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In this episode of The Speaker Show, Maria Franzoni interviews Gabrielle Walker.

Gabrielle is the Founder and Director of Valence Solutions and an expert strategist, focused on unleashing capitalism on climate change. She works with global companies at boardroom level, analysing emerging trends, challenging conventional thinking and driving meaningful action.

She has written four books exploring the relationship between humans and the planet we call home and is Former Climate Change Editor at The New Scientist.

Connect with Speakers Associates

Episode #206

Looking climate change in the eye is the way of fixing this...

Maria Franzoni (00:15): Hello and welcome back, my name is Maria Franzoni and this is The Speaker Show. In today’s episode, we will be talking about unleashing capitalism on climate change. Before we get started. Let me tell you that The Speaker Show is brought to you by Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau for the world’s most successful organizations, providing keynote speakers for events, conferences, and summits. My guest today is founder and director of Valence Solutions. She’s an expert strategist focused on unleashing capitalism on climate change. She works with global companies at boardroom level, analyzing emerging trends, challenging conventional thinking and driving meaningful action. She’s written four books exploring the relationship between humans and the planet and is former climate change editor at the New Scientist, a self confessed ice addict. She has made more than a dozen trips to both poles. She’s also climbed trees in the Amazon rainforest swung with piranhas being sneezed on by a hunt back whale hooked lava out of a live volcano and flown in zero gravity.

Maria Franzoni (01:18): Wow! Please welcome my guest today, Gabrielle Walker, Gabrielle how are you?

Gabrielle Walker (01:25): Oh, it’s lovely to see you Maria. Doing very well. Coming back outta this last.

Maria Franzoni (01:30): Excellent. Excellent. And actually I’ve I called you Gabrielle. That’s correct. Isn’t it?

Gabrielle Walker (01:33): That is correct. Yes. My name’s pronounced Gabrielle and spelled Gabrielle. I, no one ever explained why for my parents, but that’s what I’m called.

Maria Franzoni (01:40): Okay. Do, do you have a reason why, or, or would you decide to be different?

Gabrielle Walker (01:45): No. My parents just call me that and that’s such pronounced, but my friends, I speak French and Spanish and my friends in France and Spain called say Gabrielle, which sounds so much nicer. So really I answer to anything.

Maria Franzoni (01:54): You answer to anything. Wonderful. Listen, before we get into sort of, you know, some really important topics with you, I really, really need to understand what this obsession love of ice is all about.

Gabrielle Walker (02:07): Yeah. I get accused of being an ice addict. There was a time when I was spending a lot of my time going around the world going hanging out with scientists and finding out what was really happening in the whole climate space. But in the, in the process of that, I went many times to Antarctica and to the Arctic. And I have to say, you know, I like my comforts. I do like to be warm, but there is nothing like being in the middle of an entire space for all you can see is ice. It’s like being on the moon on Mars or something. I’ve never felt so much so alien and different and there’s no, there’s no human history there in Antarctica, whatever you find there is what you take with you. And it can be quite sobering to find out what you see when you look in that massive ice mirror. So I loved it.

Maria Franzoni (02:49): Oh, do you know what? You’re never gonna get me out there. Cause I, I, I don’t even like winter in the UK and we don’t get that cold here. So it’s, it’s not good for me. I like ice in my gin and tonic, but anyway

Gabrielle Walker (02:59): The penguins they’ve got penguins. You’d love the penguins.

Maria Franzoni (03:01): Oh, I’d love the penguins. Fantastic. So, okay. On a more serious note how long have you been working on climate change and, and when, and how did you start?

Gabrielle Walker (03:12): I actually do know what next year, it’ll be 30 years since I started working on climate change and it’s really quite sobering to think of that. And, and at the beginning I was working on, on science. Basically. I was a climate change editor at nature. That’s how I started doing it all. And I did find, you know, when I was doing this stuff, I was going all around the world, hanging out with scientists, finding out what was happening in the climate space. And, you know, there’s something that a guy I worked with in in, in Canada told me, he said some topics that go from your head. That’s, that’s very interesting to your, to your heart. That’s very exciting to your gut. That’s really alarming. And then to your soul, and when they go to your soul, you can’t get them back out again.

