VIDEO: Tom Rivett-Carnac on stubborn climate optimism and business leadership at COP28

EXCLUSIVE: Former UN climate policy strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac has spoken exclusively with edie on the sidelines of COP28, providing his learnings on exponential positive change and the role of the private sector in delivering a sustainable future.

Rivett-Carnac is perhaps best known to many as the co-host of the Outrage and Optimism podcast with former Paris Agreement architect Christiana Figueres. The pair are also founding partners of Global Optimism, an NGO promoting climate solutions.

Speaking to edie’s publisher Luke Nicholls on the sidelines of the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum at COP28 in Dubai, Rivett-Carnac gives his views on how optimism can be maintained in a challenging time of global polycrises.

Trust in the COP process, specifically, risks waning to new lows with a raft of major reports this year confirming that the world is on track to far exceed the temperature limits of the Paris Agreement. The hosting of this year’s summit in a petrostate with plans for significant oil and gas expansion has been cause for further outrage in the global climate activist community.

Rivett-Carnac says: “Things take longer to change than you think they’re going to, then change faster than you possibly could imagine.

“We are seeing costs for clean energy coming down – wind and solar are now the cheapest source of new power in more than 150 countries around the world. We are seeing land being restored. We are seeing electric vehicles being deployed.

“And the 100,000 people who are here at COP28 – most of them have nothing to do with the negotiations… they are all to do with implementation and taking action.

“Years ago, we’d say to companies and countries ‘take action on climate – one day, it’ll be cheaper’. Now, it is cheaper…. That’s something we should applaud. We’re only going to deal with this if it’s in people’s own self interest.”

Rivett-Carnac was then asked what business leadership on climate truly looks like in 2023 and beyond. He emphasised the importance of progress beyond pledges.

He said:“There was a time when it was all about commitments. Now it’s all about what you are doing, how you are moving quickly, how you are actually taking the steps that are necessary to get us on track to that 43% (emissions) reduction by 2030.

“That requires information, organisation and investment.”

edie at COP28

Want more exclusive content from the grounds of COP28? edie is running a daily podcast show live from the ground in Dubai, featuring exclusive interviews with some of sustainability’s sharpest minds. Check out the COP28 Covered podcast here.

We’re also running a live blog, every day of COP28. From a rousing speech from King Charles to new international declarations on health and agriculture, the COP28 Live Blog gives you everything you need to know about each day at the Summit.

View all of edie’s COP28 content here. 

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