Laney Seigner 0:09
So anyways, so I'm gonna jump right into introducing our speakers right now.
So yes, I am delighted to welcome Zeke Hausfather, Harish Hande and Dipti Bhatnagar to this COVID and climate change panel. Dr. Zeke Hausfather is a climate scientist and energy systems analyst whose research focuses on observational temperature records, climate models and mitigation technologies. He's currently the Director of Climate and Energy at the Breakthrough Institute, which is a Research Institute in Oakland, California, focused on developing and researching, focusing on researching technological solutions to environmental challenges, and they have a whole page on there the homepage of their website focused on highlighting their COVID-19 public health and climate change research. So feel free to check that out for further reading after the panel today.
And Zeke has spent 10 years working as a data scientist and entrepreneur in the clean tech sector, where he has led data scientists - where he was the lead data scientist at Essess, the Chief Scientist at C3.ai, and the co founder and chief scientist of Efficiency 2.0. He has also worked as a research scientist with Berkeley Earth, and was the senior climate analyst at Project Drawdown. And I was fortunate to overlap with Zeke at UC Berkeley when we were both in the Energy and Resources Group Ph.D program. So it is just delightful to be together with with all of you and have Zeke here in our Terra.do guest talk.
And so Dipti Bhatnagar is also an ERGy, she got her ERG masters in 2008. She overlapped there with Kamal when Kamal in the ERG PhD program. And she is currently the Program Coordinator for the Climate Justice and Energy Program at Friends of the Earth, and she has been in this role since March 2012. She's located in Mozambique. She's hosted by Justiça Ambiental and Friends of the Earth Mozambique.
And she has been an activist for over 15 years with a deep rooted sense of justice, Ditpi worked with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Save the Narmada movement to fight destructive dams, and in California, she worked on immigrant rights and safe drinking water for disadvantaged farm worker communities of color. And Friends of the Earth international campaigns on today's most urgent international or environmental and social issues. They challenge the current model of economic and corporate globalization and promote solutions that will help to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies. So thank you for being here with us Dipti.
And finally, our third panelist is Dr. Harish Hande. He is an engineer and renewable energy entrepreneur with over 23 years of grassroots experience in meeting the requirements of underserved communities. He is the co-founder of SELCO Solar Light, and is presently the CEO of SELCO Foundation. Today, SELCO's interventions have impacted more than 500,000 poor households across six Indian states while focusing on innovation and ecosystem building for which Harish was awarded the Magsaysay Award in 2011.
So let me pause there and just frame the discussion a little bit for our speaker panelists. Each speaker is going to start with a 10 to 12 minute overview of how their work has intersected with the COVID-19 pandemic and related research or work that they're doing on the COVID recovery and climate change. So the questions that I've sent to our speakers that they'll each be addressing in those 10 to 12 minute intros, before we get into open Q&A are just a brief description of their current work and how it's affected by the covid crisis and main takeaways regarding the impact of the pandemic on climate change and climate solutions.
The second prompt is that we have seen the COVID pandemic causing a temporary dip in global emissions this year. Of course, we don't want to rely on catastrophic deadly pandemics as the primary mechanism for lowering global emissions. So how can we take some of the lessons and opportunities provided by the COVID crisis to more intentionally set countries and sub national organizations on a path of emissions reductions with positive public health, social and economic co benefits? What examples are you seeing if not from national governments, but from organizations, businesses, or sub national actors that are responding proactively to both the COVID and climate crises?
And so and then another prompt is how do issues of equity and historical responsibility play out and the response to both COVID and climate change? What does a just recovery look like and mean in terms of sustained emissions reduction and economic development in your work?
And finally, as it currently stands, what is your vision of the energy transformation that will occur post COVID? As things start to or continue to open up and societies return to more active functioning, in terms of travel, work, commuting, etc? Do you think that clean energy sources have received a leg up over fossil fuels during the pandemic? What other kinds of mitigating activities have become more common that might be sustained beyond this pandemic?
So they will not all be able to address all those questions in depth, but we'll give it a shot. And then we can continue and discussing these topics during the the open Q&A.
So I will turn it over to our first panalist Zeke to start sharing, and we'll then go to Dipti and Harish. Over to you Zeke.
Zeke Hausfather 6:27
Sounds good, sounds good. Thank you. So I've been doing a fair amount of work on the intersection between COVID and climate change. And part out of necessity; for a while there COVID was the only thing anyone was talking about, and so if we wanted to get any of our climate work in the public eye, so to speak, it's very good to have the COVID connection, but also because there's a lot of interesting questions it brings up particularly around our emissions. And so there's been a number of different efforts over the last six months to try to quantify, or five months really, quantify what the likely impact of COVID-19 on global emissions are. And these have varied a lot, in part as we get a better sense of what exactly is happening with the crisis, what's happening to economic activity, what's happening to the various sectors that results in our CO2 emissions.
And so, you know, the first estimate was published by my friend Glenn Peters back in the middle of March or on March 16th where he said "Well, you know, it's still very early, we're not sure how big an impact this will have, but we think you know, it might result in a better a 1.2% reduction in emissions in 2020."
And then in late March, myself and my colleague Seaver Wang used some early GDP impact forecasts projected will result in about a 2.2% reduction in global emissions. After that, you know, as we take them to April in May, and the scope and scale of the crisis became clearer, these estimates of emission reductions increased dramatically.
And so in the end of April, about a month later, I updated our estimates to look at some newly released scenarios of how the global economy might be impacted by COVID. And we estimated that, you know, more between a 5% and an 8% decline in missions in 2020; 5% if global economy recovers relatively quickly in the second half of the year, which is something a little less likely, 8% if the virus and the pandemic persists in a big way through the end of the year, or if there's a big new reemergence. These numbers are very similar to ones that were published a couple weeks later by the Global Carbon Project in the Nature climate change paper who suggested you know, between 4 and 7%, with similar drivers, and it looks like you know, a couple months later, we're probably on track for somewhere in the 6-6.5% reduction in emission range. So obviously, the year is far from over, and, you know, we're still waiting to see exactly what happens.
