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121: Small Countries, Big Vision with Nicola Sturgeon

Has there ever been a more exciting moment?

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About this episode

*inhales deeply* Fresh off the TED Countdown Stage and moments after the ‘Green Carpet’ at The Earthshot Prize Awards 2021 AND a week and a half away from COP26 - Has there ever been a more exciting moment?

This week we give our first-hand experience at TED Countdown, discussing ‘the moment’ and what followed when Christiana was moderating a discussion on the TED stage about our theories of change with Ben van Beurden, Chris James and Lauren MacDonald. Also Christiana and Tom recall a few exciting moments from the Earthshot Prize Awards and the future investment in scaling these 5 award winning solutions to meet our rapidly approaching climate targets.

In an incredible interview, our very special guest this week is First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. We met her at her residence in Edinburgh to discuss this new vision she has for small countries collaborating on climate action, and the phenomenal TED Talk she had just delivered (ensured by a standing ovation). Tom says, “it was one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

And in perfect harmony with this week’s subject- An amazing song this week from DIVEST - we hear them play ‘Something’s About to Change’. It’s really, really good. Give them a follow and check out their new EP - Mercury Retrograde.

Enjoy the show!

Mentioned links from the episode:


Full Transcript

Clay: [00:00:00] Ok, before we begin today, I have something to bring up. When we were in Scotland, we showed up to the interview with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and this was the pair of shoes that Tom was wearing. Ok, Converse. They make the interview, by the way, that's coming out that we're putting out then.

Christiana: [00:00:22] Wait, wait, do they match his hair?

Paul: [00:00:25] Are shoes meant to be like that?

Clay: [00:00:31] Yeah, the laces are a bit floppy. So yes, not maybe 72 hours later, I'm on my phone and I see a picture pop up, and it's Christiana and Tom with the Duchess of Cambridge, and he's wearing a full tux. But unfortunately, the bottom of the picture is cut. I cannot see his shoes. So was he wearing the shoes he's wearing? He's wearing

Tom: [00:00:57] It's not true!

Paul: [00:00:58] It shows that he's got disrespect for Scotland. Because she is the face of the Queen of Scotland, and that's the Princess of England. And you know, you've got to kind of get your priorities here.

Tom: [00:01:13] In my defence, I simply didn't read the brief about where we were going for the interview. Is that really a good defence?

Clay: [00:01:20] I don't want to know what shoes you were wearing. I don't need to. I don't need an explanation.

Christiana: [00:01:24] I think there's something about coherence here, right? You have to give it to Tom. Coherence. I mean, coherence top to bottom, top with the hair, bottom with the shoes, and there's coherence.

Paul: [00:01:37] There you go. Of a kind, of a kind, of a kind. All right. Thank you, Clay.

Tom: [00:01:43] Duh duh duh duh [theme tune]. Hello and welcome to Outrage and Optimism. I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac,

Christiana: [00:01:59] I'm Christiana Figueres, and

Paul: [00:02:01] I'm Paul Dickinson.

Tom: [00:02:02] This week we talk about the narrowing path to COP26 and the commitments that are now fortunately coming in. We discussed the incredible week we had in Scotland at TEDx Countdown, and we talk about the amazing evening that we had on Sunday at the launch of the Earthshot Prize. Plus, we have an interview with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and we have music from DIVEST. Thanks for being here.

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Tom: [00:02:30] So what a week we have had. We are so privileged in the last week to just be inspired by this incredible event that have for me anyway, and I'm very keen to hear both of your analysis, demonstrated how far we've come, how exciting this transformation is and just how possible it is. Let's start off with Sunday night, when the first ever Earthshot Prize was awarded to five winners in London. Christiana and I were there at Alexandra Palace. It was an incredible evening, Christiana. Why don't you share with the listeners what it was like to be in that in that room, in that auditorium when this happened?

Christiana: [00:03:03] Well, just for starters, I must say I have never seen a production like this. The staging, the music, the orchestration, the coming in, they actually managed to seamlessly weave in six different stages that were distributed around the world. We had the stage here in London at the so-called Ally Pally, the Alexandra Palace, but also five stages around the world. Of the five winners who didn't know that they were the only ones that had that stage, they actually thought all 15 finalists had a stage set up for them. But the production managed to bring in those five plus the one in Ally Pally with a with a coherence and a punch and a beauty that I have honestly never seen before.

Tom: [00:03:58] Yeah, it was incredible. And I mean, what an amazing range of people. I mean, David Attenborough kicked it off. There were musical performances from Ed Sheeran and Coldplay who played this incredibly beautiful set outside Alexandra Palace, completely powered by bicycles, people who are pedalling just around them. And Christiana, I don't know. I mean, anything you want to say about the winners, did anything strike you?

