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My interview with Young-Jin Choi on the eve of #COP27: “Financing further fossil fuel-based greenhouse gas emissions is simply inexcusable in a time of grave climate emergency…”

Young-Jin Choi leads the impact and ESG practice at Vidia Equity, a newly established purpose-driven Private Equity climate impact investor. Prior to joining Vidia, Young-Jin served as the impact investing advisory team’s Head of Research at PHINEO gAG, a leading think-and-do-tank in the German speaking area with a focus on impact measurement and management.

Young-Jin’s previous roles include investment management at 3M’s corporate venture capital unit and strategy consulting in a variety of industries and regions with Monitor Group (now Monitor Deloitte). He holds three master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering (RWTH Aachen), International Business Studies (University of Maastricht) and Politics, Philosophy and Economics (LMU Munich).

Here are Young-Jin’s diagnoses and the prescriptions, on the eve of #COP27, as he responds to these questions in context of my submission to the Reserve Bank of India on Climate Change consultation.

Praveen Gupta: Would you agree that a fragmented financial regulatory governance makes it more fragile whilst dealing with a climate emergency? Do you think the time to talk about Climate Crisis is running out and it is Poly Crisis that we ought to be addressing?

Young-Jin Choi: The fundamental nature of the problem includes the way our current economic and financial systems are currently designed to work (in terms of purpose, goals, rules, incentives, et al), resulting in a severe market failure. Dealing with the climate emergency requires addressing this market failure, which in turn requires a concerted, coordinated approach between various regulatory institutions, within a country as well as internationally. Financial system regulation can be most effective, when complementary economic system regulation is in place, but it can also be rendered ineffective when the economic system design continues to distort risk – and return profiles in connection with greenhouse gas emissions.

Various humanitarian, economic, geopolitical and stability-related crises continue to be induced and exacerbated through rising global temperatures and extreme weather events.

While it has become more important now to address multiple crises at once (through “multisolving”), I believe it is similarly important to maintain a sharp focus on the climate crisis as the singular, overarching long-term driver and multiplier of various risks and crises. Various humanitarian, economic, geopolitical and stability-related crises continue to be induced and exacerbated through rising global temperatures and extreme weather events, as the analysis by Chatham house of “cascading systemic risks” illustrate: https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/09/climate-change-risk-assessment-2021/04-cascading-systemic-risks.

PG: What would your advice be to money pipelines in terms of impact investing and decarbonisation?

YJC: ­I would advise capital allocators to take a broader, science-based social systems perspective, taking the sustainability context and ethical minimum aspirations and thresholds into account, when assessing the desirability – as well as undesirability – of an asset’s impacts. Beyond the impact of the asset’s operations and supply chains, this also includes the direct and indirect impacts generated by an asset’s sale of products and services. It should be clear, for instance, that financing further fossil fuel-based greenhouse gas emissions (especially from new fields and projects) is simply inexcusable in a time of grave climate emergency – regardless of their (unethical) profitability and their own operational decarbonization efforts. The same applies to products and services that support or enable fossil fuel operations. At the same time, products and services that significantly support or enable climate solutions deserve proper recognition, too, besides the climate solutions themselves. Of course, climate solutions are not exempt from serious ESG issues and risks – those need to be carefully managed and mitigated over time but shouldn’t represent a dealbreaker per se.

When thinking about putting a price on carbon emissions, it is important to redistribute most of the income generated this way to affected households in order to ensure their continued political support and help lower income households transition. When thinking about rewarding carbon removal, it is important to transform current voluntary carbon markets into a global pay-for-success scheme.

Even if we should and wanted to act as if we all were universal owners and as if ethical materiality matters at least as much as financial materiality, our current instititutional frameworks, mandates, and duties don’t provide institutional investors with the same freedom that an autonomous moral agent enjoys. Moreover, it should be clear that simply cleaning up a single portfolio from polluting fossil fuel assets won’t be enough as long as the asset continues to operate under different ownership. It would also be naïve to expect a fossil fuel company to voluntarily retire a business that is allowed to remain highly profitable. Maintaining ownership of a fossil fuel asset creates an unavoidable economic conflict of interest when it comes to advocating for strong climate policies that would force an accelerated phaseout of fossil fuel production/demand and asset stranding.

