Climate Confident

From Grassroots to Global Impact: The Power of Policy with Michael Sheldrick

February 14, 2024 Tom Raftery / Michael Sheldrick Season 1 Episode 157
Climate Confident
From Grassroots to Global Impact: The Power of Policy with Michael Sheldrick
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In this episode of the Climate Confident Podcast, I’m joined by Michael Sheldrick, co-founder of Global Citizen. Michael shares his journey from grassroots activism in Australia to spearheading a global movement that champions systemic solutions to poverty and climate change. His approach as a policy entrepreneur, prioritising actionable and strategic advocacy, underscores the episode's core message: significant, lasting change requires more than just temporary fixes.

We delve into the mechanics behind Global Citizen's success in mobilising millions for change, focusing on the importance of setting clear, measurable goals and engaging with policymakers in a meaningful way. Michael also discusses his new book, "From Ideas to Impact," offering insights into influencing and implementing policy in a divided world. This book acts as a playbook for those looking to make a difference beyond just awareness, providing practical steps towards achieving impactful policy changes.

Towards the end, Michael directs listeners to further resources and ways to engage with the issues discussed.

Michael's Links:
Website: www.michaelsheldrick.com
Substack: michaelsheldrick.substack.com
Twitter: @micksheldrick
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/michael-sheldrick-30364051
Instagram: @micksheldrick

This episode is a fascinating exploration into how targeted, informed action can drive the policy changes necessary to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues. It’s a call to listeners to think strategically about advocacy and the role of policy entrepreneurship in achieving global improvements.

Don't forget to check out the video version of this episode on YouTube.



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Credits
Music credits - Intro by Joseph McDade, and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played, and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

Michael Sheldrick:

Ari Ovinson came up with this idea of naive audacity. And he says, sometimes if you come up with a very clear, naively audacious goal, and people can see, okay, if this action happens, this is the impact that will happen. Sometimes that is enough to rally people around you because you know, in a world of confusion, of chaos, and division, people do crave solutions, and they crave purpose, and direction.

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the Climate Confident podcast, the number one podcast showcasing best practices in climate emission reductions and removals, and I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Don't forget to click follow on this podcast in your podcast app of choice to be sure you don't miss any episodes. Hi everyone, welcome to episode 157 of the Climate Confident podcast. My name is Tom Raftery, and before we kick off today's show, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to all of our amazing supporters. Your support has been instrumental in keeping this podcast going, and I'm really grateful for each and every one of you. If you're not already a supporter, I'd like to encourage you to consider joining our community of like minded individuals who are passionate about climate. Supporting the podcast is easy and affordable, with options starting as low as just 3 euros or dollars a month. That's less than the cost of a cup of coffee, and your support will make a huge difference in keeping this podcast going strong. To become a supporter, simply click on the support link in the show notes of this or any episode, or visit tinyurl. com slash climatepod. Now, without further ado, with me on the show today, I've my special guest, Michael. Michael, welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Michael Sheldrick:

yeah, thanks for having me, Tom. My name is Michael Sheldrick, as you've said. I'm what I call, I self describe myself as a policy entrepreneur, also co-founder of an advocacy organization called Global Citizen, which has millions of citizen advocates around the world taking action. And I'm also the author of an upcoming book called From Ideas to Impact, and it's a pleasure to be with you today.

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic. Fantastic. Thank you for coming on the show. Michael. Can you start us off by by telling us a little bit about the thinking behind setting up Global Citizen.

Michael Sheldrick:

Yeah, so Global Citizen, I co-founded it while I was still a university, a student activist in Australia. And just to give you some perspective of how I got started, you know, I used to, in my spare time at university, I would fundraise to build schools in the Pacific in countries like Timor-Leste in Papua New Guinea. And in my winter break, summer holidays, I would travel to those countries, you know, which was incredibly rewarding, volunteering experience. And it expanded my outlook on the world. But what I also soon appreciated was. Wow. Looking at the scale of how many millions of children don't go to school, you know, no amount of gala night dinners or quiz nights raising a thousand dollars here and there is going to solve this issue. Poverty, much like climate change is, is a systemic issue and it requires policy change. And so coming back to Australia, working together with the other founders. You know, it wasn't then Global Citizen, it was more organic than that, but we, we launched a campaign to encourage the Australian government to double its foreign aid budget, and this was in the 2007 federal election in Australia. It was the election when Kevin Rudd was elected, but it was also an important election for young people like me who were voting for the first time, and that it was really the first time social media, started to become used in elections. And so we harnessed that. We harnessed the power of popular culture, Australian bands. And what we saw is we were able to make foreign aid an election issue in key constituencies. And we actually saw promises being made that were later implemented and billions of dollars were delivered, as a result. And I guess the learnings from that campaign and that experience. You know, we got asked by people in the UN in New York and other parts of the world, you know, could we expand that model? Because around the world, people were saying, we need to mainstream these issues. We need to get young people involved, and we need to give them a platform to take action. And so, you know, I'm, I'm shortening what was a very long story, but that, that was, if you like, the genesis of what became Global Citizen. And you know, a few years after that, my last year at university while

finishing my law paper exam at 4:

00 AM in the morning, it was very stressful. I was standing in Central Park for what was the first ever Global Citizen festival with the likes of Neil Young, the Foo Fighters. And I guess what was, what was evolutionary about what we did with that first festival in New York was, and people can check it out, if you have listeners in New York, they might have even gone to the Global Citizen Festival. But I guess what was evolutionary about that approach is, you know, in in, in previous times, you know, there had been music, charity benefit concerts. Yeah. You're probably familiar with Live aid, which the 40th anniversary is coming up next year. But we didn't just wanna charge tickets and raise millions of dollars as, as good as that would be. It was like, how can we activate people to come back and take action to move the big policy levers? And so we, we agreed that we would gamify advocacy. We would use the tickets as a reward. If you got in touch with your local representative, if you signed a petition, if you educated yourself about the issues, you could redeem points. You could earn points, and then redeem those points to go in the draw to earn a ticket to the festival. And so that was our first evolution and we've since expanded the model. You know, global Citizen is now a mass platform around the world. But it was that idea that systemic solu systemic problems require systemic solutions. And how do we address that in the power of citizen advocacy that was at the core of, of Global Citizen.

Tom Raftery:

Great, and bring us up to date. What's Global citizen up to now?

Michael Sheldrick:

So here we are over a decade later. We've seen a record number of actions last year. So we see global citizens continuing to use their voice, and what we've really seen is that this movement, which beyond our events, is really what I describe as a 365 day movement that's taken over 30 million actions. And because of that, we've seen and working with incredible partners, we've seen over $40 billion being delivered by the likes of businesses, governments, and others, which has gone to incredible grassroots organizations and that has impacted the lives in some shape, way or form of over a billion people around the world. And you know, what we, what we say these days is that it's really a platform. It's a platform, you know, to encourage people to turn from talk to action, but it's also a platform that gives a voice, for instance, to leaders of climate vulnerable countries. To, you know, climate advocates, whether it's in the Pacific or the Caribbean, or in Sub-Saharan Africa. And we also say that we're a platform that engages actively with the private sector. We prioritize impact over ideology. And so importantly, as we've gotten more involved in climate change, because really I see poverty and climate change as two sides of the same coin. We've been encouraging businesses to not just step up and commit to reduce our emissions, but we've also asked businesses, you know, well look, how do you also contribute to the financing need of, say, developing countries? Because, you know, it's fantastic that we've got Europe, that we've got America. We've got the uk. I mean, we need to be going faster, but at least in that curve, and I know Tom, you've spoken about this a lot, at least we're seeing a reduction of emissions start to occur. But unless we affect policy in India, in South Africa, in Brazil, in Nigeria, in Indonesia, in China and other parts of the world, you know, we are not going to address and avoid catastrophic climate change. And what I always say is to many young people in these countries, you know, you look at those people in Africa, you know, across African countries, particularly young people. Action on climate change has to be seen as part of the broader societal transformation that needs to take place. And you can't talk about climate change, divorced from the reality that 600 million people across Africa still don't have access to energy. Right. And so for us as an organization, in terms of where we've become, we've become a lot more engaged in, in climate action than we were say, say, 10 years ago. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And how do you affect policy change in those kind of countries like Indonesia, China, South Africa, et cetera?

Michael Sheldrick:

So, you know, I, I want to tell this story and I, I talk about this in the book. I have a whole chapter dedicated to, to it in From Ideas To Impact. But you know, one of my, a leader I incredibly respect around the world is Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados which some of you listeners might have of heard, she had her breakout speech in, in Glasgow at the COP Talks in 2021. And I think she, the message she gave really resonated with people, not just across the global south, but you know, young climate activists in Europe and, and North America as well. You know, I've seen, I've seen young people sharing stuff in WhatsApp groups saying, listen, listen to Mia. But anyway, prime Minister Mia Mottley really said, okay, climate change is already with us, right? And we've seen this, you know, we don't have to litigate it. Your listeners are all all aware. You know, we're seeing increased frequency of droughts, lower amounts of rainfall in different parts of the world, you know, increased frequency of record breaking heat waves, flooding all, all of these issues, hurricanes. You know, you look at what happened in Malawi last year, in which over a thousand people died in just a 48 hour period. So regardless of the action we take on climate change, we've already done enough damage, that the impacts of climate change are baked in. And so Prime Minister Mottley said, well, how are we going to, how are we going to deal with this issue? Right? Who's going to pay for this damage for those on the front lines of climate action? And she really made the point and she said, you know, it's a given that climate change will happen. What's not a given is that countries have to be ill prepared for it. That people have to needlessly die. There's a lot we can do to adapt to the realities and minimize the damage if it's properly funded. However, what Prime Minister Mottley pointed out is, you know, countries, and it often happens, those on the front lines of climate change. Like, I think her country, Barbados was one of the most heavily in terms of debt to GDP ratio. It's one of the most heavily debted countries in the world. You know, because they get hit by a hurricane, they have to take out more loans to recover. Then you're paying before you know it. You know, like if you look at Malawi, it was paying a quarter of its entire revenue. In debt repayments, right? So it wasn't able to respond, get schools, hospitals, you know, rebuild, you know, other countries, you know, the types of resilient infra infrastructure homes that can withstand the frequency of extreme weather. It's, the reality is there's a natural disaster in Tokyo and Haiti. They're gonna have disproportionate impact when you look at the infrastructure, right? And so her argument was a simple one. In 2022, she invited a number of us to Barbados. And she caught it the Bridgerton initiative. And it was phenomenon. She basically said, look, during the pandemic. Whenever there's a crisis, wealthy nations have this ability to dig deep and be able to respond quickly. Right. And actually I thought it was an interesting example. She spoke about the fact that in America, when the pandemic happened, a lot of governments, state, local governments and federal governments in America launched two initiatives. If you look at students, right, they, they offered to give students a pause in repaying their student loans and people who were renting maybe in low socioeconomic areas, you know, there was, there, there was offers to provide help with people repaying meeting, keeping up with their rent. And even people who were facing distress with their mortgage repayments, you could get a break in repaying your mortgage, right? And that was all rubber stamped. You wouldn't have been penalized by the banks for it. And she said, what is the equivalent of that for climate vulnerable countries? And she said, is there a situation in which, if a country is hit by a hurricane, right, can you get an immediate pause right in paying back your loans or your bonds, right? For say up to two years. So that you can free up the money in order to invest in your response and then bounce back stronger and not get caught in this vicious cycle, which, you know, she called natural disaster clauses, pause clause. It's an incredibly simple idea, and it can sound abstract and vague, but for a country like Barbados, if you had these clause in all of Barbados loans, it would unlock up to something like 15% of the equivalent of their economy. That's something like 700 million US dollars, right? That's more than any amount of aid. And so the reason why I tell this story is it was a great concept, but there were still many banks in Wall Street. You know, one of the biggest lenders, the countries in the global south is the World Bank. So the question is, is how, how do you, how do you get these institutions to, to adopt these clauses? And so with Prime Minister Mottley. We embarked on a year long campaign. It involved, you know, a number of things. It involved public campaigning, we saw global citizens contribute over 250,000 actions. These were tweets to the World Bank. They were emails to the World Bank shareholders, which is the wealthy nations. We also saw artists get involved, so we saw everyone from Billie Eilish, to Lenny Kravitz and I, no joke. I was there in the room when Mia Mottley spoke to Billie's mom and said, I know Billie Eilish is very passionate, but here's a way for her to get her fans engaged and stand into solidarity with those on the front lines of climate change. Of course, Mia Mottley, being a Barbadian. The other big famous Barbadian in the world is Rihanna. So Rihanna got involved and sent a tweet to Janet Yellen, the US Secretary of the Treasury, and the President of the World Bank, and then there was a summit. She convinced President Macron to host this big summit last year in June in Paris, and we held this event called Power Planet. We had 20,000 young climate advocates come along. And I kid you not, RJ Banger came on the stage. President of the World Bank, former CEO of MasterCard, and literally, I think it was his 19th day on the job. And he pledged that he would introduce these clauses, which we followed up on. We track everything, and he's offered to introduce them in over 45 countries, which covers the equivalent of 9 billion loans. Right? So this is predominantly small island nations on the front lines of climate change. And that's a real impact. And it was described to me as probably many people probably didn't hear about it, but it was described to me as one of the biggest policy innovations of 2023. And I talk about that journey in the book. You know, I talk about the takeaways, the partners involved and the incredible leadership of, and pragmatic leadership of a figure like Prime Minister Mottley. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

Amazing. Amazing. And you, you've mentioned the book a couple of times now, and we'll repeat the title. It's called From Ideas to Impact, A Playbook for Influencing and Implementing Change in A Divided World. And apparently it's coming out in April of this year, so not too long to wait. Tell me a little bit, Michael, about, you know, what made you decide to write the book and what's in the book?

Michael Sheldrick:

So, you know, I often get asked, you know, I get messages on LinkedIn, messages on Instagram people just sometimes randomly grabbing my WhatsApp number and messaging me, and it could be a community, maybe it's a very localized issue. Maybe they're trying to get their local council to divest from investing in fossil fuels. Maybe it's a school group. I, I once had a a 9-year-old girl and her mother contact me saying, you know, they were looking at endangered elephants and how to influence getting their government on board with protecting them, and they wanted to launch this campaign amongst their school community. You know, I, I have all of these examples and they all ask me for help, and they want to know. You know, they say, Michael, look at what you're doing at Global Citizen. How, how can we learn from you and how can we influence policy at that level? And sometimes when I get those questions, it, it, it, it can feel honestly. I'm like not sure immediately how to respond. And the reason why I'm not sure how to respond is we've obviously built this incredible platform at Global Citizen. It has millions of members. And what I don't want to happen is people to think that that's what you need to do in order to influence change, that you have to go out and, and found this entire big organization.'cause the reality is there's a number of actions each of us can take. And to use an analogy, you know, I did when I, when I was a school kid in Australia you know, I was I was not good at sports. Right. And Australia idolizes sports. And I, I, I, I, I'll get to the point, but just so you know where I'm going, I would, I would go and play Aussie Rules Football, which I know you're Irish. It's kind of like Gaelic football. And you know, I was one of those kids, well, I would just hope to kick the ball and hope it went in the right direction, let alone miss the goal, right. And usually when I kicked the ball, something weird would happen. It would go in the opposite direction and everyone would laugh. Right. And then we would go in a school assembly. We'd have this motivational speaker and it was usually some famous sporting hero. Maybe it was an Olympic medalist you know, which was all fine. But as they were speaking, I remember sat there, feeling I can't relate to this because you're up here. I'm down here. There is such a big gap here between us, right? You know, you've already done this. What can I possibly learn from you? And so I took a step back and I was like, listen, if I was starting out in policy change. What would I want to know? And so the book, to answer your question, you know, at its core it lays out eight steps for how to influence and shape policy. And it doesn't pretend to have all the answers. It doesn't pretend it doesn't list every single policy prescription out there. There's some amazing books that lists all the in and outs of climate science, all of the policies. But it's like if you want to affect change, whether that's in your local community, whether it's at the state government level, whether it's at the national government, this is a book to get you started. And so, you know, one of my heroes is Eleanor Roosevelt, the former US First Lady who was the first American ambassador to the UN. And she has this great saying which I have a fridge magnet at home and, and it says the best way to begin is to begin, and that's really what the book is aimed, is aimed to do. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Well, I know we want everyone to go out and order the book, but can you give us some teasers around, you know, what should we be, what should we be doing if we want to affect policy change?

