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208: TED Countdown: The Future is Exponential

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About this episode

Welcome to another episode of Outrage + Optimism, where we examine issues at the forefront of the climate crisis, interview change-makers, and transform our anger into productive dialogue about building a sustainable future.

This week, our podcast comes from Detroit, Clay's home city, where Christiana, Tom and Clay have been attending the TED Countdown conference. The hosts provide an insight into what has been an incredible week, with fascinating speakers including a not-to-be-missed speech by Al Gore, Xiaojun "Tom" Wang and Susan Lozier, many talking about the exponential change that we are seeing, a recurring message coming out of the event. They also discuss Christiana’s recent op-ed, ‘I thought fossil fuel firms could change. I was wrong’, which really is worth a read if you haven’t already.

Our hosts speak with some special guests from across the TED Countdown conference about this idea of exponential change and the need for a shift in the narrative of climate change; Andrew Steer, Fiona McRaith, Dr Jonathan Foley and Ellen Jackowski.

With Clay busy in Detroit at TED Countdown, huge thanks to Airaphon who mixed and sound edited the podcast this week.


You can read Christiana’s most recent op-ed here, ‘I thought fossil fuel firms could change. I was wrong

Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund
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Fiona McRaith, Manager, Engagement & Delivery and Special Assistant to the President & CEO, Bezos Earth Fund
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Dr Jonathan Foley, Executive Director, Project Drawdown
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Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability Officer and EVP at Mastercard
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Full Transcript

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

Christiana: [00:00:14] I'm Christiana Figueres. And we're missing Paul.

Tom: [00:00:17] We're missing PD. It's very sad not to have him, but it is very nice to be in a studio. We are in an actual studio like real professionals.

Christiana: [00:00:24] You know Clay just said this is way more than we ever have for our podcast. I said way more than we ever even aspired to.

Tom: [00:00:32] Yeah, look at this. There's like sound reflective walls. Mike is here, Clay is here. They've put this little sheet thing up.

Christiana: [00:00:38] Look at these really sophisticated microphones.

Tom: [00:00:41] Actually, I have one of these at home. Anyway, it's so nice to see you.

Christiana: [00:00:45] Is that why your voice is so, such a wonderful voice? I thought it was the real voice.

Tom: [00:00:49] It's all to do with the microphone.

Christiana: [00:00:50] I, no, I think it's your real voice, Tom. It doesn't have to do with the mic.

Tom: [00:00:55] Microphones got to be, speak slowly. That's the key.

Christiana: [00:00:58] Oh, okay. I will speak slowly.

Tom: [00:01:02] Okay. So we are here in Detroit, where.

Christiana: [00:01:05] Motor city.

Tom: [00:01:05] Motor city, TED Countdown is taking place. Now, attentive listeners will remember we have been to Detroit before and it's where we met Clay. So Clay joined us after we came to Detroit with Leaders Quest three years ago. And he was the guy in the hotel, or the hotel called to help us produce the podcast that we did there with David Miliband and has been our brilliant producer and editor ever since. Clay we love you. It's nice to have you in the room.

Christiana: [00:01:31] So so this is a little anniversary.

Tom: [00:01:33] It's an anniversary. Yeah.

Clay: [00:01:34] It's amazing to have you here.

Christiana: [00:01:36] How many years is this? Three years?

Clay: [00:01:38] No. So 2019 is when you came for the first time. So I think it's actually four years now.

Christiana: [00:01:43] Four year anniversary. I almost think we should be singing Happy Birthday to Clay.

Clay: [00:01:48] Yeah, well, the way I keep track is my son was born that same year.

Christiana: [00:01:52] That's right.

Clay: [00:01:53] So 2019. That's how I know. Welcome back.

Tom: [00:01:55] All right. And it's been great to be back in Detroit. I mean, I've got to say, this city is so inspiring. You know, I don't pretend to have deep insights into what makes the city work. But just even as simple as.

Christiana: [00:02:06] That's why Clay is here.

