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221: TIME100 Climate: Stories of Leadership

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About this episode

This week on O+O… our hosts discuss the US-China ‘Sunnylands statement’; China’s positive 2024 emissions news, and ask how we hold this positivity, alongside the recently published UN report that warns of lack of global progress on climate change and the inexorable rise of greenhouse gas emissions, without our heads exploding! 

Our guests this week are Simon Mulcahy and Shyla Raghav from TIME, both responsible for founding TIME CO2, a division focused on providing businesses with the trusted content, solutions, applications and community that accelerate investment in climate solutions, and progress towards net zero. They recently released their TIME 100 CLIMATE inaugural list which includes our very own incredible Paul Dickinson.

Music this week comes from completely DIY self taught Indie-alt-pop musicians and producers Bad Sounds, with their song ‘Beggin’.


Shyla Raghav, Chief Climate Officer, TIME
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Simon Mulcahy, President Sustainability, TIME
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Bad Sounds
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Full Transcript

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

Christiana: [00:00:15] I'm Christiana Figueres, but the only important person here today is the Paul Dickinson. Da da da da da.

Tom: [00:00:26] One of the 100 most influential people on climate.

Christiana: [00:00:30] Yay Paul, this is the moment you've been waiting for, the Paul Dickinson.

Paul: [00:00:35] It is, I have got the definite article. The Aga Khan, The Pope, you know, The Dalai Lama. And now finally me, the Paul Dickinson. Thank you Christiana, I feel completely fulfilled.

Christiana: [00:00:44] Will you ever talk to us again? Like, are you going to stay on this recording?

Tom: [00:00:47] He's been well elevated out of our, out of our sphere.

Christiana: [00:00:49] You're reaching such rarefied atmosphere that we will never be able to reach you again.

Paul: [00:00:54] Oh, you'll always be my friends. Even if I never return your calls or emails. Just remember that you did know me. And in a way, you always will.

Tom: [00:01:00] Okay, this week we talk about how fantastic Paul Dickinson is, and we cover a couple of other topics. Plus, we speak to Simon Mulcahy and Shyla Raghav from TIME and we have music from Bad Sounds. Thanks for being here. So it has been an interesting couple of weeks. Last week we of course, played the remarkable interview Christiana, that you did on the On Being podcast that we had some wonderful feedback from.

Paul: [00:01:34] Which was absolutely lovely. Absolutely, really like amazing. If you want to understand how to spiritually buy vegetables, there is a way to do it.

Christiana: [00:01:43] You know, I'm on my way very soon to my favorite vegetable shop, and I will tell my ladies that they're now in the podcast.

Tom: [00:01:52] They've made it. And actually, it was very fun for us because Natasha and I, my wife, often listen to this podcast at the weekend, then spend a couple of hours discussing it. And this week we had the interview with you. So it was so lovely, so glad that you were able to be on that podcast. Now we have some great guests today to talk about the TIME Climate 100 list, who are going to be joining us a bit later, but first of all, we wanted to dig into some of the changes that have been happening in recent weeks in the run up to the upcoming COP, we haven't touched on this for a couple of weeks, and a couple of things have happened that potentially could be really quite consequential, and we're going to dig into them one by one. The first is almost it feels kind of like a rerun of 2014, although this kind of thing happens periodically in the run up to a COP, and that is that the US China diplomatic relationship seems to be thawing, and it comes at a really good time. This week, the ‘Sunnylands statement’ that came out as a result of the meeting between President Biden and XI Jinping suggests that both countries are now back to push to triple global clean energy and crack down on methane emissions. It's a bit vague, but it's really important to provide momentum into the multilateral negotiations. Christiana of course, this happened a year before Paris, and I think you've credited it as being one of the principal evolutions that really paved the way to the Paris Agreement. Did you think that this one was as significant as what happened back then? Load More
Christiana: [00:03:16] Well, remains to be seen, right. In 2014, we actually had, Tom, if you will remember, four bilateral agreements between the US and China in that one year in the run up. So they really, really wanted to, A. lay out some common ground between the two of them and also send a very strong signal to developed countries behind the United States and developing countries behind China, that there was a deal here to be made. So I shall forever be grateful for that. And let's see, let's see. You know, honestly, here's what I do know that there's very little common ground at a COP if the United States and China don't agree on something, let's say, you know, this is the minimum floor that we need. And of course we have to build on it, but it comes not a minute too late, it comes not a minute too soon, is what I really meant to say. Sorry , it comes not a minute too soon.

Tom: [00:04:24] It comes not a minute too late.

Paul: [00:04:25] I think, I think both formulations mean the same thing, but it's very, but it's nice to hear you say them both. Yeah, the two, what is it, the 'G2' or something. These gigantic economies, these gigantic emitters, setting a floor, as you say. I'm still struck by the, the what I'm going to call the theatre of the COPs, which is that we, it sort of feeds a fantasy of a world government. It's almost kind of like, well, we, you know, the world government is doing well or the world government is doing badly. It's like friends, there isn't a world government. What's happening is a whole bunch of individual governments are coming together in one place and talking. But, you know, national leadership is key. And, you know, great nations like the US and China getting together is great. Everyone's freaked out because it's in an oil producing state. I was thinking about a conference about the future of photography in the late 1990s in a giant Kodak factory. There's a little bit of that feeling about it, you know what I mean. Because things are changing. But, you know, there's still 80% of the world's energy or something is coming from fossil fuels. So we can't, like, pretend they're not there. And yeah, I hope that everyone will start to be able to see these more positively. Christiana, you've always said that, you know, like the main agreements have been struck and now these are opportunities for the change in the spirit of the world to find manifestation in agreements and proposals, right.

