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134: Shifting Mindsets and Systems with Jennifer Morgan

Shifting mindsets and systems are crucial in finding alternative development models and dismantling systems of oppression.

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About this episode

In this week’s episode we continue our series debriefing COP26 and take a look at the climate movement for their perspective on the outcomes of the Glasgow Climate Pact. Staying optimistic and fighting for climate justice – because indeed our lives depend on it – is a rightful approach to the conversation. And yet, the clock is ticking. What’s the reality behind fast-tracking our path to only a 1.5 world?

Today, we talk to Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director at Greenpeace International, who joins us to discuss how shifting mindsets and systems are crucial in finding alternative development models and dismantling systems of oppression.

Jennifer lays out how we can rebuild trust between those on the proverbial “inside” and “outside”. Because, whilst we have seen a huge coming together of stakeholders, movements and mindsets, this conversation focuses on understanding why we hear some voices proclaim a historic and generational win, while others voice a more disappointed point of view at the lack of urgency and responsibility by those in positions of power. The reality is that both are true.

Join us in piecing together the puzzle and more deeply understanding our role in the movement as a podcast. 

And don’t miss IDER, our musical artist with their song, BORED – a song born out of frustration at the profit structures behind corporate power and false advertising.

Mentioned links from the episode:


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] This week we talk about whether oil and gas companies can or should have a platform to speak on climate and other issues. Plus, we give you a special conversation with Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. And we have music from IDER. Thanks for being here. So we have a fantastic conversation for you this week with the Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Jennifer Morgan is a completely brilliant person. We've known her for many years, as you're going to experience later. But just before we get into that, I wonder the two of you. We've been scanning the news now in a few weeks out from what's been striking you. Do you feel like we get with sense that the wind is at our back? What's changing in the world, in climate at the moment?

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Christiana: [00:01:07] Well, I must say, I think when we talked about the decisions that came out of COP26, we underlined that the language for the first time has been so much more of a language of urgency and emergency. And maybe it's just my wishful thinking, but I'm seeing so much more action concentrated. And so I'm hoping that this actually is a reaction to urgency and emergency that was first put on the table by scientists and now by COP26 itself. So a couple of examples. Coal is for sure on the demise, no matter what the very sophisticated language was, that they agreed to at COP26, the fact that the G7 is now completely out of coal and the fact that AIA has now so sold off 10 billion of their coal investments. So that is definitely the coal industry is an industry that is now starved for capital and hence very much on the demise, but it doesn't stop there. Oil and gas also being pretty well affected. Iceland stopped their new oil exploration. Norway stopped oil licences in virgin areas as of twenty twenty two, which apparently is the first time they've done that since nineteen sixty five and the most exciting that has direct relevance to the conversation with Jennifer is the that Shell has recently announced that it is pulling out of the Cambo oil field, which has been,

Tom: [00:02:43] We're going to have to have some stadium applause at that.

Christiana: [00:02:59] So controversial, so controversial, and those who have been with us will remember that it was a huge issue at the TED Countdown really, really amazing show, Shell owns 30 percent. That doesn't mean, by the way, that it's not going ahead, at least if you understand it literally. But without Shell being the exploration company, it's really hard to see how that oil field will continue to move forward. So let's see now what the UK government does about the Cambo field.

Tom: [00:03:30] And just to point out, we did discuss this with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon also. And you know, one thing that I think is amazing is that I would say to some extent Shell have responded to public pressure, which is which it feels very appropriate to me as a public company. And yet they will say, you know, that the investment case was not strong enough and there's been quite a narrative about jobs being lost. And I suppose I'm just a little bit grouchy, although I'm not a grouchy person by nature. But I just think it would be interesting if there could perhaps be a bit more of an honest evaluation of the legitimate role for public protest in corporate action? Yeah, it's a great point. I mean, I think that that who knows causation correlation. But the fact that there's been so much public pressure on Cambo recently at TED and at COP and that Shell choose this moment to pull out there has to be a correlation. It's a huge success story for activism. Of course, if Shell said that, then what they would be saying is all you have to do is put pressure on us and we'll change our strategy. And then actually that they probably would feel that that might not be the right choice for them. So therefore they hide behind these economic arguments. But nevertheless, I think we can see that it certainly played a role. 

Paul: [00:04:31] Now it's a good thing you've got your personal trainer. They're supposed to put pressure on you. They keep shouting, you know, do more sit ups or something. That's the whole idea. 

Tom: [00:04:45] That's why I've never had a personal trainer. Absolutely not. 

Paul: [00:04:50] I'm just telling you, this is how Shell can buff up.

Christiana: [00:04:54] But actually, I have to push there against both of you because I don’t think that this is an either or at all. I celebrate the public pressure on the Cambo oil field, but I also celebrate that oil and gas is actually having a much, much harder time every day, harder making ends meet and being able to get to a bottom line that actually makes sense for them. That is actually a very helpful trajectory that we're seeing.

Tom: [00:05:26] Totally. It can't be either or we know that just trying to go one strategy rather than the other and being too fixated on a particular approach doesn't get us to where we need to be completely with you on that Christiana. Now this is actually a perfect segway, because our interview today, our special conversation with Jennifer Morgan, the Executive Director of Greenpeace International, focuses in large part on some of these issues. And as you will hear, she is a completely brilliant person. We've known her for many years. She actually was a huge part of the brains behind the Paris Agreement in her previous role at the World Resources Institute. And at Greenpeace she has taken that organisation and continue to make it very relevant for our world today. Now, as friends do and we appreciate this, she challenges us, as you’ll all here in this interview for our decision to have Ben van Beurden, the CEO of Shell, on this podcast a couple of months ago. It's really interesting, and she makes some great points, so we would encourage you listeners to just listen to this with an open mind. And we certainly learnt a lot from her and value her constructive feedback, and we'll be back afterwards for some more analysis.

