75. Optimism and Earthshots with Prince William
This week on Outrage + Optimism, Prince William is here!
With just under 10 years to cut global emissions by 50%, the future of our planet depends on a raising of ambition we have not seen since JFK’s Moonshot. A conservationist at heart and in practice, Prince William is on the hunt to find and finance the solutions that will get us there.
Enter The Earthshot Prize – Five, one million-pound prizes awarded each year for the next 10 years, providing at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems by 2030.
The categories for the prizes are as follows: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build A Waste-Free World, and Fix Our Climate – simple yet ambitious goals, underpinned by scientifically agreed targets, which if achieved by 2030 will improve life for us all, for generations to come.
Our hosts Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac, and Paul Dickinson sit down with The Duke of Cambridge to find out why he is doing this now, and how optimistic he is that we can solve the climate crisis.
Plus, stick around for an incredible musical performance from AURORA and Aaron Taylor!
Keep up with Christiana Figueres here:
Follow @GlobalOptimism on social media!
Don’t forget to hit SUBSCRIBE so you don’t miss another episode of Outrage + Optimism!
Tom Rivett-Carnac: Hello and welcome to Outrage and Optimism. I’m Tom Rivett-Carnac.
Christiana Figueres: I’m Christiana in the aftermath of a tropical storm.
Paul Dickinson: And I’m Paul Dickinson in Brighton.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: We are the co-hosts of Outrage and Optimism. And each week we get together and talk about solutions to the climate crisis. This is an emergency, but we can do what is necessary and solve this issue in the next 10 years. This week, we speak to Prince William about the remarkable Earthshot Prize that he has launched and how over the next 10 years, a series of commitments to support the most innovative solutions will transform the trajectory that we’re on. We also have an amazing piece of music from an emerging artist. Stick around to the end to hear a track from AURORA and Aaron Taylor. Thanks for being here.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:01:06] This is a big week for us this week. Can you imagine that we have a future king of England on this podcast? Who would have thought would be here even a few months ago now? But, Christiana, there’s not a lot of silence coming from you on.
Christiana Figueres: [00:01:18] Hold on, Tom. So I’m the non-Brit here, so I just want to make sure we’re totally correct. Is that the future king of England or is it the future king of Great Britain?
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:01:29] Well, let’s ask famous royals Paul Dickinson.
Paul Dickinson: [00:01:31] OK, so I’m not like a history buff, but I think people have been running around this chunk of rock with like axes and clubs, whacking each other on the head for thousands of years, trying to answer that question. So it’s kind of a bit awkward … anyway…
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:01:47] Not that is a sensitive topic or it has a lot of history behind it anyway. But, Christiana, what is that noise?
Christiana Figueres: [00:01:53] Yes, well, this is the noise of rain. And I have to tell you, I as you know, I live on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:02:02] We actually I think that’s been mentioned on this podcast before.
Christiana Figueres: [00:02:02] Once or twice. Yes. Now, October is the peak of the rainy season, but it is also the peak of tropical storm season. And for the past two days, we’ve had an incredible tropical storm here that has brought just in the most amazing downpour of rain, sadly also downed quite a few trees that put us without electricity for at least 24 hours. Internet is still not back up. So I have taken refuge here in a restaurant that is closed to the public, but it has an open terrace from which I am talking to you. But that’s why you still hear the rain that has been going on for 24 hours now. That does not include what the furious ocean has done. Would you like me to share that?
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:03:01] Tell us. Yeah.
Christiana Figueres: [00:03:02] So now that the worst of the storm is over, I am truly very grateful for an experience that I’ve had over the past two days and two nights, which is honestly not being able to really sleep at night because I didn’t know how close the ocean was going to come to my home and after so many years of negotiating and listening to the experiences of the inhabitants of the low lying Pacific islands, my head understands what it is to be terrified of the ocean coming up and gobbling up your livelihood and your home. But up until now, I had only understood it with my head and now I totally get it in my gut, I totally- and it is a totally different experience. It’s a different understanding. If you want to use the word understanding for your gut, the fact that you stand there and you are completely helpless in front of this all powerful ocean that comes wave after wave after wave taller waves than you possibly think, and that they just come in and crash into your garden, threaten to come up into your house and there’s nothing you can do. There’s no way that you can build a wall. There’s no way you can throw sacks there of cement or sand or anything. You are just completely helpless in front of this all powerful, angry, furious ocean. And so it’s been two days of getting in touch with that emotion while realizing that I’m incredibly privileged because I can walk 100 meters back and have another place like where I am now- that is actually three hundred meters back from my house- have another place with a roof or I can go and live with a family member somewhere else in the country. Many of the Pacific Islanders don’t have that. They don’t have an escape route. They don’t have option B, they don’t have an alternative. And honestly, I had never felt the terror of the rising level of oceans as I have over the past 48 hours.