Christiana: [00:05:49] Yeah, and I agree. And however, and however I would actually say that for me, the agreement between the United States and China is essential and it's really necessary. But for me, actually, the big news is what China is doing on its own. The fact that we now have an analysis from Carbon Brief, serious, serious team of people that says that China is at a potential inflection point, that there has been so much solar and wind build out that China's CO2 emissions will peak if they continue the same pace that they're going.

Tom: [00:06:32] Peak when, tell us?

Christiana: [00:06:33] Well, in 2024, how is this possible. How is I mean, I'm just you know, I keep on reading and reading going like what now, of course, politically, let's remember how China deals with these things. They traditionally their legacy is their tradition is to under-promise and overdeliver. And here they are doing exactly the same thing again. They have invested so much into solar panels and into wind and into electric transport, that it does seem like they will be able to peak emissions in 2024. If that is true, then it means that China's electricity generation from fossil fuels, including all the fossil fuels, would enter into a period of structural decline. Folks, that is not something that we expected to see until more like the end of this decade. So that is incredibly exciting and I want to underline, has nothing to do with the United States. This is China unilaterally understanding that it is in their advantage to be able to decarbonize their economy. So, you know, we've talked about this ad nauseam on this podcast that those who really understand and have enlightened self-interest understand that a decarbonized economy is much more competitive, certainly nationally, because it means cleaner air, more efficiency. Et cetera. Et cetera. Better energy independence, but also internationally, because that's the way the world is going. And if you want to continue to compete on your exports, you have to decarbonize.

Tom: [00:08:23] God it's such good news, Paul.

Paul: [00:08:25] One tiny point I want to make just on China, you know, investment in renewable energy and electric vehicles in 2022 equal to the rest of the world combined. I've seen in Beijing the special green coloured license plates on the cars that are, you know, new energy vehicles. It's like.

Christiana: [00:08:41] You know they copied that from Costa Rica Paul, do you know?

Tom: [00:08:45] All good things originated in Costa Rica.

Paul: [00:08:48] Costa Rica. But actually, the final thing I wanted to say is, is, you know, China wants energy security. China wants to be lead in the strategic industries of the future. You know, wake up rest of the world, Tom.

Tom: [00:08:59] No, I mean, it's such good news at this moment right. And I would definitely agree with you, Christiana. That's the strongest signal. I also am really pleased that we are now seeing collaboration between the US and China, because let's just think back 6 or 7 months ago when Nancy Pelosi went to Taiwan, it was not a slam dunk that we were going to get back to this point. So that's been the result of months of careful diplomacy. All these cabinet secretaries going to Beijing. So it's great that we've gotten to that point. But I would agree with you but, I mean, let's hope that happens, because one of the other things that happened this week that I also wanted to point to, and I realized that we have talked about this ad nauseum as well, is the latest UN report that came out that pointed out that we are now likely seeing, a rise of greenhouse gas emissions of 9% by 2030 from 2010 levels. And if all NDCs are actually implemented, that will be only in inverted commas, 8.8%. But let's remember we need a 50% reduction. So this decade is slipping away, and we are still on a trajectory to an increase by 2030, which puts us on these catastrophic levels of warming by the end of the century of like nearly three degrees. So for all of the momentum and the positive implementation, we should continue to remind ourselves we're not yet actually doing the thing that we need to do, despite all these early signs that we are going to turn the corner, and that very positive piece of news you just provided, Christiana. So we should probably also talk about loss and damage, but anything else.

Paul: [00:10:29] Can I just ask you both a question about.

Christiana: [00:10:30] Sorry, you know what is really difficult for me and I don't know, for the two of you and for our listeners is how do you put those two stories together into your one brain. Because, you know, I mean, what I've said about China is, okay, it is a very serious analysis. And it, of course, is a projection, and we don't know if it's actually going to happen. Now, the greenhouse gas emissions rise are also projections, but they're both of them are projections in exactly the opposite direction. And so yes, one can sort of attenuate it by saying, well, it's only a projection and we have to wait and see until emissions are actually measured and verified and certified so that we can really know what's happening. Yes, okay. But it is just so difficult. Frankly, it is so difficult to put these two, let's say, these two trends which are going in opposite directions together and say this, these are two pieces of the same reality. Do you find that difficult?

Paul: [00:11:42] Well, who's got a difficult job. I mean they're both sort of truths in opposite directions. The question I have for both of you, Christiana and Tom, is António Guterres, the UN Secretary General has said that, you know, this inch by inch progress will not do. And, you know, he said, we need a climate ambition supernova, sounds like something from Oasis. But my point being, is he losing credibility by making these, you know, really wild pleas? Is he supposed to be more central or should he speak his heart, or is it an unanswerable question?

Tom: [00:12:15] I'm going to answer Christiana's question first, then I'm going to answer your question. 

Paul: [00:12:19] Two questions.

Tom: [00:12:20] So Christiana, I think that you've often said that your favourite definition of intelligence is to be able to hold two apparently opposing realities and understand they're both true at the same time. And I completely agree with that. And the trouble is, these two realities are going further and further apart as time goes on right. That's the point you're making, is that, you know, we're still not doing it. The drops still have to be further and faster. 