Christiana: [00:06:32] Jennifer, thank you so much for joining us on Outrage + Optimism. It is been a few weeks after the cop and some of us have been able to have a little rest. I rather suspect that you've gotten less rest than most people. But we will get into your COP26 reflections. Before we do that, Jennifer, I actually wanted to invite you to do a little reflection on your own personal journey because I have known you in very different iterations, in very different clothing, so to speak. And I remember you working very closely with governments, especially with the German government. You had unusual access to one of the most brilliant European political leaders, Angela Merkel. You had very, very unusual access to her and were very instrumental, Jennifer, in many of her very progressive stands and courageous stands on climate change. I also knew you while you were such a star at World Resources Institute, where you are remembered and revered for everything that you did at WRI. But also an NGO that prides itself about many things, its analytical capacity for one, its collaborative approach, very, very collaborative approach with everyone, but also for working collaboratively with private sector and with corporations. And then you went to be one of the two heads of Greenpeace and you're now the head of Greenpeace. I'm just fascinated and would love to be a little fly in your brain and the wall of your brain. What is the personal journey that Jennifer has had from those iterations to now? I rather suspect Jennifer, but please correct me if I'm wrong, that your position now at Greenpeace is because you were feeling the urgency so much deeper than you did before. But if that is wrong, please correct me. But what is your journey?

Jennifer Morgan: [00:09:04] Well, first of all, it's great to be with you three here. So thanks for the invitation to be on Outrage + Optimism, and both are certainly needed in today's world. I think I've come a bit full circle actually. Back when I was a graduate student at American University and studying International Relations, which is actually my background. I never had a climate environment class in my life.

Christiana: [00:09:31] Didn't exist way back then, Jennifer.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:09:34] It didn't exist. But I sat in the lounge there and I read a book called Fighting for Hope by Petra Kelly and Petra Kelly was for those of the listeners who don't know who's one of the founders of the Green Party in Germany and also was an alumna of American University. And she came twice to AW and I met her. But I read that book cover to cover, and the book was all about systems change. It was the first time I it was about women's rights, and at the time I was out there voting, you know, with my feet and protesting for pro-choice. You know, it was war around the time of the Iraq War. It was, of course, environment, nuclear power. And so she was the person who brought that all together for me and about the role of actually the personal being political and how you need systems change. And then I kind of went on my journey of going to Germany, working there because I had studied German and had seen the role of the Greens.

Christiana: [00:10:41] And speak it fluently. Do give yourself credit. You speak it fluently.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:10:44] I have learned it over the years. And then I just, you know, I think my journey in a way is twofold. Partially, it's I've just always looked for where I felt I could make the biggest difference at the moment in time. I've been incredibly privileged to go from, you know, WWF and head their climate program there into like E3G, great knowledge on narratives and political stuff. That's right. You know, and WRI was I felt a huge responsibility as an American citizen to go back to the U.S. when Obama was president to try and make something happen. And if you know Washington, you know, you have to be in the Beltway to have influence, you can't be outside the Beltway. Right? And then, you know. And so I think one arc is kind of that the systems change arc, which I'll just say one more thing on the other is just looking at where I could I could have the biggest impact. And I think the the kind of inside work which is incredibly important, like a WRI or, you know, even at WWF, I had a conversation with David Hone from Shell back in the early 2000s, late 1990s right about their footprint and their scope, one, two three emissions, trying to go with the facts and everything else. And then, you know, six weeks ago, I was blocking the harbor of Rotterdam.

Christiana: [00:12:06] I love it. I love it.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:12:08] In a kayak with amazing kayak activists because Shell hasn't listened. I mean, well, they've listened. They've decided not to act responsibly. And I feel like we're at a time where the inside is still important. It needs to happen. But if we don't change the external world, the conditions that are there and actually address it systemically, I would say that's the core of my journey. I read Petra Kelly back then, but I didn't really get it. And now, through the systemic racism that we're seeing through the inequality in the world, through the climate injustices, I get it. And I want to be working for that kind of change and working with people who are trying to make that happen from the outside. I mean, Greenpeace’s analysis, we have science based. We have all those things too. But I think it's time to make people a bit uncomfortable. And and I think, you know, if I if I think of my own personal journey of trying for so long and and if you look at it even from and you can put a gender and race thing on this as well, how you kind of try and adapt to making those people of power, you know, whether it be the head of Shell, you know, feel comfortable or whether it be actually working to Taxify them and take away their social license. That's where I am right now, so I'm glad to be on your program. I know you've had the head of Shell and the head of BP on your program. I wish you'd give him a bit of a harder time, to be honest with you, because I think that it's time to not give these people who are deeply responsible for the crisis a comfortable time.

Tom: [00:13:47] Can I make it like a kind of little tiny apology there on that one because I was very fawning with the head of Shell, but I genuinely believe that these companies have the most enormous power to influence government. So I felt very torn. I wanted to encourage BP and Shell that I have seen manipulate governments use their power to get laws, but I think perhaps it sounded soft.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:14:10] Yeah, I think the thing that struck me in the interview with the CEO of Shell was that he was very much trying to make it seem like he didn't have power. Oh you know, it's the consumers. We have to decarbonize the consumers, I think he even said. And oh, and it's the policy makers. And if we only had a price on carbon. And it's almost like depower rising himself. Yeah. And when actually they have tremendous power. And then you have the activists out there, young youth activists oftentimes who seem like they're I don't know, they don't have a lot of power, but they are trying to take power. And I just think that was a misguide, if I may, in the spirit of love and friendship. Because I don't think we can give them that kind of platform anymore. They've had so much time. They haven't done it. And my journey of, I was thinking of David Hone. I don't want to name check people, but sitting in my kayak, sitting there and thinking of the conversation I had with him in 2000 when I was at WWF and thinking, I can't do it anymore, I have to take a different pathway now.