Michael Sheldrick:

So, so I think, you know, one of, one of the first stepping stones is to actually have a clear goal, right? It's amazing how many people contact me and, and often they have, they have some idea of the issue they want to affect. So what they will say is you know, I want to contribute to ending illegal deforestation. I wanna contribute to phase out coal. I want to close on all the oil refineries or whatever crazy idea people have, right? And that's all well and good, but what I really say is, what is your policy goal, right? What is the specific measurable change, that as a result of your efforts, will make the world a better place. And so I suggest that when people map out their policy goal, they use the SMART criteria, right? You know, Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, you know, Timely to identify that goal. And it, it, it need not, it need not be something which you necessarily know how you're going to achieve. Yeah, I talk in the book, you know, one of my friends, Ari Ovinson came up with this idea of naive audacity, and he says, sometimes if you come up with a very clear, naively audacious goal, and people can see, okay, if this action happens, this is the impact that will happen. Sometimes that is enough to rally people around you because you know, in a world of confusion, of chaos and division, people do crave solutions and they crave purpose and direction. And so if you do not have implementation experience, having that clear, SMART policy goal can help overcome that. Right. And one of the examples I use in the book as well is sometimes our goals, especially in a divided world might, might be needed to side sidestep the, what I would say division we see in the world and gridlock. So an example Tom is, is the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty. Which I'm not sure if you, your listeners are aware of,

Tom Raftery:

Don't, don't, assume they are just in

Michael Sheldrick:

okay.

Tom Raftery:

know I am, but maybe not everyone is.

Michael Sheldrick:

Yeah, so I, I'll give a brief overview. So the genesis of the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty was really to overcome gridlock. We're dealing with the transition out of fossil fuels in the cop climate talks, right? So as we've just seen, and finally last year, you did have this kind of agreement, admittedly, with lots of loophole holes to transition the world out of fossil fuels, right? But you know, even with that, it's gonna take a lot of time to, to implement that. And the reason why is the cop climate negotiations operate by consensus, right? In the one hand, that's its great strength.'cause it means countries like Barbados and Mia Mottley is, has an equal platform to speak as President Biden and Rishi Sunak. But the pitfall of that is it can take a lot time to, to agree anything if, if anything at all. So the fossil fuel treaty was basically like. You know, the aim of it wasn't immediately to get petro states like Saudi Arabia or what is now the biggest oil producing country in the world, the US on board. The idea was, can we change norms over time by building a groundswell of support by getting countries to endorse this plan? That would phase out fossil fuels. Right. And it's an equitable plan that basically says developing countries with their natural resources that haven't yet exploited it. They should be in some way compensated for that. And so last it started with Caribbean countries signing it on. Then we got some countries in the Pacific. You know, there was Vanuatu sorry, I should say it started in Pacific with Vanuatu. And then we got Caribbean countries like Antigua and Barbados on board. And then, and then we started going to fossil fuel producing nations. So like Timor-Leste last year, Columbia also signed on board. And so the idea is, you know, the theory behind this is, you know, I I, in terms of your goal. You focus on a few countries, you get these countries on board, the groundswell, and eventually you're left with the holdout countries where they feel, even if they don't endorse the treaty right, they feel they have to change their behavior. And so the analogy is, is, in 1997, there was this, landmines were a huge issue, right? In, in, in the nineties, in 1997, there was this I think it was called the Anti Personnel Mine Ban Convention, right? It was launched in 19 97, 98, to ban landmines, right? The largest producer of landmines in the world was the US government. The US government never actually signed the convention. They never actually signed on the treaty, but what we saw is basically almost defacto acceptance. And in 2014, even though the US wasn't legally bound, 'cause it never signed on the US government acknowledged in that the norms had changed. Basically announced that it would stop the production of anti personnel mines, accelerate the destruction of their stock piles, and ban the use of the weapon in, I think every country, but I think with the exception of North Korea, right? And so I, I use this example because you know, you know, sometimes you can't achieve everything at once, but what you can do, is you can break down the issues so it's achievable. In this case, we're gonna target these countries in order to build up this, this ground swell.