Paul: [00:12:42] They should be, they should not be going apart faster and faster. They should be beginning to come together but it's painful.

Tom: [00:12:46] Well that's the weird, that's the weird intuitive thing that's happening.

Christiana: [00:12:50] They should begin to dovetail, right.

Tom: [00:12:52] Yes exactly. But that's not happening yet. We're getting, we're still getting the narrative that the decarbonization is happening very fast, and we're getting the narrative that time is passing we're not doing the thing we're supposed to do. So yes, it's making my head hurt a bit because you've still got to hold the two things together because, you know, they're both true and based on real reality.

Christiana: [00:13:08] Well they're both true.

Tom: [00:13:09] But they have to start coming together in a manner that makes us feel like the future is unified between the two. I can answer Paul's question, but maybe you want to go first. 

Paul: [00:13:18] Please yeah.

Christiana: [00:13:20] Go for it.

Tom: [00:13:20] Well, I can try and answer Paul's question.

Paul: [00:13:22] Broken promises, broken lives, says Guterres.

Tom: [00:13:25] I think somebody has to be saying broken promises, broken lives because it's true. And somebody also has to be saying, okay, let's roll up our sleeves and let's pull everyone together and let's see what's possible in the common ground. And I think the question and it is a question rather than an answer, is what is the role of a Secretary General between those two things. I think absolutely the alarm needs to be raised, but if you raise it too much and too often, then you end up not being heard. And where's the honest broker that can play the role between countries of finding common ground. The danger is if you play too much the role of the raising the alarm, then you're not also seen as the statesman that brings people together. So if I was António Guterres or his team, I would be saying, what's the highest and best use of a Secretary General at this moment. And certainly raising alarms has been successful and effective. But I actually wonder whether now what we need is a sort of judicious, thoughtful, diplomatic senior statesman.

Paul: [00:14:23] Stateswoman.

Tom: [00:14:24] Who can crack heads together. What do you think?

Paul: [00:14:30] Are you nodding at my stripping the gender?

Tom: [00:14:34] Christiana has survived a very long diplomatic career by exerting judicious silences, and she's exerting one now. Should we move on to the loss and damage?

Paul: [00:14:43] Oh, I see this is one of those eyebrow things. I get it, I get it. So for listeners that Christiana has different ways of communicating. Right, next topic.

Tom: [00:14:53] Now something else that's happened over the course of the last few weeks since we've been, and we haven't yet covered it properly on the podcast, and we were going to touch on it now, but we will come back to it again in the future, is a deal, an apparent deal on loss and damage fund, which seems to be all but done. It doesn't seem, for now, as if anyone wants to reopen the talks at COP 28, but we do have a framework for the fund to be run through the world Bank. But what is going to be really needed now is cash. The EU plans to put a substantial pledge forward. The US will offer money. It's not been defined yet. That's the promise from John Kerry, who reckons this new fund will now take a year to get going. Now this is actually a really big deal. Listeners will remember that in Sharm el-Sheikh a year ago, the creation of a loss and damage fund was agreed, but it was hugely criticised. There was no definition of where it was going to sit. Was anyone going to put money into it. This seems to have answered some of those questions, not definitively, but it's moved them forward. And it stopped this issue from being a blocker at COP 28. Christiana, were you pleased with this progress?

Christiana: [00:15:52] Definitely pleased, because this is the kind of thing that usually happens under huge, huge pressure at the COP itself with very little progress. So the fact that there was the wisdom to get this ready ahead of time, I think was a real coup. The other thing that I think is very helpful, you can think what you want about the World Bank, but they administer quite a few funds. And so this fund will not have the stand up difficulties and challenges that the Green Climate Fund had because the Green Climate Fund, as you will remember, was created basically as a standalone and then had to build up all its own infrastructure. And. Et cetera, et cetera. So very complicated and I must say quite politicized. So the fact that this is being given to the World Bank to run is, I mean, you can criticize it as you wish, but it does mean that there will be more expediency in, in starting it up.

Paul: [00:16:58] And can I put in something on a related theme, but it's incredibly exciting that the UN General Assembly has actually adopted a resolution to support the Government of Vanuatu's request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice regarding essentially liability for climate change impacts. And I think this is incredibly exciting because the oil and gas industry is bulking up in these mega-mergers. I think it's because they're preparing certainly to sort of fight the opposition. But also there may be some massive settlement agreement at some point, like there was for tobacco. A final little word, as people are calling this. Separately, there's also an EU ecocide law that's coming forward. And I wanted to reference Polly Higgins, the late Polly Higgins, as sort of a little spark of her work is starting to find its way into EU legislation about destruction of the environment. So kind of good stories in three different ways about environmental justice.

Tom: [00:17:56] Yeah, and we should give great credit to former guest on this podcast, our friend Jennifer Morgan, German Minister of Environment, who has been really spearheading this and driving forward the creation of this fund, who understands strategically what's at stake. In fact, we should get her back some time soon. Right, okay. So should we now move on to our conversation with our friends from TIME?

Christiana: [00:18:17] Let's do. 