Now, this is a pretty big reduction in emissions - you know it's the single biggest reduction in emissions ever, or at least since WWII as a percent in terms of global emissions. But at the same time, it's going to bring us down to around, you know, 2006 levels, and in 2006, we're still emitting 32 gigatons of CO2. And so while it's, you know, a small silver lining, so to speak, what really matters for the climate is not our emissions in any particular year. It's what our emissions look like going forward. And the reason for this is because what drives the warming of the planet isn't 2020's emissions, it's the cumulative emissions since the Industrial Revolution. It's all the emissions that humans have put up in the atmosphere. And the reason for that is because CO2 is a very long lived greenhouse gas. And so, if we just cut it, you know, 6% in 2020, but in a couple of years go back to exactly the same pathway we were on before, the effective global temperatures by the end of the century is gonna be pretty negligible. You know, you're talking about maybe two hundredths of a degree centigrade. There's some other changes that have been happening to the pandemic around aerosol emissions around tropospheric ozone that also have an impact on warming, those two tend to somewhat cancel each other out, but the main takeaway is that, by itself, this is going to have a very small impact on the climate. You know, CO2 emissions, the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are gonna be 414 parts per million this year instead of 414.3 parts per million. Still a huge rise over the 280 parts per million we had during the pre industrial period, and a rise relative last year, because the other interesting thing about climate change is that as long as our emissions remain much above zero, CO2 will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and the world will continue to warm. And effectively, the only way to really stop the world from warming is to get to net zero emissions globally. And even at that point, the world doesn't actually cool per se, at least not for a few centuries. It just stops warming.
And so the good news is we can stop warming by getting emissions all the way down to zero. There's not a huge amount of warming sort of in the pipeline, so to speak. But the bad news is that, you know, it takes a lot of extra effort if we ever want to cool the planet down, you know, as a first order approximation, if we wanted to get global temperatures back down to 1970 levels, for example, we'd have to suck out all of the carbon we've put up in the atmosphere since 1970, which is a pretty big deal.
That said, you know, COVID does create potentially some opportunities to, you know, catalyze a clean energy transition, or at least speed it up in a way that wasn't necessarily possible before. You know, certainly in a lot of countries like the US, it's very difficult to muster the political will to spend large amounts of money to rapidly change things. But the pandemic and the need for economic recovery and stimulus has opened up the possibility of much larger scale infrastructure spending than we've ever had before. And there's a lot of infrastructure that is needed to support a clean energy transition, be it, you know, long distance transmission systems via electric vehicle charging infrastructure, obviously, renewables deployment.
And a lot of these things can sort of create jobs and reduce emissions, which makes them very appealing as part of the green recovery. And so if the world in general uses the need to recover from COVID-19, and the need for economic stimulus, to focus on clean technologies and clean energy transition, there really is a chance that this might be an inflection point. And I've argued that there is a real chance, particularly if we go down that path, that 2019, last year, might be the year where global emissions peaked.
You know, we're sort of on track for a long plateau and emissions anyway. You know, previously, we expected probably a peak somewhere in the mid to late 2020s. But with the economic disruption from COVID, coupled with, you know, a hopefully a renewed focus on clean energy, we could start driving emissions down going forward.
Obviously, peaking emissions is just the first step in getting to net zero and there's still a huge lift to get all the way down there, but it would be very encouraging news. And there's reasons to think that the COVID crisis itself has in some ways, favored sources of energy like renewables and helped hasten the retirement of some of the dirtier types of power. And the reason for that is because when there's an event like COVID, where there's a lot of demand destruction, a lot of production and the need for electricity, particularly in countries, in richer countries at least, there, you tend to shut down the plants that cost or curtail the plants that cost the most to run first. And that's not renewables. You know, once you build a wind turbine, or solar panel, the cost of operating them is pretty close to zero. And so you're not going to stop using the electricity costs you nothing the electricity you're going to stop using, to the extent that you can, is that you know, where you're actively burning something that cost money to burn.
And so far, that's mostly been coal. You know, coal uses declined by about 40% in most European countries, it's down about 30% in the US, it's flatter in places like China and India, but we're still seeing some reductions there as well. Obviously, some of that is due to reduced demand. But we're not seeing similar reductions in renewables. Renewable generation is actually up in the US. And I think it's at least flat if not slightly up in Europe.
And the fact that this is falling so heavily on coal, as sort of the most expensive marginal type of generation, is also helping hasten the retirement of coal plants. You know, if you're planning on retiring coal plants in five years or so, because a lot of our coal plants are quite old, here in the US, and you haven't been running it for half a year because there's not demand and it's not economic to run is pretty appealing to retire it early. And so we're starting to see a push up of retirement age of coal plants. And while we might see something of a recovery next year, both due to the economy recovering and potentially due to the price of gas increasing as a result of shale oil production collapsing, you know, it's not going to make up for the reductions we've seen this year.
So, you know, I'm, I see some hopeful signs with this, obviously, it's a global pandemic, it's a terrible thing. You know, there's, we shouldn't in any way be happy about what's happening to the world. But it also creates an opportunity to put us down a pathway toward more carbon free development and expansion of clean energy. And if we really take that opportunity, we could make a real difference. And so it really is up to us.
Laney Seigner 15:31
Agreed. Thanks for that Zeke, that's, that was super informative and a great overview of the current global situation with emissions and trajectories going forward. I just want to pause here and maybe take one or two questions if people have them and then move on to our next our next panelists and then we'll save any anything more than one or two for the general discussion, but if you have a question for Zeke specifically, feel free to put your name in the chat.
I see a question from Iwank. Iwank, do you want to go ahead and ask your question?
So my question was this key recently in that kind of uplifted coal law constriction. So now this foreign investment and all this can come and extract coal and consume globally. So looking at a pilot virus, a virus agreement, all those kinds of things, how does India go about changing the climate if even society in post COVID-19 if our economic recovery has been through this economic section like this, how do I say, coal movement?
Zeke Hausfather 16:47
I think I get the gist of the question. You know, there is there's a real risk that countries could use the need for economic recovery to focus their efforts on more traditional energy sectorate players like coal and actively support and subsidize them. You know, we saw a lot of that, for example, in the recovery from the financial crisis in China, where emissions shot up fairly dramatically, in part because of state stimulus that focused on heavy industries and coal using sectors.
And obviously, there is a real risk of repeating that this time, and a lot of it comes down to, you know, is there the political will in these countries to try to take a different path. And thankfully, the world is fairly different now in 2020, than it was in 2009, when we saw these last rounds of big global stimulus efforts, and the one of the main reasons is different is because there are cleaner alternatives that are cost competitive now. You know, in 2009, solar power was 25 cents a kilowatthour. In India these days there's some solar projects that are two cents a kilowatt hour.
