Transcript: Are Climate Scientists Cautiously Optimistic? | Sep 20, 2021

Steve Paikin sits at the Agenda news desk. He wears a dark grey suit and a navy blue tie. A monitor behind him shows a red lowercase ‘a’. Paikin interlocks his fingers as he rests his hands on the desk. Papers, a cell phone, and a glass of water sit in front of him.

Text reads, “Are Climate Scientists Cautiously Optimistic?”

Paikin begins,
LAST MONTH, THE
INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON
CLIMATE CHANGE RELEASED ITS MOST
RECENT REPORT.
AND IT WILL SURPRISE NO ONE
AFTER THIS SUMMER'S FIRES AND
FLOODS THAT IT CONTAINS SOME
TOUGH NEWS.
BUT LESS NOTED WAS SOME CAUSE
FOR OPTIMISM.
WITH US NOW FOR MORE, TWO OF THE
CLIMATE SCIENTISTS WHO
CONTRIBUTED TO THE REPORT:
IN VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA:
GREG FLATO, SENIOR RESEARCH
SCIENTIST AT ENVIRONMENT AND
CLIMATE CHANGE CANADA AND VICE
CHAIR OF THE IPCC'S WORKING
GROUP ONE; AND IN ATLANTA,
GEORGIA: KIM COBB, PROFESSOR IN
THE SCHOOL OF EARTH AND
ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AT THE
GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY,
AND ONE OF THE LEAD AUTHORS OF
THE IPCC'S WORKING GROUP ONE.
WE'RE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME BOTH
OF YOU TO TVO TONIGHT.
GREG, PERHAPS YOU COULD TAKE US
THROUGH THE MAIN FINDINGS OF THE
REPORT.

Text reads, “Greg Flato, Environment and Climate Change Canada”

Text continues, “Are Climate Scientists Cautiously Optimistic? Breaking Down the UN report”

Greg says,
OKAY. WELL, I THINK THE MAIN FINDINGS
ARE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE THAT WE
HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCING IS
CHANGING RAPIDLY, IS CHANGING IN
WAYS THAT ARE UNPRECEDENTED IN
AT LEAST TWO THOUSAND YEARS.
THAT WE KNOW WHY THE CLIMATE IS
CHANGING. IT'S INDISPUTABLE
THAT HUMAN ACTIVITIES ARE CAUSING
THE CHANGES IN AVERAGE
TEMPERATURE, CAUSING CHANGES
IN EXTREMES, BOTH THE INTENSITY
AND FREQUENTLY OF VARIOUS
EXTREME EVENTS, AND THAT IT IS THE
FUTURE PATHWAYS OF EMISSIONS
THAT WILL DETERMINE THE EXTENT
OF WARMING AND THE EXTENT OF
CHANGES THAT WE WILL SEE GOING
FORWARD.

Paikin responds,
KIM, I'VE HEARD THIS QUESTION
ASKED, AND I'M SURE YOU HAVE
HEARD IT ASKED MANY TIMES,
BUT LET'S PUT IT TO YOU ANYWAY:
THE EARTH'S TEMPERATURE HAS
VARIED BEFORE. WHAT MAKES
THIS TIME DIFFERENT?

Text reads, “Kim Cobb, Georgia Institute of Technology”

Kim answers,
WELL, THIS DEFINITELY HITS ON MY
CORE EXPERTISE IN PALEOCLIMATE.
WHAT MAKES THESE CURRENT PERIODS
SO EXCEPTIONAL ARE THREE THINGS:
THE GLOBAL EXTENT OF THE WARMING
WE'RE SEEING IS UNUSUAL IN THE
CONTEXT OF THE LAST SEVERAL
MILLENNIA, THE RATE OF WARNING
IS ALSO RELATIVELY UNUSUAL.
REMEMBER, WE KNOW IT TOOK TEN
THOUSAND YEARS TO WARM FROM
THE LAST ICE AGE, WHICH WAS A 5°
CELSIUS CHANGE, AND LAST BUT NOT
LEAST WE KNOW THE LEVELS OF
CURRENT WARMING ARE ALSO HIGHLY
UNUSUAL. WE HAVE TO GO BACK IN FACT
ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND
YEARS OR MORE TO THE LAST
INTERGLACIAL PERIOD TO SEE GLOBAL
TEMPERATURES WARMER THAN THEY
ARE TODAY.