Gabrielle Walker (03:47): You’re done. And that sort of happened to me with climate change. I was excited learning all about the science and I started to get worried. I was working more with with policy makers and politicians, and also making radio and TV programs and writing books about it all. And then I began to get worried because I saw climate change already happening everywhere. And then I realized I had to do something about it. And that just coincided with when I started to work with, with a business, just because people started saying, can you come and talk to my CEO? Can you come and talk to my investor conference? And when I did, I realized this is a lever that could change everything. So ever since then, I’ve been working exclusively in the private sector. And I’m really feeling more and more heartened by what we can actually do to fix this thing.

Maria Franzoni (04:29): I love that. Can you remind me? So that was it head,

Gabrielle Walker (04:32): Heart, heart, gut, gut, and soul. And when it’s in your soul, there’s no power on God surf that will get it back out. And that’s what happens with climate change. See it, you get it, you find it interesting. You find it exciting. You find it worrying, and then you’ve gotta do something about it. And I find that many of the senior executives I work with say the same kind of thing. I work with so many CEOs and senior level people in big organizations who say, when I got it, I had to do something. And it’s because it’s not just good for me. It’s not just good for the planet. It’s also essential for my business. That’s what I hear all the time.

Maria Franzoni (05:04): Wow. I love that. It’s really powerful. So I’m shocked that you’ve been doing this for 30 years. You must have started in your nappies because you look fab anybody watching on video will agree that you’re looking fabulous. What’s changed in that time. Oh, I’m, I’m scared to hear the answer, I think. Yeah.

Gabrielle Walker (05:21): Yeah. So I I’d say there’s two major things that have changed. It’s kind of good news and bad news. I’ll start with the bad news of what’s changed in that time. So, you know, during that time, when I was, I was writing books, making radio programs, TV programs, working with politicians and working in business during that time, I was giving more and more talks about climate change. This is what’s coming. This is what we have to be ready for in the future. This go going to be mega hurricanes. There’s going to be incredible forest fires. There’s gonna be the sort of temperature, so hot that a village can spontaneously burn down. There’s going to be floods. There’s going to be seed upper ice. I’d say all those things. And it was actually quite hard to, to find pictures to illustrate it. And these days it’s actually hard to choose.

Gabrielle Walker (06:01): Oh, you know, it’s just like last week or the week before that, that village in, in Canada. But you know, the temperature was 49.6 degrees C just before it burst into flame and burnt down. And for, you know, it was interesting. But when I showed pictures of the mega hurricanes that we’re now experiencing one guy in a, in a a, I was speaking to a, a group of high net worth individuals, retail investors in, in Toronto, I showed a picture of one hurricane. He came up to me afterwards and he said, no, you should show hurricane Dorian. The one that just went through The Bahamas. I said, why hurricane Dorian? He said, well, thing is, I used to have a house in The Bahamas and I don’t anymore. He said, it looked like a nuclear bomb had hit his wow. And actually that’s not a bad analogy because the greenhouse gases, the energy we’re putting in the atmosphere at the moment is like four Hiroshima bombs every second.

Gabrielle Walker (06:54): And so it just flattens everything with that kind of energy in the atmosphere. And he actually, you know, and he said another interesting thing. He said, I used to be a climate skeptic and I’m not anymore. And I’m hearing that a lot as well as we’re actually seeing the actual direct effects of climate change around us. So that’s one thing that’s changed. It’s gone from being something in the future to something that’s actually all around us and with us, but also the kind of good news is in part because of that, that I think more and more people have realized that this is actually a direct risk to businesses. So it’s a direct risk in terms of if, if any of your assets of your buildings, if anything that you depend on in your supply chain is in the way of a flood or a fire or a storm.

