Rising sea levels? Burning forests? 12 years to disaster? Climate change may be the issue that comes to define our time – but it’s a hugely complex problem.
Returning for its second series, the University of Oxford’s Futuremakers podcast is the ‘fly on the wall’ to the debates between our academics and leading experts from around the world around what, and how, climate action should be taken.
Each of these longer conversations features four of our academics at the cutting edge of research and at the forefront of their profession – but for this new series we’re also joined by other key voices in the debate, such as politicians and student activists. Join host, Hertford College Professor of Philosophy Peter Millican, as he explores the existential threats from climate change, and how we can help to prevent them.
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Episode 1: Twelve years to climate disaster?
The IPCC’s 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C broke into the public consciousness through media reporting that we only had twelve years to limit climate change catastrophe.
But was this really the conclusion of the report? If it was, do we really only have twelve years to fix our climate, and if not, how soon should we take action?
Join Peter Millican as he explores this topic with Professor Myles Allen, Coordinating Lead Author on the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5 degrees, Professor Helen Johnson from Oxford’s Earth Sciences Department, whose work focuses on understanding ocean circulation and the role in plays in the climate system; and Dr James Painter from the Reuters Institute at Oxford, who focuses on the portrayals of climate change in online and offline media.
Episode 2: Climate change and politics - why haven’t we done more?
As we heard in our first episode, it’s clear that we need to act sooner rather than later. This may be why we’re seeing increasing public action from the likes of Extinction Rebellion and the Youth Strikes for Climate, but what action have we seen from governments in the UK and beyond since this stark warning was delivered? What confidence can we have in our leaders to bring about the changes we need over the next decade?
Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party politician and Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, Dr Ryan Rafaty, a political scientist at the University of Oxford working with our Climate Econometrics project, and Tristram Walsh, President of the Oxford Climate Society, a student society dedicated to developing informed climate leaders.
Episode 3: How do you build a greener country?
What does the current infrastructure in the UK look like, and how far is it from where we need to be to meet our international commitments, or even our own challenge to be Net Zero by 2050?
How much do our working practices and lives contribute to how ‘green’ the country is, and how can we promote and preserve biodiversity across the globe?
How do we compare to other countries, and what can we learn from them? Finally, how do you build a ‘greener’ country?
Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Professor Cameron Hepburn, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, who has provided advice on climate policy to a number of governments; Alison Smith, a senior researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, who’s worked on a number of EU climate projects and is the author of ‘The Climate Bonus: co-benefits of climate policy’; and April Burt, who has spent the past eight years working in conservation management in the western Indian ocean and is now part of Oxford’s Environmental Research team.
Episode 4: Climate change: do individual actions matter?
With a lot of Government work relying on geo-political understanding between nation states and large multinational corporations, is there still potential for actions on an individual level to shape the future of the planet? Do actions such as changing our diets, varying how we commute or even joining in with mass demonstrations, have the possibility of being anywhere near as effective as changes that can be made on an international level? Can one person save the planet?
Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Professor Susan Jebb, a nutrition scientist who is co-director of the Livestock, Environment and People (or LEAP) project, Dr Tina Fawcett, a senior researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, who works on the ECI’s energy programme, and Tristram Walsh, President of the Oxford Climate Society, a student society dedicated to developing informed climate leaders.
Episode 5: What did the Paris Climate Agreement change?
On the 12th December 2015, at the 21st COP in Paris, representatives of 196 states reached an agreement to combat climate change that was celebrated around the world. With the long-term goal of keeping global temperature to below two degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, and covering areas such as nationally determined contributions and global stocktakes, Paris was heralded as a huge break-through. But four years on, and against the backdrop of the United States announcing its intention to withdraw from the agreement, what did the politicians at Paris actually achieve?
Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Fredi Otto, Acting Director of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute and a lead scientist on the World Weather Attribution project; Richard Miller, a Senior Analyst for the Committee on Climate Change, whose research spans the physical and economic consequences of climate policy; and Sugandha Srivastav, a researcher on the post carbon transition, who’s previously worked at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations.
Episode 6: Should nuclear power be part of our energy system?
Nuclear energy is still a controversial idea for many people, with dangerous accidents and destructive bombs being at the top of their minds when they hear the words, yet other renewable energy sources are not without their critics, and arguably are not yet at a place where they can entirely replace our current energy systems. So what role can, or should, nuclear be playing in the UK energy sector as we move towards a sustainable future?
Join our host, philosopher Peter Millican, as he explores this topic with Professor Nick Eyre, Director of the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions, who in 1997 wrote the first published study on how the then Government’s 20% carbon emission reduction target might be achieved; Dr Sarah Darby, Acting Leader of the Energy Programme at Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, who has a particular interest in how energy systems might develop in more environmentally and socially-benign ways; and James Marrow, James Martin Professor of Energy Materials, whose work is focussed on the degradation of structural materials.
Episode 7: Can we be green AND capitalist?
Many of our panellists in season two have described barriers that are standing in our way if we hope to restrict global warming to the 1.5 degrees C limit that the 2018 IPCC report outlined, and some have advocated how our current economic system could be used to overcome them.
But can markets really provide a tool to promote necessary action? In this episode we ask; can we be green AND capitalist?
Joining Professor Millican on this latest episode of Futuremakers are:
Thomas Hale, Associate Professor in Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Charmain Love, ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at our Saïd Business School, and Ben Caldecott, Associate Professor at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and founding Director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme.
And at the end of this episode there's a bonus conversation between Peter and Johan Rockström, joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, who in 2009 led an international group of twenty eight leading academics, in proposing a new framework for government and management agencies as a precondition for sustainable development on the planet Earth.