Tom: [00:02:07] That's why Clay is here. Yeah. And many other speakers that we should get on to TED countdown. But it's even like taking Ubers around town speaking to people. There's this real sense of like personal agency and ownership of addressing the issues that the city has faced, which you don't find everywhere.

Christiana: [00:02:22] No, that is so true. And I've been thinking, Tom, does that have to do with the fact that people are rising out of, I almost want to call it destruction of ethos, right? The city was forgotten. It was the the center of the industrial revolution, at least with respect to the fact that this city helped like no other city, to displace the horse and buggy with motorized vehicles. And this was the city that everyone looked to for being on the cutting edge of automotive technology. And and then history moved on and the city didn't. And what I think is so inspiring now is how many people feel that they are personally invested in bringing the city back to life and how proud they are of that journey. Of the journey of bringing the city back to life and feeling that they have a personal agency in it. Honestly, not very different from the sense that all of us have to awaken with respect to climate change because it is about personal agency. It is about coming out of the doomism and the destruction that we've all done globally and taking this personal pride about the opportunity of contributing to this. So I just think it's been such a beautiful microcosm of what we're up to in the bigger world. Load More
Tom: [00:04:01] 100%, and just I mean, one small anecdote from the Uber that we took last night, and you remember this, I was speaking to the driver and I said, oh, how's things in Detroit? And he was like, yeah, things are getting better. You know, people are feeling better about everything. We're coming back. And I said, well, how did that happen? And he looked at me and goes, we did it.

Christiana: [00:04:17] Yeah. So beautiful. 

Tom: [00:04:18] Yeah. It's like they said. He said, we had enough of things not turning out in a positive way for us and our families and we made it better.

Christiana: [00:04:26] Yeah. So inspiring. So fantastic. The wisdom of Uber drivers.

Tom: [00:04:32] The wisdom of Uber drivers. There's a whole podcast in that actually, there probably is a podcast called The Wisdom of Uber Drivers. And so that's Detroit. And the reason we're here is TED Countdown. Now, this is the second TED Countdown. There's been various other smaller ones, but the big one previously was in Edinburgh just before COP 26, which had an interesting moment. Actually, I'm just drawing a connection here. If you'll go with me for a second.

Christiana: [00:04:54] Okay, okay, I'm ready.

Tom: [00:04:55] Okay. So at the last Countdown, there's a very famous moment where you were on stage with the CEO of Shell, Ben van Beurden and Lauren MacDonald was there, and she famously stormed off the stage and refused to share the stage with Ben. And you had to hold the room and get everybody to reflect on what that moment was.

Christiana: [00:05:16] A very painful moment.

Tom: [00:05:17] A very painful moment. And you named it and acknowledged it and let everybody come there. Now, we should talk about this Countdown, but I'm also just connecting the fact that that was a manifestation of something that you have done a lot, which is not to defend the fossil fuel companies, but to be prepared to listen to them and to be open to the possibility that they could be part of this future that we want to create. And you've taken a lot of slings and arrows from the climate movement as a result of that.

Christiana: [00:05:47] Indeed.

Tom: [00:05:48] But you just wrote an op-ed and it came out in Al Jazeera called 'It's D-Day for the Fossil fuel Companies'. And it contained the line, I used to believe that fossil fuel companies can be part of the future, but I was wrong. So I'd love to hear, first of all, why did you write that? And what was it like to change? Do you feel like it's a change? But to evolve your position on that in public, which is a difficult thing to do?

Christiana: [00:06:16] Yeah. Yeah, it is. I don't know. Call it learning in public or vulnerability in public or I don't know. Indeed, however it is. Public learning or learning in public. And the lesson for me has been evolving, I think, Tom, you pointed it out several podcasts ago that you pointed out to me. It sounds like you're changing your opinion about the fossil fuel industry. And and indeed, I have been. I've been really very deeply sensing that evolution inside of myself. Ever since we've been reading about the unimaginable profits that fossil fuel companies have been reaping due to the cruellest war that we have seen in recent history. And by the way, let's remember that those profits have come in the trillions of dollars without any extra effort on the part of these fossil fuel companies. It's just because of the crazy price of fuel that is the direct effect of the Russian invasion on Ukraine. And so the fact that they're sitting on all of this cash, to me, when I started to see that that cash was accumulating, my little heart started going like, oh.