Paikin asks,
SO, IN FACT, THIS TIME IT'S DIFFERENT?

Kim responds, IT'S DIFFERENT.

Paikin adds,
THE REPORT ALSO
HIGHLIGHTS SOME PATHWAYS TO
MANAGE SOME CLIMATE RISKS.
KIM, DO YOU WANT TO TAKE US
THROUGH SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS
OF THAT?

Kim answers,
YES.
SO VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT
THE IPCC WORKING GROUP ONE IS
POLICY RELEVANT BUT REALLY NOT
POLICY PRESCRIPTIVE. BUT
HAVING SAID THAT, THERE ARE SOME
VERY ACTIONABLE INFORMATION
CONTAINED IN THE REPORT, AND
MOST NOTABLY A REGION BY REGION
BREAKDOWN OF THE KINDS OF
CLIMATE IMPACTS THAT ARE OF
COURSE ALREADY UPON US AND WILL
ACCELERATE IN COMING DECADES,
GIVING COMMUNITIES AND
POLICYMAKERS REALLY RELEVANT
INFORMATION TO CHART A COURSE
FOR CLIMATE-READY COMMUNITIES AS
WELL AS UNDERSTAND JUST THE
RISKS THAT ARE AT STAKE RIGHT NOW
WITH RESPECT TO EMISSIONS
CHOICES IN THE NEXT DECADE OR
TWO.
NUMBER TWO, THE IMPORTANT
INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS
REPORT OUTLINING WARMING LEVELS
ACROSS THE CENTURY TIED TO
SPECIFIC EMISSIONS CHOICES AND
HELPING US UNDERSTAND THAT THAT
MOST AMBITIOUS TARGET OF 1.5°
CELSIUS IS STILL WITHIN REACH IF
DRAMATIC AND SUSTAINED ACTIONS
ARE TAKEN THIS DECADE.

Paikin replies,
THAT LEADS TO THE NEXT THING WE
WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHICH IS THE
HOPEFUL PATH THAT THIS REPORT
LIKES TO PUT US ON AND HERE'S AN
EXCERPT FROM THE REPORT I'LL READ
RIGHT NOW THAT SUGGESTS DESPITE
THE PRECARIOUS POSITION THE PLANET
IS IN, IT'S NOT HOPELESS.
HERE WE GO, A REASON FOR HOPE:

Text reads, “Deliberate removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere could reverse…some aspects of climate change. However, this will only happen…if deliberate removals are larger than emissions. Some climate change trends, such as the increase in global surface temperature, would start to reverse within a few years. Other aspects…would take decades (e.g. permafrost thawing) or centuries (e.g. acidification of the deep ocean) to reverse, and some, such as sea level rise, would take centuries to millennia to change direction.

Paikin adds,
OKAY. SO, GREG, THIS HAS, YOU KNOW,
OBVIOUSLY PROFOUND IMPLICATIONS
HERE AND CANADA HAS SAID THAT IT
IS COMMITTED TO MOVING TOWARDS A
NET-ZERO EMISSION SITUATION BY
THE YEAR 2050. LET'S PICK THAT APART.
NET-ZERO EMISSIONS MEANS WHAT,
EXACTLY?

