The Climate Summit Was Better Than You Think

Everyone seemed disappointed with the Glasgow climate summit. But maybe it was not as bad as it looked? That is the provocative insight of Isabel Hilton, an expert on both climate action and on one of the pivotal countries, China. Yes, it was “unhelpful,” as she put it, that India, with China’s backing, changed the wording of the final communique to promise a “phase down” rather than a “phase out” of coal. But this language may have reflected the need to manage domestic politics while actually making progress.

“I don’t think coal is safe at all after Glasgow,” Hilton told co-host Edie Lush.

More generally, Edie and co-host Claudia Romo Edelman explore a fascinating reversal.  Where in the past political leaders overpromised and under delivered on climate action, Glasgow may mark a moment when what is actually happening exceeds what politicians feel able to talk about as they worry about nationalist and anti-climate forces.

>Not everyone, of course, shares this hopeful outlook. Edie describes conversations she had with several experts who expand on the widely held view that action on climate simply is moving too slowly to cap rising temperatures at 1.5 centigrade.

The mayor of Dhaka North, Atiqul Islam, described how 1500 climate migrants were arriving in Dhaka every day as sea level rises in Bangladesh. Walter Roban, deputy premier and Home Minister of Bermuda, explained his vision to create a blue economy in the island nation and why help would be needed from the rich world. Ann Cairns, from our sponsor Mastercard, and Jude Kelly, from the Women of the World Foundation, describe the importance of gender equity in solving the climate emergency. “Climate change is a man-made problem and needs a female solution,” Kelly says.

Featured guests

Ann Cairns
In her role as Vice Chairman Ann represents Mastercard around the world, focusing on inclusion, diversity and innovation.  She plays the important role of senior ambassador and executive leader and sits as part of the company’s global management committee. Ann is passionate about the role Mastercard can play in delivering inclusion through innovation and has continued to build new global partnerships with governments, businesses, organizations and NGOs including the World Food Programme. Ann sits on the group board of the Fortune 500 Company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and is chair of ICE Clear Europe. Ann has a Pure Mathematics degree from Sheffield University and a M.Sc. with research into medical statistics and honorary doctorate from Newcastle University.

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Jude Kelly

Jude Kelly CBE is CEO and Founder of The WOW Foundation. She founded WOW to celebrate the achievements of women and girls and confront global gender injustice. Starting as a three-day festival at London’s Southbank Centre in 2010, where Jude was Artistic Director for 12 years, the festival now takes place in 30 locations across six continents.

In 2018 Jude established The WOW Foundation, an independent charity dedicated to building the WOW movement as a force for change.

Jude has directed over 200 theatre and opera productions, is the recipient of two Olivier Awards, a BASCA Gold Badge Award for contribution to music, a Southbank Award for opera, an RPO award for her festival The Rest is Noise, Women’s Hour’s one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK in 2013, Red Magazine’s 2014 Creative Woman of the Year, CBIs 2016 First Woman Award for Tourism and Leisure and in 2017 the inaugural Veuve Clicquot Woman of the Year Social Purpose Award. She was also headhunted to join the bidding team for the 2012 London Olympics and create the programme for culture and ceremonies, she subsequently advised both Rio and Tokyo on their successful bids.

Jude has founded a range of arts institutions and has commissioned and supported the work of thousands of female artists across all genres.

In 1997, she was awarded an OBE for her services to theatre and in 2015 she was made a CBE for services to the Arts.

Isabel Hilton

Isabel Hilton is a London-based international journalist and broadcaster. She studied at the Beijing Foreign Language and Culture University and at Fudan University in Shanghai before taking up a career in written and broadcast journalism, working for The Sunday TimesThe IndependentThe Guardian, and the New Yorker. In 1992 she became a presenter of the BBC’s flagship news program, “The World Tonight,” then BBC Radio Three’s cultural program “Night Waves.” She is a columnist for The Guardian and her work has appeared in the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesGranta, the New StatesmanEl PaisIndex on Censorship, and many other publications. She is the author and co-auothor of several books and is founder and editor of, a non-profit, fully bilingual online publication based in London, Beijing, and Delhi that focuses on the environment and climate change. Hilton holds two honorary doctorates and was awarded the OBE for her work in raising environmental awareness in China.