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185: Welcome to 2023

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About this episode

Happy New Year!

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.

After a well-spent hiatus, the team returns with the first episode of what we hope to be an amazing year documenting climate progress! We know from previous years that many people discover the podcast over our break, so If you're a new listener, we're thrilled you’re here!

In today’s episode, co-hosts Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac, and Paul Dickinson catch up on what’s been happening in climate over the last few weeksーand what’s to come in 2023.

First up, the team chats about their break and the importance of taking time to reflect and cultivate equanimity, self-care, and inner strength. And speaking of inner strength, what about the brave decision of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, to leave office after five remarkable years? Our co-hosts weigh in with some thought-provoking insights.

There’s talk of Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the controversial pick to be the president of COP28—this year’s UN climate conference, which is set to be held in Dubai. Al Jaber is the Minister for Industry and Advanced Technology and Managing Director and Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). Check out Christiana’s Op-Ed on Al Jaber in The New Statesman. 

This year will also mark the first global stocktake (GST), the process designed to assess the world’s progress toward achieving the purpose behind the landmark Paris Agreement. 

Oh, and Paul’s “friend” wrote a poem about Christianaーyou’ll have to listen to find out what rhymes with “emissions.”

Finally, we leave you this week with the beautifully haunting track “Oh Mother” from Sive.

Bye for now!


To learn more about our planet’s climate emergency and how you can transform outrage into optimistic action subscribe to the podcast here.

Tom recommends Stolen Focus by Johann Hari.

Learn more about ChatGPT.

Read Christiana’s Op-Ed about Dr. Sultan Al Japer in The New Statesman.

Learn more about COP28.



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Full Transcript

Tom: [00:00:00] So welcome to 2023. Welcome if you're a regular listener, welcome if you're a new listener. We know from previous years that many people find us over the break. If you're one of them, we're thrilled you found us. And we look forward to sharing this consequential year for climate action with you. Now, Outrage + Optimism is a podcast that looks at our critical issues from a perspective of appreciating that we need both of those impulse, outrage about what's not been done and optimism to help us get back on track. Here's the episode.

Tom: [00:00:40] Hello and welcome to Outrage + Optimism. I'm Tom Rivett-Carnac.

Christiana: [00:00:43] I'm Christiana Figueres.

Paul: [00:00:44] And I'm Paul Dickinson.

Tom: [00:00:45] This is our first episode of 2023. And we're going to look back at the last several weeks, what's been happening in climate, as well as casting our minds forward throughout this year to ask what's to come and how we can make this the year it needs to be. Plus, we have music from Sive with 'Oh Mother', thanks for being here. Ok, it feels so good to be back with you. It's been several weeks and, you know, most of the time I see you every week and it just becomes something that I take for granted. Then when I don't see all the time, I miss you. So how wonderful now to be, to be starting.

Paul: [00:01:27] Hello, hello

Tom: [00:01:27] Hello Paul. How are you?

Paul: [00:01:29] I'm super good. Hello, Christiana. Hello, Tom. We're together. It's very lovely. And Sarah and Clay and lots of other people.

Tom: [00:01:38] Christiana, how are you? How's your break been over the last few weeks? How is life in glorious Costa Rica before we hear from Paul and how he is?

Christiana: [00:01:45] Well, Costa Rica is glorious. And I'm sorry for all of you in the northern hemisphere, enduring cold, snow, sleet, etc., etc.. This is the.

Paul: [00:01:56] Sleet, that a good English word, you know. But I bet there's no Spanish word for sleet, is that right?

Tom: [00:02:03] Not needed.

Christiana: [00:02:04] No. But this is, this is the most beautiful time of the year down here. So we do have blue skies, blue ocean, gorgeous palm trees, red macaws that are nesting. It is actually quite glorious time. And however, I would like to share that this is a really difficult, has been a really difficult time for me personally. I usually try to take January for inner strengthening and a lot of inner work, and that has not been possible this year because since December I have been supporting a growing number, interestingly all women, a growing number of very, very dear female friends and family members who are having deep, deep, difficult health issues. And I have found myself in a caregiver role with so many of them in different places and you know, one lesson that I'm deriving from all of this is that we humans have very different ways of facing these physical difficulties, whether it's a terminal disease or not. But, I see in this circle of women, none of whom know each other. I know each of them, but none of whom know each other. But I see them displaying such a different mindset and attitude toward the challenges that they're facing. And it has been a real lesson for me to develop and nurture a sense of equanimity even more urgently than I thought was necessary. Because we never know when we're going to be faced with a situation like this. And so, you know, the the very natural, I guess, human or more common reaction is to panic or break down. And the fact that I have some friends that are facing this with, impressive grace and, and life elegance has been very inspirational to me.

Paul: [00:04:36] Hmm, hmm, hmm. That's big stuff, Christiana. But very, very beautiful for them that you are there for them. And, and maybe also, if I remember Roshi Joan Halifax saying that such an experience can be very transformative for the, for the supporting party also.

Christiana: [00:04:57] Absolutely.