Tom: [00:18:18] So today we are bringing you a conversation with our friends from TIME. At the moment of the launch of the TIME 100 Climate List. The TIME 100 Climate List is intended to highlight the 100 most influential climate leaders in business, and our two guests today are Simon Mulcahy, who is President of Sustainability at TIME, responsible for founding and launching TIME CO2, the new division of TIME that's created this list, and also Shyla Raghav, who is the Chief Climate Officer of TIME and the co-founder of TIME CO2. Now we are old friends of these two, and when they told us they wanted to start this new initiative inside TIME, they asked Christiana and I to be unpaid advisors to them. And so we are on the advisory board of TIME CO2, which has been a really fascinating journey actually, along with some brilliant people like Johan Rockström and Katharine Hayhoe, in order to try and think about how they can utilize TIME Media's platform and reach, to try to change the conversation on climate. And that, of course, includes this list that we're going to talk about today. Now, we should just clarify before we bring them on, that neither Christiana or I had any role at all in selecting the people on the list. Of course, we would have chosen Paul Dickinson if we had responsibility for that. But we didn't. So it has even more authority. But instead, they will explain how this was chosen. Our role instead is to advise them on how to develop the organization. What role can TIME uniquely play in climate rather than the selecting of the list. So let us invite in Simon and Shyla.

Christiana: [00:19:54] Well, Simon and Shyla, how delightful to have you both. How is that, how did we get the pleasure of having you both?

Tom: [00:20:02] It's because Paul Dickinson is here, that's why.

Christiana: [00:20:06] Oh, it's because they wanted to be with Paul, I see. Okay, okay. Well, Simon and Shyla, before we go into all kinds of accolades for the Paul Dickinson, who this is his new title.

Paul: [00:20:19] That's what most of this interview is really going to be about me, but it's really kind of you two to come along and really listen about my life and work.

Christiana: [00:20:27] But before we get into that chapter, we wanted to give you a chance just to explain to listeners, how did this idea come about, TIME 100 Climate. It's the first time that we have 100 Climate. And so yeah, we would just love to hear some background of the idea, what you hope to achieve with this list and the process to come up with the 100 from, I'm sure, thousands of people. Not easy.

Simon: [00:20:58] Well, maybe I'll let Shyla jump in and just give the high level of the beginning.

Shyla: [00:21:02] Yeah, I can start with the overview. So thank you so much for having us. This is our favourite climate podcast. So we're really delighted and honoured to be on.

Christiana: [00:21:12] Is that because Paul is a part of it?

Shyla: [00:21:13] It's mostly because of Paul.

Christiana: [00:21:17] That's what I thought.

Shyla: [00:21:19] Well so we're at TIME and TIME is most well known for its lists and its accolades. A person of the year, TIME 100. TIME has really been celebrating and honouring individuals who have had influence in many different ways over the 100 years that TIMEs been reporting. And when Simon and I joined TIME, we realized that that approach really had a great degree of applicability and importance for the climate space, in particular, because we're able to reflect not just climate impact, but also cultural influence. And being featured on a TIME list really holds a lot of meaning for many people, and it also enables us to uplift unsung heroes, the stories of individuals in all walks of life, and sparks really important conversations about what is climate leadership, what are the shapes and forms that we see it in. How do we celebrate both visionary CEOs and those who are on the cutting edge and frontlines of the climate fight, and those who are working in their communities. What is that diversity of approach that we see. What is that microcosm of climate leadership and excellence, and how can we tell those that completeness and that breadth of climate story through the accolades that we can provide on a list that like the Climate 100. And we also felt quite fortunate because we're part of a climate expert team within TIME that worked very closely with our editorial team. And so that confluence and the synergy between climate expertise and editorial is really what enabled us to bring this list to life.

Christiana: [00:22:55] Are you allowed to say how many nominations you had to wade through to get to your 100, or is that a total, total secret?

Simon: [00:23:04] It was hundreds.

Shyla: [00:23:05] Yeah, I mean, probably even close to a thousand. If you look at all of the names that were researched to really whittle down. And because for each person they are within a system. And we also took a systemic approach to this list, because there's all of these, these intersectionalities between the spaces and the companies that individuals occupy. And so how do we really identify the diverse roles that people play as well. And so, yeah, I would say for every one there was probably dozens that were looked at and that were evaluated. So that takes us up to quite a high number of individuals that were assessed.

Christiana: [00:23:42] And that in and of itself is such good news, right. It's such good news that you had such a high number of nominations, all of whom I'm sure had, you know, really compelling arguments behind them. So, you know, I'm just always so thrilled because I'm old enough to remember when you could actually count how many people were involved in climate in one room, and now we can't count it anymore. And that's such good news. It is just so important and something to celebrate so much.

Simon: [00:24:16] One of the interesting things on that, Christiana was that when we first started, there was a real debate about whether we would call this the Climate 100 or the Climate 50. We were actually nervous that we would find in.

Christiana: [00:24:28] 50 or 15.

Simon: [00:24:29] 50, yeah, 50. Because we thought, wow, is 100 too many. Because the list wasn't easy. Getting to the thousands was not, you know, a walk in the park. It was hard work because most of the experts we spoke to did not have a long list of great nominations at their fingertips at the beginning, most experts were very, very clear on what needs to be done, but not who was doing it already. And that was kind of one of the biggest needs out there was we needed more evidence to inspire people, and there just wasn't a lot of it knocking around. It was not at people's fingertips. So we were really nervous about getting to a good 100. But as we started going and we started really pushing, we figured out the research approaches, which then led to the deep dives that Shyla was referring to. And then we started going, oh, wow, 100 is actually going to be easy.