Text reads, “Are Climate Scientists Cautiously Optimistic? A Hopeful Path”

Greg responds,
WELL, NET-ZERO EMISSIONS MEANS
THAT WE HAVE STOPPED THE
FORCING THAT IS DRIVING
TEMPERATURES TO INCREASE.
SO IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE CAR
ANALOGY, IF YOUR FOOT IS ON THE
GAS, THE CAR IS GOING TO KEEP
ACCELERATING.
THE ONLY WAY TO GET THE CAR TO
STOP ACCELERATING IS TO TAKE
YOUR FOOT OFF THE GAS.
AND IF YOU WANT IT TO SLOW DOWN,
TO PUT YOUR FOOT ON THE BRAKE.
SO TEMPERATURES WILL CONTINUE TO
RISE AS LONG AS EMISSIONS OF
GREENHOUSE GASES, PARTICULARLY
CARBON DIOXIDE, CONTINUE TO BE
PUT INTO THE ATMOSPHERE BECAUSE
CARBON DIOXIDE LASTS FOR A VERY
LONG TIME ONCE IT'S PLACED IN
THE ATMOSPHERE.
SO ONLY BY HALTING THOSE
EMISSIONS AND GETTING TO ZERO OR
NET ZERO, WHICH IS THE
COMBINATION OF EMISSION
REDUCTIONS PLUS SOME REMOVALS TO
OFFSET THE DIFFICULT-TO-MITIGATE
EMISSIONS OF THINGS LIKE METHANE
FROM AGRICULTURE, THEN YOU GET
TO A SITUATION WHERE YOU CAN
STABILIZE TEMPERATURE AT SOME
LEVEL.

Paikin replies,
WELL, HELP US
UNDERSTAND THAT A LITTLE BETTER.
I THINK PROBABLY PEOPLE CAN'T
IMAGINE A SITUATION WHERE WE'RE
NOT EMITTING ANYTHING NOXIOUS
INTO THE ATMOSPHERE, BUT THE
FLIPSIDE OF SOMEHOW BEING ABLE
TO MITIGATE THAT BY DOING OTHER
THINGS. WHAT ARE THOSE OTHER
THINGS THAT WE CAN BE DOING?

Greg says,
WELL, THERE ARE WAYS THAT
CARBON DIOXIDE CAN BE REMOVED
FROM THE ATMOSPHERE.
THERE ARE NATURAL PROCESSES THAT
TAKE CARBON DIOXIDE OUT OF THE
ATMOSPHERE AND STORE IT IN LAND
AND IN THE OCEAN, AND THOSE
PROCESSES CONTINUE TO OPERATE
TODAY, AS THEY DID ALL THE TIME
IN THE PAST.
THE DIFFICULTY IS THAT WE'RE
PUTTING MORE CARBON DIOXIDE INTO
THE ATMOSPHERE THAN THOSE
PROCESSES CAN KEEP UP WITH, AND
SO CONCENTRATIONS ARE RISING IN
THE ATMOSPHERE.
SO WAYS THAT WE COULD REDUCE
THAT ARE, FIRST OF ALL, TO STOP
EMITTING IN THE FIRST PLACE OR
REDUCE OUR EMISSIONS.
TO DO THINGS THAT WOULD ENHANCE
THE ABILITY OF THE NATURAL
SYSTEM TO TAKE CARBON DIOXIDE
UP.
OR TO INTRODUCE TECHNOLOGICAL
MEANS WHEREBY WE EXTRACT CARBON
DIOXIDE FROM THE EFFLUENT OF
FOSSIL FUEL-FIRED PLANTS, FOR
EXAMPLE, OR CAPTURE IT FROM THE
AIR AND STORE IT UNDERGROUND IN
GEOLOGICAL FORMATIONS, THINGS
LIKE THAT.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF THINGS
THAT CAN BE DONE, AT LEAST
THEORETICALLY CAN BE DONE, BUT
AT THIS POINT THOSE
TECHNOLOGICAL TYPES OF
INTERVENTIONS ARE STILL REALLY
IN THE PILOT PHASE.

Paikin responds,
LET ME FOLLOW UP
WITH KIM COBB ON THAT BECAUSE
GREG DID SAY THEORETICALLY. SO
I WONDER HOW CLOSE WE ARE FROM
MOVING FROM THEORETICALLY TO
ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO DO THAT
ON A SUSTAINABLE BASIS?

Kim laughs.

