Beyond carbon: nature’s big moment

By |2020-12-17T17:50:55+00:00December 17th, 2020|Biodiversity, Climate, Deeper Thinking, Interviews|Comments Off on Beyond carbon: nature’s big moment

For the third in our series of Deeper Thinking webinars, Beyond Carbon: nature’s big moment, we had the privilege of listening to Tom Rivett-Carnac, who has been a leading figure in developing mainstream action on climate change. Tom was Senior Advisor to Christiana Figueres when she acted as Executive Director to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Together, they co-authored the book The Future we Choose and founded Global Optimism, which – among other things – delivers an excellent weekly podcast.

In this discussion, we wanted to draw on Tom’s expertise in the climate world and ask what can be done to help create a groundswell of support to address biodiversity loss, a less talked about – but equally urgent – ecological crisis. In this piece, we pick out some of the key points that emerged from the webinar, which you can watch in full below.

The ecological crises we face – climate breakdown, the destruction and degradation of nature, the spread of zoonotic diseases – are all connected. To think and act otherwise is a mistake.

“2015 was the last moment where it made sense to think about the components of the Paris Agreement and of climate change and the destruction of nature and the nature emergency that we’re in, in isolation. In 2015, to get to the Paris Agreement it was necessary, to some degree, to break down what was happening and focus on certain elements of it so we could get to the long-term goal to reach net zero. But we were aware that we were oversimplifying what we were doing, in order to make it possible. Since then, the name of the game has been integration between the different elements and they’ve had to come back together again, and that’s been an incredibly positive journey.

I would say the issue is not how we replicate climate success in the field of biodiversity, but how we get people to understand that this was always the same thing.”

 We must stop seeing these issues in silos

“If we continue to see these issues in silos, it will be almost impossible to get our arms around the entirety of the problem.

It is ridiculous that we have structured our not for profit system in these vertical ways – some people are concerned about climate, others are concerned about biodiversity. I think sometimes we have to put our hands up and admit that maybe this is what is partly creating the problem.

People who work in the not for profit space are to some degree funded and incentivised to say ‘my issue’s the most important’. Actually, from the perspective of either a business or a concerned citizen, the integrations and interconnections are much more important.”

 There is an overemphasis on trying to control outcomes

“We’ve allowed ourselves to believe on climate – and I think this would go for biodiversity too – that our actions are only meaningful if we have a high degree of control over the outcome. We hear this all the time, you know, for example from family members who say things like, why would you stop flying, why would you change your lifestyle, what about China, what about India, what about the US? It’s a way of discrediting the attempt to take action or the attempt to expand the field of responsibility to do something collective.

But if you think about that relationship between control and outcome, in most areas of human endeavour, meaning is defined by having less control.

Think about something like taking care of your child who is sick. You wouldn’t say, ‘It’s only worth taking care of the child if we know for sure they are going to get better’! If anyone has a spiritual practice or a religious practice, the loss of control and the letting go can actually be the most meaningful part of that activity.

There have been moments of incredible darkness whether it’s ‘fight them on the beaches’ or ‘I have a dream’ where people decided they were just going to meet what they had in front of them and try to keep moving without being able to control the outcome. Personally, I feel that’s a much more satisfying, and a much less exhausting way to live your life.”

 An obsession with ‘purity’ and perfection

“Something unfortunate happened around 12 years ago in the relationship between action on climate change and nature. The concept of carbon offsetting began to be seen as cheating: it was what you did if you