Christiana: [00:25:28] Or difficult. Easy because you can easily populate 100 or difficult because there's so many potentials and you only have a certain.

Tom: [00:25:35] Still a trim down, yeah.

Simon: [00:25:36] A big trim down. And also debates, we had so many debates. This wasn't easy.

Paul: [00:25:41] But I can't help feeling you did come to the right answer actually. And if I can speak as one of those 100 people and such a source of pride, and this is where I go to my fairly extensive notes, actually so do get comfortable all of you. But, you know, in all seriousness, the greatest pleasure I had alongside seeing my name there and very, very honoured, was to be able to send a message to my 600 colleagues to say such a privilege for me to be giving credit for all of your amazing work, and also honouring our other co-founders, the late Tessa Tennant, Jeremy Smith, Paul Simpson. The work of like organizations I guess if I speak as a winner. Our organizations also, I hope, have the opportunity to share in this recognition, which is tough in climate because, you know, a couple of decades of your life go into something with a whole bunch of other people, and then you think, well, is anybody really noticing. So thank you. As one of the 100, thank you for noticing us. It means a lot, it means a real lot.

Tom: [00:26:41] Can I build on that actually because I think what Paul just said is a really interesting point. And, I thought the list was great, by the way, I think, and it was very current, which was really great, which isn't always the case. There were names on there I don't always see, and what Paul said is really important, right. There is a degree of conferred endorsement on the organizations of the people who are on the list. So there are some on there that are kind of, that we probably need to dig into right. I mean, you've got ExxonMobil on there, the Head of Low Carbon Solutions, you've got Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the Head of both COP28, but also the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Now, both of those, I'd love to just hear you talk, those are the two, right, that have caused the controversy that is out there. And it's unfair to pick on those two because there are, you know, first of all, they do a lot of good stuff, and there are a lot of brilliant people on there as well. But I'd love to just hear you talk about the rationale for including them, because it does confer a degree of endorsement of those organizations. And was that part of your thinking in order to identify those people? And what were those discussions like?

Shyla: [00:27:43] Well Tom, you went right in for the key question, didn't you. Well, I mean, I think.

Christiana: [00:27:48] You've got to do what you've got to do.

Paul: [00:27:49] I'm going to hide behind the sofa here. I was enjoying the first bit, but I just have to go out the other room and fix, like the cooking's burning. So you go ahead without me, I'll be back later.

Shyla: [00:27:58] Yeah, well, I would say the most important thing to recognize is, you know, we also went through this debate and we were designing the list. Is it companies or is it individuals. And I think very intentionally, we decided that this list needs to be individuals. It's about individual leadership and the different ways that their leadership comes to life. And that means that this could be an intrapreneur, it could be an entrepreneur, it could be an innovator, or it could be someone even from outside of business who's pushing in and mobilizing communities to drive corporate action. We've also seen that the climate space has become very competitive right. We've often talked about this circular firing squad, and even I can reflect on this personally. I spent many years in the nature space, and it always was nature versus tech or removals versus reduction, where we need to be having a conversation about unification because it's going to take people in all walks of life occupying all different levels of leadership within business, even within the high emitting sectors and in the in the so-called dirty companies and those that are just now scaling their solutions to come together if we're really going to have our best chance of reaching net zero. And so we thought it was really important to shine a spotlight on those individuals who are working within those companies to elevate their stories, to support them, but also introduce a degree of accountability to help make them successful.

Paul: [00:29:25] Can I just build on that point because I do think it's kind of easier for me in a not for profit, but the not for profit I work for has been all about getting people, just like you said, in thousands of companies and, you know, companies, we forget that they are kind of contested in a way. And they're spaces where innovative people can express leadership, can develop whole new aspects of the business, can turn the business on a dime. Anything is possible. You know, when photography was ending, you know, some companies became Kodak and some companies became Canon. And there's a big difference between like, growing into a whole new area and kind of expiring because your technology is part of the past. So I think I really support you celebrating the leadership of individuals potentially to change whole systems.

Simon: [00:30:11] And leadership of teams as well. You know, Dan is one example of a leader of a team in a, under a larger brand with multiple business units doing multiple different things and. 

Christiana: [00:30:25] Sorry Simon, you're now speaking about whom?

Simon: [00:30:28] Oh, so we were talking about Dan Ammann, the Head of Exxon Low Carbon Solutions and this specific example. You know, he's a leader and he's doing something that's I mean, he came from GM Cruise and he's got a, you know, history in the world of climate action. And he's operating now under the umbrella of a of an organization which is receiving, probably justifiably, an enormous amount of criticism for the, what it's doing, you know, representing kind of the past.

Paul: [00:31:01] And what it has done in the past, you know, there's a bit of a legacy there.