She answers,
TOUGH QUESTION INDEED. YOU
MAY HAVE SEEN THE NEWS THIS
WEEK A NEW PILOT FACILITY FOR
DIRECT AIR CAPTURE OF CARBON
DIOXIDE OPENING IN ICELAND.
THIS WOULD BE SUCH A SMALL
FRACTION OF THE TOTAL CO2 IN THE
SKY TO BE VIRTUALLY NEGLIGIBLE
AND IT'S QUITE COSTLY AS WELL.
AND SO FOR NOW, AGAIN AS GREG WAS
SAYING, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
WE NEED TO DO IS TO REDUCE THE
EMISSION, THE INPUT OF THESE
GREENHOUSE GASES INTO THE SKY IN
THE FIRST PLACE.
AND SECOND OF ALL, MOST
IMPORTANTLY, MAKE SURE THAT
THOSE NATURAL SINKS THAT HAVE
BEEN WORKING SO HARD FOR US OVER
THE LAST DECADE, BASICALLY
SAVING US FROM 50% OF THE
EMISSIONS THAT WE HAVE PUT UP
INTO THE SKY, COMING BACK DOWN
INTO THE LAND, INTO THE
ATMOSPHERE, INTO THE OCEAN, ARE
INTACT AND THAT THEY ARE HEALTHY
GOING FORWARD.
THIS INCLUDES THE RAINFORESTS
OF THE WORLD, WHICH
UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE TURNING IN
THE WRONG DIRECTION, USING TO
DEFOREST SO MUCH OF THE
RAINFOREST THAT IT'S CONTRIBUTING
TEN TO FIFTEEN PERCENT OF THE
EMISSIONS THAT WE ARE CREATING
EVERY SINGLE YEAR. AND SO,
AGAIN, MAKING SURE THAT WE KEEP
THOSE ECOSYSTEMS INTACT TO SERVE
AS NATURAL SINKS, JUST AS
IMPORTANT AS THINKING ABOUT
EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS, JUST AS
IMPORTANT AS THINKING ABOUT HOW
QUICKLY WE CAN SCALE THESE VERY
NEW AND RELATIVELY EXPENSIVE
TECHNOLOGIES TO REVERSE SOME
ASPECTS OF OUR EMISSIONS IN THE
COMING DECADES.

Paikin adds,
AND KIM, LET ME FOLLOW
UP WITH YOU AGAIN ON THE EXCERPT
I READ FROM YOUR REPORT JUST A
MOMENT AGO.
IT SUGGESTED THAT IF WE DID SOME
GOOD THINGS, WE COULD SEE SOME
RELATIVELY QUICK SIGNS OF
IMPROVEMENT.
THERE ARE OTHER THINGS, HOWEVER,
THAT COULD TAKE YEARS OR EVEN
CENTURIES TO IMPROVE UPON. OKAY.
SO THE QUESTION IS: HOW QUICKLY
MIGHT THE WARMING OF THE PLANET
STOP IF WE WERE TO MOVE IN
RELATIVELY SHORT ORDER TO DO
SOME OF THE THINGS THAT THE
REPORT SUGGESTS?

Kim replies,
WELL, IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT
THAT THE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDS THIS.
WHAT WE'RE FIGHTING FOR IS THE
ABILITY TO LIMIT WARMING TO 1.5°
CELSIUS BY MID-CENTURY.
THAT IMPLIES TWO THINGS.
WE STILL HAVE SOME INCREMENTS OF
WARMING TO COME AND WE KNOW ALL
THE IMPACTS THAT COME ALONG WITH
THAT THANKS TO THE NEW SCIENCE
IN THE IPCC REPORT.
WHAT WE'RE DOING IN ACTING
QUICKLY TOWARDS ACHIEVING THAT
KIND OF MAXIMUM OF WARMING IS
FRANKLY RESERVING THE RIGHT TO
COOL LATER THIS CENTURY.
THE TRAJECTORIES OF THE MOST
AMBITIOUS PATHWAYS IN THE NEW
REPORT DO IN FACT SHOW COOLING
THROUGHOUT THE LATTER PART OF
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.
SOMETHING THAT WE WEREN'T
CERTAIN WE COULD ACHIEVE SEVERAL
YEARS AGO WITH THE SCIENCE.
AND SO NOW WE'RE ABLE TO SAY
THAT THAT'S A PATHWAY WE COULD
WALK IF WE SO DESIRE, BUT AGAIN,
THE NEXT DECADE, CRITICAL
CHOICES ABOUT OUR EMISSIONS
PATHWAYS THAT WOULD EITHER MAKE
THAT OUT OF REACH OR, OF COURSE,
MAKE THE WARMING LEVELS HIGHER
BY MID-CENTURY TOGETHER WITH ALL
OF THOSE IMPACTS ALONG WITH IT.