Gabrielle Walker (07:34): I mean, you know, when, when when hurricane Harvey hit Houston, it, it deposits is so much rain. It was so intense that the city of Houston actually dropped by a few centimeters. So imagine what happened to all the installations that were there in Houston at the time. So I think more and more investors and also businesses were sort of saying, are I vulnerable? I might at risk with my supply chain and investors are saying, this is un priced risk in our portfolio. We have to do something about this. You know, the, the insurance companies were first, but I think a lot of the others who were on the frontline became came next. And now the bank of England industry, the statement basically saying, this is Sarah Breeden at the bank of England said that climate risks are unpredictable, but inevitable, you dunno exactly what’s gonna happen, but they’re going to affect every consumer and every business in every geography, every in the world. So that means when you realize that it’s become mainstream and you have to do something about it. And I think that’s been quite a big driver for why the, the good news is that now climate change has gone from being something on the side. That’s a little bit tree huggy to something that’s right at the heart of finance sector. And therefore right at the heart of all business plans, cuz that’s where the fire, hers of money is being redirected now.

Maria Franzoni (08:49): Wow! There’s some really shocking information you’ve shared there. I mean the one that I wrote down, I thought, I couldn’t believe it. Four Hiroshima bombs every second, every second, every second.

Gabrielle Walker (09:00): Yeah. That’s how much energy we’re putting in the atmosphere of the greenhouse gases. It gives you a sense of the scale of it. Yeah. The scale of what we actually have to have to reverse as well. It’s really quite striking. Yeah. And you can see the effect it does, but The Bahamas look like a nuclear bomb had hit them. They really did. Yeah.

Maria Franzoni (09:14): And I didn’t know that Houston had dropped actually. I didn’t realize that, but as you said, but as you explain it and now it touches now that it touches business and commerce things will happen for sure. Of course. So that in a way is good news. Are there other risks associated to climate change?

Gabrielle Walker (09:30): Well, I think that’s another way. The drivers Mark Carney when he was still governor of the bank of bank and when he was chair of the financial stability board he put it really well. He said that there’s a direct risk to assets of climate change that aren’t priced, you know, the fires and the floods and the storms. But he also talked about transition risks and that’s because in response to this, we’re already right in the middle of a very major transition, the energy transition, changing how we make energy, how we transport things. And so there is a risk that your business model, it is no longer fit for purpose that, that your, the, the, the value of your assets can actually kind of just slip through your fingers and disappear. And that can come from from a reputational change. It can come from legislation or regulations.

Gabrielle Walker (10:14): It can come from a complete change in the, in the, the demand. And, and all of those things together can be really, I think, are really troubling to many, many business leaders. And so there’s, there’s predictions for example, that there’s going to be some very big policy changes around carbon pricing over the next few years. And, and if, if your entire business is, is predicated, the, you know, you can put CO2 into the atmosphere and you don’t get charged for that. And suddenly you get a hefty charge on top of what you’re already expecting to, to have to pay. Then you can go out of business. I think the, the, the governor of the bank of England and the governor of the bank of France issued a joint statement. This is, I think this is fascinating. And another big development, which is the race to net zero.

Gabrielle Walker (11:00): So many organizations that are saying we have to have a, a plan to get to zero emissions by 2050. So that you know, if, if, if I, if I admit anything to the sky, I take it back again. There’s no net emissions after, after 2050. And I about 18 months ago, it was a bit kinda niche. And now it’s everywhere. So, you know, governments are doing it. The UK is legislated at the European union is doing it. The US is doing it South Korea, Japan, all the major impact China as well. All the major economies of the world have said, okay, net zero by 2050, and then organizations businesses, it’s got to, they’re calling it the race to zero, but it’s got to the stage where if you don’t have a net zero target, you’re not at the table. And if you’re not at the table, you know what, you’re on the menu.