Simon: [00:31:04] What it has done in the past, yeah. But that said, do we want Dan to succeed or fail. And if there are people like him being intrapreneurs in these companies, can we do we have more of them or fewer of them. And I think the answer is we want more of them, a lot more of them to be massively successful. And so he's doing a lot, you know, he's got tangible, measurable, verifiable proof of impact, you know, 5 million metric tons of CO2 on contract. We want people like him to be doing more. We need more of these entrepreneurs or these intrapreneurs, these pathfinders, these change agents, these grains of sand in the oyster type thing to effect change, especially in the areas that are in most need of it. And that's one of, I think, one of the things that we really, that really struck us as we were building this list is some of the best examples are where you've got people doing the hard thing in an environment that's really not favourable to them, and they are perhaps against the odds, achieving positive impact, and we kind of need to help them be more successful, especially those people who are in tough environments. We need the hard to abate sector to move and just criticizing it is not enough. We need to help it move as well. So that was kind of the spirit behind it. And the other by product of that is that we trigger a conversation. And the more we have a conversation about this, we bring it up and you ask these questions. It doesn't matter if we're right or wrong. We are having a proper and open conversation about these things as well.

Christiana: [00:32:44] Simon, would it be fair to say that you see, just because we're talking about these two individuals, that you see them, that you recognize that they're controversial and we've seen a lot of reaction to them. So you recognize that they're controversial. But what you are highlighting here is the fact that they have that they're exemplifying a disruptive energy within their own sphere of influence. So controversial yes, for sure we know. But I think what you're saying is what we are wanting to highlight here is the disruption of sectors that are very difficult to change.

Simon: [00:33:28] 100% Christiana. And as you've always said on this podcast, which I think is fantastic, is progress, not perfection. And that was one of the things is like, if we are just going to find people who embody perfection, first of all, that list is going to be shorter than 100. But if we can embody.

Christiana: [00:33:46] It will only be one, the Paul Dickinson.

Paul: [00:33:48] There would only be one, Christiana has a point. It's awkward for me to be the sort of leader of the leaders, but I have to live with that mantle. So thank you, Christiana. But let's move on.

Tom: [00:33:57] The TIME Climate 1 list.

Paul: [00:33:59] That's right.

Tom: [00:34:03] Thank you for those answers, that's really helpful. I do want to spend too long on this either, because actually there's a much broader story here. So I'd love to just ask you both to just also comment on like, what were some examples that really got you inspired as you went through the list and also connected to that, what are you going to do now with these stories? How are you going to get those stories out there in the world?

Shyla: [00:34:20] Yeah, I can start with my, one that I learned a lot from, and that's Trista Patterson, she's the Chief Sustainability Officer of Xbox, which is within Microsoft. But it's a large gaming company. And what I didn't appreciate is that the gaming industry, which amounts to $334 billion, is bigger than music, cinema and sports combined. And if you've.

Tom: [00:34:47] Whoa.

Shyla: [00:34:48] It is a massive industry. And on top of that, every single gaming console consumes more energy than a refrigerator, and they are passively on as energy vampires. And the code that is, that leaves these consoles on ensures that these consoles use more energy and don't turn off when they're dormant. And so what Trista did was she basically created a whole new coding mechanism that changed the default settings of these consoles, and which has had an enormous climate impact. But what's really exciting to me about that story is that the gaming sector can actually be leveraged and utilized for far more than just energy savings. There's opportunity for engaging the billions of people that engage on these platforms for more impact than just turning off their consoles at night. So that was one example that to me, really was kind of demonstrated the range of impact and the inspiration that can come from working with different sectors.

Simon: [00:35:54] And another one would be Zhang Bo, who's the CEO and chairman of China Hongqiao, which is the largest aluminum or aluminium producer in China, which is the leading aluminium producing nation in the world. And for those of you who don't know, aluminium is the most valuable and recyclable metal on Earth. And it's crucial for many industries and actually for the whole energy transition in general. And what he really drove was the, the whole movement in, in Hongqiao of moving their aluminium production, their smelting facilities into regions of China that offer low carbon electricity. So that's 1.25 million tons of their 4 million ton capacity. They moved operations across the country to the southwest to hydroelectric power, and that's going to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% for the company by the end of this year.

Tom: [00:36:55] Wow.

Paul: [00:36:55] There are huge emissions with aluminum, huge emissions. So that's like big numbers, right.

Tom: [00:37:01] Yeah.

Shyla: [00:37:02] And our hope is that this list doesn't end here, that these stories will keep getting told that we continue to understand and explore their journeys because they are multifaceted and multidimensional. We want to equip these leaders to clone themselves. We want to see these leaders being celebrated. We want to bring them together. Because as I kind of mentioned earlier, they all are part of a very complex dynamic systems. So how can we learn from each other. Also, there's regional differences, gender differences, cultural differences. There's really a depth of understanding that I think we can continue to extract from these individual stories and evolve them over time. So that's really our hope. We really don't expect that this story will end here. We hope that this will really just be the beginning, and that there will be a lot more that we can do with the community as part of this accolade and as part of this honour.

Simon: [00:37:58] Which kind of is really the thought here. It's like the people who've moved on climate action, the majority of them who've moved today have moved because the facts were laid out clearly enough. They looked at the facts and they were like, wow, these facts make sense. The science is clear, I'm moving. Everybody else hasn't moved. And it's not like we need to beat them with more facts. The facts are not enough for those people. They need something else. And one of the most powerful additional ingredients is the stories of others who've made sense of the facts and acted. And perhaps they've gone down some dark alleys and got beaten up. Whatever they've done, they've learned. And now they have the facts and proof of action, which is now copyable. And now the next wave of movers, the fast followers can move, and for them they need to feel that it's less risky. And what better way of reducing that perceived risk than to explain a story of somebody who moved not just what they got right, but also what they got wrong, their thought process, the difficulty they had in communicating to others and gaining, frankly, the budget or even the permission to move, but somehow winning and that others can then read that story and go, I can do that. And if we can create an army of people going, why the hell I can do that, then we've really achieved something.