Christiana: [00:15:19] Well, Jennifer, you said Greenpeace wants to make people feel a bit uncomfortable. I think you do much more than that. I think you make people feel incredibly uncomfortable and that's your role. That's a very, very important role that I have certainly always appreciated. And I must say you also do it with this fantastic combination of humor and visual impact. And you know, I have witnessed Greenpeace do actions during cops in the past, and I have to say, you know, I usually sit up there and I have to hold a straight face, but I just think it's hilariously impactful, right? And that combination, I think of humor and irreverence to the status quo, irreverence and really pulling the rug from under realities that are being accepted by everyone as unmovable. And the fact that you're able to just pull the rug from those realities and say these realities are not unmovable here, let me show you how. Boom. I just think that's an incredibly effective strategy that Greenpeace has had and continues to have under your leadership and very enviable actually from my side.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:16:53] Well, I just have to say we're only able to do that because of our supporters. It's the first place I've worked where I have. We have complete independence, you know, we have no funding from corporates, we have no funding from governments. So I, when I travel somewhere, I travel because, you know, people gave 20 euros or dollars or reals or whatever it is. And I think that's an incredible privilege and it gives us so much freedom to do things that maybe others don't feel comfortable doing.

Christiana: [00:17:21] Well, Paul, in the end is going to ask you, you know, what can people, what can our listeners do? So one thing that we can already put on the to do list is contribute to Greenpeace. But Tom, I'm sorry.

Tom: [00:17:31] Just a quick question. I know Christiana wants to go into the substance of COP26 and there's lots you want to unpack and get your expertise. But just on, thank you so much for raising that point around Ben van Beurden. I mean, we really appreciate it, and we're trying to constantly improve this podcast, how we do it, how we ask the right questions. So naming that and we, you know, we've done soul searching around, was that the right thing to do? Did we do it in the right way, etc.? And that dialogue and engagement done well can be extremely effective. So I just want to follow up with you. You said you wish that we wouldn't platform people like that anymore because that moment has gone. I suppose the question is back to you, just so we understand is, is your objection to it that he was on the podcast or anyone like him was on the podcast? Or was it, we could have done a better job making him feel uncomfortable and asking more pointed questions? Because they're slightly different things. I'd like to just make sure I understand.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:18:22] Yeah, I think if you were to ask me in. Well, you're asking me now in 2021 in December where all these, you know, I don't I don't think I would invite them anymore. Right? Because if you look at the role in society, it's like Big Tobacco. We now have Big Oil and their penetration and their soft power throughout society, whether it be, you know, sporting events that, you know, Total is now hosting the Rugby Cup, whether it be, we've just taken a case against the head of Total in France because he was using a his status on the board of a prominent school to get a total sponsored thing there in the in the college. I mean, they are so predominant. And so I think if we need to have cultural shifts, which we do, if we need to have mindset shifts, then we have to pull the curtain back and not give them those platforms. And they even adopted your language, calling them, you know, the optimism part, you know, and I and they adopt, you know, Greenpeace's language. No Planet B, you know, those types of things. So I think at this moment of a climate emergency, we have to be really diligent and I don't I wouldn't invite them. I just think they've had a long time to do the right thing. I mean, 1957 first report out there potentially linking climate, you know, CO2.

Tom: [00:19:51] So no, it's super helpful. So thank you and we'll think about that. I mean, I think that I definitely agree we could've done a better job with Ben in terms of making him feel uncomfortable and make it more focused. I'm not sure yet, to be honest. I mean, whether or not coming on Outrage + Optimism makes that much of a difference to a huge company like that in terms of their credibility, et cetera. I think they should have been held to task a bit more, but we will reflect on that and we definitely see both sides of this. So thank you for raising it.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:20:16] Yeah, sure. Thanks for the dialogue.

Christiana: [00:20:18] Yeah. And Jennifer, can I can I just push a little bit farther on that because you said they have had too much time to make the change and they haven't? Why haven't they?

Jennifer Morgan: [00:20:31] Because they profit from the existing system. I mean, if you look at over history and the introduction in the nineteen seventies, especially of the neoliberal system and all the benefits that have come to those companies, they benefit dramatically from it. And I think they and because they have become so embedded in political systems, so embedded in social systems, it's very comfortable for them, you know? And so I think it's one thing and oftentimes you'll hear, you know, if we only had the policies there. But as Paul was saying, they have such an incredible influence like, I mean, you know. And so, you know, I just think they haven't because they've managed a system that continues to bring great benefit to themselves. That's tragic to me. It's absolutely tragic. As human beings, I just can't imagine how they sleep at night. And I'm I would I would love to see, you know, kind of an aha thing where actually and they would some of them would stand up and not try and defend the fact that they're going up, you know, trying to appeal a case that Shell is, you know, where they've been found that they're not doing enough. I mean, but we're not there yet.

Christiana: [00:21:53] And isn't the aha that we're looking for for these companies to actually redeploy their capacity, whether that's engineering capacity, their financial capacity, et cetera, toward the solution space and energy. Isn't because, as you say, they profit from the status quo. They could also profit from the new energy system if they move themselves into that space, couldn't they?

Jennifer Morgan: [00:22:21] They could. But I and I think there's certainly opportunities there, but I think they could also be a better player in society as a whole. They could, you know, we have to shift away from an economy that puts their well-being and the well-being of very 

Christiana: [00:22:37] Above everyone else

Jennifer Morgan: [00:22:39] above everyone else to having the well-being of people and planet there. And that's not only about climate, that's about tax laws, that's about health systems, that's about how they engage overall in order to protect their interests. So yes, certainly in that shift, we do need alternative sources of energy. It should be about what services they're bringing to society. Right, and yes, they do have shareholders, but what are shareholders measuring these days, and so they should also be part of listening to people and redesigning that. And then, yeah, they could be part of making history in a good way.