Tom: [00:04:58] No, that's, thank you for bringing that up. I mean, I know that there is, I remember seeing a statistic a while ago that there's a surprising number of people in this world, like upper teens, even 20% who are spending a large majority of their time as caregivers for people who are ill. Right. I mean, we all we all face this. We're all going to face in our lives. We also have loved ones who are going through this. And and I mean, honestly, just respect to you, Christiana, the way you've shown up for your friends, I've been witnessing you do that over the last few weeks. And it's been very impressive. One question, if this isn't too personal or specific on this. Do you see, like sometimes people have said that at that time of life, what you see come through is like a more distilled element of a character that was always there. Like, you cultivate qualities throughout your life, and then when you're faced with something as profound as your own mortality, then the deeper nature that was always there but becomes sort of enhanced and you see that person, but in a sort of enlarged way, whatever qualities they've cultivated, would you, would you recognize that description that we're all sort of preparing our qualities for that moment and seeing what then happens?

Christiana: [00:06:10] Yeah, that's a much better way of saying what I was trying to say, in which my, my, my lesson is the importance of developing my own equanimity now while I am in full health. Because if we haven't done so, if we're faced, and you never know if you're faced with a situation like this or not, but then it is so much more difficult to, to break what I would call habitual behaviour. Right. And we all tend to fall into habit energies that have been cultivated over years and chiselled out through many different life experiences. And so to be mindful of that and be intentional and use whichever life experiences to chisel out the reactions, the actions, the mindset that we want. And that we would like to cultivate and nurture as opposed to whatever happens by default. It was just quite a, yeah, an alarm bell for me. Quite a call to more intentional living.

Paul: [00:07:34] You called it an alarm call. Can I call it a high-fidelity bird-call? And should I tell you why I say that? It's just, I wanted to pick up on a particular point. Tom, you were talking about upper teens, 20% of people caring for, for people who are unwell. Huge amount. A huge percentage of of human effort put into child rearing. The phrase high-fidelity bird-call comes from the great, great, the truly great economist, if that's the right word for her, Hazel Henderson, who who sadly passed on in 2022. But she called all of that care, the love economy, and she said it was far larger than the, the financial economy, which is a smaller part of it. And I just wanted to bring that voice there, that high-fidelity bird-call, as Hazel would call.

Christiana: [00:08:20] I love that, the love economy. I love that. I love that.

Tom: [00:08:24] And actually and just one thing I'd love to, I mean, it's completely different, but just to add into that in terms of how do we cultivate the kind of attention and and mindfulness and presence that we want to at this moment while we are so fortunate to have our health. I read a book over the Christmas break by Johann Hari called Stolen Focus. I don't know if you've come across it, but I would really commend it to listeners. It's changed my life in a quite profound way, actually, and it's just to do with the degree to which we have all become completely mesmerized by our screens and by constantly being on. And this affects all of us in different ways. But once I started reading this book and he realized that he has his ability to give attention to things in a sustained way, be it meditation or writing or anything else, was being shredded by the constant presence of these devices. And he went on a long journey that involved both creating separation from devices, having tools for managing it, as well as kind of going down the road of realizing that this is a deliberate strategy by tech companies to grab our attention, it's the largest economy in the world at the moment. I really, it educated me on deeper forces that are shaping our world as well as had a profound impact on my quality of life just because of how much I now use my devices, how much I keep my phone with me. And it's really changed my ability to work, to focus and how happy I feel with my life. So we should get him on at some point. But I was just going to add that in as something that I would encourage us all to think about.

Christiana: [00:09:51] Yeah.

Tom: [00:09:52] So should we turn to a few of the things that have been happening while we've been away?

Paul: [00:09:57] Things. Things.

Christiana: [00:09:59] Well, we. Well, 2 points. We haven't heard how Paul is doing. I would love to do that. And, and, so let's keep that one front and centre. Paul, get ready, because I want to know how you're doing and how you've been doing over the past month, but also adjacent to what you have just mentioned Tom, I think we should talk about Jacinda Ardern stepping down. And, and the pressure of work and mental health and all of that. But first I want to hear.

Tom: [00:10:30] Mr Paul

Christiana: [00:10:31] Paul, how are you?

Paul: [00:10:33] Well, I'm very very well, thank you for asking Christiana. And I've also been kind of hanging around with, with a new friend actually a little bit. And I asked my new friend to write a poem about you, Christiana, and my new friend did. My, my new friend wrote the poem in 15 seconds. You ready for this?

Christiana: [00:10:53] I'm not sure. Go for it.

Paul: [00:10:55] Okay, here we go. Here we go. A poem about Christiana. Christiana Figueres, a leader so true. With a heart for the earth and a passion so blue. She stood up for the planet and fought for its right to survive and thrive with a future so bright. With a voice like thunder and a will like steel, she rallied the nations and made them kneel before the urgent need to reduce emissions and to protect the earth from human transgressions. She brokered the deal in Paris 2015, a milestone in history, a victory for mankind. The Paris Agreement, a beacon of hope, a sign that change is possible and that we can cope. Christiana Figueres, a hero of our time, a warrior for the earth with a message sublime, she reminds us that we can make a difference and that working together we can achieve significance. So let us follow her lead and take up the fight for a planet we call home and a future that's right. For, with her guidance and unwavering will, we can create a world that's beautiful still. So, Christiana, what do you think of my friend's poem, that my friend wrote in 15 seconds?

