1.5 degree aspirations and 2.7 degree pledges

Windmills and Sailboats on the Ocean

Photo: CPG Grey (CC-BY-2.0)

A podcast worth subscribing to is the Guardian live event podcast. The Guardian invites interesting people to have interesting conversations. Recently, they hosted a conversation on climate change between Ed Milliband, former labour leader and almost-prime-minister of the UK and the activist and author George Monbiot to discuss climate change.


Milliband, quite progressive on the issue for a politician. The voice of pragmatism and institutional change. Monbiot, the consummate activist and idealist, who has been campaigning on this issue for decades. And something of a personal hero of mine (his wonderful little book Heat was a turning point for my views on climate change).

The dialogue that develops quickly demonstrates that Monbiot is starting to lose hope. He was already quite gloomy in Heat when it came out ten years ago. And while much is happening in the beginnings of the green shift, it is clear that we are running out of  time and not changing fast enough. As Milliband puts it: through the Paris accords, we have committed to 1.5 degree aspirations and  2.7 degree pledges. Meaning that the international  community is saying it will keep the planet’s temperature beneath 1.5 degrees of warming while only pledging to cut carbon emissions enough to keep warming below 2.7 degrees (which could potentially be catastrophic).

Strangely, it is the hope of the career politician Milliband that keeps the session afloat. As I’ve occasionally noticed in the most skilled politicians, hope is a default setting. Quite simply because while things are looking hopeless, you will not get anything done or have any hope of surpassing your odds if you don’t rally people to a hopeful cause.

Download it as a podcast and hear the whole thing. It’s worth your time. There’s also an excellent answer in there by Monbiot on population control, which he claims is  quite unimportant in the grand scheme of things when it comes to climate change. (And also: “It seems there’s an iron law that every time someone mentions that topic they have to call it the elephant in the room.”)


Oh, and another podcast worth your time: The excellent Irish novelist Colm Tóibín on writing his novel Nora Webster. Such an amazing writter, and also a fantastic person. I met him a few years back at a literary festival and had the chance to spend fifteen minutes or so chatting to him. A deep and serious writer, and in person joyous and fun to be around (he made great fun of my shoes, I remember).


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