Paul: [00:04:19] Did any particular one that was, you know, a country or something, you know, like that?

Christiana: [00:04:27] I'm not sure I want to go down that route because you you would just, you know, pounce on me.

Tom: [00:04:33] No, we're very proud of Costa Rica. We tease you.

Paul: [00:04:35] Exactly. I mean, you know, however you want to identify yourself, an announcement: Costa Rica won one of the Earthshot Prize Awards for just being the most spectacularly brilliant country, and the President and his delightful family were looking, some of them a little bit restless, gave a charming speech on-camera, and it was very moving and very wonderful.

Christiana: [00:04:55] Yes. Well, so we should say there are five categories in the Earthshot Prize. Costa Rica did win the Protect and Restore Nature prize. We had a phenomenal project from India that won the clean air. We had two brothers from the Bahamas that won Revive Our Oceans Coral. Yes, phenomenal. We had the mayor of Milan who won the Build a Waste Free World and we had a a small but incredibly promising company that is producing electrolyzer and electrolyzer, winning the Fix Our Climate. So very, very exciting. And yes, to everyone who noticed that Costa Rica won one of the five prizes and that, yes, I am on the jury of the Earthshot, I do want to say that when I found out that Costa Rica was a candidate, I recused myself from that one category and participated in the deliberations of the other categories. Having said that, because that was clearly the only thing to do, I'm of course delighted. I'm delighted for Costa Rica. I'm also delighted for all of the other winners. But you know what? I'm most delighted about that. The Earthshot Prize has decided that they're not just going to give some capital to these five winners, they're actually going to take the 15 finalists and support them, put them through what we could call an accelerator program to very specifically give each of those initiatives investments, programs, whatever they are, the necessary tools and knowledge to take what they're doing right now to the next level of impact. That scalability is exactly what the Earthshot prizes are looking for, and we will be putting a lot of effort into supporting all of these to go to to the next level. And that, to me honestly, is even more exciting than the winners, right?

Tom: [00:07:06] And I mean, you know, I completely agree with you. And again, it wasn't even just a finalist, right? I mean, I was part of the Technical Advisory Group, and I saw a deeper range of some of the different entries and they were just astonishing, right? Seven hundred and fifty entries, what a role has been played by the Earthshot Prize and frankly, by Prince William, whose initiative this was, right. He decided to use his name and his brand to really elevate these issues that are affecting our world and create what is clearly the most prestigious prize ever for environmental issues. And I mean, just look at the media since then. We're recording this now in the middle of the week. This happened at the weekend and it has been everywhere for the last three or four days. People have been talking about what happened, who was there, how glamorous it was. I feel really excited about–

Christiana: [00:07:49] Also talking about your shoes, Tom.

Tom: [00:07:51] Yes, I think that's confined to this podcast. I think it's possibly true that Emma Watson's dress was a bigger story than my shoes across the rest of the media.

Paul: [00:07:59] Not to us in the Global Optimism team.

Tom: [00:08:03] Now, we don't have long as ever in these intros, and we're going to go to an amazing interview in a minute. But maybe we should just say a quick word about TED Countdown to because we were all there in Scotland for a few days. This was the first TED event specifically focused on climate. It was four days long. They were both set-piece TED talks that will be familiar to many listeners that will be recorded and released over the coming weeks, as well as incredible breakthroughs that were run by people like Kim Stanley Robinson and the Hip Hop Caucus and others. And Christiana, you also brokered a remarkable moment on stage where Ben van Beurden, the CEO of Shell, was on stage with Lauren MacDonald, a campaigner from Stop Cambo, Cambo being the Shell oil field in Scotland, together with Chris James, Engine No. 1, who managed to put some new board members on the board of Exxon that are climate-aware. And it created this moment that so many people have talked about any listeners who haven't seen it. It is available on TED.com. But maybe you just want to briefly, Christiana, describe for the listeners what happened and what it felt like to be on that stage.

Christiana: [00:09:06] Yeah, maybe it's good to say that these two events that were basically back to back and not purposely so, but ended up being back to back, what they have in common, Countdown and the Earthshot Prize, is that they really shed light and gave a platform to so many positive things that are happening. However, the difference between the two is that the Earthshot Prize really focused on the solutions space exclusively, whereas in TED Countdown, there was a balance between so many people working on amazing efforts to address climate change, but also in very good balance. The depth of the challenge that we're facing, the urgency that we're facing and the difficulties and the barriers. And so that was very specific to TED, and I thought it was very well done to be able to set the inspiration in the context of the need that we have and of the honestly scary moment that we're all living in. Part of that was, as Tom notes, this very difficult conversation between the CEO of Shell, the Founder of Engine No. 1 that is an activist shareholder, and the selected voice for youth, a member of Fridays for Future in Scotland. That was meant to be a conversation where each of them would put forward their passionate commitment to a particular view on how you bring about change. They all want much faster change, but they pursue it very differently, each of the three of them.