Tom: [00:07:45] This is it.

Christiana: [00:07:46] This is it. This is the moment in which they're going to go like we have all of this unexpected cash. We can really be very mindful and intentional now about what we do with that. What could they have done? They, first of all, could have said, right now we really understand because fossil fuels are basically a political weapon. Now we understand that it is time for us to switch. And they know from science that there is no more atmospheric space for any oil and gas. So it would have been the moment for them to go, that's it. We are no longer going to invest in any more. And I know that is against their business model, but for crying out loud, their business model is killing the world. So that would have been the moment for them to switch and say, right, that's the end of that. Now what do we do with all the profits? First, we invest into all of the new energies that we know that we need. Secondly, we invest into infrastructure and generation for those populations, 600 million only in Africa who do not have any electricity at all, any electricity, also not their core business model.

Christiana: [00:09:06] But is it their responsibility? Absolutely. That's what they're here for, to provide electricity, not the way that they have been doing it in the past century, but in the way that it has to be done in this century. And so the fact that instead of doing those very, very highly responsible options with their cash, that they started buying more, their shares back, that they started paying more dividends to shareholders. I mean, it is and saying that they're going to do more and more drilling. Seriously, it's like, what are they thinking? Have they not learned anything from the past ten years of pain and destruction that we have seen from these fossil fuels? It was just, I guess, Tom, honestly, that the last article that I read about the profits and the use that they were making of those profits for me was, okay, this is it. This is the last straw. I can't hold myself open to that conversation anymore because they have deeply disappointed me and I honestly, I honestly think that they have betrayed society. They have betrayed society.

Tom: [00:10:28] And I mean, I remember over the years having lots of conversations together with you with CEOs of I mean, people like Ben Van Beurden and Bernard Looney, Patrick Pouyanné and and the the what they presented to us was of individuals highly conflicted about their roles and wanting to do the right thing. So it's.

Christiana: [00:10:49] And being very sincere.

Tom: [00:10:50] And being very sincere about that, which is partly why you left that door open to the dialogue and felt that that was an important part of your role. Is your analysis not that we can really know this, but is your analysis now that that was never true, or do you think that when the moment came along in which those profits were there, they just kind of couldn't resist and that a baser instinct came out? And of course, there has been leadership changes at some of them as well. Do you do you have a view on that?

Christiana: [00:11:15] No, I want I want to think and more than anything, I want to feel that those intentions were honest and that they were sincere. And I think that the pressure that they saw themselves under was just too great for them to pull away from the herd because there's a herd mentality here. If one company does not pay its shareholders higher dividends, of course there's going to be a commotion among the shareholders. And so can they afford to lose that investment and for the shareholders to take flight and go to another fossil fuel company? And so it really is a very, very clear example of the tragedy of the commons, where there is no space, at least mental, there is space, but mentally they have closed themselves to the possibility that they may step away from their peers and take a principled position that admittedly is very difficult to justify at the board level and certainly at the AGM level. But it was the right decision to take and, it would have been, it would have been the right decision. So the fact that the herd mentality prevailed and that the leadership that I saw burgeoning in some of these, especially in the European CEOs, that that leadership was then taken over by the herd mentality, is is truly sad.

Tom: [00:13:08] I met Wael Sawan in COP 27 and had a meeting with him before he took over and had a really interesting hour with him in which I said, you're the only CEO of Shell that's going to make any difference to this transition, there's not going to be another one in a time frame that can actually reduce emissions. So you're it, either you lead or Shell is not going to be part of this transition. And it's very it appeared to kind of land. But then the change that was made, suggested that it did and he ignored it or he didn't. So let's get him on and talk about it.