Paikin asks,
CAN I GET YOU TO SPEAK TO ONE
MORE THING, WHICH IS, YOU CAN
IMAGINE THE LAYPERSON SAYING
1.5° CELSIUS WARMING. WELL,
THAT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE VERY
MUCH. IT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE IT
WOULD HAVE MUCH OF AN IMPACT
AT ALL. COULD YOU EXPLAIN WHY
IT IS EXTREMELY IMPACTFUL?

Kim answers,
YES.
I THINK PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND
WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW AND THE
FACT THAT WE ARE CURRENTLY
REELING FROM SO MANY
CLIMATE-FUELED NATURAL DISASTERS
AROUND THE WORLD THAT ARE
GRIPPING OUR HEADLINES.
WITH THIS NEW UNITED NATIONS'
REPORT, STRONGER PHYSICAL LINKS
TO DROUGHT IN DROUGHT-PRONE
REGIONS LIKE THE WESTERN UNITED
STATES AND THE MEDITERRANEAN.
FIRE-PRONE WEATHER, IN THOSE AREAS
PILING ON TO CREATE THE KIND OF
CONDITIONS WE SEE ON THE GROUND
RIGHT NOW IN THE HEADLINES, AND
WHERE PEOPLE ARE LOSING LIVES,
LIVELIHOODS, AND LANDSCAPES THAT
WILL BE TRANSFORMED FOR DECADES
TO COME.
SO WHAT WE CAN DO NOW IS LINK
THESE EXTREMES TO THE CURRENT
LEVELS OF WARMING.
1.1° CELSIUS IS WHERE WE ARE
PARKED RIGHT NOW.
AND WE'RE TALKING ABOUT ADDING
AN ADDITIONAL .4° CELSIUS ONTO
THE WARMING LEVELS THAT WE ARE
RIGHT NOW AND BRINGING THAT
WHOLE BASKET OF CLIMATE CHANGE
IMPACTS UP SEVERAL MORE NOTCHES
FROM WHERE WE ARE. SO THIS IS
THE PROBLEM. THE CLIMATE SYSTEM
IS VERY SENSITIVE TO THESE LEVELS OF
GLOBAL WARMING, AND IF WE DON'T
LIKE WHERE WE ARE, WE CERTAINLY
DON'T WANT TO SEE A DOUBLING OF
WARMING TO A 2° C LEVEL OF
WARMING OR MORE.

Text reads, “Are Climate Scientists Cautiously Optimistic? The Paris Agreement”

Paikin replies,
UNDERSTOOD. ALL RIGHT, GREG.
I WANT YOU TO TAKE US BACK ABOUT
SIX YEARS WHEN CANADA, ALONG
WITH NEARLY TWO HUNDRED
COUNTRIES, SIGNED THE PARIS
CLIMATE AGREEMENT.
AND IT COMMITTED US AND ALL
THOSE OTHER SIGNATORIES TO DO
VARIOUS THINGS TO FIGHT CLIMATE
CHANGE.
I WONDER IF YOU COULD TELL US IN
YOUR JUDGMENT SO FAR HOW WELL WE
HAVE DONE IN LIVING UP TO THOSE
COMMITMENTS WE MADE IN THE PARIS
CLIMATE AGREEMENT?

