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WES 2022: Yuval Noah Harari and Vanessa Nakate on the climate crisis

As part of the 21st annual Warwick Economics Summit, Yuval Noah Harari and Vanessa Nakate spoke in riveting conversation, moderated by Bill Weir, before our virtual audience on 5th February, 2022.

Below, you will find our official Summit Press Release for the event, which summarises the speech's highlights, and is accompanied by a collection of the very best quotes from Yuval Noah Harari and Vanessa Nakate at WES 2022.



On 5th February, the student-run Warwick Economics Summit 2022 hosted a discussion with two of the most imminent speakers on the subject of climate change. Bill Weir, CNN's chief climate correspondent, welcomed Yuval Noah Harari - historian, philosopher, and bestselling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - alongside Vanessa Nakate - climate activist and founder of the African 'rise up' movement for climate change - to discuss the single most pressing issue of our time: the climate crisis.

Yuval Noah Harari highlighted that fact that, according to many experts, the price to be paid for the transition of our societies to a climate-positive system is "surprisingly modest," at a mere 2% of the world's annual GDP. It is a question of political will, to set the right priorities and make the right decisions, he said. Societies can muster strength in the face of a long-term threat, Harari said, using the controversial example of Nazism, which told people that Jews were a persistent (rather than an immediate) threat that would lead to the collapse of German civilisation - leading, of course, to the unprecedented mobilisation and abhorrent consequences we all know. As Vanessa Nakate pointed out, people are the key to ensuring these priorities are set - but the lack of awareness among many people is a major roadblock.

Do we need to change our most basic behaviours, and even human nature, to solve this problem? Yuval Noah Harari answers this question by challenging us to think deeply about what we should seek as individuals. Highlighting the triviality of some of the issues occupying our daily headspace, Harari clarified that all we need to do to mobilise in the face of the climate crisis is to change the way in which we do about achieving our desires.

Both speakers also discussed practical steps that can be taken to solve the issue of the climate crisis, with Vanessa Nakate reminding the audience that climate justice must be considered to ensure an effective and just transition, and appropriate action, is taken now - and not once it is too late.



  • "Promises will not stop emissions from rising. What will is action." (Vanessa Nakate)

  • "It is about speaking the truth to power. Climate justice means that the planet is okay, and the people are okay. There is so much power in the people to drive change and bring about a sustainable future." (Vanessa Nakate)

  • "There is a very big danger that, with climate change, the population might divide into the majority who suffers, and the minority who can protect themselves." (Yuval Noah Harari)

  • "One of the reasons why we don't see a lot of movement from technological and political elites is because they are counting on a technological Noah's Ark. That's very dangerous." (Yuval Noah Harari)

  • "You don't need to completely overhaul the political system. We just need to get our priorities right. We don't have a lot of time to do it; we need to do it now. But we have the resources, and there is no reason to succumb to despair." (Yuval Noah Harari)


Press release written by Leon Beaufils


You will find the video recording of Yuval Noah Harari and Vanessa Nakate's full discussion, delivered at WES 2022, here:



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We are also able to provide full event transcripts, or bespoke collections of quotes from Yuval Noah Harari and Vanessa Nakate's (or any other WES 2022) talk upon request.

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