And so, there are there is a real choice that countries can make in terms of what energy path to go down in the future. And these choices are relatively cost competitive with each other. And so I feel like we're in a much better position today for countries to make the right choices. They have the political will to do so. But yeah, it's certainly concerning that some folks might decide to go down that path.
Laney Seigner 18:21
Yeah, great points, especially in places where people aren't always as responsive, or governments aren't always as responsive to their people. So at least we can all try and keep the pressure on. Great question, Iwank. I'm going to go back to Varun's question and then we'll move on to our next panelist. And Varun, do you want to go ahead and ask your question that you posted towards the beginning.
Sure, straightforward, just where did the COVID reduction come from in emissions? So just to help bottle that scenario, in terms of transport, it's the plants shutting down, which of the areas is coming from?
Zeke Hausfather 19:00
So that's a good question. The there was a very good analysis of this done by the Global Carbon Project, and I'd suggest anyone who wants to dive into the details, check it out. They published a paper a couple months back, looking at data through May, and they've been updating it since then. But broadly speaking, surface transportation is the single biggest driver of emission reductions, about 40% of the global emission reductions have come from produce surface transportation, and most of that is vehicle transport both light vehicles and to a lesser extent, heavy vehicles. Aviation is also a chunk of that. Aviation is often a smaller percentage of emissions than we think, aviation is maybe 10% of the global reduction dimensions.
The second biggest reduction is in the industrial sector, which is about 20% of the global reduction in emissions. The power sector is about 18%. And then beyond that, you know, there's is a slight reduction in sort of public building energy use, but we haven't really seen a global reduction at least in other build and other building energies. residential energy uses actually up slightly globally, which is not that surprising, since many more people are at home. Obviously, commercial energy use is down a bit. But it's really surface transport industry and power sector that are the big three drivers.
Laney Seigner 20:24
Awesome, thanks for clarifying that Zeke. Okay, I'm going to go over to Dipti for your kind of overview of all the discussion topics, and maybe I will also take one or two questions after that and then move on to Harish. So Dipti, over to you, and you should be able to screen share if you have any, if yeah, if you would like, I've enabled that.
Dipti Bhatnagar 20:46
Hi, can you hear me?
Laney Seigner 20:48
Dipti Bhatnagar 20:49
Okay great. Okay, um, keep me on time if I go over time. Hi everyone, my name is Dipti Bhatnagar as Laney said, I work with Friends of the Earth International and I'm based here in Mozambique for almost the last 10 years well. And and I loved what you said Zeke about the, you know, the technology is there, but the political will is what we are really struggling to work on. And I think that's where our organization works the most. We're really trying to change governments, we're trying to change perspective, we're trying to change minds because that's extremely important to be able to deal with the crisis that we're facing. So I'll tell you a little bit about that. I'm a hardcore activist. So I come to these discussions from that perspective, as as Laney was saying, the work that we do at Friends of the Earth, including here in Mozambique.
So, we aren't just facing one crisis, right? Of course at this at this moment we are facing the COVID crisis, the pandemic along with multiple other health crisis, let's not forget about all of those things that take take people's lives. And not just the climate crisis, but we're also facing a crisis of energy, which means that we have over a billion people on this planet who do not have access to electricity. 70% of the people in this country, in Mozambique, do not have a light bulb in their house. There are deep systemic, long standing reasons for that. The energy system not only created the climate crisis, but absolutely failed to deliver basic human right to energy for 1 billion people across the planet. So we're looking at all of these crises in an interconnected way. Obviously, there's a biodiversity crisis, that's also really clear in the way that we've been treating the earth. And the COVID crisis actually shows us that the roots of the COVID crisis and of the climate crisis are the same , it's the way that we have been treating the earth, it's the way that this system extracts from the planet, extracts from the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet and just throws them away. And that's what's caused all of these crisis that we're seeing. It's exacerbated by the political crisis we're seeing in so many different places. I mean, this light of mine is old. So the unemployment crisis has been there for ages. But this year, it has gone to different heights and people are struggling to put food on the table, we see this everywhere. And of course, the system also created a deep, deep inequality crisis. No one is denying it. The World Economic Forum is even talking about inequality. The spaces that actually create inequality are also talking about it - not doing anything, but they are talking about it.
So, some of you may have heard this term climate justice, I wanted to spend maybe just a little bit of time telling you what that's all about, and why do we use it. My program is called the Climate Justice and Energy program.
So the climate crisis is very deeply inherently unjust. Those who are going to face the deepest impacts and the soonest impacts are the ones that did the least to create the crisis. That's people on this continent in Africa, across Asia, across Latin America, some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities are going to face the crisis the hardest, while they did the least to create it. That's why it's, it's unjust. That's why we need to look at that perspective when it when we look at climate change. And climate change isn't a crisis in isolation, as I just talked about, it's a symptom of the dysfunction of the system. And that's why we need to address that dysfunction of the system and not just, you know, a technical approach to the climate crisis.
I won't go into the climate science because all of you probably know that much better than me. But what I wanted to point out is the third bullet here, which is that 100 developing countries and the Africa group, 11 years ago, was talking about needing to keep temperature increase under 1.5 degrees, global average temperature increase under 1.5 degrees because two degrees was going to be a suicide pact for Africa. We're already seeing that now at 1.1 degrees. We're already seeing the terrible terrible impacts. I don't need to go into the graphs. You all know this really well. My main point is the impacts.
All of you heard about Cyclone Idai. It happened on this very land. You know, I was in Malaysia when that happened, actually, I was at a climate change meeting. And I heard a WhatsApp voice note that was circulating from a woman who says, in Portuguese, "I'm on the rooftop" she left a voice message for brother. "I'm on the rooftop. The waters are rising. I don't know if I'll ever see you again". There are real stories behind every single impact. There are real lives that have been completely devastated already by the climate crisis, and so many more to come. And the injustice of that needs to be fought. We need to get together and fight against it because it's just not right.
