218: October Mailbag
About this episode
This week it is over to you, our listeners as the hosts strive to answer all of your challenging and wonderful questions: Should we be having children? How long have we got? How do international conflicts impact climate? And so many more…
Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to send through a question to our hosts, you made this a very special episode. Apologies if we weren’t able to get to yours, please do go and engage with us on social media and share your thoughts.
We also have an edited interview between our friend and colleague Sue Reid and the incredible Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, a Tanzanian biodiversity leader and lawyer, speaking in her capacity as Co-Chair of The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) on the incredible launch of TNFD’s final framework/recommendations at Climate Week NYC on 18 Sept and the urgent need to shake up current paradigms that still pervasively treat nature as disposable and limitless.
Music this week comes from Passiflora and their wonderful track Bosque.
NOTES AND RESOURCES
Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week
Links to the report mentioned by the hosts at the top of the episode called: Latin American successes in the energy transition can be found here.
Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme and Co-Chair of The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD)
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Here is the link to the published TNFD framework.
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Learn more about the Paris Agreement.
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Tom: [00:00:12] Hello and welcome to Outrage + Optimism, I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.
Christiana: [00:00:15] I'm Christiana Figueres.
Paul: [00:00:17] And I'm Paul Dickinson.
Tom: [00:00:18] Today we have one of our favourite types of episodes where we get to answer your questions. Plus, we have music from Passiflora. Thanks for being here. Hey you two, so we always enjoy these episodes. We've got loads of cracking questions which we're going to get into and crack through. But before we do, Christiana, this is actually quite a big week for climate in Latin America. I was just reading some messages that I've had lots of this week explaining that it's Climate Week Latin America going on in Panama. Do you want to just say a word about that? What's going on and why it's important before we start?
Christiana: [00:01:08] Yeah, well, you'll remember that we had New York Climate Week a couple of weeks ago. And this week, as you say, is Latin American and Caribbean Climate Week taking place in Panama. Very exciting, very exciting, because I get to boast not just about my country, but about my whole continent, my whole region. So I'm very excited about this.
Tom: [00:01:29] My whole continent.
Christiana: [00:01:31] Yeah, because.
Tom: [00:01:32] Most of us don't even have a country and you've got a continent.
Christiana: [00:01:35] Well, there you go.
Paul: [00:01:36] I live in a little island, I live in a little island.
Christiana: [00:01:38] Sorry for you, sorry for you. So Latin America has been a very clean, very clean continent with respect to energy, because most of our energy for years has been hydro. The exciting thing that we see now, large hydro, I should say, the exciting thing that we see now is that because large hydro has become controversial, both from a social justice as well as from an environmental perspective, and because large banks, including development banks, are not so enthused about financing large hydro anymore. Now we're going into solar and wind big time. So it is so, so exciting that we are expecting to double the wind and solar markets in Latin America in just a few years, by 2027, we have 320 wind and solar projects in the pipeline, either pre construction or construction, meaning we're just going to get more and more and more, more and more clean or cleaner, I think is the correct English word. And we do expect to go from 63% of our energy, which is currently clean, that's pretty amazing, to 70% by 2030. Very exciting, the fact that we have been able to use our natural resources, our domestic resources to continue to clean up the grid and reduce our dependence on the import of fossil fuels. Load More
Tom: [00:03:31] Yeah, interesting. And I mean so exciting and as you say Christiana, just such an amazing story, particularly on clean power generation. I know transportation has a bit of a different story, but now with the shift to EVs, I think these three things come together. Just a couple of things, there's a great couple of reports going around that we can put in the show notes that kind of detail, all of this momentum. One of the things that I learned from looking at this is that the really big growth story, particularly in the last five years, has been solar, because wind has been growing up in a progressive way. Of course, hydro has already been there, but just solar has just exploded and taken off. And the other thing I learned is that if you look at the investment numbers in Brazil, which has been really the driver of huge investment in renewable energy pretty much through the Bolsonaro years. So from 2018 it was four, and then it went to nearly 15 in 2022. And so that's kind of encouraging that, billion, $15 billion annually invested in renewable energy. Thank you Paul. Even through those difficult years of Bolsonaro, there was still a case for investing in renewable energy in Brazil. So that's really encouraging given the price of democracy that we know we have to pay in some countries. Okay, so on with the mailbag. Who would like to start? Paul, look at that, waving his hand.
Paul: [00:04:46] I am, waving my hand like I'm in a classroom. So first question from Manda Scott, she's the host of the podcast Accidental Gods. And she says there are only two questions that matter now. How long do you think we've got? And what is your theory of total systemic change? The second question I'm particularly looking forward to, I've extensive notes, get comfy in your chairs, cups of tea. I mean, in terms of how long we've got, I personally think and you might disagree, you know, we're very resourceful people. We've got lots of technology. If we get to robust net zero by 2050, the Earth's system may stay within boundaries with a bit of solar radiation management perhaps, ocean acidification remaining a problem. So everything to play for there. No doubt, Tom and Christiana will have views about how long we've got. A little bit on total systems change, unless you want to respond to how long have we got?
Christiana: [00:05:31] I do have a different response. May I?