Greg says,
WELL, THE PARIS
AGREEMENT WAS UNIQUE IN THE
SENSE THAT IT ALLOWS COUNTRIES
TO SET THEIR OWN NATIONALLY
DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS TO
REDUCING EMISSIONS AND TO
HALTING CLIMATE CHANGE.
SO AFTER THE PARIS AGREEMENT,
COUNTRIES ONE AFTER ANOTHER
ROLLED OUT THEIR INITIAL PLANS,
THEIR INITIAL LEVELS OF
AMBITION, AS CANADA DID AND MOST
OTHER COUNTRIES DID, BUT THE
IMPORTANT PART OF THE PARIS
AGREEMENT IS THAT IT HAS THIS
MECHANISM TO RAMP UP THE LEVEL
OF AMBITION.
THERE'S SOMETHING CALLED THE
GLOBAL STOCK TAKE, WHICH IS
EVERY FIVE YEARS FOLLOWING THE
PARIS AGREEMENT, THERE IS, YOU
KNOW, A STEPPING BACK AND
LOOKING AT HOW MUCH WE
ACCOMPLISHED, WHAT HAVE WE DONE,
WHERE THERE'S STILL CHALLENGES,
WHAT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE, HOW
COULD WE DO MORE?
AND THAT'S REALLY THE KEY TO THE
PARIS AGREEMENT, IS THIS
CONSTANT RATCHETING UP OF
AMBITION.
AND A NUMBER OF COUNTRIES,
INCLUDING CANADA, HAVE VERY
RECENTLY ANNOUNCED ADDITIONAL
EFFORTS, ADDITIONAL TARGETS,
MORE STRINGENT TARGETS, MORE
AMBITIOUS ACTION TO LIMIT
CLIMATE CHANGE, AND THAT'S
EXACTLY HOW THE PARIS AGREEMENT
IS INTENDED TO WORK.
BUT OF COURSE, IT TAKES TIME FOR
THESE ANNOUNCEMENTS TO BE TURNED
INTO ACTION, AND THAT ACTION TO
ULTIMATELY BE TURNED INTO
EMISSION REDUCTIONS.

Paikin responds,
I APPRECIATE THAT. BUT I…
HOW DO I PUT THIS? I'M REALLY
NOT TRYING TO GET YOU MIXED UP
IN THE CURRENT ELECTION CAMPAIGN,
I'M REALLY NOT, BUT THIS ISSUE HAS
COME UP OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN
THE CURRENT ELECTION CAMPAIGN,
AND SO HAVING YOU HERE, I WANT
TO DO A LITTLE FACT-CHECKING.
IT HAS BEEN ALLEGED THAT THE
CURRENT GOVERNMENT HAS NOT MET
A SINGLE CLIMATE TARGET AGREED
TO IN THE PARIS CLIMATE
AGREEMENT. TRUE OR FALSE?

Greg replies,
WELL, YEAH. I MEAN, I'M NOT A POLICY
PERSON. I'M A SCIENCE PERSON.
AND THE TARGETS THAT HAVE BEEN
ANNOUNCED ARE TARGETS FOR YEARS
LIKE 2030 AND 2050, WHICH OF
COURSE ARE STILL IN THE FUTURE.
AND WHAT DOES THE IPCC REPORT
AND THE PREVIOUS REPORT ON 1.5°
WARMING SO IT VERY CLEARLY THAT
IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THESE VERY
LOW LEVELS OF WARMING LIKE 1.5
OR 2°, WE HAVE TO GET EMISSIONS
DOWN TO SOMETHING LIKE HALF OF
WHERE THEY ARE BY 2030 AND GET
TO NET ZERO BY AROUND 2050.
SO THAT IS THE TRAJECTORY THAT
IS REQUIRED IF WE WANT TO KEEP
TEMPERATURES BELOW 1.5 OR 2°,
WHICH IS IN FACT, THE PARIS
AGREEMENT TARGET.