Christiana: [00:23:15] Yes. Yeah. They should. You know, it's interesting. We had a fascinating conversation with the president of Costa Rica. And he pointed out that fortunately, at this point in time, in our history being selfish, it actually gets us to the same point as being selfless because by doing the right thing, we're actually benefiting the majority of people, especially vulnerable people. But it also is in our own self-interest. And so that lesson is sort of applicable to these oil and gas people, too, in the sense that if they understood that their quote unquote selfish interests, i.e. continuing to be a profitable company actually coincide with being selfless i.e. contributing to society's bigger purpose and the transformation that we're all that we're all pushing. They actually could be very different. They can still be incredibly powerful, but they can have a very different role in the evolution.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:24:30] Sure. But I wonder what's kept them back for so long?

Christiana: [00:24:34] Yeah, yeah. That's why I asked you, why haven't they done the change we've done?

Jennifer Morgan: [00:24:38] I get asked every year, why do I go to Davos, right? Well, one reason I go to Davos is to try to appeal also to the hearts of these individuals because it's, you know, we have the head, but it's also about the heart. And I think, you know, there's so many different ways that they  need to shift so that their influence declines. Like, I mean, Greenpeace in Europe is trying is working on a EU citizens initiative to get a ban on fossil fuel advertising in Europe. Yeah, right. A directive, like we did this on tobacco. We need to do it on oil. We have more deaths now from oil than we do from tobacco in 2018 or fossil fuels, I should say, right? So it's really thinking then that's a systemic thing, right? Like who gets to reach out to consumers? I mean, they blame consumers on the one hand. But then the eighty one percent of Shell's advertising last year found by the smog was greenwash. Right. And so that's another piece of like they should they shouldn't be opposing that. They should embrace it. They should be, you know, but they're not. So you just see it all along the pathway. And I don't know Christiana. I don't. I just I think unfortunately, we have a society and that's part of this culture shift, which means you need to take away that social license so people don't want to work for these companies anymore. They don't. They don't take that for sure. I mean, there should be no environmental organization that sits on their boards that takes money from them, that provides technical advice. I challenge all my environmental colleagues out there to think twice and not do it because they're just using you to to get green cover.

Tom: [00:26:19] And just to say they do change and better to worse. We're going to have to move to talk about the cop, but I'm just going to ask Clay to put it in. The show notes a video that I've sent to hundreds of people. And I'd like to call it when Shell was Greenpeace because there is a video called Climate of Concern from Shell in 1991, and it is the most direct warning about climate change you will ever see. It's stunning, and it's impossible to imagine anyway, right? Look onto weightier matters. The cop.

Christiana: [00:26:46] Listen, I think Jennifer, you know, is probably falling out of her chair if she hears the sentence when Shell was Greenpeace.

Tom: [00:26:58] Watch the video. I tell you, it's amazing.

Christiana: [00:27:02] Right back to COP26. Jennifer, how did you walk out of cop twenty six? And now, after some pondering, where are you? What, what remains with you?

Jennifer Morgan: [00:27:20] Well, I guess I walked out feeling deeply disappointed doesn't actually match it. You know, I feel like it was such a meek and weak outcome, yes, we kept one point five still in sight, right? I believe that. And yes, there was a, you know, a signal. It was a bad day, I think, for the coal industry. But this gap, you know, you have this incredible moment with all of these heads of state there and all of these leaders there to really get us not, you know, to 2.7 or 2.4 degree rise, but to one point five. And you know, you're in the fight at the moment when you're there and then when you leave, you kind of go, Whoa. But I also felt really empowered. And maybe this is kind of one of the stories of this cop because I felt like I learned a lot and worked more and more with indigenous peoples. I learned and worked more and more with youth. I thought the movements, the only reason we have that fossil fuel language in that text is because of movements and the work of NGOs. The only reason why the carbon market is not as bad as it could be, but it's still bad. I mean, I think it's a huge loophole. The Article six stuff is because of the accountability work that was done there. So I found that very important because the discussion is moving into actually how you do this and you can see them ,aybe it's part of my journey to, you know, like, OK, we're just going to go along. It's going to be the incremental stuff and we need transformational systemic change and both of them were present at that cop.