Gabrielle Walker (11:48): So that’s a really dramatic change from when people weren’t even thinking about that. And, and if we’re gonna get from zero from where we are now to net zero by 2050, the governor of the bank of, and governor of the bank of France issued a statement saying what this requires is a 45% reduction in emissions in the next nine years. Think that by 2030, in the next nine years of 45, almost cutting in half all of the emissions that we’re doing now, and that’s a dramatic transformation, it’s really dramatic. And so there’s, there’s risks in that, of course there’s risk because if you are not, I mean, what the governors of the bank of England and bank of France actually said was, first of all, that’s gonna require a massive reallocation of capital. And secondly, if you don’t get with that program, your business will fail to exist. That was their words. And so the risk is if you’re not figuring out how, where you are on that plan, how you’re going to reduce the emissions. If you don’t have that net zero target, then you’re gonna be in trouble with business, but there are opportunities too.

Maria Franzoni (12:53): Well, you, I was gonna ask you about that, cause you are a very positive person. I mean, we, we, we can hear when you speak, you, you do speak about the positive and I like that. So I do want to know what the opportunities are. Yeah.

Gabrielle Walker (13:03): The thing is that we can’t, we can’t, we have to look this in the face. The terrifying climate change is now real in it is now with us. And that’s what I do when I’m speaking. I always try help people to look at it in the face, but not in a way where you’re kinda shouting or blaming just saying, this is real. If we’re ever gonna fix a problem, we have to know what the problem really is. We have to look at it in the face, but once you’ve done that, we’re clever, we’re inventive. We’re actually brilliant. When we look things in the face and decide what to do about them, we can find the opportunities. And if you think about that cutting emissions in half by 2030, and in fact, you know, the, the, the, the us has said that they’re going to cut, going to cut their emissions by 50%, not 45%.

Gabrielle Walker (13:44): The European union has said 55%. And it’s about to range that in law and the UK has said that it will be 78% reduced by 2035. These are huge numbers and massive changes. So just think about it. If you are ready for that and your competitors, aren’t, you’re gonna be the winner, but better still, if you’re contributing to it, if you’re offering solutions, if you’re working with your customers and your supply chains to make it happen, the world is your market. Everybody’s gonna need this. It’s like developing a vaccine, everybody to need this. And so I think, you know, that that’s the kind of mindset that now I, I think we need to be. And I also, I really don’t wanna be blaming not, I’m not interested in figuring out whose fault it is. We are all in this, and we’re all part of the solution. And in that context, I think finding how you can contribute and, and doing it is gonna be really profitable as well as very rewarding.

Maria Franzoni (14:38): That is exciting. That’s really exciting. And it’s promising, but are we going fast enough? Would you say

Gabrielle Walker (14:44): Never going fast enough? And we’re doing it. We’re starting, we’re doing too little. And we started too late, but now at least it’s accelerating. I’m speaking to, you know, very senior executives who can come like it’s going at war speed. And I say, buckle your seatbelt. It’s gonna go faster. The there’s the, the principles for responsible investment who are, is a group of Sies who have a lot of assets under management, something like, you know, like, like, like 50 or 60 trillion under assets, under management, and are kind of signed to say that they’re going to try and figure out how to make the investments more responsible. That organization brought out a report called the inevitable policy response. And what they’re saying is, if you look at all the government’s commitments saying, we’re going to be net zero by 2050, we’re gonna cut in half by 2030, it’s beginning to Dawn on many of those governments that their policies weren’t achieved that.

Gabrielle Walker (15:31): So they’re going to do very dramatic, sudden changes when they realize that. And I think, you know, if, if you, again, if you’re ready for that, if you’re looking for it, if you know what to expect, you’re going to be in a much better position than if you say it’s all gonna go on the way it always has until I suddenly find myself on my face and outta business. And I think those are some of the things that are going to accelerate change and, and the, the events of this year are going to accelerate change as well.