Paul: [00:05:33] Go for it.
Tom: [00:05:34] Me too.
Christiana: [00:05:35] I think that question stems from what I would call a linear sense of time and scale, in which we assume that the relationship between change and time will stay constant to what we've seen in the past, and that is simply not the case, because we're now seeing that in much shorter periods of time, we are achieving already and will continue to achieve much greater degrees of change. That is the core of the understanding of exponential change. And so I think that's the piece that we have to wrap our heads around. What is the difference between linear, gradual, marginal change that we have been seeing and the exponential change that we're seeing now. And so that puts this question of how long do you think we've got in a completely different context.
Tom: [00:06:31] And just to quickly add into that with a different flavour because of how you two have answered it, although I love your responses. We're also seeing much more rapid breakdown in the climate system than we previously saw. And because climate breakdown is triggered by stocks of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, and we tend to think of it as flows, so we tend not to think of the total amount. We tend to think of how much comes out every year, which is just a quirk of how we think about this. Urgent action is critically important because putting more in now is increasing the stock rapidly. And we are seeing and we're learning just how vulnerable the system is to these really quite alarming natural feedback loops. So we don't have time to hang around is another way that I would phrase the answer.
Christiana: [00:07:15] No, that's absolutely true. And because of what you've explained Tom, so the destruction of climate change is also on an exponential curve of increase.
Tom: [00:07:22] Right, exactly.
Christiana: [00:07:23] So they're both on exponential, we have both the exponential curve of destruction. And scientists are constantly saying, wow, we underestimated the destruction and the speed to which we are catapulting ourselves toward negative tipping points. But we're also on an exponential curve of positive tipping points.
Tom: [00:07:43] Correct.
Christiana: [00:07:43] So here you go, a competition between two exponential curves.
Paul: [00:07:46] You can think about it lots of different ways, but all the arrows point to the conclusion, act now.
Christiana: [00:07:51] Exactly, there you go.
Paul: [00:07:53] What's your theory of total systemic change? Once again, dear friends disagree with me, but I think it's really fascinating, like a lot of people, I've been listening to The Rest Is Politics podcast, where these two great political strategists, Rory and Alastair, talk about contemporary politics, and they keep repeating the fact that it seems to be busted, that it's broken, no one seems to know what to do. They keep asking each other, why don't you go into politics. And they both say, well, I wouldn't want to go into politics, and I want to just make a particular point that I think that so much of this contemporary political analysis is missing the essential point that we fail to appreciate business as a political actor. And it doesn't act in big politics very much, but it acts in aggregate to prevent us from really being able to change our societies. So I think the key point for me is that although sort of, you know, politicians think they can control businesses and they probably can control individual businesses, except maybe the really big ones. In aggregate, I think the political system is a little bit lost to business, but it's so invisible. But my own view is that my radical theory of change is we need to change the corporation as a political unit, remembering that we buy from corporations, we invest in corporations, many of us work in corporations. We've got the power to change corporations. But I think that's what's been missing in terms of total system change. And I know Tom and Christiana will have different views.
Christiana: [00:09:18] Tom.
Paul: [00:09:19] They're smiling, they're smiling, they're both rubbing their chins.
Tom: [00:09:23] No, I mean I think that's, I think that's definitely a critical piece of it Paul, I don't disagree with anything you've just said. I feel like total system change has to be the result of a change in the behaviour of the system, which means the behaviour of all the different pieces, we've tended to think in, again, quite a linear way right. You know, all the countries are emitting greenhouse gases, so we just get all the countries to manage it within their borders, and we add all that up and that ends up solving the problem. Or, all businesses are emitting greenhouse gases, we put boundaries around the businesses. We add up all of that and then somehow at the end, solve the problem. Full respect to everything you've done in that area Paul, which has been transformational. But I think actually a theory of total system change is about the interconnections and the innovations and the transformations that can be delivered by all of the different actors that come together and that has political outcomes, economic outcomes, technological outcomes. And unless we're able to focus on the system and how the system works in some of the rules of the system, then actually we're not going to get to the systemic transformation we want, focusing only on the actors, no matter how profound the behaviour change we want from them is.
Paul: [00:10:28] True, true.
Christiana: [00:10:29] So I agree with both of you, and I love the way that Paul started with the relationship and the power of business. And then Tom you came in with, I would say one level deeper into the root of where systemic change happens. And I will allow myself to go one step deeper than you Tom, into, you know, where do behaviours start. They don't start out there. They start in here, in each of us. They start with our mindset, and they start in particular with our understanding between our, i.e. human society, our relationship to nature. For me, this is where the systemic change has to occur. That's where it started getting very, very destructive when we decided, in our infinite wisdom, way back in the agricultural revolution, that we actually dominate nature and that we're in control of nature. And we started domesticating plants. We started domesticating animals. We started domesticating and controlling women. We started this, you know, very, very odd man above everything else in the web of life. Because supposedly we are superior and are in control of. And I think what climate is letting us know right now is, sorry guys, you know, that was such a mess, such a mistake. We are definitely not in charge of nature, not in charge of the planet. Look what she's telling us. And so for me, the change has to occur much deeper down, which is let us restore our intricate, inalienable relationship with nature and understand that, yes, technology, politics, business has to change. And all of that will change for our comfort. But it is our relationship with nature that is actually going to safeguard our survival. That is where change really starts.