Tom Raftery:

Nice. And I'm guessing one of the naively audacious goals was Mia's goal with the Bridgerton initiative.

Michael Sheldrick:

E. Exactly, exactly. And one of my favorite, one of my favorite quotes from Mia, it was at meeting, I, I basically got to spend a year with her. And you know, she's given a blurb for the book. She's been a incredible friend, supporter, but I got to see her up close, both in Barbados but also in these forums at the UN. And you know, I remember last year, it was in April, you had all these diplomats, climate advisors, countries around. You had the UN Secretary General and she actually made a point to those of us that campaign on these issues. She said the problem sometimes with the climate movement is that we, we essentially present a grab bag of issues. We, we, we try and take a shopping list and achieve everything at once and she basically said, if we do that, we will fail. Simplicity gets us to the end. If we are not clear, if we don't focus right, we will not achieve our goals. And I think the Bridgerton initiative, the reason why it was so successful is rather than trying to achieve everything all at once, it said what are some clear, actionable things? What's possible? And let's, let's hone in on that. But I, I always remember that quote where she said, simplicity gets us to the end. You know, I thought, I thought that was very. Very telling and, and a good insight for many activists, advocates, and campaigners. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, you, you see it with the Just Stop Oil protests in the, in the UK for example. It's, it's a very simple aim and it's really audacious. Not gonna happen anytime soon unfortunately, to your point, but yeah, it's one of these ones that, because it's so simple, it's easy to grasp the idea, it's easy to rally people around and it does get the message. It's very good for messaging. It's one of these kind of really short, concise phrases that captures people's imagination, I think.

Michael Sheldrick:

Well, and, and you know what's interesting with that, and I actually talk about this in, in the book, and I, I reference Don't Stop Oil. Are you familiar your listeners might be familiar with the North American environmental activist, Bill McKibbon, right? He's he's incredibly well known. Yeah. Yeah, of course. Very, very well known. So I talk about this it, it was a study done on him and it was called the McKibbon Effect. The idea was, is one way to expand what, what society finds acceptable was to, to really push extreme policy ideas. Right? And the idea was by pushing extreme policy ideas, you'll make other policies seem more moderate by, by comparison and in pushing those moderate policies, you get your foot in the door and then that triggers the momentum for other changes. Right? And so, you know, people often say, Don't Stop Oil. Is that effective or is that counterproductive? But McKibben Effect will say, you know, well, yes, it could be. Now, there is an argument, you know, and Jane, Jane Goodall has spoken about this. There is an argument now that sometimes there is a risk when you push extreme measures that you can, in the same way that you can make moderate policies, the other extreme policy, less extreme policy seem moderate by comparison. There is a risk that you can make those policies also also seem more extreme by association. Right? Like, you know, the idea that you paint something and you poison the well, and so, you know, I've heard people say, well, yeah, ordinary people in London, et cetera, who are already environmentally conscious, this is doing nothing to engender support. And so Jane, Jane Goodall, you know, suggested that maybe the advocacy might be more effective if it's focused on you know, the homes or, or medium places where oil tycoons or politicians meet and gather, right. There there's a range of views on this. We just saw it of course, in Paris, right, with the, with the Mona Lisa painting and, and the soup being thrown. I actually, I actually did a poll on this on LinkedIn and granted, my, my LinkedIn following is probably, you know, in, in the climate space and it's got got, but yeah, biased. But I was, it, it was actually split. Evenly. Right. And what, what the feedback from many people were saying is, there are other alternatives available. But it was interesting to me. It, it might have changed in the last day or so, but as last time I checked it was, it was pretty, it was pretty even on whether or not this was effective or whether or not it pushes, it pushes people away. Although I did, I did have a look at the profile and I have to admit, the people who all said it was effective, we all had climate backgrounds. A lot of these people that didn't, didn't necessarily have, have climate backgrounds, so they, maybe there's an insight there, but you know, ultimately the, the urgency is key, right? And so there are methods, there's risks with every method. You know, there's also a risk if we're not naively audacious either, right? If we, you know, I had a panel the other night, as part of the book talk and someone said, you know, if we negotiate against ourselves before we've even popularized and asked, that can have dangers as well. Maybe we're not being ambitious enough given, given the tall task we've got ahead of us. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean the, so it, it's interesting you mention Paris and the, the soup throwing at the Mona Lisa, which of course is behind the glass panel. So it was never in any danger because just today we've had massive protests in Paris by farmers where they were burning buildings and all these kind of things, and didn't get nearly the amount of coverage or outrage that throwing a tin of soup at a pane of glass in front of the Mona Lisa did. You know, so I I I, there's a, there's a curious kind of acceptance of farmers protesting a lot more vociferously then climate protestors, for whatever reason. It's not, probably because the media are owned by people with vested interests. That probably has nothing to do with it. He said cynically. But, um. The, the, the, the other, the other thing that, that's interesting as well is if you look back at some of the historical protests, the likes of the suffragettes is a movement that I regularly point to in these kind of scenarios. And the suffragettes, for example, they went on hunger strike famously, they disrupted sporting events by dying, by jumping out in front of horses, running at full speed. They bombed and burned museums, you know, they were, and they made the French farmers looked tame in comparison, and it was highly effective. So when people talk about the climate protestors disrupting events, it's like. They're, they're, they're taking it very easy, you know, compared to what they could be doing.