Paikin says,
KIM, I'LL MAKE THE
SAME ADMONITION TO YOU.
I'M NOT TRYING TO GET YOU MIXED
UP IN IN U.S. POLITICS.
WE WELL REMEMBER THAT THE U.S.
WAS IN AND THE PREVIOUS
REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION TOOK
THE U.S. OUT OF THE PARIS CLIMATE
AGREEMENT.
WHERE IS THE U.S. NOW?

Kim responds,
WELL, WE ARE IN
AND UP TO THE CURRENT
ADMINISTRATION PLACES A HIGH
PRIORITY ON CLIMATE ACTION AND
IS MOVING THROUGH DISCUSSION AND
A BUDGET FOR THE UNITED STATES
THAT WOULD REALLY CHART A PATH
TOWARDS VERY AGGRESSIVE
EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS IN THE VERY
NEAR TERM, OVER THE NEXT FIFTEEN
YEARS OR SO, IF SOME OF THESE
ASPECTS OF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE
BILL PASS.
WHAT IS MOST NOTABLE AS WELL IS
THE ADMINISTRATION'S ACTION TO
BOLSTER THE RESILIENCE OF
COMMUNITIES ACROSS AMERICA, TO
HARNESS THIS NEWLY AVAILABLE
SCIENCE AND MAKE IT ACTIONABLE
TO KEEP COMMUNITIES SAFE AS WE
CONTINUE TO WARM.
OBVIOUSLY A LOT ON THE LINE IN
THE UNITED STATES, A NEW ROLE
FOR CLIMATE ACTION, SOMETHING
THAT I HOPE GREATLY, AS A
SCIENTIST WHO HAS BEEN WORKING
ON THIS FOR DECADES, WE COME TO
SEE THE KIND OF IMMEDIATE
SUSTAINED EMISSIONS REDUCTION
BECAUSE THE EARLY AGGRESSIVE
ACTION IS EXACTLY WHAT IS
REQUIRED.
THAT'S WHAT BRINGS WARMING
LEVELS TO A LOWER LEVEL LATER
AND LESS IS NOT WHAT IS IN THE
FORMULA FOR KEEPING WARMING
LEVELS TO A MINIMUM THIS CENTURY.

Paikin replies,
YOU KNOW, I TAKE YOUR POINT.
BUT AS YOU LOOK AROUND THE
WORLD, WHAT DO YOU SEE IN TERMS
OF OTHER COUNTRIES WHICH HAVE
SIGNED THE PARIS AGREEMENT IN
TERMS OF THEIR LIVING UP TO THE
SPIRIT AND THE LETTER OF WHAT
THEY AGREED TO?

Kim says,
WELL, I THINK, YOU KNOW, I'M
NOT A POLICYMAKER AS WELL, AS
GREG SAID, BUT, YOU KNOW, THE
DISRUPTION THAT CoVID HAS
BROUGHT INTO OUR LIVES IS
APPARENT IN TERMS OF SOME OF THE
LESSONS IT MIGHT HOLD GOING
FORWARD, ESPECIALLY AS WE
APPROACH THE RATCHETING UP OF
AMBITIONS IN TERMS OF WHAT'S
TRULY POSSIBLE.
MANY COUNTRIES THINKING ABOUT
ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGES,
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS, JOB
PACKAGES TO BOOST THEIR
ECONOMIES IN A POST CoVID
WORLD, THINKING ABOUT HOW TO
CENTRE THE KINDS OF LOW CARBON
ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES AND CLIMATE
ACTION INTO THOSE BILLS IS
OBVIOUSLY CRITICAL, AND CoVID
HELPING US UNDERSTAND JUST HOW
QUICKLY THINGS CAN CHANGE EVEN
IN THE BEST LAID PLANS AND THAT
IT'S CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO GET
GOING RIGHT NOW.