We need to recognise these practical legal and economic constraints when it comes to the impact potential of portfolio company engagement and voluntary pledges. We need systemic interventions to improve the alignment between the scale and pace of capital allocations that are normatively needed and the empirical universe of available investable assets that is determined by mandates and duties as well as the way the market prices (or fails to price) impacts.  

PG: Do you prescribe carbon pricing as a tool and would it work as one-size-fits-all?

YJC: Carbon pricing – which should include the whole carbon pricing matrix as described by Delton Chen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LAiYb4k0go) represents a key instrument needed to accelerate decarbonisation. When thinking about putting a price on carbon emissions, it is important to redistribute most of the income generated this way to affected households in order to ensure their continued political support and help lower income households transition. When thinking about rewarding carbon removal, it is important to transform current voluntary carbon markets into a global pay-for-success scheme, as suggested by the https://globalcarbonreward.org/.

Other key instruments include strong climate policies (e.g. mandatory minimum standards and replacement mandates) as well as increased green fiscal spending e.g. for enabling infrastructure (flexible, integrated power grids) and or de-risking and subsidising climate finance. These instruments need to be combined in a coherent policy package. Its transformational acceleration affect partly depends on their relative strength – higher carbon pricing and/or bolder climate policies can allow for less fiscal spending, and vice versa.

Companies respond with hyperbole instead of admitting that they cannot do what is needed by themselves. But they have a corporate political responsibility.

PG: How big a menace is greenwashing? Do you see effective action coming from regulators?

YJC: There is no doubt that greenwashing is a serious problem that drives complacency and waters down our collective sense of climate urgency. But stricter disclosure and transparency standards won’t by themselves fix market failure. A trend reversal into “green hushing” is not helpful either. In connection with greenwashing, I see an even bigger meta-risk in not recognising greenwashing as what it often is – a sign that voluntarism and current frameworks are insufficient to promote genuine transformations. Companies respond with hyperbole instead of admitting that they cannot do what is needed by themselves. But they have a corporate political responsibility: https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=54635.

If they were honest about their economic and legal constraints and limitations, I’m sure that they would more strongly advocate for governments to set binding rules, mandatory standards, increase fiscal spending for subsidies and de-risking, price carbon etc.  They would make industry associations and thinktanks to support their views or cease support, rather than allowing market failure to continue.

“Unfortunately, the history of COPs doesn’t fill me with much hope. Neither does the counterproductive rise of ultranationalism into positions of government authority in various countries”.

PG: Any thoughts on the relevance of ‘The Ministry For The Future’ in today’s global context?

YJC: I think Kim Stanley Robinson’s book does a great job at showing a possible future in which we barely manage to turn the ship that is our civilisation around. Among the interesting solutions he explores, there is one which I believe represents a critical success factor: Inspired by Delton Chen’s Global Carbon Reward initiative (www.globalcarbonreward.org), the author describes how central banks eventually start to collaborate and mobilise enormous additional financial resources via a carbon currency that are then used to reward successful climate mitigation efforts (and even compensate Petrostates for leaving their fossil resources in the ground). This way, we can transform voluntary carbon markets into a global pay-for-success scheme, in which corporates are incentivised to participate rather than having to purchase carbon credits, and make sure that the carbon price (exchange rate) is as high as needed to serve its purpose.

Most importantly, the post-colonial hypocrisy needs to end …

PG: Do you see COP27 as a catalyst for a fundamental shift?