And solidarity is really, really important. No matter what we do, no matter what, what kind of work we are doing, no matter which aspect of the climate work we are focused on, we can provide solidarity to others who are fighting and that's really, really important. That's one concept I really want to leave with everyone. And of course, fossil fuels. Why do the fossil fuel companies keep prospecting for coal, oil and gas till today and projections into the future when all of that is going to be completely unburnable, it is not possible to stay under two degrees, let alone....I mean, the current pledges in the Paris Agreement take us to over 3 degrees average global temperature rise. We are at 1.1 average temperature rise right now, and you already see the impacts that that's having. The pledges in the Paris Agreement take us to over three degrees. The unburnable carbon which the fossil fuel companies keep going after till today are going to take us to, I don't know, I don't think there's even an estimate, probably six or seven degrees Celsius of average temperature rise, and we cannot have a livable planet in that in that context.
Really quickly, just wanted to point out some of our colleagues did this research released just a couple months ago, looking at equity and extraction - so where are the reserves in the world and who should be actually allowed to extract and who should not. There's one philosophy actually, which is that nobody should be allowed to extract anything else. But even if you accept that some extraction needs to happen because of development, so to speak, who should be actually allowed to do that. They've done a really interesting climate justice, equity perspective on that. And I can send all of these links later as well. So this is something my organization works on quite a bit, which is the equity and historical responsibility perspective. As I said earlier, those who created the climate crisis need to be the ones that do the most and the soonest to be able to address it. And as Zeke told us, it's cumulative carbon emissions, which matter, it doesn't matter what we did just now. We look at the carbon emissions from 1860 when the Industrial Revolution began, and when the emissions mainly began, and looking at that, who has emitted the most carbon emissions, use those carbon emissions to beautifully build their societies and economies? Wonderful, great. And who did not ever have the chance to do that? So those who use those carbon emissions to build up their societies now have the capacity and the responsibility to do the most to address it.
We did this report a few years ago, again, I can send out the links. It looked at the pledges at that time 2015. This was leading up to the Paris Agreement. And looking at the pledges, because the biggest issue with the Paris Agreement is that it says okay, you tell me, each country, you tell us what you want to reduce. It's not based on science, and it's not based on justice and equity. So we did a comparison between what country said they would want to reduce and what they actually need to based on their fair share. So the red is what they have promised to reduce. They still don't have to do it. They just promised to do it. And the gray is actually what they need to and if you look, everyone loves bashing on China, but if you actually look at the numbers, they promised to do more than their fair share. So that's why that's in green. So is India, so is Kenya, whereas the US, EU, Russia is not even on the map in terms of what they offered to do in terms of reductions. And Japan, all the northern countries, every single one of them, every single one of the countries in the global north, fail on this metric. I'll skip that. Just a couple of interesting cartoons for you. Of course, the Paris Agreement is a wonderful diplomatic success, no doubt about it. And since then, the global politics has devolved so much that even that seems like a miracle right now. But let's be really, really clear. It is not enough to stop climate catastrophe or us running off the planetary edge. It's just not.
This is, uh, some of my colleagues put this together at the Demand Climate Justice campaign. If you're interested, I actually thought you would have a much more US audience, so I put this in there because I think it's interesting for people to see what has been the role of the of the US in the UNFCC process and the UN climate negotiations. I absolutely love President Obama. I heard his speech today from the DNC convention and his speech at John Lewis funeral. His, his role, his, his become becoming president is such an important moment in US history, but he himself and the US have played such a damaging role in the international climate negotiations. We can see him as an amazing leader and at the same time, understand that the US has played a really negative role in in the negotiations and we need to change that moving forward. We need to change the politics that are coming out from the US and going to that international climate stage.
I won't go into too much of this, but we use this term false solutions. And actually that covers what Zeke was talking about about the term net zero. I didn't put the term in here but we are actually working on some briefings which will be ready in the next few months on why we need to say no to net zero and yes to real zero because net zero is actually just, it's not zero. It's not zero. It's about different types of technologies, which trying to take the carbon out of the air, a lot of them are completely unproven. A lot of them are going to have actually really terrible impacts on frontline communities. And there's a huge land grabbing planned all across this continent and in other places where there are forests, [sic] land grab to work on soil carbon sequestration. For us it's extremely problematic; we need to fight emissions at source stop the fossil fuel, stop the fossil fuel emissions stop the large industrial agriculture emissions not "okay, let's keep emitting and then try and stop that back" because it's absolutely not going to be possible.
We talked about the real solutions to the climate crisis, we talk about system change - "system change not climate change" - It looks great on a banner. We talk about decentralized community owned renewable energy systems, community level food systems, agro ecology; even today 70% of the world is fed by small holder agro ecological means, not by industrial agriculture - they do not feed the planet, even though they pretend like they do. We talk about community forest management, we're looking at what are the economic justice solutions. We've got to dismantle corporate power the these corporations that created the crisis shell and ENI, and Total they're all here in my country too, we're fighting them tooth and nail because they are not the future. They bring the same broken thinking that has created this crisis. And of course, we working a lot on the intersection of gender justice, because it's absolutely critical.
This is a report we put out a couple of years ago, you can find that at foei.org/peoplepowernow. So what are our demands for an energy transformation? So of course, we talk about things like the renewable technology should be climate resilient, locally appropriate and local, and low impact, because where are some of the rar earth minerals for the solar panels coming from? They're literally coming from the blood of the people in the Congo, for example, and we've got to look at the entire chain of you know where that energy is coming from. So we're, we're looking at justice throughout that entire chain,
We've worked on recently FOEI principles for a just recovery. So what does that look like? Of course, we're very optimistic people, so we're talking really big about abandoning neoliberalism and austerity. And that's, that's necessary to be able to have a just recovery. Recovery measures should be built on enhanced multilateral cooperation and internationalist solidarity, what I mentioned in the very beginning. Build and strengthen democracy and guarantee the realization of human rights and people's rights. So I didn't mention in the very beginning, but the political crisis that we're facing, really are about undermining democracy and undermining people's rights everywhere. And that really needs to be reversed if we're going to move towards a more just world and, and a safer, more livable world for us all. And the government's must respond to the multiple systemic crisis, not just the COVIDcrisis or the climate crisis?
Um, how much time do I have? Am I missing your messages about time?
Laney Seigner 36:08
I sent you one reminder to kind of wrap things up if that's if that's if this is an okay, you know, point or you want to wrap things up, I'll, we'll shift over to Harish next.
Dipti Bhatnagar 36:17
Two more minutes? Okay, two more minutes.