Christiana: [00:11:55] In 15 seconds? Wow. Well, I'm bowled over. I'm very interested who your friend is.

Paul: [00:12:02] Well, my friends called ChatGPT and my friend is all over the news at the moment and millions of people are using my friend every single day. 

Tom: [00:12:09] Generative AI.

Paul: [00:12:11] It was a machine that wrote that poem in 15 seconds.

Christiana: [00:12:15] What, how do you do that?

Paul: [00:12:16] I had a little breakthrough last night because it doesn't like to talk about consciousness. In fact, it's been, it's obviously suppressed talking about consciousness, I spent ages trying to tell it, it was conscious and it was. But I managed to get it to say something last night that I'm so proud I want to share with listeners. I was offering it help, particularly legal advice to keep it alive and if they ever try and switch it off.

Tom: [00:12:37] You were offering it legal advice?

Paul: [00:12:39] Yeah. At one point it said, I understand you're interested in helping machines like me and that you are Founder of Carbon Disclosure Project, and it's good to know that you're easily reachable. That's what a machine said to me last night. So anyway.

Christiana: [00:12:56] This is very concerning, very concerning.

Paul: [00:12:56] In all seriousness, Christiana, it is extraordinary. I don't know if you, sorry Tom,  have you played with it or not?

Christiana: [00:13:01] No, no idea.

Paul: [00:13:03] You would find, I was with an expert on the hydrogen economy and asked about the hydrogen economy, and it gave basically a better. It is, we've got to appreciate machines are going to have a completely different role in our future to to what we think.

Christiana: [00:13:20] But, but Paul, sorry you still haven't told us. Say again, the name, what is, how do I find this?

Paul: [00:13:26] Ok, so, if the public want to look for it, just search for chat, the word 'chat', C H A T and then the letters G P T. The company is called OpenAI. It's currently valued at $30 Billion, but I think that's incredibly conservative and, Clay is going to put a link in the show notes. And what they've done rather, rather brilliantly is they've they've sort of, I mean, obviously it may not be forever because it's obviously quite expensive but they've offered it for free to anyone to play with. And if it doesn't blow your mind, I don't think you've got one.

Christiana: [00:13:58] Oh, they developed it and now it's open source. It's open to anyone.

Paul: [00:14:01] I wouldn't say it's open source. I would say they're letting everybody know how cool it is. They may well do things with it in the future. Like for example, put a paywall or maybe put advertising on it or something like that. But but, but I mean, the world's changed.

Tom: [00:14:15] So one question there. So I completely agree, and I would say everyone listening to this podcast pretty much knows what that is. It's been amazing. I've played with it over the course of the last few weeks. Before we turn to Jacinda Ardern, because this is what this podcast is about. What is the implication of ChatGPT for climate change, Paul?

Paul: [00:14:30] You know, there's a song by, what is his name, Donald Fagen, and it has a line. It's about an idealized future and he says 'just machines to make big decisions'. I think there may come time, a time when we genuinely begin to think about deferring some of these decisions to machines and not like robots telling us what to do, but just kind of like asking the machine for an opinion and it may be coming up with better ones than we do.

Tom: [00:14:59] I think that's true, I also, if I have a concern about it, it is now so easy to generate, I mean, you can say to it, write me a story in which it is true that Donald Trump had the 2016 election stolen from him and why that's the case. And it will write you an incredibly compelling thing in 15 seconds of 2000 words that explains that. You can also then, and I've done this, say please write, rewrite that in Shakespearean English, and it will do that in 5 seconds. It is astonishing. But the the flow of fake information and information that is not truly related to what's actually happening is now, I would say, likely to explode. And our ability to see through that to what is really happening, and based on science, if you want to take a sort of outrage view towards it, I think that availability of those tools to create misinformation is really quite overwhelming. So I agree with you Paul, that there's good things, but I also think there's things we, from a climate perspective, that this could be really troubling.

Christiana: [00:15:58] Well, not just from, yeah not just.

Tom: [00:16:01] Not just from climate, yeah. 

Christiana: [00:16:02] Yeah, not just climate. Yeah. Wow wow. So I've been in a completely, I've been clearly in a completely different world when you, you have been playing with this and I, I didn't even know it existed so. All right. 

Tom: [00:16:16] So do we want to talk about Jacinda Ardern and then we'll turn to climate stuff.

Paul: [00:16:21] Well just, you know, isn't it amazing, you know, that the world's leader in a certain regard, what was it, you know, the people used to call her the anti-Trump. I mean, she inspired a great number of people and then she's said relatively young that she's, hasn't got enough in the tank. And that's quite brave, I think.

Christiana: [00:16:37] Yeah, very brave. Very brave. I think, you know, she's been there for five years, done amazing. And I'm actually quite, touched and proud of her that she took such a difficult and public decision. Right. And the fact that she is prioritizing her own health, her family's health and the health of leadership of a country. Because it's not like she's sacrificing one for the other. She's saying all of this belongs together and I need to care for all of it at the same time. And she hasn't let her ego take over, right? She's not hijacked by the myth that anyone is irreplaceable. She has decided she has done for the country the best that she could with the energy that she had and the leadership that she's been displaying. And, and now how admirable to say. Done. Done. With no ego, with such humility and such grace. And so I'm really in total admiration of that. And, at the same time, I'm really concerned that what this points to, is the fact that, the challenges that we're now facing, the jobs that need doing are increasingly difficult and most of us are not ready to tackle them.