YJC: Unfortunately, the history of COPs doesn’t fill me with much hope. Neither does the counterproductive rise of ultranationalism into positions of government authority in various countries. It will be more pragmatic if committed large emitters form a climate club (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00736-2) and use carbon border adjustment mechanisms, technology transfers, and additional development cooperation resources in order to globally promote and incentivise decarbonisation.

Most importantly, the post-colonial hypocrisy needs to end – developed nations cannot insist on developing their own fossil resources, and fail to deliver the international financial support they had promised. Developing nations are expected to fund the clean energy transition by themselves while voluntarily forfeiting fossil fuel export income. Every country on Earth has the ethical obligation to sign the fossil-fuel non-proliferation treaty and ensure that we keep fossil fuel reserves in the ground. 

PG: Many thanks Young-Jin for these exceptional insights backed by scholarly findings. Here is wishing you all the very best in your endeavours!

A spotlight that mainstreams Insurance into Nature & Bio-diversity!

December 2, 2022

Amongst the many at the recent Sanctuary Wildlife Awards 2022 I was honoured by the iconic Bittu Sahgal with a spotlight and a generous mention:

“PRAVEEN GUPTA 

Former CEO, Insurance Risk Expert and Climate Impact Observer.

After a pioneering lifetime spent at the very top of the insurance sector, you have made it your life’s mission to wake economists, actuaries and investors who have grossly underestimated the risks posed by the climate crisis. 

Your lucid and credible communications are read by thousands which is changing the very fundamentals of risk estimation caused by cyclones, floods, droughts, crop failures, landslides and even future pandemics. Human rights and ecological justice sectors have begun carrying your message to those most affected… the victims young and old, and investors who now hesitate to throw money into stranded infrastructure projects. You are making a phenomenal difference”.

In doing so, with a single stroke, Bittu mainstreamed Insurance into the world of Nature and Biodiversity. Something long overdue. Over 4.3 billion people, more than half the world’s population, depend upon #biodiversity for their livelihoods. They are among the most impacted by climate change. Insurers must focus on the good they can do rather than aid and abet the loss of nature and biodiversity…

Chinks in the armour

ILLUMINEM: November 24, 2022

My column for illuminem: https://illuminem.com/illuminemvoices/7e4e4d55-09d9-4fb3-8e18-88585cbb2123 covers some chinks in the armour that came up for discussion whilst the #COP27 was on. ‘Loss and damage’, only one to surface inside the ring, ensured an exothermic end to the COP. “A fund for #lossanddamage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the #climatecrisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert, warned UN Secretary General António G. “It didn’t quite deliver”, believes Alessandra Lehmen. And this strong pronouncement from Thomas O. Murtha: It’s “just monetizing a crisis for profit”. Handing over an empty bucket, to the most vulnerable of countries in #GlobalSouth, was bound to evoke strong responses, such as these. Is anyone surprised?

Prognostics of a few tools coincidentally popped up whilst the COP was on. For instance, climate #modeling failing to capture strengthening wintertime North Atlantic jets and impacts on Europe is under scrutiny. #Pricing and #reserving shortcomings’ ability to aggravate and trigger #existential crisis for insurers – just when they need to be most stable. As a consequence, they could be flying blind in an adverse climate change situation.

Tamara Close, CFA focuses on ‘climate proofing’ investment concerns. Prof. Shiva Rajgopal, on the other hand, analyses top ten U.S. P&C insurers vis-a-vis Axa, which he considers as the current gold standard in Climate risk management. His grave reservations translate into a three-part sequel for the Forbes. Must also mention the Blended Finance Group’s release of its pathbreaking report ‘Riding the Dragon’ as the theatre of the absurd unfolded at Sharm-al-Sheikh. #Anthropocentric misadventures in the #ESG arena (#greenwashing, and its ever-growing manifestations included) will invite serious wrath in the form #fiduciary#breaches and #litigation.

With vested interests slowing and blocking desired measures, are we headed for one last resort? These words of author Robert Christie may just turn out to be prophetic: “The only potential leverage that seems to remain is for the mobilization of large populations to form social movements that are too big to fail. That may be very difficult to accomplish, but it will become increasingly feasible as global conditions become much worse and political regimes become more unstable”.

Cindy Forde: It’s time to equip children to be innovators of a better world.

Blogpiece republished by Climate and Capital Media, Australia: Interview features as the top story.

RBI consultation feedback reproduced from Illuminem – by The Insurance Times.

RBI consultation on Climate Change: Adaptation of my original submission – by Climate Energy Finance (Australia).

REPORTS AND ANALYSIS  |    |  Nov 8, 2022

Former international insurance CEO, Praveen Gupta, a thought leader on financial governance and risk, looks at the RBI’s climate change consultation process in the context the global finance sector’s and regulators’ approaches to climate risk, drawing on examples from various world economies.

My interview with Isabela Tatu: “I discovered I had a passion for shipping as a 13 year old, and I could pursue a career in the sector”.

Isabela Tatu has been working in the energy sector, including shipping and commodity industry over the last 22 years. The responsibilities range from physical to trading to derivatives. “I have had the honour to be in various leadership and managerial positions. One of my greatest achievements has been to lead a team comprising equally in terms of gender and diversity”.
 
During the last five years, she has been working with various shipowners on the decarbonisation and digitisation of the shipping industry through various projects including blockchain, DNA and renewable energy.
 
As part of the renewable energy project, she has been working on the Hydrogen Fuel Cell, with her mentor.  They desire to bring this technology into the market – not just for the shipping industry – but also for communities and society, as well.
Isabela wishes to transform the ‘Ladyship Roundtable’ – founded by her – into an educational platform on environment, climate, shipping and renewable energy.

Praveen Gupta: What is it that you expected from COP26 that did not happen and you would like to see come through at the COP27?

Isabela Tatu: There wasn’t enough representation of youth. Although the Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP) did include a section on youth engagement, the “Forever Youth4Climate” summit will now be an annual event before COP. Young people should participate in national delegations, not just as onlookers. Youth involvement at climate summits turns into a show of support. They must exert pressure on those who make decisions!

Accessibility and inclusivity: In a modest sign of development, 49% of registered government delegates were women (UNFCCC). However, men made up 60% of the plenary speakers at COP26 and talked for 74% of the time.

PG: Given the serious implications of climate change for women – shouldn’t there be a larger role for them in the leadership at the COPs?

IT: The effects of climate change frequently affect women more than men. This is due to the fact that they make up the majority of the economically poor people in the world, perform the majority of the agricultural work, have an uneven share of the burden of providing for household food security, bear a disproportionate share of the burden of harvesting water and fuel for daily survival, and depend on threatened natural resources for their livelihoods. (UN Women Watch, 2009).

Mayesha Alam, a specialist in environmental issues and women’s rights, told Global Citizen:

  • Women represent around 43% of the global agricultural workforce, but they face countless barriers to economic independence.
  • Displacement also threatens women’s health in a number of gender-specific ways. 

When pregnant women are displaced, they’re less likely to receive adequate pre and post-natal care, which can negatively impact their health, as well as the health of their babies.

The leaders of Estonia, Tanzania and Bangladesh were the first to sign the Glasgow Women’s Leadership declaration at the COP26 climate summit, which urged nations to encourage women and girls’ leadership on climate change at all societal and political levels. Out of 140 chiefs of delegation, these three women represented over a third of all female leaders at the conference. “Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas flagged at an event that only 10 out of 140 heads of delegation attending the summit in Glasgow are women” (UNDP).

PG: What made you break into a male dominated industry. Wouldn’t an equitable role bring about a qualitative difference?

IT: I discovered I had a passion for shipping as a 13 year old, and I could pursue a career in the sector. I didn’t become conscious of the gender divide until I started working abroad (I am originally Romanian).

Although I have witnessed numerous improvements over the past 20 years, social views continue to suggest that certain professions call for skills that are more often associated with men; for example, even today, women represent only 1.2% percent of the global seafarer workforce (BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report).

Although I have witnessed numerous improvements over the past 20 years, social views continue to suggest that certain professions call for skills that are more often associated with men; for example, even today, women represent only 1.2% percent of the global seafarer workforce.

Women’s engagement in just one or two fields, such as environmental work or entrepreneurship like ship ownership, cannot be the focus of debates if the maritime industry is to be completely inclusive. It is necessary to work at different levels and in different facets of the industry to develop a community of experiences for women in maritime jobs.

Instead of being restricted to entry-level or low-paying employment, women who embark on maritime careers must acquire multi-level and multi-sector experience, such as in executive or engineering positions.

Women are essential to the advancement of humanity and hold important positions in society. As we bring diverse perspectives to the table, it is crucial to have gender equality and diversity at all levels of organisations, communities, and society, as a whole.

PG: Shipping causes serious damage to the biodiversity, largely on account of pollution. How do you suggest this be addressed with due urgency?

IT: Shipping is outside the purview of the Paris Agreement. Even while ships transport 90% of global trade, they are responsible for up to 3% of global CO2 emissions (npr.org), which is higher than the emissions of the UK and France put together.

Fortunately, the idea to create net zero shipping channels spanning 19 countries, including the UK and US, was unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow on November 10.

To achieve the best results, the following should be handled from an actionable perspective:

  • Through a network of terminals and ports, green fuels like green hydrogen and green ammonia, hydrogen fuel cells which are underproduced, might be used.
  • Measures to increase the relative cost of marine fuel oil while making alternative fuels more accessible, such as a levy on carbon emissions.
  • Companies that lease space on ships to convey goods will need incentives and subsidies to help them to reduce emissions from their supply chains.

PG: Much of the Climate Crisis is a creation of Global North yet the price is paid by the Global South. How should this be addressed?

IT: The Human Development Report of 2020 claims that human economic activity, which emits significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and so contributes to climate change, is the root cause of global warming.

The effects will get greater when temperatures rise higher in the future. Climate change is predicted to worsen economic inequality and undermine efforts to reduce poverty because those who face the highest risks are frequently the ones least able to withstand the consequences.

The effects will get greater when temperatures rise higher in the future. Climate change is predicted to worsen economic inequality and undermine efforts to reduce poverty because those who face the highest risks are frequently the ones least able to withstand the consequences.

More chances for underdeveloped countries, most of which are in the global south, to speak up about the ideas that would actually work for them.

The transition to a low-carbon economy and preparation for the already unavoidable effects of climate change will be supported by increased inclusion and climate finance.

The best approach in each of these cases is to lower GHG emissions from both the Global North and Global South as a whole.

PG: Do you believe that the voice of women from Global South would make a serious difference to the Climate Action/ outcome?

IT: Half of the food produced on the planet is produced by women. In the majority of Global South nations, that percentage rises to 80%, with women playing a crucial role in the conservation of agricultural biodiversity and seeds. This highlights the significant role that women play in the global south’s economic sector.

Women and girls must be a part of the solution if we are going to pay attention to the Global South. Women’s participation in decision-making processes is essential for effective climate action since they have unique expertise and experience, particularly at the local level.

The results of climate change policy are influenced by the political participation of women in national parliaments, according to a study (Mavisakalyan et Tarverdi, 2019). It has been proven, using data from a sizeable sample of nations, that gender equality encourages nations to enact stricter climate change regulations. The underutilisation of female political representation may contribute to the problem of climate change.

PG: Many thanks Isabela for sharing your interesting perspective. Wishing you all success in your endeavours which go beyond sustainable shipping.

Sportswashing or what?

My column in the illuminem: October 26, 2022.

https://illuminem.com/illuminemvoices/b2d325f5-37bc-4c89-81d3-ba41e2fb2f0c

Every other day we hear of a new manifestation of greenwashing. While on the one hand companies and countries have vied for green pledges leading to an illusory #netzero , they resort to the likes of sportswashing or nature rinsing to delude the world. That has become a sport by itself!

“We’re… seeing a growing trend for greenwishing where companies set hugely ambitious climate targets, with little or no clear plan to achieve them. That might help companies in the short term, but without realistic targets they’ll be on a hiding to nothing.” Matthew Bell observes in EY’s annual Climate Risk Barometer (many thanks Zsolt Lengyel).

#Greenwashing is a marketing or advertising strategy where corporations recognise environmental problems but then use misleading or false information to make it appear as if they and the products they sell are providing solutions to these problems”, explains Hans Stegeman.

New research demonstrates that industry associations representing key sectors and some of the largest companies in the world are lobbying to delay, dilute and rollback critically needed policy aimed at preventing and reversing biodiversity loss in the EU and US. Highlights InfluenceMap.

Biodiversity loss due to human activity is occurring globally at unprecedented rates and faster than at any other time in human history. Despite increasing awareness of the #biodiversitycrisis, the world failed to meet any of the UN biodiversity targets for the last decade, reminds Influencemap.org. And, at the UN Biodiversity Conference (#COP15) due to be held in Montreal in December, governments from around the world will negotiate the post-2020 global biodiversity framework; a set of targets and goals for the next 10 years aimed at reversing biodiversity loss.

“The rise in litigation is important but it is the rise in regulation internationally, the growing robustness of regulators and the sharing of information and strategy amongst regulators that is more impressive. The SEC, BaFIN, ASA, CMA, FRA, EA, SEPA, EPS. FRC, DoJ, the Police in UK and Germany, Dutch Advertising agency, etc. which may be as important as litigation”. Professor Paul Watchman gives us some hope.

In the meantime, the US public relations firm Hill+Knowlton helping Egypt organise #COP27 also works for major oil companies and has been accused of greenwashing on their behalf, according to openDemocracy. Hill+Knowlton’s clients have also included Coca-Cola.

Is the world’s biggest annual climate event headed for a fizz?

My interview with Cindy Forde: Ensuring voices from the global south, indigenous people, and women are built in as core constituencies.

Cindy’s work is dedicated to transforming how we understand and act towards Earth, the living system that sustains us. She is an author, activist and founder of Planetari, an education platform aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals that equips children to be innovators of a better world. She works globally with leaders across sectors, has an MSc in Sustainability and Business Practice, led Cambridge Science Centre as CEO, Blue Marine Foundation as MD and is an award winning creative. 

Cindy believes the most effective change we can make is in how we shape the mind-set of the rising generation and how we design our organisational systems. Her children’s book Bright New World is published by Welbeck in October 2022. She sits on various advisory boards and the steering committee of ‘She Changes Climate’, campaigning  for full inclusion of women’s voices on planetary issues.

Praveen Gupta: ‘Bright New World’ – what made you write this book for children?

Cindy Forde: I wrote a book for children because I believe the stories we tell our children and how we educate the rising generation is key to creating a brighter future. Einstein famously said, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them. Even though our ecological systems teeter on the brink of collapse, threatening the stability of our global economy and society, most national curriculums are based on the industrial revolution, the system at the root of these problems. A model based on endless growth when we have finite resources, that fuels climate change, extinction, and almost unprecedented inequalities in wealth within and between countries and people. We must urgently re-design education.

There has probably never been a greater opportunity for transformation to a brighter future for humanity than now, nor the urgency to seize this been more acute.

In the midst of so much ecological breakdown and despair, there is much more than hope, there is a clear road map to a safer, kinder word.  If we learn to read that map, to step out of powerlessness, bewilderment and anxiety and orient ourselves in new directions of thought and action, we can all be part of shaping a brighter future.

I wrote ‘Bright New World’ to give children, their families, and teachers the tools to read this map and to be part of building new pathways for humanity.

PG: Climate Crisis makes us all anxious. Particularly the children – who will be our inheritors. Is that why you opted to explain the social, political, and environmental issues facing the planet and how we got to this point?

CF: Yes, absolutely. To have hope and to enable children, all people, to realise their own ability to be part of co-creating the world they want, it is vital to understand how we got to this point and that most of the blocks in our way out of this crisis are social and political.

Most of the solutions, or mitigation, to our major global problems already exist. Earth still retains the resilience and abundance to support the human family and all her other life forms in harmonious co-existence.  She is damaged but can regenerate. What must change for this to happen is how we think.

Anxiety can be caused by a sense of powerlessness, of things being out of our control, that nothing is being, or can be done. Instead of fear and anxiety, I asked myself, what if we changed the story for our young people and enabled them to see this as one of the most exciting times to be alive? System change begins with how we teach our children to think. What if the stories we tell start to draw new maps, to equip the rising generation to navigate themselves safely through innovation, social and political change, towards a world with a future?

There are many things that we can’t do anything about, but much we can. ‘Bright New World’ encourages children to focus on the possible and to give them the skills to be part of this transformation.

PG: Would you call it a holistic view – as you choose to go beyond climate change?

CF: Climate breakdown is a symptom of our wider systems crisis. It is a by-product of how our economic and social systems have evolved over centuries of colonisation and industrialisation and cannot be tackled as an isolated issue. Earth is an interconnected web of life, just like our bodies, what happens in one part of the web can have a huge, often unforeseen, impact on another. The solutions must be systemic, holistic.

By inviting children to step into a not-too-distant future where these solutions have been able to take effect, they have the opportunity see what is possible. To visit a world where we collaborate with nature and our natural systems to create thriving cities, wild spaces, oceans; where we use our incredible technological abilities to enhance and support the genius of the natural word; where we have reengineered our systemic issues that currently cause the greatest problems, such as energy, food, travel, economics, how treat and educate girls, to become the biggest part of the solution.

PG: What are the key messages for young people?

CF: That they can be part of creating a brighter world.

Throughout the book, children are asked questions about their own ideas for how to do this. At the end of the book there is list of 10 simple things they can do to use their own power to make change. Some of these are practical lifestyle actions like what we eat, how we travel, how much stuff we consume. Others are about having self-belief, using your creativity, your voice to ask for change. I summarise this as Care. Share. Dare.

Care for Earth, collaborate and dare to think differently about the future you can create.

I frame this in a real-world context that shows that the disaster that we are facing is causing much awakening to the short-sighted folly of ‘endless growth at any cost’.  Around the world people are rising up with innovation both in how we do and make things and in how we think. This evolution in mindset is the greatest key to change. The book showcases brilliant young activists at the forefront of this transition and the innovations they are developing at a local and global level, to demonstrate this change is real and already well underway.

The catastrophic imbalance in our planet is mirrored by the catastrophic imbalance in voices in national and international decision making. Decisions that affect our survival as a species are being taken predominantly by a single interest group, the old guard powerbase of the industrial global north. These voices tend to come in an older, white male package.

PG: How important is educating girls so as to take an equal place in society?

CF: I dedicate a section to this called ‘Voices for Girls’. It shows that educating women is one of the leading ways of mitigating climate and ecological breakdown, as demonstrated by the research of Project Drawdown and Population Matters among many other world leading organisation. When girls are educated, they have more control over their reproductive systems and choose to have fewer, or no children. As David Attenborough said, “All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people, and harder – and ultimately impossible, to solve with more people.”

And it is not just population numbers. The catastrophic imbalance in our planet is mirrored by the catastrophic imbalance in voices in national and international decision making. Decisions that affect our survival as a species are being taken predominantly by a single interest group, the old guard powerbase of the industrial global north. These voices tend to come in an older, white male package. The outcome of this monocultural world view is, as with all monocultural ecosystems, unsustainability, and collapse. We have a fight on our hands to change this, as it is a fight against an entrenched status quo reinforced by billion-dollar corporate interests, that lobby governments and pay politicians across the globe.

Educating girls is a vital part of this fight to enable women around the world to mobilise, recognise their own value and take full part in decision making. Including the holistic, collaborative ‘feminine’ world view, and many men also hold this, as opposed to the current dominant model of relentless competition and extraction to extinction is crucial to our survival. So, educating boys to understand the value of woman and girls is also essential.

PG: Women are the ones most impacted by the Climate Crisis, how can their voices be heard? Why are they poorly represented in leadership roles at the likes of the COP?

CF: As outlined, in my previous answer, this is a deeply systemic issue. The current power structures have been put in place by and to maintain a patriarchy.  The domination and exploitation of nature in many ways mirrors the domination and exploitation of women. Even in 2021 the British government saw no issue in sending an all-male delegation, at decision maker level, to the COP26 negotiations, even when challenged hard on this by influential women globally. When women in countries where we have considerably more franchise face this kind of political erasure, the devastating level of exclusion faced by women in more overtly discriminatory societies operates like a deadly bog. 

Exclusion of women is hard baked into the extant model of colonisation and exploitation of countries, people, nature that has led us to the brink of extinction. Our dominant myths and cultural narratives have been shaped to support this world view and the myth making industry has only grown more powerful as media oligarchs consolidate their influence over the news, to an extent film, digital and social media. The collaborative, ‘feminine,’ natural systems world view does not support the vast profiteering for the elite at the top of the current dominator paradigm that has driven our society for so long.  It is, therefore, a worldview that must be repressed, silenced, discredited.

Many men who also hold this world view are also excluded and discredited accordingly.  Orchestrated violence, corruption, obscene lobbying, for example by the fossil fuel industry, is all at horrifyingly well-funded play to hold this system in place, and as it now implodes this becomes more extreme and vicious, as evidenced by the petro-state wars now reaching the level of nuclear threat, and the terrifying backlash again women’s rights, in the devastating decision of Roe vs Wade.  It takes great courage, collaboration, and commitment to systemic change to get marginalised voices heard. This involves the mobilisation of influence in the diplomatic, corporate, and political sphere such as COPs, campaigning, collaboration and amplification of work and message through well organised, focused global networks of mutual support. It also takes significant funding.

Exclusion of women is hard baked into the extant model of colonisation and exploitation of countries, people, nature that has led us to the brink of extinction. Our dominant myths and cultural narratives have been shaped to support this world view and the myth making industry has only grown more powerful as media oligarchs consolidate their influence over the news, to an extent film, digital and social media.

PG: What needs to be done to ensure a key role for indigenous people and women from Global South?

CF: As outlined, in my previous answer, we need to build strong, cross global networks to influence and campaign. Where people who have power and resources understand how vital it is to include the voices of indigenous people and women from the global south, they must use it. Our time to achieve the meaningful dialogues, listening and action essential to changing our trajectory is extremely short now. We must mobilise in effective and coordinated ways to have an impact at places like COP, which are riddled with corporate interest and have a track record of failure. So, we must also build alternative platforms for global governance where voices from the global south, indigenous people, and women are built in as core constituencies.

I am on the Steering Committee of She Changes Climate https://www.shechangesclimate.org  whose aim is to spearhead women’s participation in climate negotiations working in global collaboration. I also support the work of https://www.foundationearth.co, currently incubated by Climate 2025 https://www.climate2025.org to support the emergence of global governance of our biosphere.

PG: Any plans for translating the book into other major global languages?

CF: Absolutely, the rights have already been acquired by a German publishing group, and other international rights are under discussion. I would obviously like to see ‘Bright New World’ in all major languages so its message can reach children and their families in all countries of our beautiful, shared planet.

PG: May this brilliant vision for a ‘Bright New World’ become a reality soonest, Cindy!

Analysing the broader aspects on the impact of Climate Change.