Christiana: [00:13:44] Well, and he has come out with very worrisome statements actually.

Tom: [00:13:49] Totally. Prioritizing relentless pursuit of profit. I mean, all that stuff. Okay. Thank you for going there with that. Should we just have a quick chat about what it's been like to be here at Countdown and the talks we've seen? And then I think we've got some vignettes we're going to play about people we've been talking to and car rides we've been having. What are your impressions so far of TED Talks?

Christiana: [00:14:05] Well, I'm glad that you reminded us that it was two years since we since we did this, I've been very impressed with the TED Countdown organizing team that have made a huge effort, first of all, to bring to the red carpet of TED many new voices, many new aspects that I sort of feel like we're watching an onion being peeled here. Many people who are not in the tent of the usual suspects and they did a very deliberate talent search around the world to find people who had compelling stories and who really represent the transformational process that we are witnessing. And especially, Tom, those who can exemplify the exponential change that we're witnessing. And I think we should really talk about that because that is what we launched just this morning. The analytical papers that show that we're in the middle of an exponential change. And so I've just been so delighted that on the one hand, we have these analytical papers that show that that show the data and then complemented by just very human experiences that are there on the red carpet, on the TED stage, exemplifying exactly what we're talking about, this just amazing exponential change that we're seeing.

Tom: [00:15:45] Yeah, that's been a real theme for me. It's been really interesting. And we saw it in like Al Gore talked about this at length and a whole range of other people that you see change, this has been a recurring theme on our podcast, but seeing it reflected out there in the world has been really significant. So, you know, listeners to this podcast will be familiar. Change happens, takes longer than you think and then happens more quickly than you could have imagined. And actually we are now in the position in these reports from the Rocky Mountain Institute and the System Change Lab really underline the fact that on electric vehicles, on renewable energy, on battery deployment, even on green hydrogen, we are going up an S-curve of exponential change far more rapidly than anyone has really predicted. And we've been really bad at that forecasting of how change will really happen. We tend to think about the future in a linear way and we need to get much better at realizing that we need to put all the conditions in place and then the world changes so fast. So that's been the real thread of hope and possibility that has been very much in evidence here. But it needs to it's kind of you know, it needs to penetrate out into the world because I think most people are not aware of that story that is so positive.

Christiana: [00:16:58] Exactly, exactly. And so the way I've been thinking about it is it's the technology that is on this exponential transformation. And as we said this morning in the media briefing, the the technology in last century was always incremental. The technology progress this century because of digital and because of the electrification of everything, including vehicles. Technology, especially in the energy sector, is improving exponentially. So there's nothing that is going to stop that anymore because they're just way superior technologies, you know, hands down. And however, because we know that we're running out of time on climate, because we know that the negative impacts and the consequences are also on an exponential curve. Because every time we see more and more.

Tom: [00:17:51] Oh for sure, yeah.

Christiana: [00:17:51] More and more. So let's not forget that we already have a negative exponential curve of consequences, impacts, destruction, cost, human misery. So what we're saying is technologies are presenting what I would call a competing exponential curve, but that competing exponential curve will only come to fruition if we're able to understand this and accompany the technological exponential curve with a mental exponential curve, right. Because exponential technology with incremental thinking gives us incremental results. If you have exponential.

Tom: [00:18:33] And leads to incremental decisions.

Christiana: [00:18:34] And incremental decisions that are definitely not going to get us to where we need to in the next seven years, whereas exponential technology, which we have with exponential thinking and acting, now we have then the possibility of exponential outcomes and results which will get us very close, if not in fact, maybe even exceed what we need and where we need to be for 2030. So that's the piece that is really missing still, it's no longer about the direction of the technology. It's no longer about the speed of the technology. It's about, as you said, Tom, change happens quicker than you think. Okay. But then that's the problem. The change happens quicker than you think.

Tom: [00:19:23] Right, you need to get better at thinking about change.