Christiana: [00:11:00] And that was the intent. But it didn't go according to the intent because the fact is that after the CEO of Shell presented the view of Shell, Lauren MacDonald, who had been chosen by her peers and friends to be the voice of a youth activism just couldn't. She just couldn't bear the pain. And she was. She was quite, I don't even know what, what adjective would you use, Tom, there? She was not just adamant, she expressed her pain in words that were quite unusual for a public stage. And those accusations that came from her were really just felt very deep. They just carved very deeply into everybody's soul and and heart. And then she left the stage because she said she just couldn't share a stage with with Ben van Beurden, the CEO of Shell. So the challenge for me as a moderator, there was then and now what happens when your star speaker leaves the stage, not even through, you know, the way she came, but actually she just basically catapulted herself off the edge of the stage to be embraced by her friends and then carted off. So, quite the drama and the challenge there was, how do you take that drama to a healing place? And that is what I attempted to do and then and then carry on from there.

Paul: [00:12:47] And I think people said that you did a fantastic job, Christiana, and I'm not going to comment specifically on that moment, but I mean, we had lots of discussions there and there. It was an amazing event. Some people did talk about youth, you know, younger people being very kind of depressed or anxious. And I got to thinking about this like, you know, if if, if Jewish people were depressed and anxious in Germany in the 1930s, actually the solution was not to treat their anxiousness, it was to recognise the danger they were in. And I think we probably I know it's not very easy message for listeners to get, but you know, anxiousness, you know, we humans, we are steeled to respond. And now us a time for response, it's a moment now you can feel how much is changing. And by the way, just on the flip side at TED, so much positivity about technology and possibility. Although, you know this isn't just about kind of capitalism sorting it out. There were also major issues of inequality. Fantastic contributions from indigenous communities. I can't get over the people of Palau becoming the first country to require an eco pledge that you've got.

Christiana: [00:13:54] Yes, that was so wonderful.

Paul: [00:13:55] When you join, it wasn't that amazing.

Christiana: [00:13:58] A pledge to the children of Palau, even better,

Paul: [00:14:01] Much more relevant. And actually my favourite TED talk of all was from the monastic Sister True Dedication.

Tom: [00:14:08] Oh yeah.

Paul: [00:14:08] And I think there is something actually a little bit monastic about the TED format, which actually some people doesn't feel very true, very honest, but actually Sister True Dedication, I think, carried that perfectly and gave us great lessons by asking us who we were, where we were and what we really wanted. And I think many people felt that that went very deeply and was very beneficial.

Tom: [00:14:31] Yeah, that was an incredible moment. I mean, you could have heard a pin drop in that theatre when Sister True was giving that remarkable talk, which I think is one of the best I've seen.

Christiana: [00:14:40] Absolutely, very worthwhile looking up.

Tom: [00:14:44] And just just kudos to you, Christiana. I mean that that moment on the stage with Ben and Lauren and Chris James, we shouldn't forget, who's an amazing leader as well. You know, you were really able to bring the room back to this point of doing exactly what Paul described like to feel the reality of this moment because she's right, right? She is right. That level of pain is not incorrect. She's right that we're facing impacts on the world, as you say, that merit that. So how do we continue to have dialogue that enables us to move forward at this moment of pain where we both need to feel the reality of that situation and be practical about moving forward? So it's an ongoing question. I feel I will come back to that moment in the podcast. So now we're going to go to our interview in just a sec. I'm aware we haven't talked much about COP, and COP may be on people's minds at the moment, but just to reassure you, we will be getting into that much more next week just before the conference opens. And in a minute, we're going to go to our conversation with Nicola Sturgeon.

Paul: [00:15:41] Just to say, Scott Morrison from Australia is now attending the COP, so he obviously was listening to last week's episode. Thank you, Scott.

Tom: [00:15:47] Who should we ask to attend this week and see if that carries through?

Paul: [00:15:49] President Xi invitation is wide open.

Tom: [00:15:51] We'll go for two this week as the stakes are rising. Xi and Bolsonaro, please, commitments by 2030 and attendance. But before we go, Christiana, you wanted to say something, I think, about an email you got this week.