Michael Sheldrick:

No, and I, and I hear you on sometimes the media, I mean the initial headlines you saw, you would've thought that the, the glass panel wasn't there. And, and the Mona Lisa was, was, was, was destroyed. And, and the suffragette is, is interesting because of course people also put their own bodies on the line as well. They literally prove themselves in front of horses, you know, at the King's race et cetera. Yeah, I, I think the interesting story there, perhaps Tom, is, you know, each context is different, and I bring it back to this concept of a policy entrepreneur. A policy entrepreneur, is meant to be disruptive. They're not just professional lobbyists. They're not just lobbyists, even for good policies. They're also those that can look at how you deploy traditional, non-traditional, innovative means in order to advance policy. And sometimes, you know, as we've seen the McKibbon effect. We'll, we'll, we'll call for that. Other times, you know, maybe there's different ways to go about it. So, you know, in the book I talk about, and I'm sure many of your, your listeners might have read The Ministry of the Future which was a great science fiction book that came out a couple of years ago. And in, in there, they almost have their own equivalent of policy entrepreneurs, right? They, they, they establish this elite, almost like SWAT team of policy experts in, I think it's Zurich, to say, how are we going to address climate change, right? This is our, this is our last call. This is our last effort. And in that, if you remember, at the same time, there's all, if you've read the book, you know there's other people taking the issue into their own hands as well. You have the rise of ecoterrorism. I think there's a moment where, you know, all of these airplanes carrying business leaders are blown up at the same time. Oil leaders are assassinated. But what's interesting is the, the solution that actually gets 'em through to the end, you know, is actually by leveraging existing institutions, right? And we can't deny the fact we live in a capitalist world. That's, that's the way in which the world works. And really at the core of that book is the question is is it, is it faster to get us to where we need to be in, in the timeline we need, is the fastest route to burn the institutions and the systems down and start anew? Or is it to leverage what we've got and be creative and kind of reform through that? So, you know, and this is the classic, do you work outside, inside the system? Do you get your hands dirty, you know, through what you might perceive as impure methods. But in that situation, I think what they end up doing in the same way that during the pandemic in wealthy countries, you had central banks print trillions of dollars worth of monies to bail out, bail out, you know, the American economy, wealthy economies. There what they basically come up with is the equivalent where they be, where they pay off petro states and they pay off you know, fossil fuel companies and yes, they put riders on it and they say you have to redirect that money into new green technologies into actually being a part of the solution. But they basically cut a check, is is how I read it. And. As I dove into that, I also realized the mechanics, because sometimes we look at these issues in binary terms and we use, we use labels like fossil fuel producing countries. But if you're a country like Timor-Leste, and I met the Prime Minister of Timor Lester, and I've been there and you know, it's an incredible country, but it's also incredibly poor, right? Malnutrition and hunger is still a huge issue. Well, if 80 to 90% of your revenues are coming from the sale of your natural resources, whether it's oil or gas, you know, to say, okay, we're just gonna phase that out, you know, is basically saying, well, is climate action a choice between taking action and poverty. Right? And so in, in the book Ministry of the Future, if you like, there's this grand bargain that's, that's made, which at, at its heart is about how we rewrite the rules of capitalism, right? And leverage existing institutions. And that's, that's the job of, of policy entrepreneurs. And sometimes it's not, it's not always gonna be the most popular thing to do and to bring it back to Mia Mottley, you know, as an example of this, and I've seen this pragmatism up close. When she was standing there in Paris, you had all these 20,000 climate advocates in front of her, right? She was on stage with RJ Banga, president of the World Bank. Honestly, I didn't know if he was gonna get booed, what was gonna happen'cause the World Bank in this crowd isn't popular, but Prime Minister Mottley, and it was right at the time, if you remember, in June there was lots of protests with president Macron. He was forcing stuff through his parliament. She made the decision. She said she was going to publicly thank him because she said, unlike the other G7, that's the wealthiest Western countries in the world, seven biggest wealthiest Western economies that unlike the rest, president Macron gets it. He's chosen to break with the pack to prioritize the needs of climate vulnerable countries. And she said, I know he is not popular and that's why I'm gonna help him. Even though she's perceived as a leader in the climate movement. And so in front of these 20,000 activists who were chanting and you know, we had President Lula there as well. You know, all of these advocates who, as you can imagine, you know, Greta Thunberg was in the audience as well, so you imagine this, this going on. And she got up and she, she said, and I thank President Macron. And I can tell you, all of a sudden the crowd started, started booing. And they started chanting"Macron must resign. Macron must resign". And we were all standing at back. We're like, what's gonna happen now? And I could even see the World Bank and RJ Banger's, people being like, oh dear, you know, what do we do? And it's to credit someone like Prime Minister Mottley at that moment, she had this choice. She could have almost fallen in line with the prevailing narrative, right. And backtracked. But she actually, and maybe only someone with her and the credibility she actually has with the movement, is someone able to do this? She actually challenged them. And imagine this 20,000 people booing, right? It's, it can be quite intimidating. And she said, she said,"My friends, you know. President Macron has been the only one of the world's wealthiest leaders. The fact he is hosting his summit to deal with our issues, you know, so whether you like it or not, and you don't have to like it, but that is our reality as small island nations." All of a sudden as she's carried on talking, those boos quickly turn back into applause and chants. And so I, I say that because sometimes I think it requires the courage to step out, especially in our divided times, to step out beyond you know, the, the, the, the, the binary bias that we, in many movements and I've probably been guilty of this in the past, have, have, have applied to these issues.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Interesting. And I mean, you've dropped a couple of big names as we've gone through the podcast there of different celebrities and there's a poster behind you with a lot of celebrity names as well. You, global Citizen does work with a lot of very famous people. How does that work for you? I mean, obviously they're highly influential, they get the word out to their fan base, but you know, what's, what's it like working with people like that and, and you know, it, is it an effective tool?