Maria Franzoni (15:57): Yes, I can imagine. And, and in a way, during this sort of last 18 months we’ve experienced what it’s like to have better air and you know, less traffic. I we’ve had no, no planes for months going. I mean, it’s just been wonderful. And I’m, I’m sure that the garden smells different. Everything’s different, it’s just nature sort of enjoying it.

Gabrielle Walker (16:21): It is. And you know what it is, it’s fascinating to me because when, when, when 2020 started, I thought that the biggest story of that year was going to be those pouring bushfires in Australia. Do you remember those? Yes. Thought that was me the story of the year. And then of course COVID came along and I thought that that would mean that action on climate would slow down. And to my astonishment, it hasn’t just not slowed down. It’s actually accelerated. And I think a lot of people have taken this as an opportunity to reset that we’re thinking at some point in the future, we need to do things differently, what we’re doing everything differently now. So why don’t we just reset now? Some very big organizations have done that, but also I think we’ve, we’ve had a sense, almost a visceral sense of what it’s like when some of these great big systemic threats actually add up and how big an impact they can have on us personally, and how much they can have on the economy.

Gabrielle Walker (17:07): And so I think there’s more of a realization of, of, of, of the, the widespread impact that can have. And also, you know, people used to say to me, well, you know, governments, aren’t gonna make that kind of ridiculous change O overnight. I mean, you know, they’re not gonna do things that will harm the economy. They’re not gonna ground airplanes. Are they? I mean, and you know, part they did. I know, I think it’s changed our minds about what’s possible. And it really has. It’s kind of also changed our minds about how vulner we are and what a global response to something needs to look like. And all of those things have kind of pushed us further in the direction of actually on climate change, rather than, rather than slowing it down.

Maria Franzoni (17:44): It’s good to have some positives coming out of the pandemic as well. Isn’t it? Because it’s it’s, it’s been tough on everybody. I think in, in many ways,

Gabrielle Walker (17:51): I’ll give you another one, actually, I’ll give you another one and it’s not so much a positive coming outta the pandemic, but it’s just, you said that, you know, you feel like your garden smells different and you feel like you, you know, that there was, there was sort of clean air. So one of the things I also, I like to stress and, and, and, and my talks is that, but when we get this right, it’s not just that the world is your market. It’s not just that you can make a lot of money, but when we get this right, actually thinking about how we want to live, many of the solutions for climate change also make things better. So for example, electric vehicles, I, I, I read so a couple of days ago, one in 10 electric vehicles, one in 10 cars being sold in the UK, right? It now as an electric vehicle, that story has completely changed. And then being kind of for do gooders. And they turned into very desirable cars, but when all the cars are electric vehicles, it’s gonna be quiet.

Maria Franzoni (18:41): It’s

Gabrielle Walker (18:42): Gonna be quiet in the cities. You won’t have the same. You won’t have that diesel pollution that you get. You won’t have the patch pollution, so the cities are gonna smell lovely. And with that in order to keep buildings not needing so much heating and cooling, and also to be able to have kind of local food sources, there’s gonna be vertical farms in cities. So imagine that I live in the middle of London, I love it, but imagine London where it’s quiet and it smells like a forest, and there are birds everywhere. And you’re still in the city with all of the wonders that the city has. I think we can get ourselves into a mindset where we realize that making solutions to climate change doesn’t mean going a living in case. It means actually living better than we do at the moment. And that’s great. There’s a big opportunity.

Maria Franzoni (19:26): I love that. Although there is one problem with electric vehicles, which I’ve come across, if you walking along and you’ve got your airports on and you’re listening to

Gabrielle Walker (19:34): Them,

Maria Franzoni (19:35): You can’t hear them. Yeah. And I I’ve almost come a Cropper a couple of times, so you’ve gotta pay attention. You’ve gotta do green cross code. If you’re old enough to remember that and British that’s dating me as well now. Brilliant and, and vertical font. I love that. And the idea that you can be in, in London and it quiet and it smells lovely. I, you know, I hope I hope to see that. I really do see that.