Christiana: [00:39:25] So clear Simon, so well put, so well put.

Tom: [00:39:27] Great. This is so fun, thank you. I mean, we love, we said before you came on, Christiana and I are unpaid advisors to TIME CO2. And we've loved seeing this journey, seeing where you've come to. We're going to let you go in just a sec. But before we do, having looked at this list, look deep into all of these stories of possibility. We'd love to ask you both what makes you outraged and what makes you feel optimistic as you look at those stories.

Christiana: [00:39:49] In case you thought you were going to get away with not answering.

Paul: [00:39:51] No one gets away, no one gets away. 

Tom: [00:39:54] You're not getting away with that.

Simon: [00:39:55] Shyla over to you first of course.

Shyla: [00:39:57] Oh, gosh. Okay, what makes me outraged is that we couldn't honour the 1000 people that were very worthy to be on this list, and we were unfortunately only able to select 100. But what makes me optimistic is that there's much more to come, that we will continue on this journey, and it'll be 100 more next year and many more opportunities to support and honour these individuals.

Christiana: [00:40:21] Super.

Tom: [00:40:22] Love it.

Simon: [00:40:23] Oh, great answers. Mine would be outraged that we still are in a world of climate criticism. And it's just amazing how many people's first reactions is to look for the weaknesses in the list versus the strengths, which is a very strong characteristic of this whole climate conversation.

Tom: [00:40:42] Totally.

Simon: [00:40:43] Optimism, I would say, is that leadership at every single level, from really amazing, young, passionate, capable leaders to very senior old leaders across the range and in that an amazing array of women leaders who are really driving change.

Tom: [00:41:04] Fantastic.

Christiana: [00:41:06] Well, Shyla and Simon, thank you so much. Thank you for your courage to do this. You you can never stick out your neck without someone disapproving that you stuck out your neck. So thank you for sticking out your neck courageously, and especially because of the intention that you bring to this, which is really quite, quite remarkable. Thank you so much. And we will continue to enjoy the company of the Paul Dickinson.

Paul: [00:41:34] Thank you for anointing me the Paul Dickinson, I will never be able to thank you enough.

Shyla: [00:41:38] Of course, thank you.

Tom: [00:41:40] See you at COP.

Simon: [00:41:41] Thank you.

Paul: [00:41:42] See you at COP.

Christiana: [00:41:43] Bye.

Tom: [00:41:49] So that was a great conversation with Simon and Shyla. Unfortunately, Christiana had to drop at the time that they left. So we have lost Christiana it's just you and me Paul. But let's do our very best. So what did you think?

Paul: [00:42:00] Well, I mean, what I took from it was that TIME magazine have picked up on this thing that I think is increasingly important, and regular listeners to the show will not fail to notice or guess what I'm about to say, which is that business or corporations are incredibly important kind of political units or, you know, politics with a small P, shall we say, consensus politics. And I think that Simon was absolutely right, that certain people, you know, Exxon's very controversial case, you know, you can kind of part of you might wish that they hadn't chosen that company, but whatever, putting that point to one side, the idea that there are people who are capable of achieving extraordinary things, and I want to I want to link the leadership that they celebrate in the TIME 100, with corporations being important political units with another thing, which is that technology is just accelerating, moving faster. We're going to deindustrialise the whole world. We're going to decarbonize the whole, not deindustrialise forgive me. We're going to decarbonize the whole world. A big part of that is going to be delivered via technology. So once again, highlighting that you can't really give awards to machines, maybe you can the TIME 100 coolest climate change technologies. But yeah, I thought that was really smart. And I hope it will make a real contribution. But it was a great honour for me personally and certainly all the people I work with that I got picked. So thank you TIME. What do you think Tom?

Tom: [00:43:27] Yeah, I think that, I mean, they're very impressive Simon and Shyla, I've thought for a long time that they, they really are making a huge impact and trying to come into an old organization like that, I mean, TIME is a venerable media institution and change and innovate and transform how things are done is is not easy anywhere. And I think they've done an incredible job. I thought their answer to my question about the inclusion of particularly Exxon was good in the sense that they we need to elevate and focus on the momentum where we find it, double down, help them be successful, be practical, I thought all that was good. If I'm honest, I do still kind of wish it wasn't Exxon. I feel like you could have made that point with somebody else, but I don't know Dan, maybe he is a remarkable leader. But nevertheless, the Exxon thing is a big question. However, I also really take the point of the example, and that actually we've gotten to this point as a result of people taking often quite large personal risks and career risks of like reaching out, pushing, building constituency.

Tom: [00:44:26] And we now need to provide the pathway to all people in all kinds of professional organizations, including energy companies and oil and gas companies, that you can stand up, you can be a leader, you can drive a way forward. Here's examples of people who've done it before. And actually, that can lead to good things for your career, good things for the world, and good things for the company as well. And I think the more we're able to tell those stories, we need to de-risk leadership in climate, because actually, it's unfair to expect people to risk a lot personally in order to step out and drive the conversation further forward. And not everybody is in a position where they're able to do that. So de-risking it and providing it as a baseline, this is what's expected, here are examples, here's how you can do it, here's what's happened before. That has to be a good thing. And that as part of the rubric for the decision making on the list, makes a lot of sense to me. So I thought that was a really good point.