Christiana: [00:16:03] Yes, before we sign off, I got a truly a very important email from a friend that I wanted to speak to. So I got this week, a few days ago, a pretty angry, understandably angry email from our very good friend Eric Usher, who heads up the U.N. Environment Programme Finance Initiative UNEPFI.

Tom: [00:16:26] Who is not an angry man, I should have to say, he's a very nice man.

Christiana: [00:16:28] Who is a fantastic, fantastic leader and to whom we really owe much, much of the many different global partnerships that are coming together in the finance sector to for all of those sub-sectors of the finance sector to go to net zero by 2050. So huge kudos to Eric for his leadership for you and fi for putting up with as much as they've put up with and and for everything that they have really so many ducks in a row that they have really been able to get here in preparation for COP26. Now, Eric was understandably upset because in our last episode, I made some snide remark about the term net zero. And he's absolutely right, so I stand totally corrected by you, Eric. I would. Like to clarify this, I am concerned I've always been concerned about the impact of words. I happen to feel that words really do matter. When I got to the to the secretariat, I had them scroll through everything that was ever written about climate change and take out the word fight. I don't like the term. Let's fight climate change. I had them change it to: let's address climate change. I don't like the word war room. I know the concept of a war room.

Christiana: [00:17:54] I don't like it. Can we actually change it to embrace room or peace room? I just I just think that words really matter and they carry a certain energy with them. So my pet peeve around semantics and the importance of words and what message they carry with them is actually also about the term net zero. I totally get it that everyone has embraced this and I definitely do not want to swim upstream, and I definitely am not putting a question mark around or behind the concept because, as everyone knows, I hope on this podcast and beyond, we all three of us, including me, are 150 percent behind the concept of decarbonising the global economy. That episode was about a book called Net Positive. So I was just making the point that actually, from a semantic point of view, it is actually more inspiring in my book to have a concept that is called net positive rather than net zero. Now I know that there we're going to zero pollution. I know that the race to zero is about going to race to zero pollution both locally and and globally. And I totally get it and we're absolutely committed to that, stubbornly committed to that. In fact, optimistically committed to that. I just have a problem around semantics.

Christiana: [00:19:17] So that's my, you know, personal thing. I think the term net positive is more inspiring. And furthermore, it goes beyond not doing harm, but actually beyond that to regenerating and and creating so much more positive space. So thank you, Eric, for your correction. I stand corrected if anyone thought that I was objecting to the concept of net zero. Nothing could be further from my thoughts or intent. It was just a semantic issue for me and those who know me and work close to me know that I'm actually a semantics person and I really do look at words and how we use them. So with that clarification, in case it was necessary, we stand 100 percent behind race to zero. We have had so many of the colleagues, including Nigel Topping of the Race to Zero on here and we are totally supporting it. And furthermore, next week we will be having Tom Hale, who will come with one of his What the Hale conversations because the net zero tracker is going to launch this week, which is a system to make these net zero commitments transparent. So I hope with that very long explanation. I have actually redeemed myself with Eric and anyone else who I possibly offended.

Paul: [00:20:49] 110 percent Christian, 150 percent. And if I might quote something on the theme somebody wrote, I'd always thought that we use language to describe the world. But now I was seeing that this is not the case. To the contrary, it is through language that we create the world because it's nothing until we describe it. And when we describe it, we create distinctions that govern our actions. To put it another way, we do not describe the world we see, but we see the world we describe.

Christiana: [00:21:15] Whoa, where does that come from, Paul?

Paul: [00:21:17] Secret. I thought it up in the bath this morning. Didn't get it from a book.

Christiana: [00:21:21] Paul, why did you have that handy? Because you had no idea that I was going to talk about this net zero thing. That is just way beyond. Go ahead. 

Paul: [00:21:31] I made notes on the book Synchronicity that my coach gave me. And actually, do you know Peggy Liu, who we're going to speak to later or in an interview in due course, also spoke about it, and I made some notes from it, and it struck me that that passage fitted exactly your comments.

Christiana: [00:21:44] It does. Thank you very much. How fortuitous.

Tom: [00:21:48] All right. So in this episode, listeners have already had a correction from Christiana about technical issues and some poetry from Paul. So really, it doesn't get any better than that.

Paul: [00:21:55] No. Stop now, actually, whilst we're ahead.

Tom: [00:21:57] Okay. Thank you so much for that, Christiana. I think that's great to clarify. It's super important that we everybody realises we're all on the same page in this remarkable transformation to net zero. And now we're going to go to this interview. Nicola Sturgeon, of course, is the First Minister of Scotland. We had the opportunity to go round to her residence while we were in Edinburgh recently for TED Countdown. This is an incredible interview.