Text reads, “Are Climate Scientists Cautiously Optimistic? Tvo.org/theagenda AgendaConnect@tvo.org”

Paikin states,
HERE'S A WEIRD
QUESTION FOR YOU, GREG: IS THERE
A SMALL PART OF YOU THAT
APPRECIATES, NOT THE DEATH
OBVIOUSLY, WHAT CoVID DID TO
THIS WORLD?
WE HAD CLEAR SKIES IN A LOT OF
PLACES THAT WE NEVER USED TO
HAVE CLEAR SKIES IN BECAUSE SO
MANY PEOPLE COULDN'T POLLUTE IN
THE WAY THEY USED TO.
IS THERE A PART OF YOU THAT KIND
OF APPRECIATES THAT?

Greg replies,
WELL, IT'S HARD
TO FRAME IT AS APPRECIATION, BUT
IT IS THE CASE THAT THE ECONOMIC
SLOWDOWN, THE FACT THAT THE
TRANSPORTATION SECTOR WAS SLOWED
DOWN REMARKABLY, FROM AIR
TRANSPORT TO VEHICLE TRANSPORT
TO TRUCK TRANSPORT, INDUSTRIAL
ACTIVITY SLOWED DOWN ESPECIALLY
IN THE EARLY PARTS OF THE
CoVID PANDEMIC AND THAT DID
LEAD DIRECTLY TO IMPROVED AIR
QUALITY IN A NUMBER OF PLACES
THAT CONSISTENTLY SUFFER FROM
POOR AIR QUALITY.
SO IT ILLUSTRATED VERY CLEARLY
THAT ACTION ON EMISSIONS NOT
ONLY IS HELPFUL FOR REDUCING
EMISSIONS THAT LEAD TO WARMING,
BUT LEAD TO A REDUCTION IN
EMISSIONS OF AIR POLLUTANTS THAT
ARE OFTEN CO-EMITTED WITH THESE
GREENHOUSE GASES, AND THAT THOSE
LEAD TO IMPROVEMENTS IN AIR
QUALITY AND IMPROVEMENTS IN
HEALTH.
SO FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE, IT WAS
YET AGAIN AN INDICATION THAT YOU
CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT AND
THERE IS OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE
NOT ONLY THE CLIMATE BUT THE AIR
THAT WE BREATHE.

Paikin says,
OKAY. KIM, LAST MINUTE TO YOU.
A BIG CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE
COMING UP IN SCOTLAND IN
NOVEMBER. WHAT WOULD YOU
LIKE TO SEE EMERGE FROM THAT?

Kim responds,
WELL, OBVIOUSLY,
AS A CLIMATE SCIENTIST WHO SEES
THE WRITING ON THE WALL QUITE
CLEARLY WITH RESPECT TO WHAT'S
COMING DOWN THE ROAD AND THE
LEVEL OF EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS
THAT ARE REQUIRED TO MEET OUR
MOST AMBITIOUS TARGETS GLOBALLY,
I HOPE TO SEE ACTION ACROSS THE
BOARD.
I HOPE TO SEE A LEADING ROLE FOR
THE UNITED STATES AS OF COURSE
AN AMERICAN MYSELF, BUT ALSO
LOOKING TO SOME OF THE OTHER KEY
PLAYERS, CHINA, CANADA PLAYING
BIG ROLES, AUSTRALIA STEPPING UP
AND TALKING ABOUT WHAT CAN BE
DONE, AND THINKING ABOUT ALSO
HOW WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO TURN TO
SUPPORT EMERGING ECONOMIES WHERE
SOME OF THE DEFORESTATION IS
OCCURRING SO THAT WE RECOGNIZE
THE CRITICAL ROLE FOR PRESERVING
THE NATURAL STATES GOING
FORWARD.

Paikin replies,
WONDERFUL.
I WANT TO THANK KIM COBB AND
GREG FLATO JOINING US FROM
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, AND VICTORIA,
BRITISH COLUMBIA RESPECTIVELY.
SEE YOU LATER DOWN THE ROAD, I
HOPE.

Greg says, THANK YOU.

Kim adds, THANKS FOR HAVING US.

Text continues, “Are Climate Scientists Cautiously Optimistic? Produced by Preeti Bhuyan, @PreetiBhuyan”

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