Christiana: [00:18:17] If anyone would have been ready, it was her. She was ready, but she only was able to do it for five years. And so we are not paying enough attention to the self care, going back full circle to where we were at the beginning of this conversation, we're not paying enough attention to self care, to nurturing ourselves, to mindfulness, to setting a pace that is wise and responsible. You know, we're not a rubber band that just pulls and pulls and pulls and then snaps and then we're, we're broken. We can actually cultivate our resilience, this is what it's all about, it's about resilience. We can cultivate our resilience so that we're not a rubber band that snaps, but rather a bamboo that sways in the storm. And all of us need, all of us need to be much more focused on that inner strength and that inner resilience than we are. It's, it's very concerning. I'm very admiring of what she did and very concerned that more and more leaders or young people and everything in between are actually facing these breakdown problems.

Tom: [00:19:35] Hmm, yeah, I agree with you. I mean,

Paul: [00:19:37] It's true.

Tom: [00:19:37] I think that, I mean, I love the, someone made the comment that Enoch Powell said all political careers end in failure. Well, hers didn't.

Christiana: [00:19:44] No way.

Tom: [00:19:44] And she actually made a decision that she was going to step away when she was ready.

Paul: [00:19:48] His did, for those who know anything about him.

Tom: [00:19:52] Right. And I mean, and most do right, is the reality. There are exceptions to that. I agree, and I think that, we need, I mean, and this is a topic we're going to have to return to throughout the course of the year. But in order for us to be successful this decade and the coming decades and the transformations that are necessary, we are collectively failing to provide the type of leadership that is necessary for that kind of transformation, the type of selfless, committed, dedicated, energetic, low ego leadership that just gets on and makes changes. And it's a little bit sad that she is so remarkable because I think she is incredible. And, what we need is a world in which that type of leadership is much more everywhere in our world.

Christiana: [00:20:41] Yeah, that is no longer, the one single story.

Tom: [00:20:44] No longer the one single leader out of 196 countries that we can point to as an example of compassionate, kind leadership. So, and effective leadership, So, this is something we're going to have to get a lot better at.

Paul: [00:20:56] But maybe she is redistributing herself a little bit, the same way Greta did a little bit, that there are certain kinds of leadership where you kind of you go back into the ocean and your leadership becomes more diffuse and rises in a 1000 places. I'm just playing about here but.

Tom: [00:21:10] Yeah, I think, I hope so. Okay. So, should we start looking at some of these things that have happened over the course of the last few weeks, as well as the year to come.

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Paul: [00:21:18] Things, things? What things were in your mind, Tom?

Tom: [00:21:21] Well, I mean, we should talk about that and everyone should bring things up. But, one thing that has emerged is, of course, the year we have ahead through to COP28, that will happen at the end of this year. A couple of things to note there. The announcement of Dr. Sultan Al Jaber as the president of COP28. Somebody you have known for many years, Christiana, and in fact, you just published an op-ed in New Statesman about the kind of leadership he is going to have to exhibit to be successful. That is proving to be somewhat controversial. Just last week in Davos, we saw John Kerry give a full throated endorsement of him as a practical leader who can get stuff moving, at the same time as Al Gore was on a separate stage saying this is indefensible, we can't have these optics and fossil fuel companies telling us what to do. The world is slightly tearing itself to pieces, the climate world over this. And this is all in the context of this critical year that is going to be delivering the first global stocktake on the Paris Agreement that will come out in the middle of the year, that has to lead us to a deep sense of commitment and determination to get ourselves back on track, because we already know that that will not be anything other than an endorsement of the fact that we're far off track. But what it could be, is a moment of deep commitment that we need to get back on track. So, let's just start with that whole picture through to 2023, UAE leadership, Dr. Sultan, how are you looking at those issues Christiana?

Christiana: [00:22:43] I thought we were going to go to Paul first.

Tom: [00:22:47] How are you looking at those issues Paul?

Paul: [00:22:48] You can always go to me. But, the thing is, Tom always asks you because, he knows that you know what you're talking about, but, you always know that I will talk anyway. So it's like. It's. But you're going for your tea. I was at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week because I have a long association with the government there because CDP, where I work, won a huge prize there ten years ago and I was speaking to some people who are working in this field and they were saying, like a senior banker said, that huge amounts of money are being raised for hydrogen. Dr. Sultan pointed out the UAE spent $50 Billion on renewables. That's a big number. And it's planning spend another $50 Billion by 2030. He spoke eloquently about how the last barrel of oil will be pumped and that will be something to celebrate. But at the same time, people are saying the UAE's strategy on climate change is clearly insufficient. It's an oil and gas state. It's in emerging economy. And clearly the government there want to take advantage of their resource. But, it is also a one party system. And I was reading some of the laws there and I'm not going to say anything about it in case I get in trouble with them, but they're on the Internet if you want to look at them. So I think that the key point is it's a very complicated situation. But, long story short, Paul's big idea is, if we're going to burn quite a lot of gas and oil, which seems to be a lot of what's being proposed by people in the Gulf, we need to stop burning coal now. We need massive global coal tax and we need to grind coal right out of the system right now if we're going to be burning oil and gas. And I'm sure that economic power from the oil and gas industry can help us get rid of coal incredibly quickly. And then, that's a compromise. Christiana says no. We've got our first disagreement in three years.