Thank you. So, of course, people say "Oh shame, where will the money come from?" and that goes to the concept of political will, which Zeke talked about as well. But the COVID pandemic has actually shown us that when countries want to take steps, they actually do have the power to do it when they have the political will, we've seen in the US water shutoffs being stopped, rent, moratoriums, and mortgage moratoriums being put. We've seen in Spain the health system being temporarily nationalized, South Africa next door to me was talking about that. These are steps that we would have never imagined in the society that we live today but when the need appeared, there are countries who took those steps, which shows us that, I and I totally agree with Zeke here it's political will that's absolutely necessary, and of course, that's what we're fighting, constantly trying to, you know, speak true truth to power and get those in power to listen. But this, this is an interesting statistic. This is a report we put out a couple of years ago, which is, we looked at the inequality and we looked at the amount of money in the money owned by the richest and the richest 53 people in the world can power all of Africa by renewable energy with renewable energy by 2030. The money exists - I don't want to ever hear "where's the money going to come from?". It exists, the political will doesn't.
Just to show you these are some fights that are happening across the world. People in Togo fighting against oil, people in Indonesia fighting against coal. Here we're fighting against gas, the biggest gas reserves found anywhere in the world has been found in Mozambique, in Northern Mozambique, we're fighting against that. There's there's been some victories, but what I actually want to show you is the reversal. So Victoria state of Australia had a put a moratorium on fracking in 2016. Very quietly under the pandemic, it's been reversed. We've seen that in Mozambique Total, has been pushing ahead much more with the gas extraction under COVID than before. In South Africa we've seen that during the lockdown, gas and oil being pushed ahead. So this is more than a trend that we see that that fossil fuels have been pushed ahead. And we did a survey of our member groups to see how have the renewable energy laws been changed during COVID and the fossil fuel laws and it's definitely been a green light for fossil fuels. So that's really really unfortunate. Um, but I'll stop there. These are some of the websites that that are really amazing organization, some of our allies there, and my contact info. Thank you.
Laney Seigner 39:10
Awesome, thank you Dipti. Thank you for these awesome resources, we'll be excited to share those out after the panel. And I really appreciated your sort of holistic presentation of these intersecting crises, and your inclusion of agro ecology and food systems as part of the solution along with with energy, the energy changes that we need. I just think that personally, I've seen a lot of people start to really value food that's produced close to home and locally, as people don't want to go to the grocery stores or the pandemic is influencing global food supply chains. And I'm really hoping that that can be part of what continues post pandemic as a priority. So we're not going to take any questions before we go over to Harish just for the interest of time, but thank you to everyone who's posting your questions in the chat and we'll try and come back and get to as many of them as possible before we wrap things up. So Harish, I'm gonna turn it over to you to address these discussion questions.
Harish Hande 40:08
Hi. Hi, thanks, thanks to all.
Yeah, so when Kamal approached me and saying what should I talk about? About COVID and how it has affected everything I think that yes, there have been challenges, but for me, the biggest gap I saw, I saw was the helplessness of many of the so called educated class of providing practical solutions during these times, as we used to have lot of armchair critics. Now, we tripled it during the COVID time.
And if you asked around anybody, the CFOs and the CEOs and the even, I, both, the sadly civil society, I mean, 90% of civil society was completely bankrupt of ideas. So I think I would I would rip apart everybody from civil society, the government saying what have you all done? What is civil society is done with this money with the last 25 years? And and none of them are able to come up with absolutely good solutions. Today what has happened is, the practitioners are actually lost. I mean, if you look at the sector, the renewable energy sector, especially the small guys in Africa, in India, 60-70% of them have collapsed, not a single voice representing them, saying that we need to save them rather than talking of too big to fail, too valuable to fail. These guys could struggle to create these championships in the rural areas of whether you talk of Tanzania, India, Manipuri, Meghalaya, Indonesia. Enormous sacrifice that they have done over the years to create small businesses promoting solar, promoting wind have completely collapsed. And not a single voice from the civil society ever. Forget the governments, government's I can rip apart but I'm also a civil society which was supposed to be the voice of the practitioners in the rural areas have not come up with a single statement. How do we save that? Right? The question today is, while we fight on climate change and everything else, the true champions in the rural areas are everywhere else have absolutely no capital and have no access because they don't speak. They don't do PowerPoint. They don't do Excel. But that's exactly, we need to realize there are thousands of those champions who have come up with different solutions.
Today, I would say I would say, the biggest challenge in COVID, post COVID and during COVID for us is many of the innovations that need to happen that need to replicate, either there's no capital, or there is no what you call it as resource, technical or financial resource to innovate on those innovations. We can write, we can do anything, but if I practically come to and say "Boss, I will put in the money. I will put in the people. Can you give me resources to solve?" It's completely because we really do not understand that are 40-45% of the world's populations' solutions are in the first place. Because the problem statements placements have not been articulated in the first place. If I look at depleating fish stocks in any any of the places where because of climate, the fish stocks are depleting, what is the alternate mechanisms of a boat or revising those for the fisherman in the first place? There is no innovation there. We can actually criticize a blacksmith saying that you are using too much of coal - you're - where is the innovation that has actually led to blacksmith coming with a new tool leading to less coal? Or the rice, or the farmer the small - and if you google and say "What is the solutions that is related to climate savings of water for small farm holding small farm holders who own less than one acre land?" There is hardly any solution.
Cookstoves - clean clean cookstoves, whether pandemic or COVID, we've been talking of clean cookstoves for centuries. As I told Kamal, there's not enough cookstoves to burn the number of papers written on them.
So [the] question is who is solving it? I'm tired of policy. I'm tired of documentation. I'm tired of all the rhetoric that happens at the 35,000 35,000. We need to encourage practitioners. We need to encourage practitioners [to] go and fail and put in that capital and exactly in COVID what has happened is not the very fact who's getting the subsidies even if you look at the SME subsidies that have been in Europe, in Europe, which is 239 billion of 400/300 billion dollars, and in America and in India, the true impact in the true entrepreneurs who are climate champions in many ways, they might not have the same English speaking skills that we have, true climate champions who are actually putting solar on lighting systems, who are actually making sure that the trees and fauna and the organic farming is happening - they are not considered climate change champions because they don't have a degree. Because they don't do a presentation. I'm sorry, there are solutions. There are solutions, except that we have elevated ourselves and created a huge gap, even in the COVID clearly demarketed, in the COVID-19, which clearly showed- the I mean, I'm not I can remember the comments, I can remember those. Those are separate. I don't want to I now want to reflect on the civil society itself. That for me, the greatest disappointment in COVID was the civil society itself that did not have solutions. Climate civil society, people who thought they were champions, do not have a solution.