Christiana: [00:19:25] Yeah, you need to get better. You need to anticipate the change so that your thinking is at least as fast as the technological progress itself. And so I think that's the challenge ahead, right? How can we understand that this is the new reality and that therefore our thinking and acting, otherwise known as policies, financial investments, investment decisions, certainly public understanding, needs to embrace exponential reality in order to accompany the exponential progress of technology. And then we might just squeeze in through a very, very narrow window that we have. We just might.

Tom: [00:20:14] Well, let's go. So one of the things we've been doing while I've been here is we've been talking to some people we've met. We've met people in the corridors. We took a ride in Clay's car when we were going to lunch with a few people and we've collected a few vignettes around that concept of exponential change. We've been asking people about it. So I think probably should we now play those and we will say goodbye from Detroit to our listeners. I would say, as you pointed out already, this has been a great TED. There's been some amazing talks. I mean, Al Gore, for sure. You have to watch that one when it comes out, Avinash Persaud. But also people I'd never heard of before. Susan Lozier, the oceanographer, gave an incredible talk. Tom Wang from China talked about the intersection of heritage and ancestors and mining. There's been some great things. They're all fantastic. You must watch them. Congratulations to the TED team and everyone else who put this together and we will now play you some corridor collected reflections from people that we've met. 

Christiana: [00:21:10] Super. 

Tom: [00:21:10] And great to talk. Thanks for joining us this week.

Christiana: [00:21:12] Bye.

Tom: [00:21:16] Okay, listeners, so we're going to play you some of these recordings we did now. So first here is Jonathan Foley, the CEO of Drawdown.

Jonathan Foley: [00:21:24] I think for years we were just trying to get the world's attention on climate change, whether it's scientists or activists, policy folks. And so, you know, there's the tendency to grab people by the shirt and, you know, shake them a little bit like, you know, look what's happening. This is terrible. And we've been doing that again and again and again. And our media business out there, you know, loves things like that because it's kind of scary. It gets your attention. It gets your adrenaline up. It's a hit of dopamine on social media, whatever. You know, fear sells. So they love it. But in the US media anyway, what I'm more familiar with about 99% of our media coverage is about the doom and gloom parts of climate change. Less than 1% of US media coverage is talking at all about solutions. But that's not the real world. Maybe it's not 50 50, but it's not 99 to 1. There are interesting things out there. There are great stories. There are amazing people out there doing great work. We should be hearing more about that. Right now, we're in a loop where activists and politicians and media folks are kind of all incentivized to scare us. To get attention, clicks and money, and they're kind of reinforcing themselves. And this isn't just in climate, it's in everything, especially in the US right now.

Jonathan Foley: [00:22:31] We're all paralyzed with fear. Anxiety rates are through the roof and people feel like hopeless and immobilized precisely when we need everyone to step up and redouble their efforts. The constant narrative, whether it's climate or any other public issue, seems to be, you know, the world is going to hell. Those people over there are the reason why they're the ones to blame. And if you get mad enough and vote for me or give me money or do what I tell you, whatever that is, we'll get even with those guys. That's not going to work. That's not a call to action. That's not a leadership, that's bullying. That's just shouting into the wind. What if we change the narrative to, hey the world is beautiful and amazing, but it needs a little help to stay that way. And by working together and pulling together, we can actually pull this off and we can build a better world that we be proud of. But now we're getting to the how part, not just the what of climate solutions, how do we do it and what order of operations. For example, we talk a lot about like emergency brake solutions, solutions that could help us slow the rate of warming while we're building, you know, buying time to do the other work we need to do.