Paul: [00:22:18] Very nice residence.

Tom: [00:22:18] Very nice residence. She was very generous with her time. We all sat there, me feeling very uncomfortable in my Converse, as has already been generously pointed out by Clay. We'll be back afterwards, enjoy this conversation and we'll be back after the interview for a bit more analysis.

Christiana: [00:22:39] First Minister, thank you so much for joining us on Outrage and Optimism. It truly is an honour to have you on our podcast and today you took the time to join us. Also in the morning at TED Countdown. I must say you were brilliant. You got a standing ovation and you made so many important points. I wanted to pick up one point. And that is the letter that you wrote to Prime Minister about the Cambo oil field because it has been a big issue in Scotland, in the UK and frankly, everywhere. And so I just wanted to invite you to summarise for our listeners why you wrote the letter and what you expect to happen or what invitation did you give out to the Prime Minister to reassess the licensing?

First Minister: [00:23:35] Well, I wrote the letter because I believe that even actually, especially for countries like Scotland, which has been for decades now very dependent on oil and gas, not just for meeting our energy needs, but also as a really important part of our economy. And therefore, these are difficult issues. But even especially for countries like us, we cannot shy away from the tough decisions if we're going to live up to our climate obligations. And we know we're in a transition away from fossil fuels. But the question is how fast is that transition going to be made? And do we incentivise ourselves to speed it up or are we inadvertently disincentivizing ourselves? And I think the question many people have, which I think is valid, is while we know we can't switch off oil and gas overnight because that would be counterproductive and not possible to do is new exploration consistent with our obligation to the climate? And if we look at Cambo, it's been licensed for, I think, 20 years or more. It now has to go through a process to have permission to start to develop and explore the field. If it was just applying for a licence right now, it would have to go through a process of a climate check.

Christiana: [00:24:59] Which didn't occur 20 years ago.

First Minister: [00:25:01] Which didn't occur 20 years ago. Now, arguably the process in the UK is not robust enough. It could be stronger, but it is there for new licences. So if it's there for new licences for a field that has been licensed for many years but is now only now starting to develop that process now, I think should happen as well. I think there are big questions about whether new exploration is consistent with what we need to do and claim it. And I suppose my concern moving on from that is if we tell ourselves, yes, we're in a transition, but we can go on drilling for more oil and gas. Do we then do what we have to do quickly enough to develop the alternatives so to make the transition as speedy as it can be? So that's I've asked the Prime Minister to apply that assessment before approval is given for Cambo at this stage. Not optimistic he's going to agree to that, but I'll continue to make that case.

Tom: [00:25:59] First Minister, can I just ask you where we're sitting here in Scotland two weeks before COP26? There's a lot of anxiety and kind of hand-wringing about what big countries are going to do and is China going to come forward with a commitment? But you just gave this cracking TED talk this morning, and I have to say it's one of the best I've ever seen, where you talked about the power of small countries coming together and listening to you. I was just thinking about this kind of this vision of small countries working together in a collaborative way, trying to deliver big things and working. It felt like a new kind of politics. I'd love it if you could sort of set out your vision of how small countries can work together to really change the world.

First Minister: [00:26:31] Yeah, it's not just small countries, it's states and regions and small countries like Scotland or even bigger countries that are not independent sovereign countries. So therefore members of the UN and of course, what the big countries do really matter. We're not going to limit global warming without the Americas, the Russias, the Chinas, the Brazils. But if I look at the Under2 coalition, which is the the coalition of, I think, more than 200 now states, regions, devolved governments like Scotland's, we collectively represent about two billion people, and often our level is where the powers and the levers lie. So about half, the point I was making at TED this morning, about half of all the the reduction in global emissions that we need to see lie with us it be down to what laws we pass, what infrastructure we build. How much we invest. So we've got massive power, and that power is in what we do. If we get our act together, that's going to not take the world of the whole journey, but it's going to take the world a fair bit along that path. We also have power to step in. Big countries are not acting. And the best example of this is when Trump took America out of the Paris Agreement, it was states and cities that kept some momentum going. And of course, if we do everything we can do, then we can put pressure on the bigger countries to do more. So I think we've got a huge responsibility and also a huge opportunity to really flex their muscles leading up to cope and then coming out of court. We've just about to publish a revised memorandum of understanding for the Under two coalition, which moves from language that talks about, you know, keeping temperature warning to warming to under two to to more specifically talk about 1.5, commit us collectively to net zero by 2050 and individually as as fast as possible. And we'll be trying to get as many members of that coalition to sign up to it.