Tom: [00:28:59] Hmm. It's so interesting. I was in one of the rooms and in the space of an hour I heard John Kerry say, This is historic. We're on the cusp of history. Future generations will look back at this week and then Greta say, this is a complete failure. This is a celebration of blah blah blah. And it sort of struck me that both were kind of true. I mean, you were so central to Paris. We worked with you so closely when you basically provided the intelligence and coordinated the movement in that campaign. And you know, if you think back to where we were sitting in the front row in Le Bourget and the idea of, is the international ratchet mechanism going to work, are we going to deliver those things? Actually, if you felt that at the first ratchet, one hundred countries would step up would bring the temperature trajectory down, would be aware of the fact we hadn't gone far enough. We'd put a provision in to come back a year later. You know, that's the ratchet mechanism to a degree working as designed not far enough, right? At the same time, what you say is, of course, absolutely true. Looked at from the perspective of the most vulnerable. This left huge gaps in terms of the ambition and the vision and the heart around what was necessary, and it's still insufficient. And one of the interesting things I think out of that cop is I've never felt that division more. It felt like it was a city of two tails, right? These two completely different narratives going on where on the inside people kept saying, Oh, it's going pretty well. We've got more announcements and look at the forest and look at the methane. And on the outside, people were saying you lied before and you're lying again, and we don't believe you. And you know, this is all greenwash. So I'd like to ask you about that dynamic. What are the consequences of the fact that we've now had such a breakdown of trust in the middle of the climate movement between the, for better words the inside and the outside game? And what do we do now? Is it important that we heal that and bring it back together? Ultimately, we only be healed by demonstration of action. But what do you take from this moment? How worried are you about that? Do you think it's kind of necessary? Those sorts of questions? I love to hear you talk about that for a few minutes.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:30:54] Yeah, sure. Lots there. I mean. Yeah, I don't, I'm not surprised either to have an 18 year old say one thing and an esteemed former secretary of state who is older than that say something different. He has grandchildren I know he cares deeply about, but it's a very different perspective to be thinking about what world you're living in and your understanding of the level of chaos that is coming your way and having seen voluntary agreements. I mean, the whole first week was full of voluntary agreements that, you know, we've seen in the past. So why trust that it's going to be different now? So. And at the same time, you know, from a regime perspective and understanding, we're global politics are today getting a one year ratchet to come back to the table. Important. Important, right, I mean, that ratchet and the long term goal was the reason why I could stand up at the end of the Paris Agreement and say that it was good. Yeah, and celebrate with everyone. So. And I think you can hold those two realities together. I think it's I'm not sure I would characterize it as a breakdown. I think it's a journey. I think that there's my perspective in a way is that if you're a government and you're negotiating something and you're close to governments, I think you have a very different brief than if you're out in society on the same, you know, out on the front lines and you had environmental defenders there who are risking their very lives right in order to be able to make a difference. And I guess what I felt was starting to happen was a greater internalization from negotiators and people like Secretary Kerry and other leaders of what's at stake for that generation and indigenous peoples. The whole debate, I mean, finally, it's such a minimal thing on loss and damage. Or it's a minimal thing to say public money for adaptation. But you know, that was, the Paris Agreement had three pillars, if not more than that. You know, with equity all around it, it had the mitigation and had the adaptation and had finance right? And those two pillars have not been held up, too. And so for me, I think it's the beginning and also going into Egypt, where these issues of loss and damage especially. And I think that's the other thing, like the impacts that are hitting now that, you know, are just heartbreaking because we thought we had more time. And I think it's the time thing again. Yeah, it's the time thing again like. But I don't want to “schön reden”, as you would say in Germany, I don't want to talk it nicely, but because I think that there there is in a way, I guess my hope is that by confronting again, like a Mark Carney about offsets or confronting the U.S. about their responsibility for those who lose and have damage and they're starting to engage in, that is incredibly important because it's not 2015. The impacts are hitting hard. We have such little amounts of time, and I think the key thing, of course, will be what they do next year like or what they are doing now, you know, kind of in the implementation side of things, whether or not they can really be believed or not. But I felt a slight power shift there. More towards movements.

Christiana: [00:34:38] Jennifer, you mentioned offsets. I would love to hear your sense of this. Are you completely against using any investment into nature based solutions? Are you completely against using offsets to hide non-action or somewhere in between or what? What is? I would really love to get a clear description of your position because as you know, there has been so much discussion about what net zero is, and it's a very alive conversation that I don't think that those of us in the broader climate movement have actually been able to come to a resolution on. And I actually think it's a little bit dangerous that we haven't been able to come together to agree, at least among the climate movement, what is our expectation for offsets and how do we define and what expectations do we have for net zero? But would love to hear your position on that?

Jennifer Morgan: [00:36:01] Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for the invitation to share. I mean, I think it's first of all, it's very clear that if we don't do everything we can also to conserve nature as well as phasing out fossil fuels, we don't have a chance, right? And so I think that's absolutely essential. And I think that's why Greenpeace is working also on kind of alternative futures, is what we call it. It's really looking at how you again shift the system so that you can preserve those places give land rights to indigenous peoples who take best care of those places. And in a way, if you think about, if you were to shift the financial system and have mandatory financial regulation on climate risk and everything else, how you could actually then be moving investments into the things that are needed and are much closer to what local communities need. In terms of offsets we think it's just a new form of denial that is pushed by the industries whose businesses, as we've been talking about, are really wrecking the planet and it's greenwashing. It's a real scam and it's flawed. And I say that not lightly. But you know, I was in Kyoto, I worked in Kyoto on trying to get CDM to be, you know, I was with WWF. We tried to get a positive list and then created a, you know, a whole thing to get good projects in there, but especially on land. You know, the issues around permanence haven't been haven't been solved. The additionality issues. But I think even more fundamentally linking into indigenous rights again, it's like you're you're taking a neoliberal economic system that you know doesn't work and you're trying to use that by putting a price on a commodity that will then make it unaffordable for local communities to to be able to hold their land, which also gives companies a way not to reduce that source it. It just doesn't make sense to me anymore. Not that it made a lot of sense then, but I. And so I think, yes, to obviously needing to find ways to preserve nature but not through offsets where Greenpeace is completely opposed to offsets. And we'll continue to call out the scams because of the reasons you say. One point five We don't have time anymore greenwashing and scams and also harm to people and ecosystems. And I can give you lots of examples. I mean, I know there's good examples, but there's also some really bad ones that are happening right now.

Christiana: [00:38:50] So just to be clear what I hear you saying, but correct me if I have misheard you, Jennifer, your concern is how the concept is being applied with a lack of integrity, not with the possibility of investing in nature.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:39:09] I would say the position is opposed to offsets, both because of the dangers that it poses and the release valve that it gives to those who we need to be reducing at source. And because it continues to depend on a broken economic system that isn't bringing benefits to those that need it most. And yes, we need to preserve nature, but that to me is like, let's get it industrial agricultural companies, you know, and look at how you actually shift the fundamentals so that you have more food sovereignty that's happening. Rather than thinking that by having some carbon credits and have some, some land that would be like Total right now is proposing, you know, to go into an area of the Republic of Congo to drill for oil, and they're going to plant trees 40,000 hectares in another part of the Republic of Congo. For me, it's quite systemic because it's built on a system that hasn't brought benefits. And also it is really dangerous, like going back to shell when it increased fossil gas 20 percent by planting trees.