Jonathan Foley: [00:23:36] So focusing on methane is going to be critical in this both fossil and biogenic methane. But stopping deforestation is kind of my big thing right now. Today, deforestation is the equivalent of about 11% of the world's emissions, which is about the same as the entire US economy by the way, the US economy emissions are going down, but deforestation recently still went up, so they crisscrossed about a year or two ago I think. What can we do to stop that? And that would be immediate. When you don't burn a forest, it never went in the atmosphere. It's great. But it's also the single biggest threat to biodiversity also affects disproportionately indigenous peoples and other kind of key things about our planet. So I believe that's kind of the number one priority for climate action should be deforestation and then methane. But also huge gains in efficiency with our current infrastructure around energy, food waste, things we can do without waiting for the next wave of infrastructure, which will still take a few years or decades to roll out everything we're going to need. So I want to get the timing of our climate solutions right. What do we do in the next three years? And that the atmosphere notices while the next 5 or 10 are building the foundations for the next wave of solutions. And then the one after that.

Jonathan Foley: [00:24:51] You know, I think about like Martin Luther King in the United States. He didn't go around saying, I have a nightmare. He talked about a dream of a better world and invited us to be part of that. And I think we can do the same with climate and a better world is possible. That's the amazing news about climate change, is the solutions work. They're here, they're affordable. They're going to make the world better. They can help address our other issues like equity and justice and health and security and the economy. And when we start doing this in a real way, when we really start to address climate change, I think we're going to all turn around and go, what the hell took us so long? This is fantastic. This is a really cool world. I want to be part of that. And I don't know why we're not hearing that call. Is it a vacuum of leadership? Is it just a vacuum of, you know, lack of imagination? I don't know. But I think we in the environmental and climate communities need to think very hard about our communication tactics and inspire people to see something bigger than themselves and something worth fighting for or worth working for.

Tom: [00:25:50] And we also ran into Ellen Jackowski, the Chief Sustainability Officer of Mastercard.

Ellen Jackowski: [00:25:55] So I think what is changing it is the availability of these solutions that can truly scale and be those exponential game changers to bring us towards a sustainable transformation. So I feel like, you know, communicating some of the availability now, like we all know, you can go out and buy an EV, right? The availability of those cars and that technology is available. There's still plenty of dialogue around charging stations and are there enough in that example. But I think cities and governments are now creating that pathway to build that infrastructure. So it is absolutely possible, this future of a true sustainable transformation. So so I think it is this mindset shift of stopping the talk about the doom loop. And that's difficult because of course we're all feeling the increased impacts of climate change, the floods, the drought etc. So so I think pointing to the optimistic solutions and the scalability and bringing that information more forward for communities and individuals to understand and then act on.

Tom: [00:26:57] And this year is a very important year in the UN climate process because it's the first global stocktake, right? It's the first time we kind of look in the mirror and say, are we doing what we said we would do in Paris eight years ago on our way to 2030? What in your mind, having said what you've just said, what could that moment be? Like, it could on one level, just be like, oh, it's really bad. And another report that tells us that we're we're kind of screwed, but how should we use that moment in order to do what you're describing?

Ellen Jackowski: [00:27:20] I think it needs to be framed in possibility, opportunity and action. There still is time. The science has told us that we still have this window. It's possible. And focusing on the window and getting specific about the actions that we all need to take that are right in front of us that we can do. It is possible, we can do it right now.

Tom: [00:27:41] At the end of one of the TED sessions, Christiana, Clay and I were joined by Andrew Steer and Fiona McRaith, former host on this podcast, and we drove in Clay's car from where the TED talks are taking place to Detroit, no, Michigan Central, Michigan Central Station. Okay. And it was like a ten minute drive. And while we were in the car, we recorded a podcast. So here's the conversation between the five of us while we were in the car.

Clay: [00:28:04] So I'm already recording. We're sitting in my car. Would you describe what's going on here?

Christiana: [00:28:08] Okay. We have just walked four times around Detroit.

Tom: [00:28:12] Without knowing really where we were going.

Christiana: [00:28:14] Yes, this happened to me last night also.

Tom: [00:28:17] Were you following Clay?

Clay: [00:28:19] And are you buckled in?

Christiana: [00:28:20] No, I'm not buckled in.

Clay: [00:28:21] Well, you need to be buckled in.