Tom: [00:12:35] I love that, and I also would just add in, in good collaborative style, that one of the nice things about the three different theories of change that operate on different levels of the system that we're talking about here is, we also don't fall into the trap of thinking that those are mutually exclusive.
Christiana: [00:12:48] Exactly.
Tom: [00:12:48] Each of those is mutually supportive, change needs to happen, and we need people working on all of those levels.
Christiana: [00:12:54] At the same time.
Tom: [00:12:55] And that collectively, at the same time, gets us to the systemic outcome.
Paul: [00:12:59] And a tiny advert here for Amy and Arnold Mindell's process work because I think we perfectly modelled, I was talking about consensus reality, I think you were talking Tom, about what they call dreamland, and you were talking Christiana about essence, and they see that as like, you know, the leaves, the trunk and the roots of the tree. It's a great way of framing the different levels in which we operate, which are interconnected and co-dependent.
Tom: [00:13:19] Nice. Okay, Christiana you got a question for us?
Christiana: [00:13:23] Let's, I think very related to this, is it worth having future plans with how bad climate change has become? A resounding yes, a resounding yes.
Paul: [00:13:36] Yes, yes, 100%.
Christiana: [00:13:36] It is definitely worth having future plans, because here's the thing, we actually don't know how it will go. We have scientific projections out there into the future, but we all know that those projections are dependent, completely dependent on what we do now. And we all know that 2030 is the the, the magical date in which we basically will have chosen between two substantially very different worlds, very different realities, very different sense of resilience in the web of life. And so we can't just assume that we're going to go into dystopia, that we're going to basically commit species suicide. That is one possibility if we continue with business as usual actions, behaviours, investments. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But it's not the only possibility. And we have to understand that we are very late for sure, but we can now just barely squeeze under a door that is closing for sure, to get to an open portal that allows us to have a much better world. So yes, have future plans for sure, but only if you're willing to work now on making the difference between a really, really bad self destructing human society and a much better one.
Paul: [00:15:19] And a great answer to a great question from Abril Varela.
Tom: [00:15:23] Can I just quickly come in there. I agree with that, and I would also just point listeners back to that episode we did recently at Climate Week, where we talked about the evidence that John Marshall found with Potential Energy, that it was really the love for people, for place, for children, that motivated climate action in the most profound way. And actually, that's intrinsically tied up with plans for the future and your hopes for what you want to do and the relationships that you build. And I think one of the worst things we could do would be to just decide, well, it's all kind of falling apart so there's no point in like building relationships and having kids maybe, and doing other things. I think we have to continue to do the things that make us love and make us connect and enable us to have those types of relationships, because it's what brings forward the best of us as well.
Christiana: [00:16:07] So Tom, that brings us straight to another fantastic question, which is, do you have any thoughts about having kids in this era of change, which comes from Vilma. And I would love to hear your thoughts about that. Because of the three of us, you're the only one with small kids.
Tom: [00:16:25] Well, increasingly large alarmingly, my kids are now 10 and 12.
Paul: [00:16:29] That's kind of the idea Tom, you don't want to be like, opposed to that.
Tom: [00:16:32] Yeah that's true, you don't want them to stay small. Well, the alarming thing is that time is passing. So, I mean, I think this is a really sensitive and thoughtful issue for people. And I think that actually I can first of all, first thing I would say is I can understand that people would grow up and look at the world that they're in and look at the trajectory of a life of somebody born 2023 is likely to live to 2123, and that's well beyond, you know, any of the predictions we're making. And there's a lot of jeopardy there about what that life's going to be like. So I can understand. And I definitely feel for people. And quite a lot of people ask me this question in person and a couple of things. First of all, having kids has always been a personal choice, and there has always been a balance of reasons as to why people don't do that. And I think that there is lots of ways to live an extremely meaningful life without having kids. And you know, that can, yeah, and Paul, I don't know if you want to comment there?
Christiana: [00:17:28] And Paul knows that.
Tom: [00:17:30] And Paul knows that.
Paul: [00:17:31] Well, I mean, look, honestly, I think having kids is great. I think having two kids is great. I think having one kid might be even better, because we are in a situation of kind of excessive humans on the planet. But within that context, yeah no, you can have a rich and happy life without children, and children are great. I like to think that I've got a billion children rather than 1 or 2. But Tom, you know, you and Christiana have both done it. And I think we've got to remember, you know, we are, my sister will tell you that the purpose of life is to have children. You know, I can kind of see that in a certain sense. It's one definition of what we're here for.
Tom: [00:18:04] I mean, I don't agree with that. And I think that there has always been lots of ways to have a meaningful life without having kids. I think the question here is, if you want kids, should you deny yourself having kids because of the unique situation that the world is in at this moment.
Christiana: [00:18:17] That's the question.