Paul Dickinson: [00:05:34] Hmm. And look at think of all of those islands, low island states, coastal cities across the world. I mean, there must be very, you know, millions of people know about this I knew of an artist and she went to Bangladesh and she actually got people in Bangladesh to make some drama about the experience they had of living often in houses or homes that are on stilts because of the inundation. And actually, a lot of it was about tying up baby at night because if the baby crawls and gets into the water, you’ve lost your child. And no, I mean, thank you, Christina, for sharing what is a sort of a horrifying but yet very important understanding that, as you said, you felt and didn’t just think it.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:06:15] It reminds me I can’t remember where I saw this. It was on the documentary, one of the many documentaries about this issue as it unfolds that we’ve all seen over the years. And it was from the Pacific Islands and they were interviewing somebody, it was probably a David Attenborough, and that the ocean had risen up and risen up and the salt got into their crops and was damaging their life and just making everything so complicated. But the piece that really haunted me was this, this woman who said that she’d always looked out at the ocean and seen the opportunity and the adventure and, you know, the ability to fulfill her livelihood. But then after this one particular storm, she said she could no longer look at the ocean because it made her so afraid, because it was like it was coming to take her place on this planet. And you just raised the psychological impact of that as it as what you’re describing, Christiana, which sounds I mean, you’ve sent me some of the pictures and it’s just horrifying to look at the debris washed up all over the beach. And even in Costa Rica, which, of course, is so amazing on all these different environmental credentials. It’s horrifying how much plastic is mixed in there, too, isn’t it? Gets washed up on the beach after something like this?
Christiana Figueres: [00:07:23] Yeah. Yeah. No, I mean, the natural debris, the the the logs that have been washed up, it’s going to be impossible to pick them up with just human force. They’re going to have to, I don’t know, bring a backhoe to pick up all of these logs. And so that already tells you the power of water. Right. Amazing. And then the other tragedy is the plastic. And this is a very, very protected bay that I live in. It’s a bay where whales come to calf and protect their, you know, their newborn because it’s such such tranquil and clean waters. And yet here we are. Now we know what’s at the bottom of the bay, all of this plastic that has been tragically washed up.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:08:12] So so that I mean, that harrowing story, Christiana, of your home and what’s happened to her over the last 48 hours and by extension, what so many people living in these coastal communities are facing is actually a very good jumping off point for us to speak about this new initiative that can have a transformative effect on the next 10 years. And that is the Earthshot Prize and the way that Prince William has made a remarkable entry into this space to really affect change. And I don’t know if you remember, Christiana, but it feels like about 20 years ago, but it was probably less than a year ago that you and I were actually still having physical face to face meetings with people. And we turned up in a taxi in Hyde Park and made our way into Kensington Palace and sat with Prince William for an hour. And he talked with us about what he was intending to do, why it was so important to him, and why he was really wanting to use his network and his name to try and do something transformative about climate. And I remember that day sitting there with him and just thinking, wow, not only does he really have this big ambition, but he’s humble. He really wants to learn on this journey and just seemed so impact focused. At that moment I really felt this could really have a transformative impact on the world. What were your impressions back then?
Christiana Figueres: [00:09:27] Yeah, I agree. And I was I was sitting there thinking, well, A) he doesn’t have to do this right. This is not part of his terms of reference. He does it because he’s very sincere about this. He’s very concerned and he appreciates that he has an enormous platform and an enormous power of convening and that he can mobilize, first, funding because he’s fundraising for this, but also that he has a huge megaphone and by using that megaphone, he can get this message out. And so, you know, this Earthshot Prize that he has called, this is just fantastic. And and and Tom and Paul, it’s not just climate, right? I mean, to his credit, he has been inspired by President Kennedy’s Moonshot that we’ve spoken quite a bit about on this podcast. But he’s calling it five Earthshots, and that’s why he calls it the Earthshot Prize. And he looked over all of the U.N. SDGs, all 17, and then he picked five areas for an Earthshot Prize for each of them. He picked protect and restore nature, clean our air, revive our oceans, build a waste free world and fix our climate. Now we know and this podcast that all of those are actually interrelated. But he has, I think, been brilliant in choosing five areas in which there is so much going on. And what he wants is to incentivize big, big steps forward, ambitious steps forward. And each of those, each of those will get one million pounds next year because the first five winners will be announced in London next year. And then he’ll do it all over again.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:11:24] With five one million pound prizes every year. Right. Throughout this decade.
Christiana Figueres: [00:11:27] Every year. Yeah. We presume in the same five areas. I don’t know that he would change them, presumably in the same five. So very exciting.