Michael Sheldrick:

Yeah. Yeah, Tom, I'd say you know, going back to The Power Of How, you know, I have a lot of respect for, for Coldplay. And this, this, I know we've been speaking about policy change and I guess this is like internal corporate policy, but I, I mention this because I know many of your listeners are, you know, in the corporate sustainability place and they're grappling with how to, how to implement change. So in 2019, you know, and Coldplay, I should say Chris Martin himself has, has since 2015, been the curator of the Global Citizen Festival internationally, so when it goes to different cities. But he's also very passionate on this issue. And, and in 2019 he was given a media interview on the BBC with his, I think his manager was with him. And he, threw out this comment, I don't know whether it was planned or not, but based on his manager's reactions there, think it was. But he basically said, we're not gonna tour again until we're environmentally sustainable or, or environmentally sustainable as we, as we can be. Which is obviously a crucial difference. But he the reason why, you know, that was such a shock is they're one of the highest gross in bands in, in the world in terms of their tours. So they had to figure this out. Right. And they spent the pandemic doing that. And, you know, they implemented a range of these measures. You know, everything from solar panels on the roof of a ring as they're performing at to, you know, when, when you have the dancing on the floor, it, you know, can it, can it create kinetic energy that powers the arena, you know? And then also, of course, you know, when you look at where the big chunk of our emissions come is their fan base as well. So what types of initiatives, you know, they've got this app can you use to drive behavior change? And you know, they've managed to halve their tour's, emissions, right? So kind of trying to make it in line with what we need by 2030. And we had a call last year where we had all of these chief sustainability officers, we had business leaders on it. And they were all saying, okay, we've now set these targets. In the EU we're going to be regulated now for these targets, right? So our talk has to match the action. How do we do it? And I think hearing that, that conversation about, you know, you would expect, oh, okay, these big artists. But actually hearing them talk through Chris and his manager. The steps that they had, take lended credibility to their words. And that authenticity is key because all of the artists we work through with are, are authentic in their own way, and they're actually walking the talk as well by doing it. And, and when you go in to, you know, meet with a politician or political leader, rather than just go in and say, rah, rah, rah, you should be doing this, this, this, and that. I always think it's, it's great to come with solutions and The Power Of How. And similarly, I mean, there's lots of other examples like Idris and Sabrina Alba, who we work with a lot when it comes to supporting farmers on the front lines of climate change. And they, of course, were kind enough to provide a foreword from the, to the book. But in their view, they saw the same thing that I saw those years ago, fundraising. They said, you know, we can do fundraisers and, and engage in philanthropy. Right? And you see all these things like here in New York, like the MET Gala every, every year. But if we really want to move the needle, how do we go the next level and, and, and get engaged in policy And there, when they're meeting with leaders, I think they instinctly understand, you know, and Idris is, is very conscientious on this, but I think they understand that leaders are busy people. They've got a million things on their plate. And you know what? As much as we in the climate movement care about all these issues. Right. Sometimes it's not always visible that support I I isn't there. And so I think if, if you have an artist or an ambassador come to them and they're willing to say, look at this visible constituency that's willing to support this, I think that does get the attention of leaders. Because at the end of the day you know, and I talk about this in the book, you know, Julia Gillard, when she was Prime Minister of Australia, as a 23-year-old, I managed to get a 10 minute meeting with her and she said something that I'll never forget. She said, you know, at the end of the day, you know, even prime ministers and presidents right have constraints. They can't just click their fingers. There's things they can do, they can move the agenda, they can set the agenda, but they can't do everything. And she said at the end of the day. You talking to me, but taxpayers writ large, she said, you have to give us permission to spend what is in the end your money. Right? And so I think that acknowledgement about how we can use our platforms to showcase the visibility of that. And this is why to philanthropists, I mean, Tom, what I see as one of the biggest challenges facing policy entrepreneurship in the climate space is we talk about the priorities of, of policy, the importance of policy. And you just before we started, we were talking about, you know, if you're an individual, do you vote? Do you support policy change or do you change your own behavior? By and large, the biggest things is gonna be voting, and it's going to be getting out there shaping policy, and yet philanthropy writ large, only 2% of all philanthropy goes to climate action anyway according to climate works and of that, the amount that goes to supporting policy change communications is even, is even smaller. Right? And so I think, you know, if we want to be investing in these platforms to give visibility and move the needle, we also need to rewrite the philanthropy playbook as as, as well. And I've, I. I, I've seen this on display. I've been speaking to a lot of philanthropists. It's getting better. But of course, Bill Gates doubled his annual spend last week. I think now giving away 9 billion, even a fraction of that supporting more policy advocacy. Imagine, imagine the impact that that could have.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. Yeah, because the other side aren't scaling back their spending on lobbying politicians, so.