Tom: [00:18:17] I think that's what that question points to, isn't it. So, there I actually think that that's again, understandable. But I also feel like that is extremely sad. If humanity gets to that point where people make that decision, it's not unique, people did make that decision in the Cold War as well. I personally feel like children brought into the world aware of the challenges we're facing, and maybe I have to think this, thoughtful about the challenges and the way they can live their lives to improve things, for the natural environment, for fellow human beings are a positive force in this world, and we need them.
Paul: [00:18:52] And if you live in a circular way, I was at a conference once, somebody said, nobody says there are too many insects. So if you live in a circular way, you can have as many as you want.
Tom: [00:18:59] It's a good point. Christiana, do you have an answer?
Christiana: [00:19:02] Too many insects, don't we have too few?
Paul: [00:19:05] Well, that's definitely one way of looking at it.
Tom: [00:19:06] That's what he's saying, nobody ever says there are too many insects.
Christiana: [00:19:09] Okay.
Paul: [00:19:10] Okay, another question.
Tom: [00:19:11] So I have a question for you both, which is very relevant at this moment. How will the mounting international conflicts impact climate progress, if at all? I think this is particularly relevant at this moment, given the degree of international geopolitical attention that's now being taken up by, totally understandably, what's happening in the Middle East. Potential impacts on COP28. Christiana, what do you think?
Paul: [00:19:34] And who's that question from?
Tom: [00:19:36] Thank you Paul. That question is from Sidney W Francis.
Paul: [00:19:39] Christiana.
Christiana: [00:19:41] That could be Francis Sidney or Sidney Francis, we don't know, we just know the Instagram account
Paul: [00:19:46] Sidney and Francis.
Tom: [00:19:47] All we've got is their Instagram handle.
Christiana: [00:19:48] Yeah. Wow, that is such, such a crystal ball question. Here's half an answer because honestly, I think it's premature to give a full answer. The half answer is, do we all remember that when Russia first invaded Ukraine, we thought that everything to do with climate change and the energy transition in particular, would come to a screeching halt. The fact is that alongside the tragedy and the horrors of that invasion and that war, alongside that, what has welled up is a growing understanding of the fact that the world cannot continue to depend on fossil fuels that come from erratic regimes that are not worthy of our trust and confidence. And so while Europe was caught with very low reserves of oil for that first, for that first winter, the reserves of oil for this winter are above 96, they're at about 98 and sometimes even 100%, because everybody is like ready for this. So we don't have the panic, A. B there has been an incredible investment and effort into energy efficiency, so that that energy that we do use is used as efficiently as possible. And C, there has been actually an uptick in investments into renewable energy generation so that we can begin to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. And what that has actually meant is there is a very visible decrease in fossil fuel demand because fossil fuel demand has now been equalled to energy insecurity from a domestic point of view.
Christiana: [00:21:57] So that was the impact, the positive energy transition impact of the horrible invasion of Russia upon Ukraine. The question now is what's going to happen with the current terrible, terrible situation in Gaza and the war now between Hamas and Israel. It is still definitely too early to tell. But one, you know, I think we have like three possibilities. One is that, yes, addressing climate change and energy transition may lumber on and not be accelerated. Second option is no effect. Third option I'm really interested in because, is this actually going to further confirm the danger of relying on some countries, or in this case, some regions, for the import of fossil fuel. Let's just look at two very interesting data points. 80% of the world population lives in countries that import fossil fuels, 80%. 10% live in countries that export fossil fuels. So the 80% are dependent on the 10%. And then there's another 10% that both export and import. But the 80% of population is dependent on 10%. Do we still want to continue to expose the 80% of the population to regimes that haven't proven themselves to be stable peace loving regimes. And so I just put that out as a question. I have no idea what's going to happen, way too early. It's premature to answer that very, very good question. But one that we should definitely be attuned to in the coming months.
Christiana: [00:24:03] Yeah, I think that's brilliantly put Christiana actually. And I think you're right, this thesis will come to a head. I've got a related question, but Tom, have you got a response to Christiana?
Tom: [00:24:11] Just a very quick response to that one. I also think that, you know, we have passed for now, the period in which broad based multilateralism is a practical solution to many global problems sadly, given the degree of antagonism that we're now seeing on the world stage. So I think that, you know, the economic transitions will carry on whatever's happening from the international relations. And I think the place that we will continue to see progress, hopefully won't be stalled is bilateral deals between two countries, plurilateral deals between a few countries. And hopefully that can still carry on even if there is this massive challenge that is so heart-breaking in individual countries that mean that we can't get global deals in the same way. Paul.
Christiana: [00:24:50] Yeah, good point.