Paul Dickinson: [00:11:38] I mean, you know, the platform, you know, in in our little country, we have, you know, his Grandmother on all of our currency. You know, the royal family is a sort of an essential component in in the nature of Britain. But I mean, also various television companies have been making the British royal family very famous all over the world. And, you know, they’re an extraordinary institution, but they’re also say something about us. You know, we often talk about our relationships with governments or we’ve spoken to faith leaders. But, you know, this this this notion of a of a tradition, you know, the dignified part of government has an incredible resonance. And I think that as you say, it’s a fantastic megaphone, Christiana, a fascinating initiative that this very inspiring person has taken.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:12:26] If if anyone hasn’t seen his TED talk, which came out on Countdown just a couple of weeks ago, you should absolutely go watch it. It’s it’s really beautiful. He shot it in the grounds of Windsor Castle, sitting underneath an ancient oak. And he talked about the sense of history standing next to this oak which was a thousand years old, but that even that oak had not seen a decade like this one coming up. And what he said that was so close to the motivations that are really behind this podcast and so much of what we do and that’s also embedded in the Earthshot Prize, is that really what he wants to do is combat pessimism surrounding environmental issues and get people to believe, as the Moonshot did with this Earthshot, that actually we can do this and this is a huge opportunity to improve the future. So that’s part of what I think is this big beacon of motivation that is inspiring people to go further and faster. So I think it’s great.
Christiana Figueres: [00:13:18] It’s very exciting. And listeners should know some of these specifics. Right. So the the nominations, there are 100 people who have been chosen to nominate. None of the three of us are doing that. And we’re doing other things for the Earthshot Prize. But there are a hundred people have been chosen around the world to do these nominations and nominations will open on the 1st of November of this year. And then the first five winners will be announced at a dedicated ceremony, as we said, in London next year. So just the notion of creating Earthshot as a concept for us to understand that just like we were able to land on the moon, just like that, we can stretch our imagination to be able to address all of these SDGs in a timely fashion. There is a dearth here of imagination that leads then to innovation and to different ways of working with technology, with each other, with policy in order to be able to reach those SDGs which also have a 2030 deadline. So it’s very, very exciting, this invitation to change our mindset around these challenges and come out of the its impossible box and despair and grief and say, well, let’s imagine. Let’s imagine what kinds of solutions we can actually co-create, it’s just very exciting.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:14:53] And very impressive advisory board who can actually judge the prizes as well I see.
Christiana Figueres: [00:14:59] Really?
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:15:01] Were you not invited Paul? Out of interest.
Paul Dickinson: [00:15:03] Well, I’ve applied, actually, but they say they’ve said they’ve lost my application. I phoned every morning. But so if you have an idea that you want to bring forward, go to Earthshotprize.org And you know, who knows? You could change the course of history.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:15:19] And if you’re a nominee to take a look at Paul Dickinson, it’s quite an impressive track record. You might want to nominate him for National Prize.
Paul Dickinson: [00:15:24] Well, I’m I’m actually going to go for the Earthshot Philosophy Prize. I’m going to make my pitch now because I’m presuming many or.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:15:31] Not poetry?
Paul Dickinson: [00:15:33] You know, it’s philosophy, actually. You know, if you’re a nomination, if you’re a judge, I know Christiana, you’re a judge. So do please pay special attention to what I’m about to say.
Christiana Figueres: [00:15:41] You’re not supposed to influence judges ahead of time, Paul. If you do that, you’ll be immediately disqualified.
Paul Dickinson: [00:15:49] But too late. I’ve started now and I’ve never I’ve never wanted to stop when I started. So there you are. The prize may be lost, but I still offer this gift to the world. You know what the Earthshot Prize has taught me is actually what we’re doing here. It’s what we’re doing here on this planet. We’ve spent thousands of years trying to answer that question with religion, with mixed results. We spent hundreds of years trying to answer with economics, and that’s the kind of hedonistic kind of more more more. And then finally, we’ve actually worked out what we’re trying to do here is to survive and thrive in this, you know, crisis as it comes in. And so the Earthshot is indeed like a Moonshot of kind of meaning the heart of of the human mission and very, very excited. And I think I could get maybe a small prize for what I’ve just said.
Christiana Figueres: [00:16:34] Consolation prize, perhaps philosophical consolation prize,
Paul Dickinson: [00:16:39] A little asteroid prize or something.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:16:41] Now, we will leave that in Clay’s hands if that even makes sense, but entirely in your hands. So we’ve talked about it enough. But let’s hear from the Prince himself. So here we go. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William. Let’s do it.
Christiana Figueres: [00:17:00] Well, this is the first time that I’m not quite sure how to start this conversation, because I usually start by welcoming our guest by name. My question is, how may we address you?
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William: [00:17:13] You can address me anyway you want, Christiana.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:17:14] Wow, that’s more informal.
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William: [00:17:19] But customary is my name. So William, we’ll go with that.