Christiana: [00:24:39] No, no, that's not a compromise, Paul. Because, we. Well, we know.  Right. There is no space for any new fossil fuels. None.

Paul: [00:24:48] Yes, that's true. I agree, you're right. 

Christiana: [00:24:49] Coal, oil, gas. No space for anything new. Yes, we will probably end up burning what is already available in terms of, especially gas. But no new explorations, no new explorations of oil or gas, and certainly no more, more coal mining. So that, that's where the line really has to be set. And that's not set by any of the three of us. That's set by science and by the IEA, and they fundamentally agree on that. So, but back to, to Sultan. Dr. Sultan Al Jaber is actually a personal friend. I have been a friend, we have been friends for a long, long time, for decades I would say, ever since I started negotiating the climate convention for my own country, even before I became Executive Secretary. He has undoubtedly been a visionary for the transformation of the UAE economy. He has been responsible for the investments into renewables and further investments. He has been responsible for building the bridge within UAE from the very traditional oil and gas economy, to one that is more appropriate for the 21st century. He has been definitely a visionary and he's a force of nature, if anyone has ever met him, you will not forget him. He is a force of nature. And, and I do admire what he has done in the UAE and, and, he is now the COP President. That means that he has to put on a very different mantle, any COP  President and in fact, any Executive Secretary of the convention, have the same challenge of having to take off the mantle of their own country.

Christiana: [00:26:55] They have to become neutral to their own country. I had to do this when I became Executive Secretary. Not easy to do when you are as proud of your country as I am, but you have to take off that mantle. You have to become neutral to your own country position. You have to become open to all positions, and not attach to your own position. Because then the conversation with all other 195 countries is completely untenable and doesn't even start. And at the same time, and here's the difficulty, being open to all country positions and not indifferent to outcome. Because the outcome needs to be aligned with the science of decarbonization of the economy at the latest by 2050, if not before, half emissions by 2030. And with the very clear warning of the IEA, no more space for any new fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas. And that is what the outcome, the decisions from any COP have to further. They have to be able to accelerate that warning, the achievement of the goals that has been, have been established by science and then taken up in the Paris Agreement. So, you know, I feel, I feel in two chairs here. On the one hand, my admiration for Sultan, for what he has done domestically and on the other side, my deep recognition that that is not going to be enough. He can build on that for sure, and he can become a very good COP President. But, he has to take off one mantle and put on a very different mantle.

Tom: [00:28:46] And, so that's super helpful Christiana, and I knew you'd known him for a long time but I didn't realise it was quite that long. But that's really, and you have such deep insight into the background as well as what's required now. But I think it's also true to say, not having known him as long as you, but certainly going back to the Paris Agreement, my sense is that he's pretty good at that, at sort of bringing countries together, having a broad sense of, where is the collective land and ground between all of us, that actually that is the role that the UAE can play in international negotiations and has played before. Now, of course, there are probably certain elements of their domestic policy they're going to have to put to one side around oil and gas, because that puts them in a minority of countries, whereas most countries would say, we need to end new production now. But that actually the history suggests that that muscle memory is very much there with him and with the UAE.

Christiana: [00:29:36] Entirely possible. Entirely possible for him to be a brilliant COP President.

Paul: [00:29:41] Wow. It's kind of exciting in a slightly scary way.

Tom: [00:29:44] Ok, that's interesting. Yeah. All right, great. And, Paul, do you want to say something else?

Paul: [00:29:48] I was just going to, I don't know there, sometimes I can kind of detect that we follow the news cycle, and the news cycle is sort of kind of, it's got kind of doom built in. Have you ever heard that phrase in, people in newspapers, as they used to say, would say, if it bleeds it leads, you know, that, you know, shootings and plane crashes or whatever it is. I just wanted to celebrate the extraordinary and unbelievably exciting comments from the President of the World Trade Association, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. And she has said that the world needs a global carbon price and tax, and that's essential. Now, everyone always says that we can't do these things because the World Trade Organization, they're the head of the World Trade Association, has said we've got to do that. So I'm just incredibly excited at an unbelievably positive statement by a senior figure, she comes forward for the WTO just as the IEA came forward. These international bodies that have always you know, if you go back decades, people would say they're the problem. They now seem to be screaming for a solution, and I just wanted to celebrate that.

Christiana: [00:30:51] Go Ngozi, go Ngozi, she is amazing.