Paul: [00:24:51] So the slightly related question from Elise that came in by email is she said, how do you stay optimistic in times we're currently in? I work in climate space, but it's hard not to lose focus right now with the attacks and conflicts in the Middle East, where help and support are so urgently needed. And the first point I'm going to make is not about optimism, but it is about what I would call relativism. There was a tragic article in the Daily Telegraph in May this year talking about a food crisis in East Africa that's hitting a peak with one person dying of hunger every 28 seconds. Oxfam warned climate induced drought was pushing up food prices had left 40 million people across East Africa facing severe hunger, up nearly two thirds from the year before. 85,000 people in South Sudan and Somalia on the brink of famine. There's nothing optimistic about that horrific news, but I think relatively it can perhaps help us understand that despite the sort of tragedy in the Middle East and the complex situation of Israel and the 2 million people in Gaza, I think we need to remain optimistic and positive because we're more effective when we do. And it is very, very important that we're effective. I mean, I think about my own funeral, God forbid, if I was knocked down by a car tomorrow, I hope my friends and Tom and Christiana, I hope you'll be there. And I hope you wouldn't be unhappy. I don't want you to be unhappy at my funeral. I want you to, you know, I think we should be enjoying each other's lives and hopes for life. The point I'm trying to make is that I think people who are vulnerable and who need our help so desperately across the world, those yet unborn, don't want us to be optimistic for fun. They want us to be positive and effective because we're doing important work that everyone depends on. And that's the reason to hold, you know, to you know, what was it, others do their worst and we'll do our best, to borrow a phrase.
Christiana: [00:26:42] Well put Paul, well put. And however I have to say, I totally agree with what you just said, I love that, and the question that we were asked is one that I cannot answer so I'm going to put it to the two of you. What is the most optimistic episode to listen to when hopefulness is lacking? Paul, Tom.
Paul: [00:27:05] In our canon of episodes you're referring to?
Christiana: [00:27:08] Here's a journey through memory lane. Yes, of all of our episodes, which is the most optimistic episode?
Tom: [00:27:18] Well, I mean, I think that the truth is, and this is going to be a, I'm going to slide out of this. I think they're all optimistic for different reasons. I think you can find episodes in there where we talk to business leaders, or Nigel Topping, who's always very optimistic, where he talks about the exponential S-curves and how things are happening faster than we think. You talk someone like John Marshall, and he will explain the speed at which people can understand this and which people can change their perspective if you find the right language and narrative to talk to them. You know, you speak to incredible activists like Greta or Jane Fonda, and they will explain, you know, when you focus on the people, how optimistic and determined and courageous they are, that brings you into a state of positivity.
Paul: [00:27:56] Gina McCarthy on her way to the White House with a rocket in her heart.
Tom: [00:28:00] Gina McCarthy on her way to the White House, yeah. So I think it all depends on the angle. Do you want economic data? Do you want political pathways? Do you want activist courage? All of that depends a little bit. That's a slight nuance to the very good question.
Christiana: [00:28:14] Paul, what do you think?
Paul: [00:28:16] I genuinely think that I can hide behind Tom's answer. Everyone has been really positive in different ways. Everybody has both, I think. But I do think you interviewed, I wasn't there, Bill Sharpe, for example, and I was really struck by, for example, I'm not sure I necessarily agree with him, but he was saying like, carbon taxes aren't the right way to go, but there are other ways to stimulate. I think when we talk to technologists, when we talk to investors, I remember Al Gore getting incredibly excited about the capabilities. Perhaps I give the highest marks of all to Kingsmill Bond, who I think has done perhaps a better job than anybody of taking the maths and simplifying it and distilling it and pointing out that we're not safe. But if we carry on with these trajectories, we're going to get to a safe place. And that fills me with hope. Let's leave the last word actually to from the IEA, our dear friend, Fatih Birol, pointing out that the oil and gas industry right now, I think he said this yesterday should be talking to the renewable energy industry, to the car manufacturers, because maybe their projections are extremely bloated, especially when we see these gigantic mergers going on. Now, we have more questions to cover.
Tom: [00:29:29] Yeah, so we're getting short of time. So I think we probably need to like raise the question and then answer it in a succinct but complete way.
Christiana: [00:29:36] Completely impossible for all of us.
Tom: [00:29:39] Completely impossible for all of us.
Paul: [00:29:40] I have pages and pages of notes, but I won't look at them. You go for it, I'm going to fly blind.
Tom: [00:29:45] Okay, here we go. My question is, given the history, what are the prospects for things going in the right direction and the next level of environmental commitment coming through the next cycle of the election in the US? That's from Katharina Cherney.
Paul: [00:29:58] It's a big old binary that one, isn't it.
Christiana: [00:30:02] Another crystal ball question.
Paul: [00:30:05] I spend all my time watching the defendants in the Georgia case flip against Trump. I mean, ultimately it is about Trump. I'm dazzled by the way Donald Trump talks about nothing other than the need, desperate need for the US to continue with oil and gas, opposing electric cars, opposing renewable energy, opposing cookstove phase out of gas cookstoves. So, you know, so I think we've almost got a pantomime villain thing here. Trump bad, Democrat good. And it's that simple. And how's it going to turn out, Tom, you've got tremendous political instincts.
Tom: [00:30:41] I mean I actually don't feel at this point like you can make a call on the election at that point. There's so much noise in the system between here and there. I would just point to the fact that the US did continue to decarbonize very quickly under the previous, under Trump, we now have the Inflation Reduction Act in place. It's unlikely they can roll that back even if Trump wins the election. We have the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. So I'm not saying that it's inconsequential. Of course it's massively consequential. But I actually have quite a lot of confidence that the US is on a tremendous decarbonization pathway, even if that idiot is back in the White House for a few years.
Christiana: [00:31:19] Right, you heard the noun here, idiot.