Paul: [00:45:19] Yeah and just building on your point there, Tom, again, you know, corporations have kind of management. There's the board, there's the chief executive, blah, blah, blah. But actually they have employees, they have thousands of employees. I was having quite a long conversation just the other day to somebody still working in the oil and gas industry, but working on, you know, putting up wind farms, but still part of a major league oil company. And this person said to me that actually there are, you know, hundreds, even thousands of employees who would like to get together and demand the company change, they're locked in a system as well. And I think what's possible when leaders in companies are celebrated in this way, for example, that others can come forward. And courage speaks to courage everywhere. And, you know, why can't we have not exactly, you know, not another kind of trade union, but a kind of strategy union to say, look, we're going to have to change as a company. You know, we don't we won't put up with it anymore. It can be extremely embarrassing for management, but also a very powerful tool to drive change and to tip those investment decisions away from high carbon to low or zero carbon.

Tom: [00:46:21] Yeah, totally. I'm a big believer in that actually, and I'm a big believer that that's a significant part of how the world changes. So I think this has been a big step forward. I'm going to be, you're not going to be at COP are you Paul?

Paul: [00:46:33] I will be there actually yeah no, I arrive early, but I just have to unfortunately leave a little bit on the earlier side. I leave on the, you might want to chop this out Clay, because it's going to sound boring for people. 

Tom: [00:46:44] No no, I'm going to ask, are you going to be at the TIME 100 launch dinner on the 1st of December?

Paul: [00:46:48] I found out about it reading the briefing notes for this because I didn't know about it, but I would like to be. There is also the celebration of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, the Zayed prize which we were winners, which I think is also the same day. But if I can possibly be at that dinner, I 100% will.

Tom: [00:47:05] Excellent, all right, I will be there, I hope you will be. And that will be a lot of fun. Great. All right. Well, this has been fun. Good to be back. And great to talk to such brilliant people as Simon and Shyla. We will leave you now with a piece of music, as we always do. This week we have a song from Bad Sounds called Beggin. So enjoy this and by next week I will be in Dubai and sounds like I'll be seeing Paul pretty soon after that.

Paul: [00:47:29] You will.

Tom: [00:47:30] Great to see you all. Thanks.

Paul: [00:47:31] Bye.

Bad Sounds: [00:47:34] Hiya, this is Callum from Bad Sounds. Want to say a big thank you to the lovely people at Outrage + Optimism for having us on the podcast. And to you all for taking the time to listen to this and sticking around. So the song is called Beggin, and it's kind of a tribute to a time period in our lives where some of us were desperate to grow up, and some of us were just completely clueless about how to do that. You know, being a kid, having no money, nowhere to go, but just being content with, wasting time with your friends. The kind of things that you forget how to do when you grow up and you get adult responsibilities. So it's not about growing up too fast or never growing up, but it is about the nostalgia of looking back on that chapter of life and appreciating the value of what you had and who you were, who your friends were, and all the stupid things you get up to, mostly out of boredom. But here it is, Beggin by Bad Sounds. Thank you. 

Clay: [00:51:39] So there you go, another episode of Outrage + Optimism. Bad Sounds on the podcast this week. This song is fresh off the press. It actually debuted less than two weeks ago, and it's off an upcoming EP they've got coming out called Escaping From A Violent Time Volume Four, and this EP is the final one in a four volume series due in March 2024. So this song is kind of like a sneak preview for that, but those other three volumes are spectacular. I've been listening all week this week, and if you liked the song today Beggin, then you are in for a real treat. So go ahead and check the show notes for links to go listen to those other three volumes. Bad Sounds is the band name. It's a great band name. Thank you for sharing your music with us. Okay, you can clearly tell I'm recording this not from my desk because it's Thanksgiving here in the US. And so I'm actually in the family kitchen here prepping some food, some bread, vegan gravy and brussel sprouts for the inevitable family dinner in which climate change will most likely come up. And so, in the spirit of the upcoming holiday dinners, holiday dinner tables that you'll be around with family and friends next week on the podcast, Tom, Christiana, and Paul are coming to your family holiday dinner table. What do I mean by that? Well, please submit any awkward, painful, or difficult climate questions that I'm sure you have encountered from, you know, often well-meaning friends and family to us and we're going to pitch them to Christiana, Tom and Paul live during our podcast recording to see how they would respond. So you can comment those questions that you've gotten in the past on our Instagram post link in the show notes for that, but you can also email it to us, and we love it when you send in a video or a voice recording of you asking the question. So the email address for that is contact@globaloptimism.com. I'm looking forward to hearing all of those. Thank you to our guests, Simon and Shyla from TIME for joining us this week. You can view the full TIME 100 list via a link in the show notes, and Simon and Shyla's socials are down there as well. We've included a link to check out TIME CO2 so you can learn more about the project over at TIME. And before I go, I heard an episode this week by the Climate Question, which is a BBC podcast, and I thought they did a great job explaining what COP is in everyday language. And it's a great episode to share with friends and family who maybe aren't involved in the day to day climate world like we are. Anyway, I was very impressed and even learned a few things. It's called 'What has COP achieved?' And there's a link in the show notes to go listen wherever you get your podcasts. Okay. My my oven is preheated. So I'm going to go enjoy your weekend and submit your questions for next week's episode. Okay we will see you then.


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