Christiana Figueres: [00:17:23] Ok, well thank you very much. But then that case may I welcome you William. Thank you very, very much for joining us on Outrage and Optimism. It’s really quite delightful to have you on our conversation. And we have been, of course, following your philanthropic activities. And for years you have engaged in philanthropy and you use your Royal Foundation to drive your charitable endeavors. Now, you have spread your your time and your interest and your attention across a certain number of issues, mental health being one of the very important ones. But now you have decided to really go big time, big time with the Earthshot Prize that you have announced and you’re focusing on how do we repair the Earth and you’re covering air quality waste, ocean health, climate and nature. Now, why did you decide to turn your attention to these issues of repairing the nature and and why now? What is important about this decade that we’ve just stepped into?
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William: [00:18:34] Yeah, and guys, thank you for having me on on the podcast. I really appreciate it. Um, I’ve always had a key interest and passion in conservation and in the environment and in all things outdoors related. So it’s a natural sort of cycle for me to become more involved in it. And I felt that over the last few years we’ve been in lots of preparation work and into what really is needed out there. What can we bring to the party that that others need us to to come to join the team effort to really move the environmental issues forward? Because I think the only way this is going to be fixed is with everyone working together on the same idea and believing in each other and finding solutions. And the Earthshot Prize is about finding solutions. It’s about highlighting and raising people’s voices and genuine, tangible solutions to some of the hardest environmental problems to face. And if we can do that and elevate these people’s become household names, these solutions become household solutions, then we feel we’ve brought in an added dimension to the debates, which hasn’t been there before, which is really helping allow some of the the big issues and some of the real optimistic, positive solutions to fixing our climate to the fore and and that’s what the prize is appearances is highlighting those individuals.
Christiana Figueres: [00:20:00] And what kinds of solutions you talk about these solutions in your wildest imagination? Because I’m hoping the Earthshot Prize is really going to encourage people to just think not only outside the box, but without a box, really, really, really think big. And so what kinds of solutions are you hoping for to receive as as nominations? In what sectors? What would really, you know, be a just a fantastic, surprising nomination that you would get? And is this yet another opportunity to invite nominations? Because you open, I believe, on November 1st for nominations? Is that correct? So you can use the podcast to invite.
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William: [00:20:47] That’s right. We’re happy to invite as many and anyone everyone is invited. And we’ve got plenty of fantastic nominators around the world who will be their job is to search out and find the best solutions, the best people to be nominated for the prize. And the idea is we have five prizes a year, so we’ve got all the prizes-
Christiana Figueres: [00:21:07] So it’s one prize in each of these categories, is that right?
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William: [00:21:10] There’s one prize in each category for 10 years. So this decade of change, as you talked about, it’s crucial that this next 10 years where we aim our biggest efforts out. So we’ll be doing five prizes for ten years, five a year, and effectively trying to bring the best talent forwards, the best solutions, and really trying to engage people in a positive, optimistic approach towards, you know, tackling the climate, because it’s always been a very careful and slightly pessimistic approach, if you like, to the environment where there’s been lots of calling out and quite rightly saying these are the problems and this is what we’re going to face. But there’s been very little kind of well, actually, we can we can fix this. We can we can provide those solutions. We can, as human beings turn this around. We don’t have to be staring down the barrel of a gun for the rest of our lives until, you know, real problems start to appear. So I think coupled with the sort of the urgency that’s needed, I think the Earthshot brings positivity and a real kind of influence that we might not be able to put together.
Paul Dickinson: [00:22:23] Yeah, well, your engagement with this is absolutely inspiring. And, you know, you have a very special place in the world, in fact. And as we heard in your recent TED talk, you started off by saying that if there’s one thing that can be learned from your family, it’s a sense of history. And that long sense of history is very interesting in today’s world, which is so unfortunately focused on the immediate here and now. And in a sense, getting to people, getting people to think more long term is a big part of our challenge in dealing with climate change and the climate crisis. So how do you think that that sense of history can inform our actions now?
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William: [00:23:08] So I think it’s important to understand the history and the past, to be able to kind of carve out and plan for the future. We are where we are because of what’s gone before us. And so I think each generation in turn, and also my family is a very visual description of that, I think each generation understands its responsibility to better from the previous generation and to look after and to nurture and to be custodians of the world and things like that. So I think my family’s naturally had an opinion here to support and to be a part of the environmental debate for a long time, because it’s been, you know, at the forefront of a lot of conversations and a lot of issues for many, many years. And people have talked about it for a long, long time. But we need the action now. And that’s what these next 10 years is about, is that all the conversations, you know, have happened. The science has been out there. The science is irrefutable. We have the data and people love data nowadays. We have that. So let’s stop sort of talking about it, collecting data, and let’s actually provide the action. And I think that’s what’s going to be really needed in these next ten years.