Paul: [00:31:25] Okay, I've got another one for you. James Miller nature says on Instagram, what do the hosts see as the role of culture change in the transition? Where should we focus on changing individual habits and choices over policy? Is it often harder to achieve?
Tom: [00:31:40] Christiana.
Christiana: [00:31:42] Both and also all of the above. We are too late to be choosing between one or the other. No seriously, we have to do everything right. It has to be individual habits. It has to be individual choices. It has to be policy. It has to be finance. It has to be technological progress. If we had started seriously addressing climate 20 to 30 years ago, we could have the luxury of saying now, okay, well, you know, we're going to be led by the individual or business or governments or whatever, but we are so, so late, so delayed, that 2030 deadline is staring us so in the face that at this point, all hands on deck.
Paul: [00:32:19] That's a brilliant answer.
Tom: [00:32:21] And just to add in quickly there, I mean, I think culture is the big missing piece. And I think actually there's now an enormous amount of progress being made on that. I think if you look at like Netflix, what it's doing to incorporate climate solutions just into the background of the programming. So there is a car chase, it's in a Tesla. And, you know, you don't necessarily have the celebratory scene everyone gets on a private jet. So those sorts of things, there's a range of other ways in which it gets baked into culture, and that is potentially a little bit different from individual action. Individual action is important, but culture change can also lead to political change and systemic change and change of values. That affects how we engage with business. So it's really, really important. And one of the reasons we haven't focused enough on it is because of the way the funding works in our climate community, where we have historically rewarded short term impacts and metrics that are very measurable, whereas culture can be a bit broader. I'm happy to say that's changing now, and we're actually seeing more foundations understanding the importance of that. And I think we'll see a lot more work in progress as a result.
Paul: [00:33:17] Although I did change UK culture last Thursday at about noon, but no two tiny stories from history in lesbian and gay rights, it was the same sex kiss on the massively popular TV programme EastEnders that helped normalise same sex relations a very long time ago.
Tom: [00:33:30] In the UK.
Paul: [00:33:31] There was a campaign against fur coats in the UK and somebody put up a poster that said it takes 50 damn animals to make this, but only one damn animal to wear it with a silhouette with blood coming out the back. No one wore a fur coat after that. There's real potential for culture to change things super quick.
Tom: [00:33:48] Yeah, so Christiana, there's an interesting one here from Ronan O'Donnachu. And this question is, given the fact that humanity has been likened to a super organism, that fossil fuel use is continuing to rise and renewables have only been an addition instead of a replacement for our energy balance thus far, which is very true. Do you see a realistic pathway for humans to choose degrowth as a solution?
Christiana: [00:34:16] Well, there's so much in that question from Ronan O'Donnachu I think. First emissions continue to rise, but let us remember that demand, and everything is about demand and supply. But demand for fossil fuels is definitely on, on a decreasing path. And that already is, that's the first step of then supply having to react to decreasing demand. So coal demand is definitely on the decline worldwide. Oil and gas demand is definitely on the decline in OECD countries. Oil and gas demand is plateauing or has plateaued in the world and will soon be in decline. So I'm not sure that we can say that renewables have only been an addition, I think what we're seeing is a very real choice being exercised that very possibly doesn't have to do with the environmental consequences of fossil fuels, but rather, as discussed before, the energy security and price predictability, capacity of renewables, plus all of their other characteristics. So I would put that one sort of with a question mark, whether that is actually the case that we're seeing. Now, having said that, do we see a realistic pathway for humans to choose de-growth. Sorry, you're not going to like this answer either, I'm so sorry. Because so many different definitions of de-growth where I want to go is underneath that, to a point that I made earlier, where I do see a very realistic pathway and one that we must walk is to come full cycle around to where we were 12,000 years ago in our understanding of our relationship with nature. And if we're able to do that, then growth comes, falls into a very different context and would obey very, very different guidelines than what we're seeing now, because the problem is that right now we're seeing growth as the equivalent of extraction. That's how we have done growth. And can we then grow the equality around the world? Can we grow food accessibility around the world? Can we grow education around the world? Can we grow clean energy around the world? Yes, yes. But we cannot grow if the only definition of growth is extraction.
Tom: [00:37:10] Yeah.
Paul: [00:37:11] Beautifully put.
Tom: [00:37:12] Beautifully put. Now, tragically that's actually all we've got time for. I realize there are lots more questions we didn't get to. And apologies to anyone who sent in a question we didn't get to. We might try and answer some on social media, but do take a look in the show notes, there's more resources there from some of the things we referenced. Thank you.
Paul: [00:37:30] Send us more questions.
Tom: [00:37:31] Send us more questions. Thank you, we love the questions. We really enjoy it. Particularly Paul looks like a clam in spring water, which is the happiest I ever see him when he gets lots of questions from listeners.
Paul: [00:37:40] Clam, how do you look like a clam? They haven't got faces.
Christiana: [00:37:42] A clam in spring water.