How do we do? We talk about how. And so couple of photographs are showing why I'm disappointed. And while there is so much positive, everybody says, this is a chance. If I asked the same people, this is a chance. Okay, well, what should I do if this is a chance? I don't want to read papers, I want to do actual solutions and implement them. That does not exist. So we can all say that is a chance, but who are we given the chance to the same same of us, our brothers or sisters in the same English medium schools that have gone to we're going to give them a chance? Sorry, solutions will not happen. So if I can share the screen....
Laney Seigner 46:39
Yeah, it should allow you to let me know if it, oh there it is.
Harish Hande 46:42
Yeah, it's allowed me to, you can see right?
Laney Seigner 46:44
Harish Hande 46:44
So the question is what see for example, if you look at what we did a couple of things. One is it we focused on health, we focused on livelihoods, were the two aspects for for us. The nervousness about climate change and and the whole thing that it's like, it's like a fisherman. Fisherman who is going to do fish who's actually doing fishing and you're telling him don't do too much of fish because the fish stock is going to go down. And then suddenly he has a fracture. And, and his his his family suffering. And he says great, the fish stocks have come back. With what guts can I go to his house and said "great fish stocks have come back"? His, any as soon as his fracture gets relieved, he's going to take any fish as you want and that's what's going to happen post COVID is the danger of seeing more carbon is going to be more because people are going to desperate in terms of cutting forests as well as the government's taking because we will not be as a sector from climate have not provided enough solutions for people to have hope. And in this pathway to recovery, if you look at in the health sector for example, there are multiple from awareness to screening to quarantined to tesing to therapeutic care, every place that you see on the screen, you had intervention that can actually lead to efficiency and using solar power or biogas. But we do not have the patience to look at each of these deliverables very well.
Solar energy and decentralized solar energy can actually play a critical role. But we have not fought for it, right? Secondly, for example, with simple solutions, everything solar power, it's a combination of technology, delivery model, design of architects, where a lot of these solutions can happen without government policy. Without government policy, I can rip up again, I come back, and Kamal knows about it, I leave it on the comment. I am now talking of citizens and civil society role in actually promoting solutions. It's, for me, it's where are we actually so showing the solution that inspires a kid in Brazil by showing this photograph. This can be solar powered, irrespective of [how] remote here, I can inspire a kid "okay take it forward" because I need to focus on the end solution and by the way, it's solar and by the way, it's solving the climate issues. Not making climate the centerpiece, not making solar as the centerpiece, can I make the solution as a centerpiece? And plus I'm able to do for example, this has just been inaugurated the large COVID quarantined hospital outside but now in Bihar we just after doing it we basically told the government see had you done typically with a green building design you would have used without the 16 kilowatt with efficient appliances 16 kilowatt with solar, you actually 12 kilowatt, which would be 58% savings. I'm not talking solar, I'm not talking of climate change, I'm just selling how you do that save the government itself money while delivering the solutions and delivering at a decentralized irrespective of remote trade. Now I replicate the solution right? Same way in if you look at a simple offer, our production unit for rice mill inputs production collection retail processed for from collection to a cold storage, to hydroponics, to shaft cutting, to storage to lighting to by adjuster, every part of this value chain has a decentralized energy component, which not only increases livelihoods, create social sustainability in a manner that is decentralized and increases livelihoods without actually talking about climate and without object. And because we do it in a decentralized fashion, doesn't matter if there's a climate crisis, or there's a COVID crisis within a 50 kilometer-60 kilometer radius, I'm able to make it resilient. So what we did was obviously we did a lot of, I mean, we did a lot of the energy health nexus, along with energy, livelihoods nexus and a lot of the innovations have come out how energy can actually play a role during this COVID crisis, during lack of market linkages and lack of innovations, and then how do we support entrepreneurs? For us these three are the true climate champions without saying that they're climate champions.
But you know, in a disaster, in one of the most tensionful times, for me is that 80% of micro small guys across the world will collapse in the next two months. And there is no single voice. If these guys collapse 250 to 300 that means we are going back who is going to provide climate resilient solutions to the poor of these countries? Because don't these are, they're not even in the radar of anybody to even see that blip. But those have been happening, irrespective how much we do or talk about in the in the different agreements. These are things that are happening, and this height time. There's a connection between what do you call it as the, the connection between the practitioners and think tanks and the policymakers and the government. There's hardly any voice for the practitioners, and there's a very little link between what innovations needs to happen and what the practitioners and more so we have climate resilient guys, policymakers on this side. We have activists here, we have practitioners here, we ourselves are not connected. Forget and criticizing the others, we ourselves are not connected. I think to the youngsters who are on this class: start thinking that whatever you're trying to do is can I create a solution? Tomorrow, can I effectively look at 150 other families getting an implementation? Because that's the most critical thing that will change move the needle, the hundred 50 will lead to thousand 500 which will lead to 10,000 which will lead to a million. We need solutions right now and as a huge gap. Even when the government of Karnataka does a policy, I am bankrupt of solutions. I'm bankrupt of institutions that come up with solutions. And that needs to happen practically what's going to happen and for the 60% of the world's population that needs to happen, and that's missing. Dangerously missing.
Laney Seigner 53:21
Thanks, Harish. That was, yeah, that was an inspiring and, and energizing call to action. I think that's incredibly needed right now.
So I'm gonna try and bundle some questions up, and I know we're getting kind of close to the end of time. So if, if you need to drop off students or speakers, that's perfectly fine. I'll just kind of try and bundle things up and get to what we can. And if you're able to stay for another 10 minutes or so, that's also that's also appreciated and wonderful.
So let's see going back to some questions that came up during Dipti's portion of the talk. Let's see if....I'm trying to bundle up some similar ones. But Fatima, do you want to ask your question that came up at that time? About roadblocks?
Yes, I was, um, I was listening and really trying to understand what was the biggest roadblock from politics because I feel well, there is a total inaction at total lack of ambition. So I was wondering, what was the main roadblock? Was it a lobbying or lack of awareness of the crisis denial or anything else? What what will be the opinion of our brilliant panelists?