Christiana Figueres: [00:24:18] You know, it’s interesting that you talk about your family because there is a very important role for all royals, right? In all countries. Those that have are royal families, especially when democratic systems are really struggling to pick up the responsibility and the urgency that is that is necessary and to be able to make decisions that are increasingly short term driven, but definitely long term impact. And royal families, by definition, are long term thinkers, so I would love to hear from you not just within your own Windsor family, but the role of royals elsewhere. Have you been able to speak to others and encourage them enthusiastically to follow this example of reminding everyone that we are here playing a very important role in history and that this is a window that we cannot afford to miss?
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William: [00:25:29] Absolutely. I think there isn’t anyone I have spoken to that isn’t in agreement with that statement. Christiana, I think everyone knows this is this is where we’re headed. And these are the important issues we need to tackle. I think getting to those in the political world with the will to tackle things is another another story. I think the groundswell of opinion and the groundswell of action, particularly in the younger generations that we’ve seen over the Greta and others, become a particularly good advocate and a leading light, I think, for voicing concerns around the environment. I think that should be listened to. And I think it’s really- I think it’s catalyzed and galvanized a lot of people to realise that this is this is taken very seriously from the younger generations. You mentioned before all of us, but of the younger generations are up in arms about their future, then I think the the politicians and the political will should be there to listen and act on what they’re saying.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:26:24] Absolutely. Can I ask you, we call this podcast Outrage and Optimism, and you’ve declared yourself a proponent of the idea that optimism leads to a sort of sense of possibility and that it’s probably one of our best tools in the drive to make stuff happen in the world. And you said in your TED talk that you intend to end this decade as an optimist, which is a framing that we love. And that kind of gritty, determined, stubborn optimism gets very high marks on this podcast, I have to say. So I just want to ask you two things about it. First, what makes you so convinced that optimism is how you change things? Because some people don’t agree with that, right? They think that you need to scare people or go a different direction. And secondly, what gets you outraged about climate change?
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William: [00:27:10] Good question, Tom. So firstly, I definitely believe in optimism. I have to say, when I was growing up, I did feel that tackling things negatively was the way to go forwards and trying to sort of push people into doing stuff and say, listen, these are really bad things, you need to change this. But actually, it doesn’t really work. And there’s always a space for that. You know, I don’t propose that nobody should be calling out things that are wrong and saying people should change that for the better. But personally, in my work and to give you one example, is with some of the work I did around the illegal wildlife trade and very much the thinking and the advice at the time when we spoke to a lot of people in China and places in the Far East about how to how to raise this issue sensitively with them, to talk about cultural issues that are deeply, deeply rooted and very historical to a population. And they were all about the positivity and they were totally right. And the message I very much went to when I went to China and towards the Chinese government about trying to tackle the illegal wildlife trade was very much a case of how about you guys being the global leaders in conservation. You know, you can take on that mantle and you can really drive it forwards. And it’s a much easier conversation to have with someone. And it’s not about getting out of a hard conversation. I’m very happy to have hard conversations, but an easy conversation where they can see what you’re getting at. They understand the consequences. And the end of the day the vast majority of people, if they’re presented with the science and the facts, they want to do the right thing. No one wants to do the wrong thing. And I think you’ve got to give people the opportunity to see the potential and the way forwards. I get outraged by the inaction. And that’s probably bit of a cliche, but that is what I get most about troubled, especially as I am in a position of responsibility if you like, or leadership. I feel I can do a lot more if given that ability and so therefore I don’t understand why those who have the levers don’t. Yeah, and I think that’s what really upsets me and keeps me awake at night.
Christiana Figueres: [00:29:05] Um, well thank you so much William. Really thank you very much for taking time and sharing your thoughts. Congratulations on the Earthshot Prize. I’m delighted to be on the advisory council and I’m very excited to see what the initiatives are going to be that that come forward. Thank you very, very much for taking the time. And we look forward to the nominations.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:29:31] Thank you so much. Thank you know.
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William: [00:29:33] Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:29:41]
How amazing to have His Royal Highness, Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge on this podcast. In a minute, I will be back with my co-hosts, Christiana and Paul to bring you some analysis of what he said as well as some insight into other developments that have happened this week. First, we have a very special musical performance for you. Norwegian singer/ songwriter AURORA has been a friend of ours for a long time, since she came one the podcast back in the early days, more than a year ago.
She is so dedicated to social and environmental change and uses her music in the most thoughtful and creative ways. One song that we have always loved is called “The Seed” and today we are bringing you a special acoustic of it from AURORA. AURORA says that part of the role of music right now is to remind us of how happy it will make us to fight for a world we love and a world in which we will one day have solved the climate crisis. Her songs project directed anger towards what is unfair and climate change is unfair. But when we solve it, we will always be the generation that saved the future. Here is a special performance from AURORA.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:29:41] So can you believe that we have had a future King of this country on the podcast? How amazing to get a chance to sit down and chat with Prince William about everything he’s doing and what’s motivating him and how he’s going to use his position to create such tremendous change. What did you guys leave that discussion with?