Tom: [00:37:43] So we have something else for you this week, which is really an amazing piece of audio that carried over from a couple of weeks ago when we were in New York. And let me just provide a word of context here so you know what you're listening to. After three years of intensive work, the Task Force on Nature Related Financial Disclosures has launched its final recommendations. And this is actually a really big deal. This is going to be a crucial tool for integrating nature related risks and opportunities into business and investment decision making, just as the much more famous TCFD, the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures, has made such a big impact on climate related risks and solutions opportunities.
Paul: [00:38:24] And just to say Tom, CDP proud to support both of them. We're so excited about our partnership with TNFD, but please.
Tom: [00:38:30] Well, CDP also the precursor for so much of this stuff Paul 100% and underpins much of it. So thanks for chipping in with that, really appreciate it. So we want to just play you this edited version of a conversation that our wonderful friend and colleague Sue Reid, from Global Optimism had with former Outrage + Optimism guest Elizabeth Mrema, now Co-Chair of TNFD, about the potential for the TNFD and the urgent need to shake up current paradigms that still pervasively treat nature as disposable and limitless.
Sue Reid: [00:39:07] And we are rolling so Sue Reid here, Climate Finance Advisor to Christiana Figueres at Global Optimism, and I am delighted to be here today with Elizabeth Mrema. We are here at the New York Stock Exchange, literally spending time in a gilded hall at the beating heart of, at least in the United States, capital markets systems. And we're talking about nature. Tell us, what is the significance of this moment? Like, how are we here talking about nature at the New York Stock Exchange?
Elizabeth Mrema: [00:39:41] Thank you, thank you very much. Let me begin, first, the Global Optimism, that title of this global optimism, I will say, is what we are here for because we are all optimistic to really see a difference. Why, particularly in this building, which is basically focused on climate markets. Time has come to realize that the world has changed and it's not the world has changed because it wanted to change. It's just that the environment around us, even for the business themselves, even for the capital markets themselves, has changed. The data, the statistics, particularly the science of the recent years, have clearly both scientifically telling us what the business is doing now, what the markets are doing now is that the world, the nature we are operating on, is no longer the nature of centuries ago. It's no longer the nature that it is free for all to plunder. But nature is an asset and no just that why an asset. And because it's an asset, it has a value, and the value is economic value. And the World Economic Forum has told us what is that value. Half, 50% of the global GDP is dependent on that same nature and ecosystem services. And in fact, recently others are even saying it's not 50%, it's actually 100%, and it's 100% because our everyday life, even as we sit here is dependent on nature. Whether it is the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink. I mean, the carbon sequestration we need. Everything is dependent on nature. So that is the value. And no wonder that others now are saying it's 100% dependent. So this is also for the market. If they have still have to continue to make profits, it means they need that nature which we depend on.
Elizabeth Mrema: [00:41:59] So they need to take action on that nature. 37% of the climate mitigation will come from nature, and probably that percentage is even more coming from nature. And when we look at nature, it is overexploitation of resources. You will relate it to climate change. It's invasive species, it's pollution and waste, which all also have an impact on climate change or climate change having an impact on them, and therefore they too need to be looked together in an integrated fashion. So that's the science and the economy, which is very clear. TNFD, we have had a task force on climate related financial disclosure. They had already produced their recommendations since 2015, as the Paris Agreement on climate was adopted. By the time the framework was adopted, the task force was already developing its recommendations again to support the market reporting. But what did the task force or TNFD do. One, recognizing that for the climate probably was simpler, as one will say, simpler in the sense we are looking at one target 1.5°C. Two, realizing one will say the workload the market already has. What TNFD did was to make sure that what it prepares, it aligns with the TCFD recommendations. So literally, it's like putting on the table the TCFD recommendations and inject nature into them. Of course TNFD then, and what we have launched today has accompanied with a series of guidance, guidance on scenario analysis, guidance on metrics, guidance on how to engage the indigenous peoples and local communities. So what TNFD did was not to reinvent the wheel, was not to come up with different data, but use what is existing and ensure it is science based through the knowledge partners it has, over 19 of them use the existing data to develop the recommendations it has.
Sue Reid: [00:44:29] So I think you've already really brought together a lot of big concepts, right. Both in terms of the body of work that's just been done and then your overview that you've just provided, and it gives us context for why we have been here talking about bears and bulls and bees at the New York Stock Exchange, which it's really lovely to hear you talk about the simplicity, actually, of tackling climate change. People feel overwhelmed by it. It is huge. But we know it's reducing greenhouse gas emissions, right. And promoting adaptation and resilience, whereas nature not only is inherently so much more complex, but also really, really dynamic. And hopefully we were just hearing from former US Securities and Exchange Commissioner Mary Schapiro talking about how it took six years really for TCFD uptake. So what do you see in terms of next steps? Do you see a much more rapid process of uptake of the TNFD recommendations now building from what TCFD set in motion?
Elizabeth Mrema: [00:45:40] I would say yes. Yes, TCFD took six years. Moving forward, of course, the recommendations are out there now, as of now, and as we have heard in the room, at least even the survey we did recently, out of 240 respondents, literally 86% said they will be ready to begin reporting by 2025.
Sue Reid: [00:46:07] Amazing.