Tom: [00:40:27] And can I just ask? I mean, obviously there are scenarios where it's completely clear like that Total example, you know, is I think every listener to this podcast would probably say, that's insane, that you would cut down an area of old growth and you would plant trees elsewhere to try to replicate it. But you know, there are also quite a lot of examples of corporations that are genuinely investing in reducing their emissions in a serious way are in quite an impressive way in many cases because corporations, you know, are also serious about this and our experience carries that through and that they're not looking at offsets as a way to kind of get out of their responsibilities, but to take account for the fact that this is going to take time. Are you also sort of against offsets in those sorts of situations as well? Or is your problem or is your issue with it that it's too difficult to tell the difference between those two cases? So therefore we shouldn't take the risk?

Jennifer Morgan: [00:41:19] I would say those companies, which I agree, there are companies that are really trying to do the right thing. And as I think I mentioned to you, Greenpeace has no permanent foes and no permanent friends. Yep. So but I guess I would what I say to those companies because I have those conversations, they are some of them are in the Carney task force. Right to scale up voluntary carbon market is that I think they should be working on the ground to help shift the policies in a way that brings more benefit. And also if they want to be engaging in supporting things that would be in line with what local communities want when the line with developing countries are looking for, they should not be doing it through carbon credits. They should be doing it through other ways of either providing finance or, I mean, it makes me a little nervous on that, on that one. But because if you start even in that instance and I think Article six of the Glasgow Agreement is a bit dangerous on this because it does allow kind of voluntary carbon offsets and double counting. I already see industry looking for the double counting opportunities that are there. You put pressure on compliance markets and you again allow a release of the responsibility. So that's a long way of saying, let me rephrase it a bit shorter that I think companies that really want to go to zero earlier. That's great. Do it through your scope one to three. Drive as far as you can start, even if you need to. If you're a company, that's a real big part of the problem of reinventing yourself to provide services to those. If you want to go further than that, that's great. But don't do it through a carbon credit. Do it through a different way of either providing different kinds of support, whether it be financing support or working to get the rules of the game change so that those communities actually can benefit and not have to be getting, you know, it's a it's a neo colonial model of having northern companies come and either give carbon credits or give money to the south. They should rather be working to stop and extract this economy as a whole if they were really serious about, you know, making the world a better place. That's my challenge. And just one thing because I think sometimes it seems like this is just this huge thing and it's going to take decades, right? And so that's why we have to do these things more quickly that are more incremental. And I guess, you know, there are examples around the world where this is happening. And I guess my final thing is like if as much energy was going into finding those alternative development models and shifting financing, so that it would be going into sustainable solutions as a whole as our going into this whole offsets thing again, we'd be in such a better place.

Tom: [00:44:16] Hmm. Quite so.

Christiana: [00:44:17] Yeah, I guess my concern was that Jennifer, although I agree with that, is to use your word time because we so know that we have to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2030. And I'm just not very confident that we're going to be able to transform our economic system in eight years. And so I'm caught there between agreeing with you, but also trying to figure out how, agreeing with you on the big picture that we need to value the things that really do have value and not those that are pernicious to society. But how do we do that in the next eight years?

Jennifer Morgan: [00:45:04] You know, give land rights in India. There's examples of of, you know, the forest rights community, forest rights and the Forest Rights Act that's giving more financial benefit to those communities through that. Get financial regulation in place. Get these banks to stop being able to claim they're doing things, get financial regulation plays shift money that could happen in a year if those bankers were serious about it. Those are just two examples. We can do that. That's my optimist.

Christiana: [00:45:31] From your lips to God's ears.

Tom: [00:45:34] So can we pick up on that? Because I mean, the cop is obviously this, you know, intergovernmental meeting. But you know, it seems like there's a window opening now for real strong national action. Amazingly, you know, Greece has passed this very strong climate change law directly as a result of suffering terrible fires. You know, now the extreme weather is here. It may be that we can, you know, if we've got to reduce the seven percent a year, we've got to pass a whole bunch of laws and taxation and regulation. Can I ask you because you know you're the kind of Greenpeace's the premier activist organization in the world? You know, how can our listeners who are growing in number, I'm pleased to say, and it's great honor and pleasure to get you to speak to them directly, what can they do to support this process? Because you said the personal is political, so I guess everyone's involved. What does that look like, Jennifer?

Jennifer Morgan: [00:46:24] Well, I think it looks like picking something that your listeners, that you listeners are passionate about and making and making something happen. And that's more in, I would say, the political economic sphere. So it could be linking back to cop, making sure that companies don't use offsets instead of reducing at source and working with others to hold them accountable. It could be that you live in a city and you want to be able to have a bike lane for your kid, so engage actually with your local authorities. It could be that you want to make sure your child has decent science education. And so you're looking to see, OK, are there any fossil fuel companies financing with my child's books? Is there a mandatory education? It could be that you're working to get somebody elected who understands the climate emergency. So my suggestion is action and in that sphere, because we are up against tremendous forces and you know, yes, everyone should do their part as well and eating less and better meat and dairy and all of those things. But actually, the people power we need is to shift the system, and that happens in all these little ways coming together. And it also builds optimism. It gives hope. I'm lucky. I have hope. I get messages of what people every day are doing around the world. So that would be my advice because there's so many people who care. So find what you're passionate about and then go get a law passed. Go get a bike lane in. Go knock on the door of your congressperson, your parliamentarian and work to get that change in the world. It'll be good for you and good for the world.

