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How on Earth: Christiana Figueres and Ross Garnaut on Climate Solutions Now

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Christiana Figueres and Ross Garnaut at the Wheeler Centre

Christiana Figueres, the architect of the 2015 Paris Agreement, sees the 2020s as a critical moment of opportunity – the ‘golden decade’ – in the future of our species and our planet. 

Earlier this year, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said: ‘If we do the right thing this decade, we can continue to design the future but if we don’t, we are really condemned to a world of increasing destruction, conflict and pain ... It is a golden ten years in the history of humankind.’

In this episode, Figueres is joined by distinguished Australian climate economist Ross Garnaut. With his new book, Superpower, about energy economics in Australia, Garnaut brings a message of optimism, opportunity and urgency, too. ‘We have unparalleled renewable energy resources,’ he has written. ‘We also have the necessary scientific skills.’

After the chaos and failure of the Copenhagen talks in 2009, Figueres spearheaded a historic agreement of 196 nations at Paris – an achievement few believed was possible. Garnaut has been a household name in Australia since his prescient report on the economics of climate change to the Commonwealth Parliament in 2008.  

Hear these two peerless heavyweights in conversation as they discuss reasons for hope and roadmaps for change, with host Andrew Wear.

Looking for an Auslan-interpreted version? Check out the video.

A full transcript of the event is also available.

Who?

Portrait of Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican citizen and was the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2010–16.

During her tenure at the UNFCCC, Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and NGOs to jointly deliver the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which 195 sovereign nations agreed on a collaborative path forward to limit future global warming to well below 2°C, and strive for 1.5°C in order to protect the most vulnerable. For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy, for which she has received multiple awards. 

Portrait of Ross Garnaut

Ross Garnaut

Professor Garnaut is a Professor of Economics at The University of Melbourne. He was previously distinguished Professor of Economics at the Australian National University, the Director of the ANU Asia Pacific School of Economics and Management and was the longstanding Head of the Department of Economics. He is the author of numerous publications in scholarly journals on international economics, public finance and economic development, particularly in relation to East Asia and the Southwest Pacific. Recent books include The Great Crash of 2008 (with David Llewellyn-Smith, 2009); Dog Days: Australia After the Boom (2013); Forty Years of Reform and Development in China (2018), Superpower: Australia’s low carbon opportunity (2019) and Reset: Restoring Australia after the Pandemic Recession (2021). He is Distinguished Fellow of the Australian Economic Society, Distinguished Fellow of the Australian Agricultural and Resources Economic Society, Fellow of the Australia Academy of Social Sciences and Honorary Professor of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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