Elizabeth Mrema: [00:46:08] So that's good news. But we also know not all companies are very familiar with the TNFD recommendations as they've evolved. So moving into the next phase will be, yes, campaigning for adoption and use, not just adoption, but to adopt and be able to use, but also building capability in terms of further explaining how to use it and complete some of the guidance tools which are still being developed. TCFD began as voluntary and now it's mandatory. We are beginning also as voluntary. We know some governments are already calling for mandatory disclosure, but we leave that to the government. For us is a voluntary mechanism. But then we hope as that continues and as also governments continue to see the connection between the two hopefully in future we should not be surprised being made mandatory. And I presume that might take even sooner than expected, because target 15 of the Global Biodiversity Framework is already expecting governments to put in place policies and regulations to enable the market to assess and manage the risks and their dependencies. So if that happens, it means there's also an obligation on the government, because otherwise the market will say we are waiting. So we hope that will be sooner than expected.
Sue Reid: [00:47:41] And the work that you have led and the task force has done now released into the world today, will enable companies and investors to identify nature related dependencies, nature related impacts of their businesses. The suite of risks that they're exposed to, and the suite of opportunities for investing in nature based solutions, moving to nature positive systems. And this body of work can enable regulators in terms of doing their job under the global biodiversity framework. So the direction of travel is very clear. The train is leaving the station as we were hearing today. So any further thoughts you would want to put out there to the world on this momentous occasion of releasing the TNFD recommendations into the world?
Elizabeth Mrema: [00:48:35] I mean, for us, TNFD is calling on the markets now to adopt and use those recommendations and give us feedback so that if there are any gaps, this will be the time to fill. Thank you.
Sue Reid: [00:48:49] Wonderful. Well, you've heard it here from Elizabeth Mrema, brilliant, fearless leader, Co-Chair of the Task Force on Nature Related Financial Disclosures. Thank you so, so much.
Elizabeth Mrema: [00:49:01] Thank you very much.
Sue Reid: [00:49:01] For your leadership and for your time with us today.
Elizabeth Mrema: [00:49:04] Thanks.
Sue Reid: [00:49:05] Thank you.
Tom: [00:49:12] So, so great to hear that analysis from Sue and really appreciate the time that she spent together with Elizabeth, setting out the potential here. And we will now leave you with some music from, a beautiful piece of music from Passiflora called Bosque. And we'll see you next week.
Paul: [00:49:27] See you next week, bye bye.
Tom: [00:49:27] Bye.
Christiana: [00:49:30] Bye.
Passiflora: [00:49:31] I'm Mariana, I am Martha and I'm Christine from Passiflora. I wrote Bosque as a manifesto that proposes not having the answers, but instead willing to look for the answers needed in that moment. Not using the same methods that we have been using that are proven not to work, but looking for what is needed now. And we feel that in order to face this enormous crisis, we really need to recognize ourselves as interdependent beings and work together collaboratively rooted in community and our collective wisdom.
Passiflora : [00:50:14] And I think we are outraged about how some part of community and humanity are not getting the message of doing something right now. We have to get together right now and do something right now. And we are very surprised, though, that there are many people doing right things and doing things to make this better.
Passiflora: [00:50:34] We really believe in the power of vulnerability and feel hopeful that more and more people are seeing this. Thank you for listening to Bosque.
Clay: [00:54:16] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage + Optimism. I'm Clay, producer of this podcast, listener mailbag, Sue Reid, Elizabeth Mrema, Passiflora. So many people to thank. So let's just get started. Passiflora. Thank you so much for letting us spin your track Bosque on the podcast this week, hailing from the one and only Costa Rica. You heard their latest single today, but they actually, if I can recommend it to you to give a spin this weekend they recorded this fantastic live record, Noches en vela. It's full of just passion and energy. I was thinking, you know, Christiana puts on these concerts at her home in Costa Rica and I'm officially here on the podcast submitting that Passiflora should be the next show on the beach. Christiana, what do you think? If they do perform, put me on the guest list link in the show notes to check out more from Passiflora. I was really moved by what they had to say introducing the song too. So really grateful to have them on. And thank you to Elizabeth Mrema, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Program and Co-Chair of the Task Force on Nature Related Financial Disclosures. That's that acronym TNFD. Thank you, Elizabeth, for spending some time with Global Optimism's Sue Reid, Climate Finance advisor at Global Optimism and Climate and Nature finance podcaster.
Clay: [00:55:57] I think it might be time to update your LinkedIn. Links to the published TNFD framework in the show notes. If you are working in finance, this is for you. And of course, where would we be, where would this episode be without our listeners. Thank you to all of you who submitted your questions to make this episode possible. We're always blown away by the problem we run into by having too many questions to get to in such a short period of time, even though your question might not have been answered. I just want to reassure you. It truly gives us a sense of what you're all thinking about, what you care about, and podcasting can feel like a one way street, much like any broadcast medium. You know it's created here, it gets pushed out there. So we really value these moments when we can hear directly from you all on the other end of the airwaves to create more of a two way street. So, you know, we read every single question that came in. Thank you for sending those in. And thank you for listening. Okay. That's it for this week. Thank you for sticking with us through a non-traditional episode format. We like to shake things up around here for fun. We will see you back here next week. See you then.