We need to act five times faster to avoid dangerous climate change. As Greenland melts, Australia burns, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, we think we know who the villains are: oil companies, consumerism, and weak political leaders. But what if the real blocks to progress are the ideas and institutions that are supposed to be helping us? Five Times Faster is an inside story from Simon Sharpe, who has spent ten years at the forefront of climate change policy and diplomacy. In our fight to avoid dangerous climate change, science is pulling its punches, diplomacy is picking the wrong battles, and economics has been fighting for the other side. This provocative and engaging book sets out how we should rethink our strategies and reorganise our efforts in the fields of science, economics, and diplomacy, so that we can act fast enough to stay safe.
Part I. Science:
2. Looking up at the dam
3. Knowing the least about what matters most
4. Telling the boiling frog what he needs to know
5. Runaway tipping points of no return
6. The meaning of conservative
7. More than science
8. Tell the truth
Part II. Economics:
9. Worse than useless
10. The allocation of scarce resources
11. The configuration of abundance
12. Not just fixing the foundations
13. Investing with our eyes open
14. Regulating for a free lunch
15. Stuck in first gear
16. Runaway tipping points of no return, revisited
Part III. Diplomacy:
18. A foreseeable failure
19. The greatest public relations gamble in history
20. System change, not climate change
21. Better late than never
22. From coal to clean power
23. From oil to electric vehicles
24. From deforestation to sustainable development
25. The Breakthrough Agenda
26. Tipping cascades
Simon Sharpe is the Director of Economics for the Climate Champions Team and a Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute. He designed and led flagship international campaigns of the UK's Presidency of the UN climate change talks (COP 26) in 2020–2021; worked as the head of a private office to a minister of energy and climate change in the UK Government; and has served on diplomatic postings in China and India. He has published influential academic papers and created groundbreaking international initiatives in climate change risk assessment, economics, policy, and diplomacy.
"Pace is truly what matters in the climate fight – and the idea in this book that intrigues me the most is that a certain kind of reductionism has blinded us to the common interests that need to guide our work if it's going to happen in time."
– Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
"Now more than ever, there is an obvious need for a full assessment of the risks of climate change to be given to heads of government and their advisers. And yet still this is missing [...] I strongly support this book, which brings the risks of climate change and potential solutions to a wider audience. There is no-one I can think of in the world who could do this better than Simon Sharpe."
– Sir David King, Founder and Chair, Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge University; Former Chief Scientific Adviser to the British Government; former UK Climate Envoy
"This book needs to be read, and its recommendations embraced, by all those seeking to make rapid progress in the fight to preserve a habitable planet. Simon has witnessed first-hand how progress is being impeded by [...] [and] his book presents a blueprint for the way climate science should be conducted and presented, how thinking about the economy should change, and international diplomacy be redesigned. It's a much-needed new take on a problem we've been wrestling with for decades but making only sporadic progress in addressing."
– Baroness Bryony Worthington, leading creator of the UK's Climate Change Act; former Europe Director, Environmental Defense Fund; member of the UK House of Lords
"In a crowded market, this book promises to stand out head and shoulders above the rest as a seminal, timely, and much needed synthesis of the lessons learned from five decades of effort by scientists, the business community, and politicians on how to address the threat of climate catastrophe. Simon Sharpe has been a thought leader at the core of diplomatic and government activity [...] The lessons learned that he describes, and the approaches he recommends, could genuinely cut Gordian knots and allow new levels of progress. I cannot recommend this book more highly."
– Chris Rapley CBE, former Director of the Science Museum, former Director of the British Antarctic Survey
"The Race To Zero is the biggest ever global campaign to deliver a zero carbon future as soon as possible. It is an exercise in radical collaboration to drive non-linear change in every sector of the economy. Simon Sharpe's informative and accessible book will provide a manual for scientists, CEOs and policy makers to work together to deliver systemic transformation much faster than current efforts."
– Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Action Champion, UNFCCC COP26
"As the world is suffocating under extreme weather events, widespread food and water scarcity, destruction of ecosystems, and a series of other interrelated climate-linked crises, Simon Sharpe's book is a breath of fresh air [...] Five Times Faster takes you on a captivating – yet alarming – journey through the complexities of climate change [...] Simon's book is an important leap in the right direction."
– Mariana Mazzucato, University College, London, and author of Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism