Sept. 15, 2021

Ep 54: Laurence Tubiana 'The Éminence Grise of the Paris Agreement'

Laurence Tubiana is CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ECF). In addition, she is the Chair of the Board of Governors at the French Development Agency (AFD), the Chair of the Board at Expertise France (The French public agency for international technical assistance) and a Professor at Sciences Po, Paris.

Before joining ECF, Laurence was France’s Climate Change Ambassador and Special Representative for COP21, and as such a key architect of the landmark Paris Agreement. Following COP21 and through COP22, she was appointed UN High Level Champion for climate action, after a long career in public service - from 1997 to 2002, she served as Senior Adviser on the Environment to the French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. From 2009 to 2010, she created and then led the newly established Directorate for Global Public Goods at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE). In 2013, she chaired the French National Debate on the Energy Transition.

In 2002 she founded Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI). and led it until 2014 . Throughout the years, Laurence has held several academic positions, including as a Professor and Scientific Director for the International Development and Environmental Studies Master degrees at Sciences Po, Paris; and Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University, New York. She has been a member of numerous boards and scientific committees, including the Chinese Committee on the Environment and International Development (CCICED).

Laurence Tubiana is an officer of the Legion of Honour, the highest French order of merit and recently was awarded the title of Doctorat Honoris Causa at the Université Catholique de Louvain.


Laurence Tubiana is CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ECF). In addition, she is the Chair of the Board of Governors at the French Development Agency (AFD), the Chair of the Board at Expertise France (The French public agency for international technical assistance) and a Professor at Sciences Po, Paris.  

Before joining ECF, Laurence was France’s Climate Change Ambassador and Special Representative for COP21, and as such a key architect of the landmark Paris Agreement. Following COP21 and through COP22, she was appointed UN High Level Champion for climate action, after a long career in public service - from 1997 to 2002, she served as Senior Adviser on the Environment to the French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. From 2009 to 2010, she created and then led the newly established Directorate for Global Public Goods at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE). In 2013, she chaired the French National Debate on the Energy Transition.  

In 2002 she founded Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI).  and led it until 2014 . Throughout the years, Laurence has held several academic positions, including as a Professor and Scientific Director for the International Development and Environmental Studies Master degrees at Sciences Po, Paris; and Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University, New York. She has been a member of numerous boards and scientific committees, including the Chinese Committee on the Environment and International Development (CCICED).

Laurence Tubiana is an officer of the Legion of Honour, the highest French order of merit and recently was awarded the title of Doctorat Honoris Causa at the Université Catholique de Louvain.

Further reading:

Official Bio

https://europeanclimate.org/member/tubiana/

Paris climate agreement: Five years on are there reasons for optimism? (December 2020)

https://www.france24.com/en/tv-shows/the-interview/20201209-paris-climate-agreement-five-years-on-reasons-for-optimism

Transcript

Michael Liebreich: Before we start, if you're enjoying these conversations, please make sure that you like or subscribe to Cleaning Up, it really helps other people to find us. Cleaning Up is brought to you by the Liebreich Foundation and the Gilardini Foundation. Hello, I'm Michael Liebreich and this is Cleaning Up. My guest today is Laurence Tubiana. Since 2017, she's been the CEO of the European Climate Foundation. In 2014, she was appointed by President Hollande as France's Climate Change Ambassador, and Special Representative to the Paris Climate Change negotiations. She is regarded as one of the key architects of the Paris Agreement. Please welcome Laurence Tubiana to Cleaning Up. So Laurence, welcome to Cleaning Up. It's fantastic to see you.

 

Laurence Tubiana: That's very, very nice to see you again, Michael. I'm very happy and very good memories for many years now.

 

ML: That's right, I was thinking in preparation for this conversation, I actually dived in and tried to find our first interactions where we first met, it was actually in Berlin in 2013. Germany was launching something called the Renewables Club. Do you remember that?

 

LT: I remember that.

 

ML: It was going to be the club to save the world. And, and I think it sort of disappeared a year or two later. I'm not sure it went very far. But you and I met and we then worked on a number of things after that, didn't we?

 

LT: Yeah, absolutely. I remember your incredible presentation in the small offices of IDDRI. And then you describe how we can mobilize finance for climate. And why it was not that difficult, then of course, you were thinking about the green bonds and the capacity of leveraging, it was, I think, 2008 to 2007, maybe 2012.

 

ML:I think it would have been 2014, around that, because I think because the other person who was at IDDRI at that point was Teresa Ribera, who was a guest on episode 37. And Teresa was in the room as well, I remember that. And so it must have been after she was out of office, the first period. So it must have been around that sort of time. And that's right, because I have this crazy plan to refinance that the World Bank and the multilateral should refinance, rather than just putting money to work and then sitting there that they should then sell on the big green bucket. And I was trying to get here.

 

LT: Well, they have not been totally convinced to that still. I think you it's, the idea is progressing, is progressing.

 

ML: It was it's very interesting, because the reaction I got at the time was pretty much when I talked when I got into talk to people, you know, on the inside of those institutions, that you know, the development banks, whether it was African Development Bank, IADB, but particularly the World Bank, it was, what do you know, you're an outsider, how could you possibly know? And it's like, well, I know, banking balance sheets, I know what normal banks do. They don't sit on loans forever. When that loan increases in value, because the risk drops, they you know, they recycle their capital. But I got kind of an allergic reaction and pushed out.

 

LT: Yeah, I'm sure that a good discussion which you have had with Rachel Kyte, which of course always has pushed the world to really use capital and not keep it in the coffers. So yeah, that that really is still there, and we are still doing it.

 

ML: And Rachel Kyte was also a guest on Cleaning Up, she was actually our second guest, one of our most popular episodes, and of course, a fantastic friend, I think of both of ours. But once… We met around then, we talked about a sort of incubator programme called Finance for Resilience, which I was setting up. And we were trying to get you involved. I think we did get you involved at one of the New York, Bloomberg events. And then suddenly, you were appointed by President Hollande and suddenly you became in 2014, I think in June, you were Special Representative on Climate and Ambassador to the Paris COP negotiations, and suddenly you were sort of elevated out of my sphere and had this incredibly important role. Is that how it happened? Or did I miss the sort of inside story?

 

LT: I think, was basically because when France decided to offer the space and the invitation at that time, There was no particular idea what it was about really, Francois Hollande and you know what foreign affairs didn't have any experience really on climate change. So, at one point in time, it was just wake up and realize, wow, we don't know how to handle that. And it seems very, very difficult. So they try to find somebody. And I was of course in contact with the president and from Fabius from previous months saying we could have some ideas anyway, if I can help I could be another time when they call me I was in New York teaching at Columbia University. And I received a call from Laurent Fabius telling me I need you in Paris to do that. And I said, look, I don't believe I can do that, you know, that is a whole hierarchy of the foreign affairs. I'm not from the… I have been working there previously but I’m not in the family. And you know, you have everybody to really follow you. So, I don't think I can do so it will be too complicated, too much transaction costs. So, I can give you ideas, but I will not take the job. And so, he continued asking and asking because he was really feeling that there was really a need to have somebody knowing the issue and knowing how to deliver the plan. And as it happens, I had a plan for Paris already. So finally, we agree on the role and under my capacity to really drive a team and not having any problem of hierarchy, just report to him. And that went very well, that because I had the plan prepared and why did I have the plan prepared? Because of all this conversation that I had with many like you, like, of course, the IDDRI team and many, many of whose experience and basically, he says and errors that have affected the climate governance from now many years, from the 30 years before. So I came with the plan in that way. Maybe it can work. And so it was a very simple plan, we need really the countries to be in control of their climate plan. So if not, we have all the sovereignty, take back control concerns that were already there, you remember Copenhagen, certainly in 2009, you need to have an agreement that really is a framework that is solid that first states not the short term agreement is there to indefinite life. And then you need to have what was the big innovation I think I made as well was to say, we need to have a particular final chapter, you need financial institution to be aligned. And that begins, of course, with all the pros and cons and the difficulties of the public and the private sector in finance. And then finally saying, if we don't have the non-state actors operating, and in a way, bringing climate action in there at the forefront of their strategy, we will not get there, because it's not a paper that will make action that will be the people doing the job. And you have to convince the businesses and you have to convince the local authorities really to engage and to take commitments themselves. So that was a plan is my four pillars for Paris that I proposed to Fabius at that time.

 

ML: Okay, well, that's so you, you had that plan in 2014. So, before you started in the role and can you enumerate the four pillars just for complete clarity.

 

LT: So and it's funny because one of US negotiators, Todd Stern, wrote the plan on paper when we had dinner together the first day. And so he told me, he kept the napkin, which I lost, but he kept the napkin.

 

ML: By the way, Todd is going to be on this, he's also become a very good friend of mine. So I'm going to ask him about the platform with the plan, but just give us the full titles just for the shorthand version.

 

LT: The first, of course, was we need a solid agreement that's here to stay. So the agreement, the rule, the rules. Second, we need the national plan. So what is now the NDC, then we need a finance institution alignment with the climate action. That was my third pillar, the finance. And the fourth one was a non-state actors commitment to deliver action. And so Paris is all these pillars. It's not one, it has to be a combination of the four. So that was the theory.

 

ML: Right. But it wasn't a plan and the reason I was pushing is I think it's really one of the things that I'm trying to do with Cleaning Up around that Paris Agreement is sort of get the different accounts of it, Kandeh Yumkella, Amber Rudd, Todd Stern, Christiana, you know as many of the players as possible. And it's just so fascinating. There's always some new piece that's added. But your plan was not a plan for how to get it done. It was a plan for what it should look like. Or was it also, I mean, what did the I wouldn't say the ease didn't the ability to get it down, did that flow straight from the plan, or were there also some kind of clever tricks or clever thoughts that you brought to the process?

 

LT: You know, you have to be organized. So, there are these four pillars required for different processes, because you need to have different actors behind each pillar. For example, if I take the finance pillar, you need to look what how far we could get the public finance, first multilateral, then the bilateral aid, and then the private finance, which offer you knows, as so many elements know, the private banks, and then the asset managers, investors. At that time, there was not so many, unfortunately, now, it makes it even more complex to coordinate them. So, the idea was to take all these pillars and to say, well, who are the players, the first pillar, of course, framework agreement is, of course the government. So, you need to, of course, to write what has to be in this. And there are certain the goal, the global goals, and of course, the series of what we should expect the Paris Agreement on the NDC, it was basically to understand how far… to convince countries they can control their plan, but they have to have a plan. And they have to announce it and to be transparent about that. And of course, to connect the two, say agreement is an initial NDC, the contribution. But then on the other one, it was totally new. So you have to invent processes, and to in a way, build on what was existing, some business association in the case of businesses, so WEF, etc. Or in the term of local authorities, what could for example, C40 engage a local authorities to do so it was different processes for different pillar, but then you have to have the common message. And that was, of course, a trick to try to really have the message in a way written ahead to say what will be this interpretation of all the if the if all the strategy of these periods succeed, if everybody agrees that Paris will be the reference which finally, we recognise five years after that working, so how you give a similar message of common message or communication. And that was the idea that finally across all this, this was this transition to the low carbon economy is going on, it is inevitable, and it's finally a good thing. So that was a message that has got to through on all these pillars. And then of course, the trick, as they are different of what you have to do you know, what convinced government that they are the real ones. And to play with the big ones with the small countries, on the NDC is, of course, you have to have some big elephants to deliver. But then you have to use the smaller countries to push them and to pressure on them, because it was not enough anyway, we knew that already. And then there's different elements in the negotiation of all this, which is, you have to build the trust between people and people have to trust that you will not cheat them, you will not produce some things they don't know, at the end of the day. And you know, that was the first time even if some countries have proposed very, very sketchy plans. But that was the first time every country proposed a plan to deployment. And of course, it's a process. And the idea is that it was a learning process, that is something that will come along and you have to repeat the exercise to learn and to get more information. And, you know, I was so much inspired, Michael, by the job you did on renewable energy, you know, for me, it has a I can tell and I'm sure I told you already. The fact that the information flowing has changed the perception that the information that the cost of renewable energy have been changing the mindset of this is too costly or too risky. That's my philosophy preparing Paris was we have to change the mindset, we have to change the expectation. We have to feel that people know that or feel that this will be the future and prepare for that and you know, if you change the mindset and the expectation, while reality follows, and action because behaviors follow and for me, that's why I think the idea is that you have to the information the connecting the information that everyone understand everyone political economy... I can give an example in in many other previous phases of the climate negotiation or discussions. Everybody knew of constraints of US. Everybody knew about farmers, the Senate, the majority or super majority. But nobody knew what was happening in India and what was the problems that Modi or whoever could have, or the Chinese political context or the European one. And so, my obsession was, we have to make people understand each other, the constrain because then the will find you know zone where Finally, they can't. And again, it was not to agree on a paper, it was to agree on an expectation. I don't know if I'm clear enough. But for me, the interpretation was as important as the text, even if the text is important, because sometime when people want to go out, you have to refer to what's written in there, and that will be certainly the case in Glasgow, but that the same expectation are, in a way a combination of these very strong interaction. So that's why I think it's so difficult to prepare Glasgow, by the way, because of the lack of interaction.

 

ML: Yes, I mean, Glasgow, we're just hopefully nearing the end of this horrible, awful pandemic. And it's definitely thrown quite a spanner in the works for the preparation for COP 26. But COP 26, in my view, is going to be a huge success perceptually for most of the world, maybe not for the technocrats, who will be kind of Article six, and the finance and etc. For most of the world, what it will be is the first five year period after Paris, and it will be a proof that the ratchet mechanism, which in some ways is well, it's the it's the it's the cornerstone of the architecture that you develop it because the fact is that those NDCs delivered in Paris, those nationally determined contributions in Paris, were completely inadequate. But instead of saying those are inadequate Copenhagen style would have been to say, no, we've got to get better. We've got to, you know, we've we've got to share out the carbon budget and then spend 50 years trying to execute, but the genius of Paris was to accept whatever plan countries came up with, but to say that in five years time, which is now, you have to come back with something better. And I think Glasgow is going to do that. I think Glasgow is going to be seen as a success.

 

LT: Well, that's good. You say that, Michael, because sometimes we are too much involved. And in particular, now in my new role, of course, we would just be like, what next? And so best Green Deal, European Green Deal possible, etc. But certainly what I can take from these last five years, Paris resisted enormously, and the resilience of the agreement is impressive. And my plan, which was Paris Agreement is not about the governance, but is about the framework for everybody to refer to is working. You business or fighters for future in the streets, or whoever everybody says that’s the benchmark, you have to fulfil what you have committed to. So that's good, because at least we have a common point, a common platform. The second point was when I began to prepare the plan and discuss with so many of main players, many had the idea that the agreement we took in Paris was only for the first five years of the first 10 years. And I said, no, we have to have a final one. And then I could introduce a ratcheting mechanism, of course, because then you cannot decide for the next 50 years. And so this is working, because even if it's difficult, even if I'm sure, in Glasgow, we will not be at the level, we need to be even below two degree of global warming. But I do think that most countries feel the pressure to address and we have seen that on US on Europe. Remember Europe in 2015, it was 40% of emission reduction by 2030. And 55 is really not the same. It's really not the same.

 

ML: We now have 78% of the global economy pledging net zero. I have a question about that ratchet mechanism. We had on the show, it was Episode 25, we had Baroness Worthington, who is the lead author of the UK’s Climate Change Act. And what that did was enshrine the UK’s climate objectives first, an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. And now of course, net zero by 2050, enshrined it in law and put in five-year periods of review, which were legally binding and there's a Climate Change Committee, which then has to sort of pronounce whether we are or are not on track. Did you know of that model when you came up with the five year period and the ratchets? Was that…

 

LT: We knew the Climate Committee. I was a big fan of it. By the way we tried to have the French one, we have a French one, but now very recently. And so, the idea that these five years carbon on budget for a country was, I think, a very powerful idea. Because again, I was from now even much before Paris, but in particular, preparing a plan obsessed by the idea of the global goal and the long-term perspective. So, pathway, because it's not about one day, it's about the pathway. But then if you want the pathway, and how the short term is consistent with, with a pathway and a long term vision that zero, you are aiming, and I can tell some stories about the net zero, by the way, but then that these ideas like you need, of course, a meeting point to revise your assumptions was very much about we cannot have a carbon budget for everybody and then negotiate. But every country should have one, and then revise it. So, this was inspired by many elements that are already in Copenhagen I tried to put that in the discussion in 2009, it did fail. But I think that the UK inspiration was really interesting to look at.

 

ML: From memory, also, just thinking back on the conversation with Baroness Wellington. What she also said was that she was inspired in the UK Climate Change Act by the commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol, which was pretty funny, because actually, I think of the Kyoto Protocol as being largely a failure. But if we can kind of draw out a thread of DNA from Kyoto commitment periods via the UK Climate Change Act, and then into Paris, which you know, is working, then maybe I have to revise my negative view of the Kyoto Protocol.

 

LT: An interesting discussion as again, you know, even you can look at Copenhagen meeting as a failure, but as well, we learn a lot out of it a lot. And we learn a lot about Kyoto, which is too small. And we know we are not thinking about how much emission should have to go down to go to zero. And so I think the main element was the element of Paris, of course, all what we have discussed already. But the idea to put in in the text that we have, even if it's very complicated and sophisticated formulation in the in the Paris Agreement, but we have to go to net zero. And I was absolutely no, it was so difficult. It was a last last-minute negotiation of the last Saturday to get this done. Because of course, it was just a shock. And the degrees were something already floating, but the idea is that you have to put the number there.

 

ML: So just to recap for the audience who are maybe not as familiar with the text, the degrees, and we talked about this with Christiana, when she came on Cleaning Up, episode seven, for those any in the audience who want to go back and listen to it, the degrees, were saying we have to go, we have to get below two degrees, and preferably to 1.5. So that was already saying that was there. But then there was this extra bit, which I believe ended up saying net zero in the second half of the century. It's quite vague about when but it is in there.

 

LT: It is in there. And it was, of course, the ideas that you have to balance emissions with things, which is net zero, by the second half as the latest of the century. The 1.5 was not there before. That was, of course, something that a lot of NGOs and small islands were pushing for. And that was the new element compared to the well below two degrees C. So the conjunction of adding, of course, a more ambitious target with a temperature level and having some kind of in a way very clear message that the emissions have to go to zero. Because the phrase is just going to get negative after was that that was the first time that of course, it's not a distribution of the carbon budget. But that meaning that everyone has to go to zero, everyone has to go to zero. It's not somebody you don't know who but every country has to invent a new economic development models that go with zero emission or net zero emissions.

 

ML: And the funny thing is, I remember a real sort of wake up moment was actually 2014. I think it was the G7 hosted by Germany. And there's this extraordinary picture of Angela Merkel and the other G7 heads who were, of course, all men, and they're striding through an Alpine pasture. And they said that the global economy has to get to net zero by the end of the century. And it was, I think, largely ignored by the mainstream press and the business press. Certainly, it was just regarding, you know, this is set because it really looked like a picture or something like that. And it was kind of, you know, I just don't think anybody focused on it. And then of course, you fast forward to Paris. And suddenly it's enshrined in a treaty 195 countries, and but it still only says by the end of the century doesn't talk about net zero by 2050. Or 2060, which is where we now seem to be converging for Glasgow.

 

LT: And because the combination was it was not the end of the century, it was the second half of the century.

 

ML: But that could be 2100 or 2099

LT: You can habe starting 2050. But it could be overtime. And then there is this long term strategies that the Paris Agreement asks countries to present that has to be consistent to this global goal.

 

ML: Now, on the 12th of December 2015, which is I don't remember which day the famous Laurent Fabius gavel that when he when he, you probably remember the exact date on which it was in which the meeting was closed?

 

LT: Yes, on a Saturday afternoon,

 

ML: Saturday afternoon, but on the 12th, I wrote an email to you I didn't think you'd answer I thought you'd be much too tired and, and busy. But I wrote a very short email, therefore, unbelievable job, I am full of admiration. And you did answer the next day you wrote, thank you. I can't believe it. I prepared myself to be happy but disappointed, as logic of short term interests prevails. And finally, it did not happen. I think you're talking about the disappointment did not happen. And it was beyond it was far beyond my expectations. I mean, is that still how you look at it far beyond your expectations? I mean, when you listen, now, you know, Steve Jobs talks about joining the dots is only possible in retrospect. So now we talk about it. And you're talking about I had a plan, and then we did this, and we brought these people together. But did you know, it sounds from that email at the time contemporaneous that actually, you didn't think that you get quite what you ended up with?

 

LT: No, of course, I had the plan. But I didn't have any clue if I could make it happen. So yes, I had the plan but the plan have little chance to really be executed, because everyone was very pessimistic about Paris agreement, Paris achievement. Why? Because, you know, there were so many failures before. Everyone was wondering, oh, there will be a low key. Everybody wants to agree that something very vague. And just before Paris some weeks before there was a G20 in Turkey, and the G20 was a disaster in well, on climate, where countries seems to say, we don't we don't want anything really strong on climate. So if you had been just in Turkey, you would say oh, not, even, no, no reason to go to Paris. So there was always a reason to grow up with developing countries against developed, all reasons to really not to have that and in particular, more ambitious elements, these degrees reference to 1.5 or net zero even and the slump all the packet, which is quite complete. And so and you know, it has played, there was uncertainty, I can tell until really 5am into Saturday morning, I can tell that. So the last, the last mile in particular on the global goal was really, really very difficult to get in. So yeah, I was I was I was, it was beyond my expectation. And, and you know, when I look back now, even if I see of all the delay in action, my frustration of what how long it takes to do things and emission, rolling, etc. The things that we still are investing in oil and gas, we still are saying that renewable energy is too risky. We still are lagging behind on really having decent buildings and efficient one still have agriculture sector that is not, so many reason to be despair. But to seize this agreement, which what can do an agreement between many things has to be done outside of that, of course, it's not the alpha and omega of action, but at least it’s reference for everybody and every actor and I think that really, is really, I'm proud of it.

 

ML: That's a fabulous insight into the kind of risks that were involved in that process because I think as we now move on now, five, six years later, and you know, as time goes on, and you have new people coming into climate action and new people coming into the, onto the scene and new leaders, it is, I think, easy to think of everything that has gone before, as a given. I certainly know that when I, you know, arrived and started doing things on clean energy, I didn't know who Hermann Scheer was and how hard he had fought for the feed in tariffs in Germany, I didn't, I just thought they were a given. And so I think a reminder that, you know, there is out there in the multiverse, there is a parallel universe where the Paris Agreement did not happen, because something went wrong at the last minute. And we would be in a much, much, much worse situation in terms of climate action had that happened. And I'm actually fascinated by these kind of arcs of history where one, one development builds on another. And we know we talked about Kyoto to the Climate Change Act to the ratchet that's in the Paris Agreement. And in a way, it's a much bigger arc than that, in my view, it goes from the campaigners for abolition of slavery, then it goes through suffragettes, then it goes through gay rights, then it goes through climate justice and a lot of the techniques and even when you really dig in, you find that a lot of the same people actually kind of handed the baton on to the next set of players. And I find that really fascinating because there is learning in society about how we address these kind of big problems and injustices very easy to get depressed. But actually, there is a kind of arc whether it bends fast enough in this case, I don't know. And I'm very concerned. But there is an arc and there is learning wouldn’t you think?

 

LT: Absolutely, that's why I'm really fascinated to see again, how everyone picks up a piece of it and bring it to the next level is these young people, this Friday for Future movement, how they now not only just pressure on governments and take the street, but how they now in their jobs, they won’t <inaudible> on what in the new in the new thinking, and how many social innovation we are seeing happening. It's a fascinating period, like all revolutionary period, we are technological, social, we don't know where it goes, it just very, very uncertain. I don't think that it really ends that sad in a way I'm now 70 year old so not a young woman. And I'm really, really pleased and comforted by this capacity of young people, of the young women in particular because of course, I'm very sensitive to this connection, but seeing picking up the baton and go and so I'm seeing the messages there and I'm very happy with.

 

ML: Gender has been also a recurring theme on Cleaning Up episodes because we've had, as I said, we had Rachel Kyte, we've had Christiana Figueres, Amber Rudd was our guest on episode 33. She was the UK minister at the Paris Agreement, Teresa Ribera, whom you worked very closely with. And at the time she was I think she took over while you went off and did what you did. And she's now Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and working on the ecological transition. We've had Catherine McKenna, and Catherine talks about women kicking it on climate. So, Claire Perry O'Neill, who later was the UK minister of climate and energy. She talks about the climate sisterhood. And there's many others, by the way, who've been on the programme and we're not directly involved Richenda Van Leeuwen and Sharan Burrow, lots of people I'm sure you know very, very well. We haven’t yet spoken to Connie Hedegaard, but we’re gonna invite her also. And one of the questions that recurs is, was there something about the sort of critical mass of women, Anne Hidalgo is another name at Paris in this process, that meant that Paris worked and previous attempts didn't? Was it just an accident of timing, it happened that renewable energy costs dropped. And because of New Energy Finance, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, everybody knew and therefore they were prepared to do a deal, or was there a different style in the negotiations because of the preponderance of you know what I consider to be these incredible women leaders?

 

LT: I think it helps to have different type of leadership. One, because again, you know, in many cases before there was always people or leaders in particular who want to be the one solving the problem and it's just too complex to have the one it's a very complex, many layers of economic interests, everything. It’s economics technology, its sovereignty, it’s… climate just touches everything. So, you can't be the one having the solution. names. Who are you thinking of? Well, I can say in for example, you had the in Copenhagen, the Prime Minister of Denmark at the time I forget his first name, Rasmussen… don't remember. But you have it as well. You have Gordon Brown, you have Obama, of course, Sarkozy at that time, everyone wants to be the one. And in a way it has happened so many times in this and of course you can derive this  little bit macho culture until the negotiators themselves and the one that the guy who wants to be the one, and to have women in key roles. And we have been lucky to have also have Christiana which of course, it was a fantastic teaming with her. And then I had some delegation were absolutely controlled by women, Spain was a very good case, that was the only women almost. that was a case of very powerful South African delegation. The minister as well as the ambassador…

 

ML: Was it Elizabeth Dipuo Peters from South Africa? She was the Minister of Energy, I don't know, she was also climate.

 

LT: No, it was environment minister. Sorry, it passed away, I just forgot her name now. And, and then I have a colleague from Venezuela, for example, that helped me enormously a very vocal woman, Claudia, there was a Columbia, the delegation of Colombian were all women very, very, very powerful. And so I have a lot of connection with them. And they have understood the style was bringing people together. And that, anyway, I'm sure that the style you use when you're new operate like this, and you begin to listen to people before talking. And that changed things. And I think it worked. And people recognize that.

 

ML: Because we have had also, I mean, to be fair there, there have also been a number of, you know, incredible male leaders of that process around the same time and since that I've had on Cleaning Up, and I'm thinking of Johan Rockstrom, Fatih Birol, actually Ernie Moniz. So it wasn't as though the women sort of said stand aside, you've nearly trashed the planet, let us take over not by any means. But there is a difference of style. The men seem to me, as I've gone through this process, or having these conversations to have been more technocratic. It's almost like technocratic leadership. I'm not talking about the people who tried to be the warden, and push everybody aside and say that they were more technocratic leaders. And the women that were involved, the people I've spoken about, and whose name we've been using, they've had they've been much more almost like community or network leadership. They are they are people who reach out more and who build platforms that seem to be much flatter. So I it’s an interesting observation. I don't know if it can be backed up by analytical research.

 

LT: No, I'm sure I'm sure it can. And it is. It is backed by in many fields, and I think on climate in particular, there are now many studies that shows up that networking and in western style of convening is different. And the technocratic element is interesting because, for example Ernest, brilliant contribution by the way to COP21 and I appreciate enormously working with him but he has also technical solutions… And, and then, you know, it's about the way people see the future. And so, you had to in a way, there is many elements in Paris Agreements recognize a difference in the different cultures. For example, the reference to the Indian, the indigenous communities perception in Latin America as nature is a mother, or that we need justice, or this is was very anti technocratic, and mostly the technocratic elements in the negotiation said that very uncomfortable. Why have Pachamama in the Paris Agreement, just because you have to recognize a culture and links. And so for me, it was with very easy to explain we need to make the space for that. And, and, and I think that’s the different leadership you don't feel threatened because our different formulation of the same thing you want to get, and that probably just fluidity connection, you prevail better than one formulation.

 

ML: So I've done some climbing in Latin America, and I absolutely understand you don't go anywhere without respecting Pachamama. Because you will not have a crew around you will not have, you're not approaching in the right frame of mind. And with the right teams, I want to just… talking about that kind of the justice and inclusion side of things, because you are also sitting, I'm assuming right now you're in Paris, you're in France. But I mean, you were the French, you know, if you're not there, you are there now. Okay. So. And, of course, France is also the, was riven by the yellow vest protests. So, you know, why did that happen? You know, is it that we were so busy worrying about, including everybody else, and respecting all of their issues? That then there wasn't enough focus by those senior leaders in Europe, because I'm… It kind of became the yellow vest process protests in France, but we have a lot of the same themes, and a lot of the same tensions bubbling just below the surface in the UK. They're certainly there in Poland, they're certainly there in Hungary. They're in lots of countries. How does one I don’t know, have we missed a trick? Have we gone too fast? And how does one actually make sure that climate action is not seen as a threat to a developed country, you know, to those who are not doing so well, within developed countries?

 

LT: And I think that’s a central problem nowadays. Certainly, and you refer to that, Michael, very rightly, we probably have had too much of a technocratic approach all the time on climate, even the environmental movement, we are focused on targets, we are focused on carbon budget, we are focused on deploying technologies. And the social element of what will happen to people when this happened, was never at the centre, and that not only now very recently, because we had the sanctions, or because now the climate action is biting really into the systems, that we too late it in a way, too little to late and I'm sure Sharan Burrow in the in the discussion with you has raised that very, very forcefully. We haven't taken the problem of how it will have regressive or progressive impact on the different categories of population one. And second, what is the future for the different groups and how they can, in a way, envisage their future beyond the leaders beyond the climate specialists beyond the businesses that can have a strategy? So I think the yellow vest in France was a response to the mismanagement of the carbon tax. Why I may say so? Because it was a combination with of course, a higher oil price, with, of course, the ramping up of the carbon tax, which was, of course, anticipated, but with no, no thinking about what will be the impact on people that cannot respond with behavior change to the higher prices. And you know what, it was presented by the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister as it was a way to close the budget gap. So you have all the reason to have an explosion of anger, people could not change their way of life, because they just were dependent on their car to go to work. They have old cars, they have diesel cars, and they cannot use you cannot switch to electric address from now in a second. So and then the first the government was saying is just to close the budget gap. So it would say, the poorest households, the lower middle income groups are paying for a budget gap. And when in that way, environment justice is so important. When the people are flying, and taking the planes to go anywhere, don't pay any tax, don't pay any carbon tax. So that's not fair. So richer people don't pay that tax when they and of course for them, it’s just so low it doesn't impact when they take their cars. But for us, it's a matter of really fitting the bill at the end of the month. So I think the idea is that you cannot you can't just solve a social problem afterwards. You have to fix them before that. And I think I know you have been talking to Teresa Ribera and the way she's dealing that with and the government with regions which will be affected by the closure of the mine and the closure of the thermal power plants is very clever because they are taking the problem ahead of what will happen. And if we have had strategies and measures and policy instrument to tackle this inequality of situation when a price of a very basic consumption good, which is the way you travel, we would not have that that reaction. Second, it has been interpreted for many reasons it was anti climate, it was not. People said it is about justice. It is about justice. It's about recognition and democracy. And that's why out of this movement of yellow vests was created an organization which is the green vest in a way connected to these two same people who say, we are not anti-environment, we are against unfair policy, unfair and regressive policies. And that’s why finally, these people asked for the citizen, the creation of the Climate Citizen Assembly, asking Macron, the President of France to allow citizen really to have a look at the policies and propose strong measures to say we can have citizens supporting strong environment position and action and policies, but with the element of fairness, and that's why the citizen assembly was created, and president Macron accepted that and I was very, very lucky to chair, to co-chair this process, together with another colleague. And I think that shows the yellow vest movement is reclaiming democracy in front of injustice. It's not about anti-environment. And when you do surveys, you have 65 to 75%, depending on the age, that says climate change is as important as jobs and our security in France. But that's even the case all over Europe. So you can present that if it fits you well, because you don't want to do anything. But that's not what the movement was meaning.

 

ML: So that's, I mean, it's a brilliant analysis of what went wrong, and also a pathway perhaps to avoid or to correct it. I wish I was as confident as you that it can be corrected, and that there isn't just because 65%, you know, saying we've got to do something, there's still 35%, that doesn't think so. And we know that that's enough to disrupt, you know, a country in an economy. In the UK, we're seeing huge pushback that's being orchestrated, that's just building against electric cars, and against, you know, clean heating, because these are very disruptive changes, as you say, in people's lives. So I do worry, and by the way, a much higher power than me, Arnold Schwarzenegger worries that most of what we've been talking about, would go completely over the heads of most people, and particularly anybody who's you know, struggling to put, you know, to, you know, make ends meet to put food on the table, to pay for the weekly shopping. They don't understand COP 26. I mean, there's a brilliant talk, keynote that Schwarzenegger gave this year, the opening of an event in Austria. And he just says, you know, we're kidding ourselves here that none of this resonates. None of this really resonates. I don't know, I'm not sure how to turn that into a question. So you've been quite confident that it can be addressed? Is it possible that it's just sort of too difficult, or at least too difficult to address it at the speed that is required for climate action, you know, to get to net zero by 2050 might be just too hard socially?

 

LT: So it's one I think the central question is there and we have neglected for too long. And we have been talking to ourselves too long, in spite and not talking to the rest of the society, which of course is not in our just concerns. Where I am, maybe diverge I haven’t listened to Schwarzenegger speech. But I do think that at least, when I think of Europe I think many echoes… people are concerned with climate change in many, many countries. So that is different from 10 years ago, that's for sure. People are concerned about the impact. They relate now the extreme weather impacts with climate change, they are concerned about that. And they are concerned about their relation with nature. So that's the new thing. Now, have we invented the policies or not regressive to deploy such technological and social revolution? That's a big question, because that's about the inequalities that is built in, in the system. So yes, we can probably we can invent already measures to in a way compensate that for you know, Canada is doing it, sending check beforehand, before the people…

 

ML: Fee and dividend, so carbon tax, but then rebating it per capita feels like a very interesting approach to diffusing some of these problems.

 

LT: Yeah, and with people receiving the money even before they have to pay for their gasoline over. So I think that can help. I think there is a limit to that, that will probably not resolve all the problem we have of transition in regions, jobs creation. And the fact that at the same time, we in the last 15 years, inequality has raised everywhere in countries not only between countries, and in a way, if not some between countries, it has sometimes an at least for a certain period of time. Narrow is a we know that in countries that inequality has just exploded and that the problem you cannot have how we can have big changes in a society where we want to go somewhere, it's not a change, where you don't know where to go, we have to go there, we have to go to net zero. And at the same time in a moment where people feel that the system is totally broken and unfair, that I don't have a response with it putting justice and fairness and discussing with people what the fairness is that the vision of fairness is, to me totally centrally, cannot be top down.

 

ML: Now, that's a fabulous setup for an episode that we're gonna have later in the year with Mariana Mazzucato  who I don't know if you've met, but she's the economist working on these questions of equity and fairness, and also mission driven approaches to addressing climate change. And Mariana, I agree with very robustly on half of what she says and I very much disagree on half. I'm not sure if half is the right ratio, maybe I agree with 75%. And I disagree on 25%. But we'll see in that episode. We're close to the end of the time allotted. And I just want to finish by asking you know, we've got COP 26 Glasgow coming up in November, we're less than 100 days away. The president of that is Alok Sharma, the High Level Champion for climate action is Nigel Topping. What advice would you have? Or do you have, because you're now you're still working on these same issues from within the European Climate Foundation. What advice do you have for them for a successful outcome?

 

LT: So the first one, and in a way it goes with Nigel Topping as well for Alok Sharma, I said that to them already, several times. You have to of course to deliver the best you can, and at the same time tell the truth, not inventing, we are not delivering any good if there is truth in what you say for example, for Alok Sharma, I think we do the best and pressing countries that they have to deliver more on ambition, pressing on finance and having really all these actors who are not doing enough to do the job properly. But at the same time, recognize that you may not be there in Glasgow and paint a success of something that's not there, but that what is the gap and where and how we can feel it. So that the first advice is be trustful and be really speaking to choose to everyone. And that's as well for the integrity of the private sector commitments that Nigel is doing so well having with this race to zero, really preventing companies and financial actors to greenwash as well as government really to say, okay, recognize that they are doing better. That's not enough as well. So I think that that will build a sort of Yes, in a way this is serious, this is not, again, green paint on something that is not because the anxiety is there, anxiety of the public. And is there a second element, I think is really to, to see the process as well, and that, of course, mostly government, they have to commit to, again, I mean, in the case of Alok Sharma, they have to commit to come in 2023 with even better numbers. And that that is really important. And so I think he has to be very clear on the deadline. Okay, you did better. It's not enough, you know that you commit to net zero, most countries have committed net zero by 2050, which is really good. Most country will commit and recommit even if it's not a given that. 1.5 is that the target we should aim at. But then you have to, you have to say what you will do next, because nobody would be happy with what we ever get totally in Glasgow. And if I think that could be a very, very powerful message of Glasgow, we haven't made progress. We are not there. We are serious, we are speaking the truth to everyone. I think that maybe the major advice I could give, it's a moment of truth for everyone really.

 

ML: I think that's right, that resonates with me that it's not necessary to come out of Glasgow, having solved every problem, there is the beautiful five year ratchet that you put into the Paris Agreement. So it has to be better, we have to see that arc bending. And as long as it's bending, credibly, and substantially, and it sets up the next phase to do more. To me, that's a huge win. And so I you know, I guess I look at it and say, well, I wouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, not everything has to be solved. The general public is not going to worry about whether Article Six is signed and sealed with a <inaudible>. They just don't know what that's about. And frankly, I'm not just talking about the general public, I'm talking about the financial community. Most people in finance have no idea about article six and don't care and it wouldn't affect their daily life, whether it was done or not. And the momentum, the direction of travel the inevitability of net zero in every ever closer timeframe, that's what gets people, you know, concerned or active.

 

LT: No, I think that the ways that this horizon is now more concrete, now we can put numbers which were impossible to put in Paris, because that was too new, that the net zero meaning decrease of emissions, by 2050, you really net and then get negative after is now something that is integrated in the many accurate strategy is just a totally change. Now, I think we have to keep the pressure before Glasgow, because of course, we cannot just say that's good for 2050, and then do nothing for the next 10 years. That's not possible to show them action is really the decisive one.

 

ML: That's right, we are in a decade of consequences as Winston Churchill, who's politically incorrect, but still had a great way with words, once said. So… Laurence, it's a fantastic pleasure to see you. Thank you so much for spending time with us here today, I very much hope that you will yourself, make it to Glasgow, for COP 26, I will be there for sure. As long as something bizarre doesn't happen on the COVID front, I will be there. And I hope to host you at the events that I'm going to be attending and helping to organize just outside Glasgow, putting something pretty spectacular together, of which I will certainly, well, watch this space for the audience. And for you Laurence, you'll get an invitation without question.

 

LT: So I will be very happy to be there together with you. And see you in Glasgow and I think we have to help all what we can in these last weeks and months just to get that best result possible.

 

ML: Very good. Very good. I look forward to it already.

 

LT: Thank you, Michael for this invitation and very nice conversation.

 

ML: So that was Laurence Tubiana, former Climate Change Ambassador of France and Special Representative to the COP 21 Paris climate change negotiations. My guest next week, is the Right Honorable William Russell, Lord Mayor of London. Please join me at this time next week for Cleaning Up.