Christiana: [00:28:24] Right. So we've walked four times around Detroit to try to find Clay's car, which we have now miraculously found. Tom, why are we in Clay's car instead of in the bus with everybody else?

Tom: [00:28:36] That's a good question, I'm not sure. But here we are, so we'll make the best of it. But we've just finished the morning TED session and now we're going to lunch and the afternoon sessions and maybe we have, company with us in the car. Maybe we should go around and hear what people thought of the day. And in particular, there's been this recurring theme of exponential change, that things are tough, but actually we're closer than we think to profound transformation.

Christiana: [00:28:58] Is that why we're doing exponential amount of exercise and walking while we're here?

Tom: [00:29:01] That's right, and why it's exponentially difficult for you to put your seatbelt on for some reason. Yeah. Maybe we should go to Dr Andrew Steer sitting in the front. Andrew.

Christiana: [00:29:07] Yes, Andrew, you're on.

Tom: [00:29:09] Here you go. I'll pass you Clay's phone.

Andrew Steer: [00:29:11] Okay. Hello, everybody. Well, it's great to be here in the Motor City, although, actually there aren't very many motors. Um, the roads are empty. But I tell you, the spirit of this city is so different from what it was even five years ago. And I understand, Clay, you're one of the reasons for that. It's incredible the sense of sort of rebirth, actually, and initiative. And we're going now to a little incubation centre. So the sessions here have been absolutely fantastic. But as Tom says, there is there has been a really important theme, which is whilst things are going badly, actually there are tipping points right in front of our noses and the notion of exponential change. And we launched two papers this morning which are really incredibly persuasive that actually it is possible to move from today's 12% of renewable wind and solar energy as a share of total electricity to 41%, which we need to do. There are countries that are doing it. They're on track and there's no reason why all should not be. Fiona, what's on your mind?

Clay: [00:30:22] Pass it to the back seat.

Christiana: [00:30:23] Fiona a very known, well known voice on this podcast. Madam co-host.

Tom: [00:30:30] Welcome back.

Christiana: [00:30:30] Welcome back.

Fiona McRaith: [00:30:33] Well, listeners, I know you've been listening to about eight episodes since you missed and have been missing my dulcet tones. It is so fun to be here in Detroit. I grew up in the Midwest and it does just have a different air about it, I must admit. One about community, which has also been a critical theme to getting this done without community, without trust, without a healthy dash of fun, you cannot achieve that exponential curves that we're looking for because so much of them depend on building things together. So that's been one of the key takeaways for me from the past 24 hours. Christiana, what do you think?

Christiana: [00:31:16] You know, I have been really impressed how the TED Countdown organizers have beautifully woven together so many speakers here locally from Detroit, from many different sectors, giving their perspectives as to the changes that they are not just witnessing, but contributing to, weaving that with many other countries perspectives, including China. I don't remember that many talks given by people on China. Very interesting. And then of course going to individual companies, but also to sectoral transformations, which is really what we need to see. So it's yes, it is fantastic when we have individual corporations that are making these changes that they recognize are on the exponential path. But we are beyond isolated individual pilot projects of one project, one corporation, one financial institution. It really needs to be sector wide. So they've done a beautiful job of weaving all of that together into these amazing talks.

Tom: [00:32:26] No, 100%. And there's been some really cracking, you know, individual TED talks within that. I don't know when they're going to be released, but whenever they are, you can't miss Al Gore's speech that he gave yesterday. I can't share any details of what it was until it's out. Avinash Persaud today gave an amazing talk. Such a good storyteller on the Bridgetown Agenda and so many more so. So, yeah, it's fun to be here. Maybe we should go to Clay Carnill for the closing words. Someone will have to hold it next to him as he's driving. 

Clay: [00:32:51] Yeah, there's actually a new law, actually Dr Andrew, if you could hold that for me. For me, there's a new law in Michigan that was just passed last week where I can't. I actually need you to flip it around.

Christiana: [00:33:00] The microphone to be open.