Paul: [00:48:07] It's a great list. I'm going to go off and do some of them right now. Well after the podcast.

Christiana: [00:48:11] All right, Jennifer, thank you so much. Let's, as we close here and thank you for taking so much time with us. But as we close, we usually ask our guests to give us one thing that you are outraged about and one thing that you're optimistic about, and I would actually love to hear your answer to that in the context of COP27 in Egypt.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:48:45] Hmm. So I guess I am outraged by the continued effort of fossil fuel companies using concepts like net zero to avoid reducing emissions when we need to go to zero so desperately, so quickly, and I guess I am optimistic about two things. One is in that context, which is a little speech that the secretary general gave, which was a highlight, I think in Glasgow that many of listeners may have missed, which is where he announced putting forth a group of experts to provide guidance on these non-state actor net zero commitments across the board so that we can start getting our hands and arms around them so that they can be credible. That that makes me optimistic and hopefully by Egypt COP27, we'll have something in place that sends a signal. And I'm also optimistic because, I think of what makes me optimistic, It's just people. People who are fighting like their lives depend on it because they do and coming together across movements in ways we have never seen before. And that'll be the case of COP27 in Africa. Really dynamic.

Christiana: [00:50:06] Yeah. And putting adaptation first, for sure. Exactly. Now, Jennifer. I don't think most people were tone deaf to that announcement of the SG. Oh, good. I think it landed very clear and a little bird told me that he made that announcement coincidentally after a very important conversation he had with Jennifer Morgan.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:50:36] The secretary general is a wise man, and I think he'd been speaking for a long time about his worries about these crap claims, sorry for the language. So yeah, it's a good thing. It's a good thing.

Christiana: [00:50:52] Fantastic, Jennifer. Thank you so much. Delightful to have you here. Thank you very much.

Tom: [00:50:56] Thank you, Jennifer. Lovely to see you.

Jennifer Morgan: [00:50:58] Thank you. Bye.

Tom: [00:51:05] Now, how wonderful to get to sit with Jennifer. What a brilliant human being she is, and to have that conversation with her, which I just sort of value so much that kind of thoughtful dialogue and feedback around how do we best change the world and achieve the outcomes that we all want? And I celebrate the fact that many of us have, kind of, different perspectives on these things because I think that enables us all to work together. And wouldn't it be terrible if it were all exactly the same? But I would love to hear from both of you what you got from that conversation?

Christiana: [00:51:39] Yeah. I also very much appreciate Jennifer's feedback to us, but actually, I appreciate something prior to that as well. I appreciate the fact that she reached out to us to say, Look, I feel uncomfortable about something that you did, and I want to have a conversation and we had that conversation. And then we invited her on the podcast to speak about that discomfort that she has more publicly. And so I really appreciate that level of trust, that people who use different strategies out there are different theories of change can actually reach out to each other and say, Look, I feel uncomfortable about something that you did. Here's why and have a grown up conversation about it. So I thought that was actually, thank you to Jennifer publicly for a reaching out to us and b then coming on the podcast and stating quite publicly what her feelings and thoughts were.

Paul: [00:52:34] Indeed. And look, this is a, you know, kind of hot topic and it's related to, you know, very strong feelings about climate change, the fossil fuel industry and all the rest of it. I mean, I think that it's difficult not to have a bit of context here, which is that, you know, it has been the case that in previous decades, there has been lobbying by some of the fossil fuel majors. In fact, there was a lawsuit in 2017 from the City of San Francisco and a couple of other cities against some oil majors, and it does actually make the case very, very clearly. I'll ask Clay to put a link in the show notes, so if anyone's interested, they can just see kind of what is the case of. It's a case of public nuisance, actually, and kind of interfering with the public debate. And I think that the key point is that, you know, companies generally have to recognize that they have extraordinary size, they have extraordinary economic resources, they have extraordinary potential to influence the debate in society. And then alongside that, they have associated responsibilities. And I think that's the key point here. But I mean, we've also had Vicki Hollub on the show before, who was the chief executive of Occidental, and she made a comment recently at a petroleum congress. You said one of the key things that happened at COP is very few, actually, I'll say zero oil companies were included in any of the official dialogues going on. She said We didn't get a seat at the table there, but we do need a seat at the table going forward. Now I do believe that we need to hear from the people who run public companies, whether you disbelieve them or whether you don't agree with them. We have to hear, you know, when they account and their legal executives of legal structures that are under legal supervision. So, they have to account for their behavior. But I just think if people want to understand the tension here, it's a lot of it's relates to previous pretty bad behavior at some scale by some companies. 

Paul: [00:54:30] I mean, really helpful to hear and great to get the feedback. And obviously, as you said at the beginning or said Christiana, we've heard from various people about their discomfort with having had Shell on this show. I'd love to know from both of you after that conversation. Would you have another oil and gas CEO on the podcast? What would your perspective be on it now? Has it changed and and if you would, is there anyone you wouldn't invite on things just helpful for us to think that through, isn't it?

Christiana: [00:54:55] Yeah, I know that is helpful. Well, let me get to that via looping in a conversation that we had before the interview with Jennifer. Because I do see, and I don't think anyone would dispute that the coal industry has lost and the oil and gas industry is losing its social licence. Meaning there's a heck of a lot of social pressure that gets demonstrated through demonstrations on the streets, people's gluing themselves on their pavement or on their walls. Also, very interestingly, young people not wanting to work for oil and gas industry. 

Tom: [00:55:37] Yeah that’s huge.