Paul: [00:28:34] Ok, so you know, Scotland is actually a huge success. You've been very successful. How would you do it? And I mean, can you really just like zero down on tactics hints like, what's the secret of getting climate leadership in a country?

First Minister: [00:28:50] Well, I suppose I should preface my answer by saying, we've done a lot, but we've got a lot more still to do. And the next we've had left emissions. If you take the 1990 baseline, so we're halfway to net zero, the next half of the journey is going to be a lot more difficult. But what has been the secret of our success so far, clear eyed ambition and been very clear on the targets we set? And that's true. Now we have not just a 2045 net zero target, but a 75 percent reduction target by 2030. 2030 is not that far away, so it really focuses the mind and trying to make sure that the targets are backed by actions and funded commitments. A climate change plan is very detailed. We are making lots of investment. We've had massive success in Scotland in decarbonising electricity, you know, just shy about 97 percent. So just shy of 100 percent of our net electricity consumption is already from renewable sources. We're now trying to apply that same urgency to decarbonising how we heat our buildings, our transport network, agriculture, big economic sector for Scotland. So it's about focusing, being very clear on what we need to do, trying to be open and honest with the population that it won't be easy, but it's important. And also and this is, I think, a crucial part, not just seeing as a burden and an obligation trying and candidly, Scotland's not being good enough at this. And past years, if you look at wind energy, we haven't secured enough of the supply chain economic benefit. So part of our message is if we do this properly, there's massive gains for our own country in terms of being the place where we develop the technology, you know, create the innovations and get the jobs and economic benefit as a result. So I don't know that there's any secret plan here, but leadership at a national level, I think, is really crucial.

Christiana: [00:30:58] First Minister, everyone knows that young people have taken to the streets in the past 24 months everywhere and are pushing us to take much more responsible action and much more responsible policies. Now I've been thinking for a while, all of this generation is pushing us to think more green. I arrive in Edinburgh and I am picked up in a car, the driver of whom is older than I am and I'm 65. And he says to me the first thing when I get into the car, he had no idea why, why I was here or anything, he said, You know, I am so delighted that the First Minister went into an alliance with the Green Party because the fact is we need much more green politics. That is a 70 year old that is not a 12 or 14 year old talking. So has the time come for green politics here and everywhere else?

First Minister: [00:32:02] Yes, and I'm glad we've got it in Scotland. My party was already quite green, but having the partnership with the Green Party makes sure we are not being complacent. We have an internal dynamic within government that is pushing us forward faster and I think that's really important. And the interesting thing about the the partnership with the. Reasons is that it wasn't politically necessary for either of us in the traditional sense that I needed the numbers in parliament, or that the Greens really needed the validity and the credibility we actually chose to come together to do what we think is the right thing for bigger reasons because we think it will be in the interests of the country. So account of the driver who picked you up is, I think, really important and illustrative of not 100 percent of public opinion in Scotland or anywhere, but increasingly the public out ahead of politicians.

Christiana: [00:33:01] So yes.

First Minister: [00:33:03] It is the public that is pushing politicians to go further and faster and that it's often an uncomfortable dynamic for people like me and for politicians. But it's a really important one. And the young people, I think, you know, fair plea to them, more power to their elbow. That's often very uncomfortable for people like me because, you know, even as somebody who prides herself on being, you know, perhaps at the better end of the spectrum when it comes to climate leadership, they don't think I'm doing enough. Exactly. And it's good for me to hear that, and it's good for me to constantly be questioning myself as a result of of what they are doing and seeing. And I think it makes it really important that we come out. I'm struck by the the title of your podcast, Outrage and Optimism, and it sums up in a sense, the challenge of COP. You know, I hope COP gets further than people might think it's going to at the moment. Is it going to get far enough? I think that's a big question, but it's important we come out of it with enough progress and enough optimism that we're on the right track and can go further. The worst thing would be to come out where people are so outraged that they start to lose faith and lose trust that we can get where we need to be.

Christiana: [00:34:17] What would be the best result for Scotland?

First Minister: [00:34:21] Obviously for Scotland, as as the country that's hosting COP, we want it to go really well logistically, practically from a security point of view. But from a Scottish perspective, we want to be seen to be leading by example and showcase the country and provide a short window for investors who are looking for places to invest. But for Scotland, it's important that it's a success for the world. What I would love to think would happen is that we come out not just with the, you know, the headline financial commitments met 100 billion. That's probably where I'm most optimistic that we might see success, but that we would come out with indices that add up to commitments with implementation that will deliver 1.5 degrees or less.