Christiana Figueres: [00:30:02] Paul, you’re the Brit.
Paul Dickinson: [00:30:04] Well, I’m touched that someone who has such a significant position in the culture of Great Britain, the United Kingdom, England or the Commonwealth, if you want, is really taking time and energy and using, as you said, the platform and the office to draw the public’s attention worldwide to the enormous potential we have to solve these problems that we face and to put real money behind creating such an incredible competition. And, you know, I think he’s very good at persuasion. I think he you know, he has explained that it’s not so much the negative, it’s the positive that drives people towards action. And so, again, I think that there’s genius in that it’s a well constructed program. And, you know, all human problems have been solved with great bouts of ingenuity. It’s it’s tragedy, actually, that a lot of our greatest technical developments happen in wartime. But I think the Earthshot brings some of that creativity, some of that intensity, some of that imagination, some of the innovation. But to peacetime, not so much to to damage others, but to help them.
Christiana Figueres: [00:31:16] Yeah, I also I agree with all of that. I’m also struck by the generational aspect of this, because as we know, his father, Prince Charles, has been for years, for decades, in fact, one of the very clear voices on issues to do with climate change, reforestation. He has everything to do with protection of nature and regeneration. And he has used a lot of his platform for those issues. He has convened an infinite number of small groups of leaders around the world, around his private table to encourage everyone to step up on these issues. And the fact that Prince William doesn’t step away from that doesn’t feel like he cannot live in the shadow of his father, but that actually he steps on the shoulders of his father and he takes a lot of the same values and issues that his father has stood for and just takes them one step further. I think that’s fantastic. It’s very much there’s a lot of maturity. And, you know, it’s sort of moving the baton, handing the baton from one generation to the next. And I just think he has done it with enormous grace and generosity, certainly toward his father, but also understanding that we have not done nearly enough as far as we should have. And he is willing to step up to the new challenge, the emergency, the crisis, and call us all to that. And so I’m just really struck by that generational element.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:33:16] I agree with that. And I’m going to say something that that might be controversial. And I say it affectionately, because I think Prince Charles has been an enormous force for good in the world in many ways. And I think he was very helpful to us prior to Paris in all sorts of ways. But it also strikes me that his generation of environmentalists pointed out what’s wrong and William is pointing out what’s right. And that’s not to cast a comment on the difference between William and Charles, but it is to cast a comment on the difference of those generations of environmentalists that actually the old style of environmentalism was to point out here all the problems – you shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that. Whereas what I think William is doing with the Earthshot Prize, very specifically, he’s pointing out this is what’s working, here’s where we’ve got momentum, here’s how we’re going to break through. Actually, to me, that’s an enormous transformation and a huge difference and I think will be much more successful with that philosophy.
Christiana Figueres: [00:34:09] Well, I agree with that, but I wouldn’t say that that typifies one generation or the other. The fact is, there are members of the older generation, my own generation, that have been very positive and very constructive for a long time. And there are also members of the younger generation that have actually been on the pessimistic side so I don’t think, yeah, there’s not a generational thing. It’s a choice as we know. It is a choice of what attitude do you take? I think those who are in this field and who are calling for for us to step up to the challenge. We have a choice to make, do we do we stand in the box, as we have called it, of grief and despair and paralysis for which there can be a lot of justifications, or do we peek out and crawl out of that box and assume a mindset that is more constructive, more proposing, more innovative, more optimistic towards saying, well, we don’t know exactly how, but doggone it, we are going to gather all of our ingenuity and together we can do this. And and the other thing that we have to understand about that, it’s not that those who take a position of despair are any less right than those who take a position of optimism. Both are right. Both are justified. And the amazing thing about this is we need both. We need both. And by the way, that’s why our podcast is called Outrage and Optimism in case anybody forgot, right. We need both. We we need the outrage, thank God for those who are expressing the outrage, but we also need the optimism. So for those who say you have to choose between one or the other, no, you have to accept and understand the beauty that we need both. But for you as an individual, you have to choose where you put most of your energy.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:36:12] Totally. I completely agree. But I think the point I would make just in regard to what really struck me about William is that his optimism is a strategy. He has come as we have, to the conclusion, that there are different ways to try and change the world and that from what he’s witnessed and experienced in his life, he’s paid attention and he’s come away with the conclusion that inspiring people towards what’s possible and showing them how we can actually be successful in these transformations actually inspires more people to action. And therefore and then on the back of that, he’s built his strategy as a result of that. I thought that was really inspiring and really indicative of sort of the person that he is and that he’s made that choice.
Christiana Figueres: [00:36:55] So now, Tom, is it because we have chosen the same attitude that we think it’s so inspiring?
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:37:00] Well, it might be!
Christiana Figueres: [00:37:01] Are we being self-congratulatory?
