Aayushi Awasthy is asking why.
Why, decades on, are we still grappling with agreeing on workable solutions to climate change? Why, despite international agreements, are we still behind on our targets? Why, in spite of the increasingly clear relationship between extreme weather events and climate change are we still resting on our laurels?
In a brand new climate change podcast, 'Climate change: Why haven’t we solved it yet?', Aayushi speaks to some of the leading voices in the climate debate to discover what obstacles remain in our way and discuss how the different elements of the crisis – from activism to technology, through finance and politics – can contribute to a solution.
Scroll down for a Q&A with Aayushi
Episode 1 - with Prof Corinne Le Quéré
Aayushi speaks to Prof Corinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Research Professor of Climate Change Science at the University of East Anglia. They discuss the drop in carbon emissions as a result of lockdown at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the control individuals have over their own emissions, how to tackle climate change from a range of perspectives, and the importance of sending a message to politicians and organisations to make change.
Episode 2 - Do we have the technology? with Dr Nem Vaughan
Do we have the technology to limit temperature rise? Aayushi meet’s Dr Nem Vaughan to find out. They discuss Dr Vaughan's journey to UEA and the Tyndall Centre, working with the International Panel on Climate Change, using hydrogen fuel cells in different modes of transport, electric-powered flights, the ups and downs of nuclear power, and a definitive answer on which end of a cow produces the most methane.
Episode 3 - Do we have the money? with Karan Mangotra
Aayushi speaks to Karan Mangotra, a Senior Climate Change Specialist at the World Bank, to find out how the world of carbon finance works. They discuss result-based financing, building resilience in the developing world, the power of the World Bank in bringing people together, the role of philanthropy and how we need somewhere between $1.5-3.5 trillion to limit temperature rise to 1.5-degrees.
Episode 4 - Do we have the political will? with Miles Perry
How do politics, economics and science work together to influence climate policy? This week Aayushi meets Miles Perry, an economist, researcher and policymaker at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, and a UEA alumni. They discuss the unique combination of politics, economics and science that contributes to the EU’s climate policies, the challenges of climate scepticism and fossil fuel dependency, and managing climate obligations to less developed states.
Episode 5 - Do we have individual responsibility? with Dr Esther Priyadharshini
Aayushi meets Dr Esther Priyadharshini, Associate Professor in UEA’s School of Education, to ask what part activism can play in solving climate change, and whether individuals really can make a difference in saving the planet. They discuss Dr Priyadharshini's research into the school strikes on climate, what impact peaceful protest and writing to MPs can have and how acting individually can accelerate the collective preventative effort.
Episode 6 - Is the path to net zero fair for all? with Prof Saleemul Huq
In episode six, Aayushi speaks to the Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development Prof Saleemul Huq – and he doesn’t hold back. In a wide-ranging conversation Aayushi asks if all countries are in the same boat, what does fair looks like when it comes to transition to net-zero. They discuss the role of fossil fuel companies, why we should invest in adapting to the changing climate, the challenges facing the most vulnerable countries, Bangladesh's leadership in facing the climate crisis head on, the realities of acting on the Paris Agreement, the media's tenuous role in talking about the climate crisis and, in Prof Huq’s opinion, which country shouldn’t be at COP26.
*Bonus episode* - What is COP26 and why should we care? with Asher Minns
After six episodes covering the science, technology, finance and politics behind the climate debate, Aayushi speaks to Asher Minns, Executive Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, about the event of the moment - COP26. Asher, who has attend COP for the past decade, explains what COP is, what will be discussed, what it means to the UK to host the conference, how we will know if it's a been a success, the similarities between the Kyoto Protocol and supporting a terrible football team, and how the future of humanity will rely on the effective communication of complex science.