Dipti Bhatnagar 54:47
Should I respond?
Laney Seigner 54:48
Dipti Bhatnagar 54:50
Thanks for the Fatima for the question. It's a really good question. I think that the biggest roadblock is corporate power and the interaction with our government elites, especially here in Africa has created a situation where power and money is completely entrenched, and they are not going to come with any solutions because they are being benefited by massive fossil fuel projects, there is no incentive for them to do otherwise.
We had some amazing freedom fighters on this continent in India, where I where I was born. And somewhere along the post colonial project, we have completely lost the ideals of our independent struggles, we recreated the colonial systems, which meant that we need to extract from the planet and we need to extract from other people's bodies to be able to maintain our system. And until that changes, then it's not going to change the multiple crises are not going to go away. So that's the level that we're working on. We're working at that systemic level to be able to hold governments accountable.
I really hear her rage when you say what the hell these governments are not going to do anything but the thing is that governments are our, I mean, that's our democratic structures, right? That's our accountability. They're not accountable to us right now. But we need to create that because that's where our collective power comes from as people in every single country and together. So, and corporate power is completely unaccountable. The companies are completely unaccountable. So for me, that nexus is what is the biggest roadblock. And that's why fighting that and creating a system which actually values human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and values that the planet has ecological limits that you just cannot keep extracting from. Until that changes, that's for me, that's the biggest roadblock and I think that's what we're working on, for example.
Laney Seigner 56:44
Mm hmm. Thanks. Thanks for that response. Dipti. That's wonderful. And I'm gonna direct the question towards Harish that came up during your talk since we didn't get to those quite yet. And let's see. Rhythm, I think you had you had a question during Harish's talk about examples and stories, do you want to go ahead and ask that question?
Yep, totally. Hi Harish, thanks for your words. My question to you would be you know, as a society, are there examples, the stories that we can relate to where community has come up with the solution and that solution, you know, is scalable? Can we you know, put that story across to a lot of people and maybe a lot of people get influenced by that.
Harish Hande 57:28
See, one one is, I will also take Dipti's last comment a bit, once I finish. See the issue is the there are a lot of lot of solutions. And the question is what happens is we we should look at the solution in a holistic manner. Not, sometimes if I'm if I have hundred houses, and all have solar power, right. And the question is, we sometimes focus on, okay, that solar panel in hundred houses, how can be replicated 2,000 houses? No, that's not how scale would work. The scale works is how are they financed? Can I scale up the financial process of those hundred houses for another hundred houses that are that has rice mills? How are the rice mills that were financed in one area with 200 rice mills, how can you use the same financial model and scale it up to water from pumping somewhere else? Which are the which are the sectors that actually come up with which are the human resources in the local it is or the vocational schools that will lead to the creation of these champions? Can we scale up the coursework in vocational schools? Today, when we think of scale up, we only think in terms of technology, we need to scale up processes. So there are numerous like, for example, the midday meal mechanism in India, where people come and eat, the students are sent to school, so that they eat so that they not only come to school, but they have a free meal and and and that incentivizes parents to send back. Brilliant model. So what we basically did was, can we reverse that model?
What we did was, we put solar, we put lights and batteries at home and we put solar panels on school where the kid comes to the school with a small battery in hand charges into schools charging station if she does not come to school, there's no light at home. So, the question is: the same model we reversed it, to me there are numerous analogies that exists. We need to scale up the processes as long as we are able to articulate. And the numerous example whether you look at financing models in Manipur, central, decentralized drought and drip irrigation in Maharashtra to the financial models in Tanzania. There is so but it doesn't bubble up to the English speaking crowd, other ventures all the other society to make it sexy enough for any other kid. That's what pushed that we need to do is break upon these human boundaries that manmade boundaries and say these are solutions valid for Tanzania which is actually valid for Manipur.
So coming back to the examples and numerous examples that that I can go in and all the all the processes are highly scalable. It's not about let's not look at scaling Google and Microsoft, can we scale up the street vendors, the concept of street vending? And so the other question, I absolutely am not letting that let us not look at the government account. Absolutely. Government is in education and health. But unfortunately, on the other side, and ice officer says Harish, I know but give me five solutions. I will replicate it, you know, every government 50% there are champions on our side. Are we helping those champions actually move forward? And that is what we need to what who are the champions see all the whole of government and all of corporate sector is not bad. There are 20% champions can we hold them and say you fight on our behalf? If I can catch all of Jamshed go ahead and say you talk to Adani and you talk to LionsForce because they will listen to you. That's what we need to arm these people with. There are 20-25% offices in Karnataka. If I go with a solution, they will scale it. They will scale it.
Are we giving them the platform? Or is it you all come and criticize me? I have two years, give me a solution. I'll scale it up. So my question is, let's not blanket everybody is bad. Like the same thing they are doing that civil society is bad, let's not blanket civil societies by the corporate. Let's not. There are good guys who all want to fight it. Can we arm both sides which solutions to replicate. And that's all I'm saying, that, let's let's look at strategically and see who will fight for us, which part of the government can fight for us?
Laney Seigner 1:01:34
Thanks for that response. Harish. I was just like, frantically trying to write some of it down. It's some good good quotes and sound bites in there. I mean, this just to help us all remember that, there, yeah, when we just cast a whole industry like fossil fuels as like, bad and evil, like does that actually limit us in finding partnerships and solutions and actually, you know, redoing things better. So I think that's a lot of really important and rich perspective there. And I really appreciate it.
So I want to I want to bring Zeke back into the conversation and just kind of have like, just looking through the questions that have come through. There's a lot on, you know, government policies and either the shortcomings of government or positive solutions and government, how we can have to have our governments be more accountable to our people, and also, yeah, just the role of people during this crisis. Like, sure we can all be aware of the pandemic and climate change and look for solutions, but like, what else is our role? What else can and should we be doing? And I'm just curious if like what you've seen and read and your work at the Breakthrough Institute is touching on some of these questions of government accountability and civil society? And if so, in what ways? So, yeah, that's my synthesis of the questions for now.