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:37:07] We asked him, we said, you know, why are you so sure that optimism is the way? And actually, his answer, I thought, was very convincing. And I thought that actually, you know, he’d really spent and I think he would also say that, like we have, that doesn’t work for everybody and you need different strategies at different times. So I don’t think we’ve ever said that. That’s all we need. I think, you know, fear plays a role and all these other different you know, there’s the whole panoply of human emotions to make this big transformation that we need to make. But, yeah, he has broadly concluded the same as us, which is that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar to cast an old phrase.
Paul Dickinson: [00:37:44] And he also thanked the youth and Greta and, you know, one of the things I think is so transformative about what he’s doing is, is, you know, these magazines, you get to airports like Hello magazine, an OK magazine, and they’re obsessed about royal people and like what shoes they’re wearing and whether they went to this party or, you know, and here is this thing, this dignified, you know, noble royal, you would say in the old English or French even and he’s doing something incredibly meaningful and I think that’s just a role model for all the most famous people in the world.
[00:38:20] Yeah, I actually I was in a newsagents the other day and I saw a copy of Hello magazine. For those people who aren’t from the U.K, that’s sort of the most widely circulated celebrity gossip magazine, a picture of Prince William on the front with a slogan or a headline, Prince William’s Dream Team come together to solve global problems. That’s really the way you can cut through.
Christiana Figueres: [00:38:42] Yeah, superb. It’s superb.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:38:46] Now, on this podcast, normally at the beginning of the discussion, we go through a couple of really consequential high-level things that have been happening in the world around how we’re going to address this issue of climate change. We didn’t really do that this week because we had Prince William and we thought many of you maybe are here to hear from him. But for any new listeners out there, just say, you know what to expect on a regular episode of Outrage and Optimism. That’s what you’ll get. But we’re going to just cover a couple of really critical issues now. And Paul, I think you brought something really important this week.
Paul Dickinson: [00:39:15] Well, first of all, I just wanted to say that I’m unbelievably excited about the US election. I’m biting off my fingers and toes off. I’m going to the toe finger bite casualty in my local hospital.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:39:24] Can I just point out I am going to be with Christiana in Costa Rica for the election. I’m very excited and I’m going to be bringing small cases of gin and whisky and all sorts of other things to sit and watch.
Christiana Figueres: [00:39:34] They’d better be large cases.
Clay Carnill: [00:39:37] Yeah, our secretary of state here in Michigan said we should prepare for election week and not just Election Day. So, you know.
Christiana Figueres: [00:39:49] As I said, big cases!
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:39:51] We have reached out to various friends to comment on the election on November 4th and the universal response we’ve received is, do you think there’s going to be a result on November 4th? So we’ll see what happens. Paul, you were excited about something.
Paul Dickinson: [00:40:04] I’ll tell you what results I want. I want that the United States, under whomever the great republic may choose to re-enter the Paris climate agreement. And I think candidate Biden is the person for that. Now, the thing I wanted to point out a little bit of bad news for ExxonMobil this month on the 7th of October, Bloomberg reported that actually NextEra, the renewable energy company, NextEra is now more valuable than Exxon. Can you imagine that a renewable energy company with a greater market capitalization than the mighty ExxonMobil, as reported on the 7th of October.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:40:41] A renewable energy company who are so new that you struggle to know how to pronounce its name? Amazing that shows the speed of change.
Paul Dickinson: [00:40:48] I’m hoping Clay is going to cut that out, but he might leave it in, in which case everyone will know that I know how to say NextEra. Well, let’s get used it- NextEra is the new Exxon. So that’s big stuff. Or Esso if you know them in the U.K.
Christiana Figueres: [00:40:59] Wait, Paul, is NextEra, are they a U.S. based renewable energy company?
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:41:06] Do you know anything about them? Paul, tell us.
[00:41:09] I’m sorry, but it is important, right? It’s not the same to have a renewable energy company in Europe, because that’s pretty predictable to be rewarded by the market. But in the United States, for a 100 percent renewable energy company to be rewarded by the market above Exxon Mobil. Sorry, but that’s big news.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:41:28] It’s huge. It’s absolutely huge. Can you believe I mean, that that is the last offspring of Standard Oil because Exxon, along with many other oil companies, came from Standard Oil probably for over 100 years that have not been the biggest company in the U.S.
Paul Dickinson: [00:41:42] I mean, NextEra Energy is a leading clean energy company with consolidated revenues of about 17 and a half billion, approximately 46000 megawatts of generating capacity. Fourteen thousand three hundred employees in 27 states and Canada. So, yes, very much a U.S. operation.
Christiana Figueres: [00:41:58] Can I say something else that is fun about news in the US so we know that the financial sector has been moving, right? But there is a new network called Bank Forward, as in Bank F.W.D, which is a network of individuals and organizations that have come together, mostly high net worth individuals and organizations to persuade their banks to phase out financing for fossil fuels. Which family do you think? Here is a little little task for all of you. Which family do you think is the founding family of this initiative to move banks over and out of fossil fuel financing? Come on then. Get with it.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:42:46] The..