Gabrielle Walker (19:57): Honestly, it won’t be long. I promise you, it won’t be long by, by 2030 it’s gonna be illegal to sell internal combustion engine cars in, in the UK. And there’s a massive effort to figure out what to do about trucks and, and heavier vehicles as well. So, you know, it it’s really, it’s gonna be much fast think,

Maria Franzoni (20:13): Great. I love that. So what should we do now?

Gabrielle Walker (20:17): What should we do now? Well, I think there’s, there’s a whole bunch of things that we need to do. I mean, now that at last there’s, there’s this whole we, we need focus. I think I, I I’ve traced this. It started off as I, I think I said with the, with the insurance companies and some of the frontline companies, the energy companies, the oil and gas companies and, and they sort of, and utilities, but it’s kind of moved more or less. The banks are on this now, the asset managers, the asset owners. So with, with the, with the money, it used to be this kind of dichotomy. It used to be the sense that either we can make money or we can do something about the climate. And it’s increasingly clear that that trade off has completely changed. Now, the, the only way that you’re going to succeed in making money is by actually considering the climate.

Gabrielle Walker (21:04): So we, that in mind, what should we do now? Well, I think when I’m giving talks, I, I always tailor them to, to whoever the, the, the audience is. And so there’s, there’s different, specific advice for different organizations for different people, but basically everybody should be looking to see how, how they can get a net zero target and what that can actually look like. And we don’t have to have all the answers now that the other thing it’s not supposed to happen overnight, but it is supposed to happen faster than it has been. So there’s, there’s, there’s a way to, to, to trace there’s a whole set of organizations that are helping figure out exactly what net zero should look like set in net zero, target, work out what your emissions are and work out what your plan is to reduce those. And not just in your own emissions, but also in your supply chains and with your customers.

Gabrielle Walker (21:48): Yeah. And there’s other there’s organizations that you can be part of that can actually help sort of mentor you along that journey. I think this is going to be a very, very interesting year because of the, of cop 26. This is the big climate conference that’s gonna happen in Glasgow in November and that, which I will be involved in. And it’s the most important one Paris. So the Paris co sent a signal around the world saying we are gonna try and keep the world well below two degrees C in terms of warming. And this one in, in Glasgow is going to be saying, okay, how, how are we doing with our commitments? And what do we need need to do to change those commitments? How can we ratchet those up? It’s the next big event? And I think we’re gonna see a lot there, not just governments, but also a lot of private sector, a lot of a lot of pressure from organizations outside the government saying, you have to do this.

Gabrielle Walker (22:41): So that’s gonna be a very, a very big landmark. Do you know what, in terms of what we should do individually? I was asked this yesterday, a talk I gave and, and, and my biggest piece of advice for what you can do as an individual about helping to fix climate change. It’s gonna take you by surprise a little bit. I think it’s, it’s talk to people you don’t agree with about it and be curious and be open, because I think we’ve got ourselves into a lot of this mess by saying my solution, not yours, my way, not yours. Someone’s gonna shout at me I’m to blame your, to blame who’s to blame, instead of saying, how do we fix it? And, and, and, you know, it’s, it’s so much more comfortable and easier to fight amongst yourselves than it is to face something. That’s actually very frightening. But as I said earlier, if you face it, you fix it. And if you fix it, you live better. And that seems like a good approach.

Maria Franzoni (23:30): Exactly. Very good, very good approach. I like that. Actually, it wasn’t the answer I was expecting. That’s really interesting. And I think it’s a, I think you’re right. I think that something coming out of what we’ve been going through now, certainly, you know, work together to find a solution rather than fighting each other, blaming each other take responsibility. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Gabrielle Walker (23:49): I can give you some examples. It was really super interesting. A friend of mine cume IU, who, who was then the head of green peace international did a collaboration with Francesca STAI, a very unlikely red fellow who was the head of NL Italian utility that had a lot of coal and, and fossil fuels in its mix. So why would they even talk to each other green peace and, and this kind of fossil fuel entity, that seems very unlikely, but Francesco decided that he wanted to have a plan to get out of fossil fuels and he wanted to do it right? So he took, he invited green peace to come in and have conversations behind closed doors. They came up with a plan that green peace said, yes, that will work. And then they did a joint press conference, green peace, and N joined press conference saying, this is what we’re going to do.