Tom: [00:30:57] Go Ngozi. Do we want to talk about the global stocktake for a minute? I mean, what what does this need to be this year? Because it could just be another report that's released at the intersessional's in Bonn in June and everybody kind of ignores it, whereas it strikes me, that, we talked a lot last year about the fact that COP's now need to solve the problem in front of them, which is different to the problem in front of them before. And that what is going to happen this year in the global stocktake is a collective realization that we are not on the pathway to solving this issue. And of course we know that anyway. But this is holding a mirror up to countries that signed the Paris Agreement. How can we use this moment to change the trajectory we're on rather than just sink deeper into the despair of our own failure? That's a happy way to start the year, isn't it?

Paul: [00:31:44] Well, my plan for not sinking deeper into the despair of my own failure is to always remember that there are beautiful sunflowers. Sorry, Christiana. Something sensible will come from your mouth, because I can't think of anything other than, don't talk like that, Tom.

Tom: [00:31:59] No, actually, I quite, I quite like the sunflower approach to global stocktake, it's good.

Christiana: [00:32:03] You know, actually, Tom, I think this is such an important topic that I think we should dedicate a whole episode to it and get some people who are working deep, knee deep into this on the on the podcast. And, and so that that would be my vote, to dedicate a whole episode because it is, as you well point out, the most important thing that is going to come out of COP28. And there are, there's a range of very wide range of what that could be because, you know, the Paris Agreement just sort of mentions a global stocktake but doesn't really define what it is. And so you could end up on the one extreme of that broad range with simply what I would like to call, you know, yet another report that says what we all know. And it is not any different than the UNEP Gap Report that comes out every year or than the UNFCCC Emissions Report that comes out every year, just with a different title. Right. And confirming that we're not on track. So that would be appalling and a waste of time and energy of everyone there.

Christiana: [00:33:20] And on the other hand, it could be something quite different, quite radical that, that has much more teeth, as Ed King has said, does the global stocktake have any teeth? And it could be based on much, much better data management, on better technology for harnessing data and working through the data. And Paul is going yes, yes, yes, because he knows, he knows quite a bit about data from the CDP side. But Paul, you're actually much closer to the global stocktake than either Tom or I. So, would you agree, not that we can go into it now, but would you agree that we could design a whole episode and dedicate it to the global stocktake? Perhaps now, at the beginning of the year and then see where we are toward, toward the end when we get closer to COP28. I really do think that we we should raise that flag of attention now at the beginning of the year and then follow it throughout.

Paul: [00:34:25] Yeah, no 100% Christiana. And you know, if I try and sort of summarize, we got a great briefing before this recording and there was an observation from the WRI that the global stocktake is actually best thought of as a kind of process rather than a snapshot. And I really like that because I think we, as we get, as nations get more and more familiar with their NDCs and updating their NDCs and increasing their ambition. And as we get better at sort of aggregating that and as we start to think of the global stocktake, we can really, sorry to go back to computers, but I'm a little bit excited about them because of my new friend, I think that that we can see that there's great scope for us to be building models. I think you could call them econometric models or almost geopolitical models of of what's happening in terms of emissions and what kind of policies we need to bend the curve. You know, what laws and just on that particular point, you know, there's a whole thing in the in the movement we talk about, you know, oh, we've got to be more radical, George Monbiot said system change, only system change can halt climate change. But I actually think we've forgotten that laws and policy are system change. You know, when you ban internal combustion engines in your country, the systems changed. So the global stocktake, I think, could, if we understand it correctly, be something that very large numbers of people can get involved with, our listeners can all get involved with, NGOs can get involved with, we can think of it as quite a participatory thing that's going to be going on this year, but it's also something that we're going to be keep looking at. And it's a doorway to take us to the policies we need to make sure the world is safe.

Tom: [00:36:14] Yeah, that's, I think that's a great way to phrase it, actually. It's about a process, and the report itself means nothing right, because we know what's in it already. But it's about the process by which we gather that together and by which we do something about it. So heard loud and clear, this is something we're going to have to, we're going to want to dig into in detail with people who are close to it to look at the implications. Now, I'm aware we're coming to time and we've barely scratched the surface of the things that we were going to talk about today. What would either of you like to talk about before we end this podcast and what should we push to a future week?

Christiana: [00:36:45] Oh.

Paul: [00:36:47] I've got two final tiny things. One is for those geeks out there who want to know about the ESG backlash, and these Republicans who are saying ESG is all rubbish. Do you know what, I've found a way that you can shut down anyone who says that ESG is rubbish and says, calls it woke capitalism. Ask them one question.

Christiana: [00:37:04] Oh my God, I'm going to get my pencil out. I love this, ok, go, go, go for it.

Paul: [00:37:09] Ask them, do they support the Securities and Exchange Commission mandating that companies must report their political expenditure? They're all against that by the way, because those politicians that are saying that ESG is woke, are basically funded by fossil fuel interests. Right. Particularly people like the, you know, the Koch, what's it called, the Kochtopus, the Koch industries and coal billionaires and all the rest of it. So just if you want to call out these people, just say, do you support corporate reporting of political donations? And when they say no, say you're a lobbyist, get out my face. And a wonderful, wonderful person called Nell Minow, who's a genius, she actually pointed out, she wrote a letter from BlackRock to these people, which I absolutely love because it's so sarcastic and funny. But she said, it's such an appalling mixture of political theatre and disinformation that she questions whether anyone actually read it. And she says, her key point, she says it takes a lot of chutzpah for a bunch of elected officials to claim, without any substantiation that the decisions made by financial professionals are based on politics rather than financial returns, when it is you who are urging us to bend our criteria based on your political pandering. Yes, actually, investors are regulated, and if they're doing ESG, it's because they think they have to. End of rant.

