Nigel Topping: The Wanderful Podcast with David Pearl

By Rachel Crowther

Discover more stories of hope with Nigel and other climate innovators on the newly released The Green Room – What (On Earth’s) the Story film on You Tube’

Full film:


‘I’m the murmuration meister… I should put that on my business card’

Nigel Topping is the UN’s High-Level Climate Action Champion, appointed by the UK Prime Minister in January 2020. Nigel works alongside the Chilean High-Level Climate Action Champion, Gonzalo Muñoz. The role of the high-level champions is to strengthen collaboration and drive action from businesses, investors, organisations, cities, and regions on climate change, and coordinate this work with governments and parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Nigel was most recently CEO of We Mean Business, a coalition of businesses working to accelerate the transition to a zero carbon economy. Prior to that he was Executive Director of the Carbon Disclosure Project, following an 18 year career in the private sector, having worked across the world in emerging markets and manufacturing.

‘Discover more stories of hope with Nigel and other climate innovators on the newly released The Green Room – What (On Earth’s) the Story film on You Tube’

Full film:


Time Line

00.00 – 00.44: Opening Credits

00.46 – 05.08: Introducing Nigel Topping

05.15 – 07.51: The advantage of converging pathways

08.22 – 10.40: The collaborative process at COP26

11.00 – 12.19: Momentum and how to change big systems

12.36 – 13.34: Where Nigel finds his inspiration and energy – moving through despair

13.35 – 16:21: The 4 unhelpful micro stories

16:30 – 21:28: What are the helpful stories to tell ourselves?

20:30 – 24:36: David’s ‘Wanderful’ Exercise: Recognising Patterns

24:59 – 28:42: Epilogue


“Changing big systems is very difficult and for all the clamour on the streets, there’s a lot of people who don’t want change… so… the louder the clamour gets, then the more it becomes a political force and so it opens up, but it’s only in the last few years that we’ve had that… it’s relatively new and it’s still only a minority of people.” (Nigel)

“Plenty of people who won’t allow politicians to move fast. It’s all very well saying you’ve got to move faster but we see CEO’s and politicians who have gone really fast, lose their jobs. The challenge is to take the WHOLE of society with us.” (Nigel)

“It’s not in the small hours, it’s in the middle of the day that I find despair and in Glasgow (COP26) I went through about three cycles of grief and joy per day.” (Nigel)

“The trick is not to fall on the two horns of the dilemma… there’s the ‘we’re so f****d, it’s not worth doing anything’ and ‘we’re so clever, it’s not worth worrying’. Both of those are b******t.” (Nigel)

“I do think you should be scared and sceptical and so you should dip into those stories. For example, the science is a story, which is based on fact, right, but it’s still a narrative that shows you why you should be scared. And the history of in-action shows you why you should be sceptical… but… you shouldn’t get stuck in those stories, because there is very little agency in those stories and there’s a danger of being stuck in despair or anger.” (Nigel)

“Hope is an active choice… and hope and action are intertwined.” (Nigel)

“Choose hope…to try to do something… to make the world a better place… and then think about your skills and your influence.” (Nigel)

“If you’ve got kids, go to their school and see if the school will get involved in the ‘let’s get to zero initiative. If you’ve got access to business leaders, bring them into your work.” (Nigel)

Further Information

Nigel Topping

Twitter @topnigel

Instagram @nigel.topping


David Pearl 

Twitter @DavidPearlHere

Instagram @davidpearl_here


Andrew Paine (Producer & Audio Engineer)

Twitter @ItPainesMe