Zeke Hausfather 1:02:55
It's a good question. You know, I, I think one of the most important things we can do is sort of hold our leaders feet to the fire on the climate issue during a time when there is a lot less focus on climate. You know, there's a real risk that we repeat sort of what happened during the financial crisis. If you remember, shortly before the financial crisis, An Inconvenient Truth had come out, the IPCC and Al Gore had won the Nobel Peace Prize, you know, there's a huge amount of focus on climate as an issue that should be tackled imminently. Then the global financial crisis happened, people started focusing a lot more on economic growth, and, you know, revitalizing economic activity than reducing emissions in the world. You know, climate action kind of stagnated for almost a decade after that, or at least five or six years after that until the Paris Agreement. And so, you know, there's a real risk that something like that could happen again during COVID if, you know, we don't ensure that our leaders keep climate in mind when they're figuring out how to deal with the larger economic crises and the short term economic crises that are being driven by COVID-19.
You know, in terms of individual actions and whatnot, obviously, it's going to depend a lot and where in the world you are and what resources you have access to. But here in the US, in my experience, at least, you know, there's been some, as I mentioned earlier, the single largest reduction in emissions during COVID-19 has come from the transportation sector. And there's some reason to think there might be lasting behavioral changes in that sector. during the financial crisis, actually, or after the financial crisis, we saw a fairly large drop in US vehicle miles driven for the first time in a very long time and only was approaching pre financial crisis levels in 2019.
And so, you know, there's certainly a potential for a long term reduction in transport. After this, as people get more used to working from home, as more conferences go virtual, as you know, more people get car alternatives because they're cheaper, like electric bicycles, which have been sold out throughout the entire pandemic, pretty much everywhere. And so, you know, I'm hoping there'll be some behavior change in that sector in particular, and some changes in the way that we work and that we deal with convenings going forward. Now, obviously, those aren't the biggest drivers of emission globally, but every bit helps.
Laney Seigner 1:05:21
Awesome, thanks, thanks for touching on that. I want to I want to kind of wrap things up and just have like one final like, sort of lightning round question to each of you three. And just kind of summing things up with like, what are what are your like, either just general concluding thoughts on this topic of COVID recovery with a climate solutions lens? And what are your, any words of wisdom, you can kind of pick one of these if you want, but to our learning fellows who are taking the time to be part of this online course on climate, climate change, broadly looking to transition their lives and professions into climate action work that is meaningful and impactful. Like, I mean, a lot of this is because of the pandemic, that people are even having the time and the motivation to find online communities like this that are international. So yeah, so just any either final thoughts or a word of advice for our learning fellows would be great. And then we'll, Kamal and I will be able to follow up with any lingering questions and kind of keep the conversation going in our online communities and do putting people in touch with with the speakers. But yeah, we can go maybe go, Zeke Dipti, and then Harish, in the order that you spoke on just final thoughts.
Zeke Hausfather 1:06:36
Sure. So I guess my final thought is, you know, COVID-19 has a tragedy and a crisis but it also creates an opportunity for the world to really switch gears and transition to a clean energy future. And we need to all of us hold our leaders feet to the fire to make sure that happens and make sure this opportunity does not go to waste because we're not going to have another one like it hopefully anytime soon.
You know, I'm excited that that everyone wants to tackle these this problem and then feel like everyone should can find a different way to do so. Yeah.
Laney Seigner 1:07:25
Thanks, Zeke. Dipti, any any final thoughts from you?
Dipti Bhatnagar 1:07:29
Sure. I think it's it's really wonderful that you all are taking the time to, to improve yourselves. I think that's a that's a really important beautiful thing that each of us need to do. And I think that that while you do that, as he said, I totally agree, there are so many different ways of entering into the climate debate and bringing your strength into this work that we need to do and every single single one of us need to do it. And for me, I would say think about power. Think about power relations every day as you do your work. Think about the poorest, the most vulnerable people in the planet. What is the work that you're doing? And how can that actually improve people's lives because it's absolutely desperately needed. People are really suffering. Billions are really suffering on this planet. And we need to come to, to our work with this feeling of justice and kindness and really trying to change the power relations. And every single one of us has the power to do that, and especially if we get togethe. Organized peoples are the most powerful force nobody can can cannot change the world if we do that. So I would say, let's change the world together. It's absolutely needed. Thank you.
Laney Seigner 1:08:45
Thanks, Dipti. Yeah, I'm feeling energized, I want to like jump out of my chair here in the morning. Did, sorry, Harish, over to you for final thoughts to our group?
Harish Hande 1:08:56
My question is, this is for me. This is the best time to influence and recruit for the sector. I'm not on recruiting between 18 year olds and 22 year olds. So I'm thinking, this is the only sector that's actually giving hope. Every other sector is saying, I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know what's going to happen. This is the only sector saying that we have an opportunity, catch all of 18 year olds. But if you if any of the index one month, each of one year, you're taking this course, if you just challenge yourself that I'm going to convert next hundred 18 between 18 and 22. Because by the time the UN SDG goals actually have a new mark by 2030, These guys will be between 28 and 35. In very critical, important decisions. So you have if we create a mass movement of champions because there's only industry that is giving hope, let's catch hold between 18 to 22, to make them our champions. We stuck to them during the worst crisis, when everybody else rejected them. We don't know we are the only sector we actually have a solution. Catch all of those 18 to 20 year olds.
Laney Seigner 1:10:02
I love that. Yeah, that's people, especially 18 to 22 year olds, I feel like that sector, or that age range really needs that, that hope and that reminder and, and people are putting off their plans to go to university, they're putting off their, their plans to do whatever they thought they were going to do last year, like so this is, this is a critical moment. And so I think for some of us, what this year might look like, is really reaching out and engaging with the 18 to 22 year old population. So that's, that's a great, great point.
And so I'll definitely save the chat and the contact info and and everything that's been stored here during this zoom. And we can keep this kind of conversation and discussion points going within our groups of the cohort. But I just want to say a really big thank you to our distinguished panelists. It was amazing to have the three of you together, and I've been really craving this international perspective on the crisis to sort of break free from the US News that is inundating us with with bad things and room for improvement. So this is this is really special to have all of you together. Big, big thank you. And if you're comfortable sharing your contact information and I think some of you already have in your slides, Dipti, and, and maybe in the chat, please do so and then we'll pass along any urgent questions, but I really value your time and your willingness to engage with our learning fellows from all over the world. So thank you all.
Zeke Hausfather 1:11:34
Laney Seigner 1:11:37
Thank you guys. Have a great rest of your days everyone.
Dipti Bhatnagar 1:11:43
Thanks take care and stay safe everybody.
Unknown Speaker 1:11:47
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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