Christiana: [00:55:38] So that, you know, that whole universe, that's all social pressure and social licence being removed from an entire industry. It comes hand in hand with the financial tolerance or the financial support that financial institutions would be willing to lend, whether it is investment or lending or in fact, insurance capacity. And all of those, all of those sub industries of the financial world are actually also retiring their financial license from that industry. So that and that is something that unless specific companies really do reinvent themselves very, very quickly, they will all lose this in that context of that process. I do think that it is important to hear from these leaders of these companies to invite them to state publicly, what are they doing about that? What are they doing? How are they navigating that removal of the social licence? That removal of the financial license? How are they navigating the expectations of society that they move toward a new business model? There are many people who would want them to totally disappear. I know that I take that, but that is probably not where they are. They would want instead of completely disappearing, they would want to evolve. And there are some that are evolving much less. It's called ExxonMobil and some that are evolving more. So I do think that it is important to give them a microphone to report to the public what it is that they're doing and how they're navigating these waters. To your question, Tom. Where I totally take on board, Jennifer's comments to us is I don't think that we were sharp enough, perhaps is the word or incisive enough in some of those conversations. And where I do take on the challenge to all of us is when we have anyone from those industries, how do we sharpen the conversation? How do we sharpen the conversation to be hand in hand with the demise of the social and financial license that they're losing?

Tom: [00:58:06] Yeah, I think that's exactly the point, and I was going to come back to that as well, and this is something that we would love to have feedback from, listeners. So if you are interested in this and you're listening this far into the podcast, you've heard that conversation. You're clearly engaged in these issues. And you know what you've set out very beautifully there, Christiana is, is the role of Outrage + Optimism to just not talk to certain people because they have been involved in historical terrible injustices and pollution that is creating all sorts of challenges around the world. Undeniably, or should our role be to speak truth, to power and actually to engage with some of those people and to say very directly what needs to happen and where it's not happening? I think we can rule out the third option, which is we get them on, but we just don't, we're not sharp enough. We've heard that feedback and we've taken it on board. Yeah, it's a brilliant plan. I think between now and the next season, I mean, I personally would like to take some a bit of coaching around how you get to that single point of focus and are sharp enough in those interviews because those are real skills. And of course, we're just making this up as we go along. But anyway, listeners, we'd love to know what you think about that, Paul. Love to know what you think. 

Paul: [00:59:32] I personally, about 11 years ago was at an event where there was a very senior oil executive from the past, no longer at the company and is widely held responsible for a lot of really bad things, frankly. And I didn't I couldn't talk to them. Actually, I realized I didn't want to, but I think it's different when they're actually in the company managing it. And I would just say, I know someone who works in a Big Oil company in this kind of area and they said, you know, actually the company is stuck. And I think, you know, probably we all need to help those companies get unstuck. So I think that's really my reason for saying we need to hear from these people. 

Tom: [01:00:01] Yeah, and listeners again, we'd love to hear from you. Now this is either anything either of you would like to add. I think we have reached the end of this episode, which is our penultimate episode of the year. We have one more to share with you, which will be next week, and we are leaving this as ever this episode with some music. This week it's from IDER with their track BORED. Hope you enjoy it! Beautiful piece of music. Thank you for listening this week. We think this has been a particularly interesting episode, and we hope to bring you more of this type of conversation next year. We'll be back next week with a conversation with Minister Zac Goldsmith on the forests agenda and what happened at COP26. We'll see you then. Bye bye.

IDER: [01:00:39] Hey, we’re IDER and this is a live recording of our song BORED. BORED was written in a stream of consciousness when we were feeling particularly frustrated with the music industry. On a slightly more general level, the song is about other areas of corporate power, false advertising and the wider issue with perfection and control. The chorus is a bit of a relief and won't you fail with me as the line? And it's our mantra to embracing failure. In order to succeed.

BORED by IDER Plays [01:01:14] [Song plays]

Clay: [01:04:38] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage + Optimism. I'm Clay producer of the show. You just heard IDER with a special live performance of their song BORED, spelled all caps. We are so privileged to have artists like IDER on the show, and I'm really connecting with their music personally. And if you listen to the credits regularly, you know that I take the time to dig into the work and catalogue of each artist we have on the show to give some recommendations, things like that at the end of each episode. And so after doing so this week, I’m back to highly, highly suggest you check out two things from them. Number one, IDER has a music video that is played over a full band performance of the song. You just heard BORED link to that and the show notes. The video's all in slo mo, so it has this kind of slow, dreamy feel. And the album version of the song is like these boom bap drums and lush overdriven guitars that just kind of wrap you in a blanket of sound. So you got to check it out. And number two, that song BORED is one of several songs off the record titled Shame that you need to give a spin, and it's available on all streaming platforms. I always recommend you buy the music if you can, so they have a Bandcamp, and I wish you could buy their vinyl for Christmas, but it's actually sold out, so send them a message so that they make some more. IDER everyone. Yeah, this new record's really good. Keep an eye out for them. They've got some good things going on.

Clay: [01:06:06] Thank you to our guest this week, Jennifer Morgan. It's the end of the year, and I know most of our listeners are asking around now, how can I use my money to create a better world? Simple. Donate to Greenpeace. As Jennifer mentioned to us, they don't take any government or corporate donations, so they speak and act with a unique, authoritative and necessary voice. Go to the show notes for a direct link to Greenpeace's donate page. It's no secret that funding for climate is nowhere near what it should be, and in particular, funding for environmental justice is an incredibly small percentage of that funding. Every bit makes a difference. Thank you. Ok, wow. Tom said it. This is the penultimate penultimate episode of the year. Next week, at some point, we'll have a final episode wrapping up our post-COP26 thoughts with Minister Zac Goldsmith. And of course, you know we've got more coming in the New Year, so leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts about how much you enjoyed this last year. Maybe share a memory and hit subscribe so you don't miss the last episode of the year. All right, we'll see you next week.


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