Gabrielle Walker (24:31): And that’s, that’s the pattern of the future. I think, you know, we, I work a lot with NGOs. I’m actually an ambassador for client earth. One of the, I think one of the best environmental NGOs out there. And I also, I work with oil and gas companies. I work with I with every sector, every single sector, the finance sector work with energy. I transport shipping the whole lot. And, and, and a lot of what I’m doing in, in the rest of my life. And I’m not speaking is helping people have those conversations, brokering the conversations between the, the, the business who can be the delivery arm of the solutions and the NGOs who understand what we’re we actually need to achieve. And the more we can get those conversations happening, the faster we can act. So that’s a great time,

Maria Franzoni (25:12): Actually. Yeah, no wonderful, wonderful. You’ve sort of touched on this already and I’d like you to go a bit deeper. Cause you, you, you said that you tailor your sessions for clients, which is really important as a speaker. So I love that. You’ve said that, what are they about clients generally are asking you to speak about? Because obviously if you’ve got a, a keynote, you’ve got a limited amount of time, what are they hoping to have as an outcome from one of your speeches?

Gabrielle Walker (25:34): I think the, the thing that I get asked most, I mean, people want to know what are the big trends what’s actually driving and what’s happening? What are other sectors doing that we can learn from what’s happening in the investor space, what’s happening in the policy space so they can be right up to the minute. And so one of the reasons I always tailored my talks is that things are happening so fast that, you know, so I’m very often saying, and yesterday and last week, and this just came out of this, this headline or this law to make sure that it’s really up to the minute. But another thing that they’re often asked as well as kind of the big picture is kind of, can you paint the big picture of, of how we understand what I were in this place what’s actually happening in other sectors policy, et cetera.

Gabrielle Walker (26:12): And then what’s specific to our sector, what do we need to know about our sector? And then what can we do as a company? So it tends to be that kind of arc and what they, what they most often ask for. And certainly, I, I mean, I’m happy to say what they most often say at the end is that they go away from feeling very empowered and inspired. And so I really, I don’t pull any punches. I really show the, the hurricanes and the floods and the fires I show what’s real and what’s happening. But what I also try to do is show, and therefore, this is what we do about it. And, and, you know, it’s lovely to hear, but I’m not there to, I’m not there to shout to anyone I’m there to empower us all to fix this because that’s gonna be the answer. Right.

Maria Franzoni (26:51): Absolutely. And actually, I’ve, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing you speak live. And for me it was, and it was an emotional roller coaster, but you do come out thinking, okay, I can do something here rather than feeling helpless and her, so, and yeah, you don’t pull any punches. Absolutely true. But then again, I like people like that, so that’s fine. Fantastic. I do try

Gabrielle Walker (27:10): To make everyone laugh as well. If I haven’t got at least a few last by the end of my tour, then I don’t, I’ve done it. Right. So that’s a

Maria Franzoni (27:16): Good

Gabrielle Walker (27:17): Have fun doing it.

Maria Franzoni (27:17): We have to have fun. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So you also touched a little bit on this. So obviously you’re speaking, you also help companies who broker the you know, the conversations between different, different organizations. How else do you help them? Do, do you go in and work with companies more deeply too?