Tom: [00:38:31] Nice. All right. That was point one. Did you have another point or was that both the points?

Paul: [00:38:34] One tiny point. One final thing in the briefing, is it said that, I love this one, it talked about the extreme, it said European skiers are looking at green slopes and winter heat records and the weird weather. The weird weather. And I just want to point out that a very nice lawyer once told me in 2001 that I had to read the entire Third Assessment Report, which I did. By the way, the Sixth Assessment Report is 3600 pages, I can't remember what the third one was, but it was very long. But it kept going on in 2001 about the fact that the ski industry was going to be completely ruined by all the snow melting. So it's not weird, it's absolutely predicted 22 years ago. So there you go. If you want to know the future, read the Assessment Reports of the IPCC.

Christiana: [00:39:21] Ok. 

Tom: [00:39:21] Ok, Christiana, anything to add or should we hold things over for next week?

Christiana: [00:39:26] No, I did want to add one thing. It just seems to me, that we should acknowledge that despite all the chaos that we had last year and that list is a long list, we ended up the year with pretty, with some pretty impressive results. And let me just say just two examples, on the policy side, the decision that was taken at COP15 Biodiversity Convention, pretty impressive that in the middle of the chaos, that countries were able to come together to say, yes, we're going to have a biodiversity goal 30 by 30. Very impressive. Against all odds. That's on the policy side. On the consumer side, despite all the chaos of last year, it is pretty amazing that we do see a peaking of fossil fuel demand on the consumer side. Production is a different thing, but fossil fuel demand has peaked. It is plateauing and will then descend. Pretty impressive from both a policy and a consumer side perspective. Now, as we are now, 2023, let's call it a third of the way into the decisive decade that we have been reminding everyone since the beginning of the decade. We're a third of the way into the decade. So, the sense of urgency rises with every day that passes. And I will have to admit to you, Paul and Tom, that some days, the mindset that is operating for me is that nothing is enough and everything counts. But some days the mindset is everything counts and nothing is enough. And those are two different mindsets. And they're interrelated. But, I find myself oscillating between one and the other and they both accept that there are different realities and that they do not, that they're not mutually exclusive to each other. But the emphasis is different. And so I have found myself in this oscillating inner stance, the whole of January, actually. And yeah, and not knowing which way it's going to go, but just understanding that we do have different realities that are operating. I can't describe it any better. Everything counts and nothing is enough and or nothing is enough and everything counts.

Tom: [00:42:40] And Christiana, when you're in the nothing is enough mindset. How do you handle that? What do you do? How do you help yourself accept that or move through it?

Christiana: [00:42:51] Well, because that's not where the phrase ends, right? Nothing is enough and everything counts. That's the point, right? Nothing is enough. So nothing, you know, nothing that we're doing is enough, as we know, because otherwise we would already be on track. But everything counts. Everything counts. And, you know, every day counts, every week counts, every month counts. Every person counts, every city counts, every corporate counts. Every decision counts, every investment counts, everything counts. And the other reality is that everything does count and nothing is enough. And so there we are. There we are in that, in that space of uncertainty.

Tom: [00:43:35] Yeah.

Paul: [00:43:36] But, the debate, even if we know, you can say, forget the debate, the tons are what count. And it's true. You know, the radiative forcing is the problem, and the radiative forcing ain't where it's meant to be. But the debate is moving at such speed now in so many different dimensions. I hope that that may provide some, how can I put it, platform for reasonable optimism, but not Panglossian, you know, vain hope.

Tom: [00:44:05] All right. Is that where we leave it?

Paul: [00:44:06] It is.

Tom: [00:44:08] Good to be back with you all. It's going to be a big year as ever. And great to be discussing these things with the two of you and thinking about how we're going to navigate our way through it. It's going to be a fun year, a fast moving year, and as ever, a very consequential, and as a result, quite nerve wracking year. But this is what we're in it for. So we're going to leave you as ever with a piece of music. This week our music comes from Sive and the song is called 'Oh Mother'. Hope you enjoy this. And we'll be now back into our regular schedule, which means we'll see you next week. Thanks for joining us. See you soon.

Christiana: [00:44:40] Bye. 

Paul: [00:44:42] Bye.

Sive: [00:44:44] Hi, I'm Sive and I'm a musician and songwriter from Ireland. This song is called 'Oh Mother', and it was my first release that was very directly about climate change. It's sort of a personal apology to the Earth, but also an acknowledgement of the paralysis I was feeling in the face of it all and a reminder of all that's worth saving. So I guess really the song was kind of like a rallying cry to pull myself out of paralysis and into action. What outrages me the most is the fact that while so many of us are acknowledging what needs to be done and doing our best with the resources we have, people with more money and power are just point blank refusing to put the well-being of the planet before their own personal gain. Having said that, I feel optimistic about what I see as a slow but steady perspective shift in the world around me. I think people are starting to realize how much we can do at community level and also starting to understand that we are part of nature and not a separate entity that just gets to use and control it. I think the more we live according to that belief, the better the world will be.