Christiana: [00:35:10] Keep it alive, as we say.

First Minister: [00:35:12] That's the point I was going to make. That's the ideal. Is that realistic? Possibly not. Therefore, what we need to do is keep alive. And that's the point I'm making about the need to come out with credibility because it has been kept alive and in a real sense. And then there is some clarity of where we go from keeping it alive to actually delivering it. And that, I think, is what success looks like in the real world. If you're a young person, though, I'm very aware that looking at world leaders coming together to haggle and negotiate over the future of the planet is not that inspiring for you. So it's really important that we make sure we're pushing the ambition as far as we can take it,

Christiana: [00:35:58] And keeping 1.5 alive is not going to be enough for them.

First Minister: [00:36:02] Absolutely. And nor should it. It shouldn't be enough for any of us. But it's better than not keeping it alive. Yes, but it's it's not enough to keep it alive and then not know where we go so that it dies a couple of years later, keeping it alive in order to then see a process kick in that gets to where it needs to be, as is crucial.

Christiana: [00:36:23] First Minister, you have named the name of our podcast Outrage and Optimism, and we want to ask you a cheeky question. We have a tradition on our podcast that at the end of our conversation, we always ask our guests to place themselves in a spectrum because we believe that there is a spectrum between outrage and optimism. And we would love for you to place yourself on a spectrum from outrage at the still lack of 100 percent sovereignty for Scotland and optimism that Scotland will be an independent nation.

First Minister: [00:37:00] Oh, I'm 100 percent optimistic that Scotland will be an independent nation.

Christiana: [00:37:04] Why didn't we all know that?

First Minister: [00:37:08] But you know, I say that because I believe it. I think Scotland is on a path to being independent and we will be an independent nation. I can't name you the date. Although I think it will be sooner rather than later, and I shouldn't be complacent in seeing that because the only circumstance in which it will happen and I believe it will is when a majority of people vote for it. It won't happen because I want it. Nor will it be prevented from happening. Just because Boris Johnson, for example, doesn't want it to happen. It will happen because people across Scotland want it. And when you look at we're talking about the the passion of young people for climate tackling climate change. If you look at the opinion poll evidence on views of Scottish independence, massively, massively young people are in support of Scottish independence. So, yeah, I believe it will happen. So on that, if not on everything else. I'm very optimistic.

Christiana: [00:38:06] First Minister, thank you very much. Thank you for taking the time on a very busy day. Thank you for hosting TED Countdown. Thank you for hosting COP26. Thank you for inviting us to your home.

First Minister: [00:38:16] Well, thank you very much for being here. It's a real honour and privilege, as always, to speak to you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tom: [00:38:31] So what a privilege to get a chance to sit down with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and I have long admired her as a political leader as incredibly, she makes an incredibly good case when she presents issues and just a very accomplished politician. What did you both leave that conversation with?

Paul: [00:38:46] I admire her enormously. I think that there is something about Scotland and the fact that she is the leader of Scotland that very much wants to be an independent, small country, and she's a natural leader in that role. She's talked to her people about climate change for many years. There's been a consensus built up in Scotland. Extraordinary achievements. She co-leads the Under2 coalition with the Climate Group, which is doing stunning things, but she's also, you know, a broad humanitarian. I was listening to her talking about Scotland, celebrating refugees. You know, she's committed to helping people fleeing the Taliban. I think she's actually doing something that maybe only a new country can do, which is to reinvent itself in a new model with global actions. Global responsibilities. Do you know Scotland's got a climate justice fund to support decarbonisation outside of Scotland? You know, pioneering projects in Malawi and Zambia because Scotland believes that it has a responsibility as an early industrialised to mitigate problems in other countries? I really just, you know, kind of she honestly in summary, she felt to me like the future of politics.

Christiana: [00:39:55] Oh, nice. I loved the way she responded to my question about has has the moment come for green politics and honestly, right, we should be seeing that everywhere. It's beginning to to pop its head up in Germany as well. So, you know, bring it on for green politics. It's about time. I was also touched that when we asked her for the best result from her perspective for COP26, of course, she she spoke about the nationally determined contributions, adding up to 1.5. But I was actually very touched that she also put at the same level of importance the funding commitment to developing countries, because usually you hear that from developing countries, not always from developed countries. So I was very touched by that.