Michael Sheldrick:

No, no, exactly. Actually, actually, you raise a good point. How did we get in this situation? The fossil fuel lobbed. Look at the think tanks, look at the research they commission, look at, you know, the academics they sponsored. You know, look at all of that. Look at the media, you know, and, and, and a nonprofit engaging on this, you know. That, that what, what have they got? They, they can't buy a Prime Time ad. They have to rely on a donated commercial that plays on TV at 4:00 AM in the morning when no one's watching. So it, you're exactly right. The, those, those on the other side with entrenched interests, they have no qualms about investing in advocacy and communication. And I think, you know, we, we've seen the results of that over the last 40 years or so.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. yeah. We're coming towards the end of the podcast now, Michael, is there any question I didn't ask that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to be aware of?

Michael Sheldrick:

Look, I, I would just say it comes back to, to what I was saying before and I, I don't want to diminish the impact of those personal actions that people take in that in their own lives because, you know, I think, yeah Katherine Hayhoe, who, you know, wrote her own really brilliant book called Saving Us, and she's, she's an inspiration to us. In fact, on the drive from Glasgow afterwards, I was listening to it on Audible, as much needed inspiration. You know, she points out that I think in America, only 8% of households talk about climate change at any one time. Right. But the reality. The reality is, and and I, and I would say the power of that is, and what she says is when you have a conversation with someone in your networks about a personal action you've taken, right? That's one of the best ways to motivate others to take action as well. So personal behavior actions are important as what I say, a step in, step in, in the door, you know? To get people engaged. And we do it at Global Citizen as well. We challenge people to what you can do over the next seven days to be more sustainable. Right. But the challenge, you know, for people like me is how do you get people to then go to the next level? And you know, there's many, many ways to do that. But I'll share this with you. I'm now involved with this study at NYU. And the professor I'm, I'm working with. She's, she's an incredible woman. She's done a lot in psychology and the relationship about in climate action, but she was part of a study last year that came out where they looked at 60 countries, 60,000 people across those countries, and they looked at what, actions people took, took, and the impact that that would have. And so, for example. You know, if you want people to share content about climate change, by and far, and this is probably no surprise, give them doom and gloom. Tell 'em the world is over. Give them a negative message. That is the best way to get people to share. The consequence, though, is when you look at the impact of that on their support for policy action, it goes down, okay? They're less likely, and maybe it's because it reinforces a fatalistic message. I'm, I'm not sure, but that, that, that's what the data tells us. What was the best action to get people to support policy change? And, and by policy change, I don't mean just voting, I mean going out, engaging with politicians, building movements, speaking at rotary clubs about getting them to use their voice to their local elected officials. You know, all all of these different ways we can activate people in support of change in policy. But the, the survey said, write a letter to a future relative who will be alive in 2055 about the actions you are taking right now to mitigate climate change. And on average including in America when you did that letter that was one of the best ways in, in surveyed people afterwards to boost their support for support and policy change. And I think we've gotta anchor these decisions, these, these conversations always in solutions. We've gotta show people that yes, we, we are, that we are at the urgent point. If you're a fossil fuel company, unless you're, you're talking about how you're gonna be out of fossil fuels by 2030 and beyond, what that plan is, you're not in the game. But at the same time. We do have this window and we do have solutions as well. And I think if we start to do that and we each get involved and we get those positive responses and we share that with people around the dinner table, maybe that's how we can spark this movement. Because there was a, there was a saying I came across when I was writing the book and it said we, we can make a difference because we have made a difference. And you know, that's, that's, that's the message that I try and convey throughout the book. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

Nice, nice, nice. Michael, we're coming towards the end of the podcast, as I said, if people would like to know more about yourself or any of the things we discussed in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them?

Michael Sheldrick:

So they can go to michaelsheldrick.com. I've got all the details about the book. Everything you can find out would be grateful. I also have a substack that you can follow. I'm on LinkedIn and I'm on X now I suppose. It still feels weird saying that, and Instagram at Mick Sheldrick.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, shoot me across those, those links, Mike, and I'll put them in the show notes so people can have access to them.

Michael Sheldrick:

Thanks. Thanks very much Tom. Really enjoyed

Tom Raftery:

And thanks a million for coming on the podcast today, Michael.

Michael Sheldrick:

Thank you.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about the Climate Confident podcast, feel free to drop me an email to tomraftery at outlook. com or message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. If you like the show, please don't forget to click follow on it in your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.

(Cont.) From Grassroots to Global Impact: The Power of Policy with Michael Sheldrick

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