Christiana Figueres: [00:42:46] The Rockefeller family. And wasn’t it the Rockefellers that actually were the first to exploit oil in the U.S. and they built their empire. And there are huge wealth on oil. And now it is the Rockefeller family who have actually put together this Bank FWD to influence banks, to align their business strategies with a 1.5 target of the Paris agreement. I mean, hello change.
Paul Dickinson: [00:43:26] Well, I think they know something about which way the wind is blowing. Have you been following friends that some of the kind of extraordinary moments in the US election or is that just too complex?
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:43:37] No, I think that this recording, this podcast is the longest I’ve gone without looking at a poll for about three weeks.
Paul Dickinson: [00:43:42] I mean, the one I’m just going to pick up on is, is Donald Trump. One can’t help talking about him because he’s so extraordinary, controversial. But he said that he could build up his campaign finances by phoning up Exxon and agreeing to swap drilling licenses for cash. But he wasn’t going to do so, which is sort of like a way of him trying to burnish his his integrity credentials. But weirdly enough, of course, he was implying that ExxonMobil or Exxon are corrupt.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:44:10] And totally willing to be corrupt at any moment.
Paul Dickinson: [00:44:12] So they did actually tweet saying, just to be clear, everybody, the conversation never happened. But there is something deep and interesting here about Trump. And actually, you know, it’s less about Donald Trump. It is more about us. You know, he’s come out recently about how, you know, we need to open up and kind of, you know, get over the pandemic. And I know a lot of people wish that were true in their hearts and governments a little bit about sometimes thinking about the public interest and some restraint. So I just I think it’s very interesting to think of some of this in terms of reflections on our own souls really being kind of searched by some of the, you know, the enormous separation between the two parties.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:44:50] Well, well, here’s I mean, it’s amazing that we none of us are US citizens and we spend such a lot of time thinking and considering the US. And here’s a statistic to frighten you. We only have one more episode of Outrage and Optimism before the election.
Paul Dickinson: [00:45:01] Or could that be great news?
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:45:04] It could be great news, but it’s terrifying because it’s so consequential. I mean, there are these moments, right? There are these moments of departure in the history of the world. You know, the adoption of the Paris agreement was one. There’s many others if you look back. And of course, this was recorded before the presidential debate, which will have happened last night when you download this podcast. So if something major has changed, we didn’t know about it when we spoke about this.
Christiana Figueres: [00:45:24] Something major does change for that debate by the way. They’re going to turn off the microphones of the other person for the two minute statement that is invited. And so the person, the candidate who’s invited to make the two minute statement will have a microphone and the other person’s microphone will be turned off.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:45:43] Wow. I might be able to actually watch it then without feeling like someone’s taking pneumatic drill to the side of my head. Paul, you wanted to say something?
[00:45:50] I just wanted to, you know, I mean, everybody knows this, but sometimes it’s worth remembering the reason why the US election is so consequential is because, I remember Achim Steiner actually said that the governments of the world are only 20 percent of active activity, 80 percent of activity in the world is the private sector in some sense, is the world’s largest economy, the US economy, and particularly the incredibly influential US corporations and US investors are actually, in many regards, setting the norms for the whole world. So that’s why we, three non US citizens do talk about it a lot.
Tom Rivett-Carnac: [00:46:24] So what a great conversation. We’ve talked about what you’re facing, Christiana, and the rising oceans and how it’s affected your life. We’ve talked about the US election. We talked about Earthshots that can transform our future. But we’re also now going to bring you, as we always do, an amazing piece of music art, of course, plays such a central role in this transformation that we’re making. And we’ve so enjoyed having all of these different artists come and contribute different pieces of music. It’s such an amazing range of creativity and innovation. We really hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are. And this week we bring you London artist Aaron Taylor. Now, Aaron never planned on being a musician, certainly not being a star. He’d envisaged a life in which he was perhaps in music, but one in which he’d produce and write for other artists. However, the songs he was writing just kept stacking up and soon there were more than he knew what to do with. So he thought he may as well sing them himself and get them out there. Now, this song was written mainly as an encouragement to himself to maintain a positive outlook on things, despite the frustration that often surrounds all of us. And what he says is that it’s important to write music that gives us hope. As far as he’s concerned, it’s an artist’s duty not only to reflect the times in their art, but also to hold themselves responsible. Yes, to write beautiful music that can inspire others to take action, but also to look at where it’s possible to change the way that they are doing things. And he’s certainly doing that. We really hope that you enjoy this piece of music this week. This is Aaron Taylor. It’s called Get Through This. We’ll be back next week with an episode that looks at the US election. It’s coming, people. It’s just a couple of weeks away. So thanks for being here this week. We’ll see you next week. Bye. See you next week.