Tom: [00:33:01] Andrew Steer in technical support. 

Clay: [00:33:06] This is amazing that you're holding the microphone for me. There's a new law that was just passed in Michigan where last week I cannot touch the phone while driving. It has to be hands free completely.

Christiana: [00:33:15] So that's why you invited Dr Andrew Steer in to your car.

Clay: [00:33:20] Yes, to be my human microphone stand. Yeah. 

Andrew Steer: [00:33:23] It's an honour, it's an honour. So what is on your mind Clay?

Clay: [00:33:25] What's on my mind is that we are so proud to be hosting TED Countdown here in Detroit. The team has been amazing. They've done a great job of weaving in Detroit stories. People who have are third, fourth, maybe even fifth generation Detroiters here. It was a privilege to hear the the mayor get up and speak and shed some light on the recent two major floods that we had here. In fact, we're just passing an area here where there were people jet skiing in the, on the floodwaters. Yeah, on the underpass there. So it's just it's just a privilege to be hosting. It's surreal that my team is here. I'm so happy and I'm just kind of bubbling with joy. So it's a privilege to have everyone here.

Tom: [00:34:10] I love that we're described as Clay's team.

Christiana: [00:34:12] We are Clay's team.

Clay: [00:34:14] My team. Yep, you are my team. And that's that.

Andrew Steer: [00:34:17] And Clay, Christiana was just asking you, what has it been, what has caused this sort of renaissance that's starting to take root here in Detroit after such a massive failure?

Clay: [00:34:31] My answer was the people. And what's behind that is the spirit of the people. There's this saying that we have around here that Detroit never left. People are saying, oh, Detroit's returning all of this. Sometimes the narrative can be kind of like a saviour model of people are moving back to the city to save the city. And the truth is, is that the city was always here and always ready. And now people are coming here and witnessing what was true the entire time. So I'm so privileged to and just honoured to have people come here, hear stories from Detroiters, legacy Detroiters that have lived here for over 15 years, multiple generations. And I hope that those stories make it around the world and give people an example of what's possible.

Tom: [00:35:19] Exponential. 

Andrew Steer: [00:35:20] We are looking at the old railway station. Is that right?

Clay: [00:35:22] Yeah. My grandmother used to get trains out of there. She took one she told me about the other week about she went on a high school senior trip and she was the last person in my family to be in there. And so when it finally opens, I will be the first person in my family since my grandmother to actually be in that building because Ford actually bought the building and they're turning it into their autonomous and electric vehicle campus here. It's going to bring thousands.

Christiana: [00:35:50] There you go, that's transformation. 

Clay: [00:35:52] Thousands of jobs here which is great.

Tom: [00:35:53] He's doing a little parallel parking while he's talking.

Andrew Steer: [00:35:54] But are we allowed to park right next to this fire hydrant?

Clay: [00:35:57] No, I'm letting you out. You have to go now. This recording is over. Thank you.

Tom: [00:36:02] All right, thank you, everybody. Bye.

Christiana: [00:36:03] Bye. 

Andrew Steer: [00:36:03] Bye.

Clay: [00:36:03] I'll see you inside.

Sarah: [00:36:08] Hi, it's Sarah here, battling massive FOMO that I'm not in Detroit with the rest of the team, but just wanted to record some credits this week while Clay is busy enjoying TED Countdown. So on behalf of all the Outrage + Optimism team, we'd really love to thank the following people from TED Countdown, John Mallow, Ian Lowe, Mike Moulinex and Janet Lee. And for the whole team that have really supported us this week and made sure everything was set up and made our podcast sound amazing and recorded it for us. And a huge thank you to to Airaphon who have helped us mix and edit this episode and have got it turned around and out to you so quickly, so huge thanks to them. There isn't any music to play us out this week. We were really hoping that with Tom being such a massive Detroit techno fan that we could get some audio of him on the turntables. But I think that's going to be for another episode now. But hope you enjoy this episode. We'll be back next week and see you then. Bye.


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