Tom: [00:40:50] Yeah, no. I mean, what an amazing leader. And I thought that you know what she talked about and this is in her TED talk to that, I'm sure will be released soon, it's just this, this politics of small countries being entrepreneur or being creative, being innovative, finding solutions. And she was very clear with us. She was like, You know, we're not going to solve this without the big countries getting on board. But there is an amazing role for these small countries as beacons of innovation and creativity that can really move us further and faster forward and so often in climate change, we have a problem of anyone feeling too small to solve this problem, right? Whether it's an individual or a company or anyone. And she's kind of turned that on its head and made it into a positive because we're small, we have a special contribution to make to this big challenge in the collective effort. And I just think that's such a helpful narrative to flip that around. And as you say, Paul, it feels like a politics of optimism, which was which was great to see.

Paul: [00:41:38] Look out for CSTAR. CSTAR is coming. CSTAR as cities, states and regions. Yes, where the work gets done, that's where the sleeves are rolled up. That's where they've rolled up.

Tom: [00:41:47] Okay, so now we are going to leave you with some music. This week we have a band from Norway, a duo called DIVEST with their song Something's About to Change. This is great. You're going to enjoy it. They're here as ever to introduce it. And we will see you next week when we will be just two days away from the start of COP26. Hope you're all getting some rest before we see you in Glasgow.

Paul: [00:42:08] Bye for now.

Christiana: [00:42:09] Bye bye.

DIVEST: [00:42:12] We wrote this song together in the studio, and we were just jamming out on synthesizers and stuff, and the cassette was walking around the studio with a mic and he came up with this: [singing] But I feel like something's about to change. And we kind of flipped out and we just started writing the verses, all the bad stuff that we feel in our lives. And then we kind of end it with 'something's about to change' because we had this very positive energy going on here and we felt like, OK, this is it.

DIVEST: [00:42:45] I think it's great when artists with a big following share good information about inequality and climate change and stuff, but it's also cool to see how bands are doing the job right now.

DIVEST: [00:42:57] Yeah, it's not just words anymore, they're actually doing changes and you see big bands sacrificing their lifestyle and maybe their growth for the Earth, and I think that's absolutely amazing.

Clay: [00:46:38] That is a great song. I really like that one. DIVEST with Something's About to Change, everyone. I'm Clay, producer of Outrage and Optimism. If this is your first time joining us, welcome to the credits! This part of the podcast is a little wrap up and a good send off into the rest of your day from me. So back to DIVEST. Thank you so much to the band for letting us spin your track. This is a really good song, like I said, they named their new EP 'Mercury Retrograde', after a random conversation they had with two Polish twin sisters. I like little details like that. It's really good. I added it to my Apple Music library. Go listen to it. Give them a follow. They have some cool, really well-produced, live performances on their social channels as well. So thanks DIVEST and thank you to our guest this week, Nicola Sturgeon, and thank you to her team and Edinburgh for making this episode possible. I got to walk over to her residence where we did the interview. It was a fantastic experience. Everyone there was just an absolute pleasure to work with and meet. TED will be debuting her TED talk on October 30th as part of a live climate event on YouTube, so be sure to come back to the credits next week.

Clay: [00:47:58] For a link to that, I'm sure I will have it there for you. So what I'd like to share with you this week. As mentioned in the episode, the TED panel on Decarbonising Fossil Fuels has already been released by TED unedited. You can go watch it right now. I've got a link for you in the show notes, and I don't say this lightly if you are a listener of Outrage and Optimism. This is absolutely mandatory viewing. You need to hear Lauren's courageous words and see her follow her conviction to remove herself from the conversation. You need to witness Ben's presence and statement on his theory of change. You need to see Christiana's invitation for everyone to enter into the deep pain and move forward. Gail Whiteman and Johan Rockström, they make a surprise arrival to confront Shell regarding the climate reports they're releasing. It's really important that you witness this. You know, we're in a new moment beyond this. Everything's on the table. Everyone's getting involved. So take the hour to watch and listen and really wrestle with what everyone had to say. I mean, sitting in that room, you could feel the tension and possibility and the outrage and the pain.

Clay: [00:49:11] And it's just really important that you go and witness it and feel it for yourself. So that is my invitation to you. And as a digestive, Anne Quito of Quartz wrote a short article, it's a five minute read, where she interviews Christiana right after this event. If you are a leader, a moderator, translator or a communicator of any kind, Christiana's words will leap off the page to you. This is how you do it. So please go read. It's only four questions. Check that out. Link in the show notes. Ok, that is all from me this week. Just a quick last thing before I go. It was so great meeting everyone at TED Countdown. So many of you stopped me to share words of encouragement and provide feedback on the podcast. It meant the world to me and the rest of us at the team. We are so privileged to have such a deeply intentional and active community, so just thank you. It was great to meet all of you, and I hope to see you soon, OK? Next week, another episode coming your way. So hit subscribe. We'll see you then.


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