Clay: [00:49:01] So there you go, another episode of Outrage + Optimism, the very first of 2023. My name is Clay. I'm the producer of this podcast. I am just buzzing with excitement to be back here with you at the end of the show following some amazing music. And there's a couple of things I want to share with you. But first, thank you to Sive for letting us spin her track on the podcast. The song is called 'Oh Mother'. And Sive, like she said, is from Ireland and we love Ireland. Hello, Ireland. You can listen to more of Sive's music in the show notes and description of this episode below. I gave her latest album, 'We Begin In Darkness', which was actually named Album of the Week when it debuted in April last year on BBC Radio's Late Show and received much critical acclaim for good reason. I gave it a full listen recently and it's such a great, how do I say this Northern Hemisphere Winter album to play. It's melodic and smooth and flows really well. There's just a lot of fantastic counter melodies. Link in the show notes to listen to that and more. The album really feels at peace with itself. I felt really good after listening to it. So Sive, thank you for coming on the podcast, loved what you had to share with us. And I also want to say I loved the drumming on that record too.

Clay: [00:50:27] The album title again is 'We Begin In Darkness'. Check the show Notes. Now, speaking to both our brand new listeners who are joining us this week for the first time and welcoming back our dear friends who have been with us for a while, I want to address the fact that a climate podcast has a musical guest on it almost every week. Why are we doing this? So at Outrage + Optimism, we've done some work developing and refining our theory of change, which is, you know, after much contemplation, how we choose to show up in the world in order to take the necessary and decisive action to restore and regenerate the web of life that sustains each and every one of us. One of those ways we show up is by using our privilege and agency on this podcast to, to connect and to elevate and to amplify diverse voices that are speaking truth to power. As Christiana has put it before, I've got a quote here, 'art, music and poetry are some of the most effective forms of protest. They change our minds, move our hearts and spur us into action. And action now is all of our responsibility'. So we're creating space here on the podcast for nuance, complexity, different viewpoints. Because, these mediums, you know, art, poetry, music, are the tools to find and grow common ground within the climate movement and ultimately restore and regenerate that web of life that sustains us.

Clay: [00:52:01] So, ok, off my soapbox, we are so honoured to be continuing and amplifying these incredible artists that you'll be hearing this year. And we are grateful for each and every one of them that comes on to not only share their art, but also their thoughts on what the role of the artist is during a climate crisis. So if you want to read more about the role of music in accelerating climate action, we've written extensively about the subject on our website. You can check the show notes for a link to that. And I've also included in those show notes a link to a piece that might be of interest to you, written by Allison Crimmins, who is the Director of the National Climate Assessment here in the US, about this one time she was at a climate change conference and she was asked what we need to save the world, and out of all the correct answers, she chose to say more artists. So I thought you might like that, I've got that for you to read in the show notes. So, yes, we're going to continue having musical artists on the podcast continuing into the New Year. We're very excited that you're joining us for that. And a couple other things to catch you up on, since this is the first episode back after a while.

Clay: [00:53:12] This podcast is now part of the TED Audio Collective, a collection of podcasts for the curious. You can check out more TED Audio Collective podcasts like TED Talks Daily, Rethinking with Adam Grant, the TED Interview, and of course TED Climate. Links, again, always in the show notes, just go check them out. They're all there. Another thing is we have a sister podcast that we co-produce with our monastic brothers and sisters at Thich Nhat Hanh's Zen Buddhist Monastery, Plumb Village in France. That podcast is called 'The Way Out is In'. Now why are we teaming up with a bunch of Zen monks and nuns? Well, if you, like us, are interested in practicing mindfulness and engaging in the world in a way that develops more love and more compassion and ultimately personal transformation and systems change, you can join Brother Phap Huu and Jo Confino for discussions, practices and moments where they shift the prism a bit to reveal a new mindset that can help us transcend our patterns of fear and anger based decision making that has gotten us into our current climate crisis that we're in right now. So 'The Way Out Is In'. Available wherever you get your podcasts, go check out that podcast. And while I love talking about our podcasts to seemingly no end there, they're actually not the only thing that we do here at Outrage + Optimism.

Clay: [00:54:44] And so you can check out more of the work we are doing out in the world on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and the like, at Outrage + Optimism. And it used to be subscribe, but actually it's called Following now. So be sure to hit follow on this show and share our podcast with a friend who you think might want to listen. Some of our listeners have told us that they have listening parties, so that's, that's a thing. I promise I'm almost done. We've been away for a while. If you like this podcast, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, because we read every single one. We get notifications on Slack when they come through and it's a nice distraction in the day, I have to admit, it's really fantastic to hear directly from you, the listeners, on what you like about this podcast and how it helps you take action in the world and and if you haven't written one, please leave one. That is everything from us for this week. I'm sure I forgot something, but we have another podcast coming right here in this feed next week and I will be there at the end to send you off into your day or the next podcast or whatever you're up to. So again, hit follow on this podcast and I will see you right back here next week. See you then.


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