmental movement in mind. So we know that the science is clear. There's enough facts and science out there. The problem that we have is activating people who probably know and care but need some kind of emotional impetus to change their behaviour, make a new purchasing decision, prioritize climate in their in their voting. And so the objective of the prize is really to reach new and diverse audiences and energize and activate them through music. So there's broad public support for bold climate action at the scale and speed required.

Clay: [00:38:06] Yeah, like the science is there. We have it all in our heads, but we need to facilitate this head to heart connection. And artists have this amazing ability to cut right through everything and facilitate an opportunity for people to make that head to heart connection that leads to sustained climate action. So what was going on in your life? You know, maybe what happened to where it caused you to think, oh, I should start an organization that rewards music artists for creating music videos, songs about the climate crisis, the ecological crisis that ends up leading to that sustained climate action. You know, what was it?

Edwina: [00:38:48] Um, I was helping to curate a social change summit called Nexus in Australia and working on a lot of the environmental content. And I thought, how do we immerse people, you know, so that we're not just hearing amazing speaker after amazing speaker, but really get them to connect deeply with the subject. And so I thought, okay, we'll play some music videos and get people really immersed. When I went looking, I couldn't find much music that referenced either climate change, habitat loss, extinction. You know, a lot of the issues that I care about and searching, of course I did find some, but there were few and far between. And I thought, this is crazy. We're in the middle of, you know, an ecological emergency, there's so much amazing music that exists. We know that artists are deeply empathetic people who actually do care about these subjects and often, you know, campaigning and things on the side, but their music doesn't reflect that. So the prize is really to reward those artists who are already doing that work. And there are many of them through their music and to incentivize new artists, but also new styles of artists. Like we don't just need the like, you know, greeny kind of hippy indie artists with their guitars singing about the environment. We need the hip hop artists and the heavy metal and K-Pop and all these different people that can speak to new groups that aren't necessarily very climate engaged at the moment.

Clay: [00:40:15] Yeah, that is, that is very much reflected in the wide variety of styles that are the finalists this year that listeners will hear when they go to vote because we do need the hippies who have their guitars singing and playing. But we need, like you said, to engage the full music community in this. And what I've enjoyed about the prize is that it demonstrates the power of, you know, there's no gatekeeping on who gets to create environmentally minded music. No single genre owns this topic. And in fact, we need to celebrate and lift up artists in every genre who have a connection with their fans, their supporters and community on climate, and who have that relationship with their listeners to drive that climate action.

Edwina: [00:41:02] Look, and I agree with you, Clay. Like most of us or everyone listening to this podcast knows and cares deeply. And I guess for this, you know, we want to activate those that aren't engaged, but for the ones that already are, we're going to have so many emotions, especially as things get probably a bit more challenging. And so we're going to have moments of extreme despair, anger, frustration. We're also going to have moments of, you know, bravery and love and wanting to come together. And I think it's really important to have that whole emotional palette represented that we don't just have songs about climate angst, but we also have songs that celebrate nature and that remind us what we're fighting for and why this matters to us and our families.

Clay: [00:41:46] Ah ok, so no, no genre boundary, but also no limitation on message or mood. No requirement as well. I love it. So in case listeners are like, okay, I've heard enough, I'm ready to go check out this music, vote for my favourites. You can go to EnvironmentalMusicPrize.com to go watch, listen and vote. But if you could share with us what happened last year, tell us the story. What happened last year with the prize money when it was awarded. And I was thinking about this too, like Christiana always talks about no matter what the action, what is the impact. So what is the impact of the prize and what has come from awarding this $20,000 prize?

Edwina: [00:42:27] Yeah, I mean, we had just come out of Covid, so most artists had lost, you know, three years worth of revenue. The objective was really to reward those artists that had been doing great work in the five years leading. But the winners are King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, which is a psychedelic rock band with a global following who are really prolific and have actually touched on climate themes and climate apocalypse themes in quite a bit of their music.

Clay: [00:42:54] And we played their song last year on the podcast.

Edwina: [00:42:58] Yes, on the episode called Australia Is Back, which I was so honored to be featured on next to some incredible leaders. But they they donated the $20,000 prize to the Wilderness Society, who was one of our original environmental impact partners. We've been working with them closely since the beginning. So that was really wonderful. They they're reusing part of that money for obviously the main part for frontline conservation efforts because there's lots of endangered, Australia has the highest rate of species loss in the world at the moment. And so, so they are obviously working on on those conservation efforts, but they're also using part of that money to run a music conservation leadership workshop where they will give a high level understanding of biodiversity crisis and how that's interlinked with the climate crisis. So we'd like to invite your audience to join us for that, probably happening in June. Join our socials to keep track of that. And and then Byron Writers Festival also reached out and said, look, we love the prize. We'd love to reward one of the artists and have them speak. So we created a new prize for Nidala Barker, who is an indigenous artist, and she spoke and performed at the festival and won the prize for Emerging Environmental Songwriter. So look, there's so many avenues. As the prize grows to reward more and more artists and different styles. And we'd love to partner with values aligned organizations to really expand that.

Clay: [00:44:35] Yeah, because right now it's only open for Australian artists to enter the prize and the ambition is to go global. So what can our audience do? You know, how can listeners participate, how can they get involved, what should they do?

Edwina: [00:44:53] So the very most immediate thing they need to do is go and listen to the songs this weekend because voting for the 2023 prize closes on Sunday 4th. So last year we had, you know, 50,000 people come from all over the world. We had votes from 58 countries. That was very much led by your climate engaged community. So that's the first step. Find a few songs that that touch you deeply. Please, please share and get other people to get engaged and vote. And then from there I'll be going to New York at the end of the month to present at the Nexus Global Summit and hoping to form some international partnerships and hopefully secure some partners so that we can launch a global prize in future. So yeah. Stay tuned to this story. We want to work with with this really amazing community.

Clay: [00:45:44] Okay, so listeners go vote EnvironmentalMusicPrize.com. There is a link in the show notes. You can go click right now. I have to share. I listened to all 20 artists and listeners. You're in for a real treat again, I'm going to say it like a broken record EnvironmentalMusicPrize.com. It's a website. Go vote.

Edwina: [00:46:11] I just want to say one last thing. Clay, thank you for being part of our shortlisting committee because the other thing to know is that all the songs were chosen by environmental leaders, including the CEO of Greenpeace Australia, Clay, some of our music ambassadors. So this is not a music industry led thing. This is really reflecting the hopes, dreams, fears and ambitions of the environmental movement.

Clay: [00:46:36] Yes, we are so aligned on that. Listeners, this is your last weekend to have your votes count towards the 20,000 well, awarding the $20,000 prize. So Edwina, thanks for coming on. We're going to close out with a few of the finalists this year who will share a bit with our listeners about themselves and their song, like in true O+O fashion. And then we'll have a short snippet of their song that will play. Any advice. How should listeners choose their three favourites?

Edwina: [00:47:09] Go with the heart.

Clay: [00:47:10] Go with the heart. Okay, here are the artists. Thank you, Edwina again. We'll see you all next week. Bye. 

Edwina: [00:47:17] Bye.


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