Gabrielle Walker (27:34): Yes. Yes, I do. I, so I have a, I have a couple of different teams that they do this with, that I put together. And so we do do strategic advice that and, and usually senior executive level on, on aspects of this, I, I, I tend to focus my work on, on the companies if, if it’s an individual company, it’s because they’re, they’re a very big influence in that sector because we’re trying to make change as well as make a living. And, and also with, with organizations that are kind of have cost sector or collaborations that bring in lots of different, make something happen that they couldn’t do individually, got a lot of experience about how to make collaborations happen. But I think most often my team and I are there to hold up a kind of an entertaining but uncomfortable mirror to so, so, and, and that can be to everyone.

Gabrielle Walker (28:19): We, we can hold up an uncomfortable mirror to green piece, as much as we can hold up an uncomfortable mirror to an UN gas company. And so we’re there to say, this is what we’re here. This is what you have to see. And we do that quite a lot as a, as a kind of one on ones. And then I’m also my team and I were, were working with the UN high level champions for the, the cop meeting in Glasgow to, to figure out what, what are the big blind spots? What are the missing pieces and how can businesses contribute to solving those? And so that’s a very specific, focused effort. And we’re particularly looking around the area of of, of carbon capture and carbon removals. I think this is gonna be very exciting area taking CO2 back outta the sky is gonna be hugely important.

Gabrielle Walker (29:00): And I don’t think enough people have realized John Carey mentioned it at the event that Joe Biden called in the spring. He said, I really don’t think people have got the heads around this. And I think he’s right. So we’re, we’re going after some of the areas where everyone knows about electric vehicles, everyone knows about solar power. Everyone knows about now even about net zero, but people haven’t quite figured out yet. We’re also gonna have to do these things. So it is, I think it’s most interesting. And you can have the most impact of you, you go after the blind spots that other people haven’t seen yet.

Maria Franzoni (29:28): Fantastic. I think you answered my last question. I was gonna ask you what you’re currently working on, but so just to sum, sum up, if there’s anything else you want, how in fact, what would you like to leave us with? What thoughts would you like to leave us with?

Gabrielle Walker (29:41): Well, in, in what I’m currently working on, I mean, I’m, I’m tremendously excited by this year and I’m excited by, I’m excited by the work we’re doing on removals, but on the whole time at space and how it all fits together. I, I’m gonna be giving a, a, a Ted global talk about this in in, in October, there’s a, there’s a first time Ted global has done a, a conference entirely dedicated to climate change. It’s gonna be really, I think, important. So I’m hugely excited that I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be speaking at that. And they’ve also asked me to curate one of the breakout sessions around the topics that I’m covering too, so that we can really kind of dig into that. So that’s gonna be really great and, and, and the cop meeting. So, you know, I suppose I’d leave you with it’s, it’s hugely an important to look climate change in the eye.

Gabrielle Walker (30:22): It is the mega trend. I speak about lots of different aspects of it. So, you know and related aspects, plastics, circular economy the role of finance, but the, the, the big picture thing is this is the mega trend. And this is affecting everything else. And so it’s important to look it in the eye and see it the way it really to get educated about it. And it’s also important to feel inspired and encouraged and think, how am I gonna lead my company out of this in a way that’s gonna make us even more valuable when it comes through to the middle of the 21st century. And so, you know, don’t just, don’t just be afraid, be excited. This is a very, very exciting time to be alive.

Maria Franzoni (31:02): Wonderful. A lovely place to leave it. Thank you so much, Gabrielle. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself.

Gabrielle Walker (31:07): Totally. I always love speaking to you, Maria.

Maria Franzoni (31:09): Wonderful. Well said, I’ll pay you later. So thank you for listening to The Speaker Show. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating on iTunes. You can keep up with future episodes on the Speakers Associates website, which is or on iTunes, Google podcast, or your favorite podcast app and Gabrielle is available for bookings via So I’ll see you next week, bye bye for now and take care. Thank you.

Live interview

Maria Franzoni is an established and recognised speaking industry expert and one of the most experienced speaker bookers in Europe.

As well as working with speakers, Maria also hosts live shows and podcasts. She currently hosts The Speaker Show podcast for Speakers Associates.

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