*Bonus episode* - Understanding eco-anxiety - #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek special
What is eco-anxiety and how does it affect us? How can we learn to cope? And can we use mindfulness to effect positive social change? In this bonus episode for Mental Health Awareness Week, Aayushi speaks to UEA undergraduate student Stephen Kirk and Dr Kate Russell from the School of Education and Lifelong Learning to find out how eco-anxiety has affected them, playing our part in fighting climate change, the complicated decision of whether to start a family, 'decentering', and if we should give eco-anxiety a new name. The episode coincides with the launch of a one-of-a-kind partnership between UEA, the mental health charity Mind and the Climate Psychology Alliance delivering wellbeing activities to support students at UEA with eco-anxiety.
Aayushi, a PhD student at the University of East Anglia, tells us what inspired the podcast, and what she’s hoping listeners will come away with.
Why start a podcast about climate change?
"This is the biggest issue facing humanity, not just our generation but many generations to come. We should’ve solved this already, but we can’t solve something we don’t fully understand. Hopefully the podcast can go someway to direct people to the resources they need to understand the nuances of all the key issues."
What inspired you?
"I've had the opportunity to be mentored by some of the most proficient and experienced people in climate diplomacy and science, both at UEA and in my career.
"I've often felt the frustration of people towards the enormity and seeming complexity of the problem, which has led some to take one of two quite extreme approaches. Either one of cynicism - “There’s nothing I can do. I don’t care anymore” - or the activist route.
"I am all for climate activism but it is one of the solutions – not the only one. The climate crisis is so big and we need our brightest to work both inside and outside the system to solve it."
What are you hoping to discover?
"Hope and optimism. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. This has to be solved in the right way and nothing good can be done without hope. It’s equally important for us to know how to have conversations with each other and challenge people without losing friends. I hope people will be able to have better, more confident conversations after listening to this podcast.
"I hope people will be able to have better and more confident conversations after listening"
Tell us about some of the podcast’s guests.
"I’m so lucky that people who are so busy agree to take time out and speak with a PhD student!
"UEA Prof Corinne Le Quéré is a star climate scientist, a leading voice in the global climate debate. (Earlier this year Reuters named Prof Le Quéré in their list of most influential climate scientists.) I really wanted a woman to speak on science because there still is low participation in STEM by women. I was so happy that she agreed to speak to me. The first five minutes of the interview I was so excited – almost giddy and nervous.
"Another of my guests is Dr Saleem-ul Huq, director for the International Centre for Climate Change and Development. The work he has done on climate justice is amazing. Again, he is so busy and I approached him on Twitter and he was kind enough to agree.
"Some of the guests have really challenged my interpretations and views. Asher Minns’ reply to my question on 'Why haven’t we solved climate change yet?' stunned me a bit. He said 'We have. It’s not a mystery. We know exactly what to do. It’s just up to people to implement it now.'
"This podcast is for everyone. For young people who working out what their contribution towards tackling climate change can be. For those who already know about one aspect of the debate but want to know more. For people who are looking for some hope and optimism in their daily life"
Why should someone listen to your podcast?
"This podcast is for everyone. It’s for young people who are looking beyond their school days or starting out in their careers and trying to work out what their contribution towards tackling climate change can be. It’s also for people who already know about one aspect of the debate but want to know more – even the ‘experts’ are welcome! And it’s also for people who are looking for some hope and optimism in their daily life.
"Climate change is a multifaceted problem. It can’t just solved through taking up renewable energy, or by improving public transport links. It’s far deeper a we can contribute in every field and every way – personally and professionally. Throughout the podcast I hope it becomes clear that this isn’t just an issue for those with STEM degrees to solve. It’s an inter-disciplinary problem that requires a multidisciplinary solution.
"I want people to remember that we can do it."
Aayushi is a PhD student in the School of Economics at UEA. She’s worked closely with the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and was part of the energy modelling group that informed the country’s climate pledge following the Paris Agreement of 2015. Her PhD project is on analysis of electrification in India. Find out more.
Affected by eco-anxiety? Understand more about climate anxiety, learn about ways to alleviate it, and find out about a new partnership between UEA, Mind and the Climate Psychology Alliance designed to help tackle it.