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Angela Merkel's Legacy; Interview With Colombian President Ivan Duque; Climate Change Battle. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired September 24, 2021 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Protesters on the streets of Germany demanding climate action. And scientist Katharine Hayhoe sees hope emerging from this
IVAN DUQUE, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT: I think this is an issue that requires to have a better migration coordination policy among the countries.
AMANPOUR: With climate, crime and corruption driving new migration across the Americas, the outgoing Colombian President Ivan Duque joins us.
And she's been the strongest European leader for the longest time. What next at the end of the Merkel era, I asked journalist Katrin Bennhold.
NEAL MOHAN, CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER, YOUTUBE: Our work is by no means done. We're not perfect, and we're going to continue to chip away at it.
AMANPOUR: Holding YouTube responsible for a torrent of misinformation. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with chief product officer Neal Mohan.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Climate activists around the world are taking to the streets today to demand urgent action. It is the largest protest since the COVID-19 lockdown
began. And they plan to keep up this pressure until the fall's COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow.
In Germany, ahead of this weekend's elections, activist Greta Thunberg joined the chorus of the urgent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: World leaders are talking about building back better, promising green investments. They're setting vague and distant
climate targets in order to say that they are taking climate action.
However, the fact that we are in a crisis that we cannot build, buy or invest our way out of seems to create some kind of collective mental short-
circuit among the people in power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: For the people in power in New York all this week, climate has been the major focus.
But the U.N. secretary-general admits that the world is lightyears away from reaching our targets, while the British prime minister called for
world leaders to finally take responsibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It's time for humanity to grow up. It's time for us to listen to the warnings of the scientists. And if you
look at COVID, if you want to see an example of the gloomy scientists being proved right, it's time for us to grow up and understand who we are and
what we're doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Katharine Hayhoe is refreshingly ungloomy. She's a climate scientist, and she writes about what she's learned through thousands of
conversations in her new book, "Saving Us."
And she's joining me now from Lubbock, Texas.
Katharine Hayhoe, welcome back to the program.
So you saw that, this week at the U.N., everyone was talking about climate. We have had pledges from the Chinese premier that he will not have any more
coal-fired plants built outside. You saw that Biden promised extra help on tackling the global crisis.
What do you think? Was this real opportunity?
KATHARINE HAYHOE, CLIMATE SCIENTIST: It was.
The Paris agreement is like a potluck dinner, each country bringing something different, a different dish to the table. Up until now, it is
very clear we do not have enough food on the table. We cannot hold warming to anything below 2.7 degrees -- and, even then, it's only a two-thirds
chance -- without further ambition.
So what we are seeing is what needs to be brought to the table. And, of course, with Boris Johnson, the U.K. is now leading the way among high-
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about that, because, yes, they talk the talk. And for a period of time, it was considered the U.K. had done quite
But there are complaints that it's still lagging way behind schedule for cutting carbon emissions. That's according to the Green Alliance. And the
prime minister, while saying what he did at the U.N. is also supporting drilling in the North Sea. And there are plans for a new coal mine still in
a place called Cumbria here.
Xi Jinping promised not to build any more coal-fired plants outside, but has not made any such promise inside. And there is -- 58 percent of that
country's energy demand is -- at least in 2020, was based on coal.
So where do you see the hope between rhetoric, words and action?
HAYHOE: Well, you can say the same thing about the United States to in terms of allowing new oil and gas leases, on one hand, with an aggressive
climate plan on the other.
It just doesn't all add up. And you're exactly right. People are still trying to hang on to the status quo, trying to adapt our way out, adapt our
systems out of it, when we really, truly are in a crisis. As the IPCC said, it's code red.
And, again, it's not about the planet itself. The planet will be orbiting the sun long after we're gone. It truly is about saving us. And this is why
we need all hands on board. And we need these promises to be fulfilled.
AMANPOUR: So that is what the prime minister said. He said, grow up. This is made by us. We are the only ones who can fix it.
On the other hand, here we are in the U.K., where, as you know, there's a massive gas crisis right now, with suppliers, with trucking, with all the
rest of it. And I'm wondering whether that is an opportunity maybe to concentrate on the fact of how dependent our world is on fossil fuels.
Let me just read what "The Financial Times" said: "Making progress on climate policy without alienating citizens who are worried about their
household budgets just got more difficult. For responsible leaders, however, there is no alternative."
So do you think this U.K. crisis could be a target of opportunity or will frighten politicians and people away from making the hard decisions on
HAYHOE: It definitely could be either. But it should be an opportunity.
Imagine if the oil crisis in the '70s had precipitated climate action at the scale that we see today. We would be living in a completely different
world. I know, as humans, we always want to go back to what we had before, but the planet that you and I were born on no longer exists.
Instead, it is literally up to us. It is in our hands to build a better planet for all of us. And now's the time when, as you said, we have to grow
up and do it.
AMANPOUR: So, Katharine, I hear you. And I know that you're saying we have to do it and now's the time. The question is, how?
Because how many years have we been speaking about this? How much science do we know? How much of everything do we know that it's in our hands? And
yet it is still so slow.
So I want to read a couple of things that you and your colleagues have researched. And it's part of what you talk about, the conversation in your
You say that, in the United States, for instance, climate has become the most politicized issue in the United States ahead of money, religion and
politics. That seems extraordinary.
HAYHOE: It seems that way, for certain, because a thermometer is not liberal, conservative, Democrat, or Republican. And a hurricane doesn't
stop to knock on your door and ask you who you voted for in the last national election before it destroys your home.
Yet, since the Obama administration, climate change has been at the very top of the list of most polarized issues in the country. And that is
holding us back from action. We have to realize that what we have in common and what we have at risk is far more than the political ideology that
AMANPOUR: So, it wasn't always this way, certainly not in the '70s, certainly not in the '90s, where a Gallup poll says that an equal number,
just about, of Democrats and Republicans agreed that this was a major threat.
And I'm wondering how you think one can get back to that, at least to that baseline?
HAYHOE: That's exactly it.
Back in an early or even the late 1990s, you would ask a Democrat and a Republican about climate change, and they would give you the same answer.
So what happened? It was deliberately politically polarized? By who. By those who have the most to lose from the world weaning itself off fossil
So what can we do? If we're not somebody big and famous, if we're not the CEO of a corporation or the prime minister or the president of a country,
what can we do? That's the question I have been pondering for so long.
And so I finally wrote a book about it called "Saving Us." And I realized that each of us has something. And, of course, we can make personal choices
in our lives. And we all do that. But the biggest tool we have is our voice to advocate for change, to elevate the risks, to call for action.
And that is exactly what our children are doing today. And if they can do it, why can't all of us at every table that we sit at? It might not be the
public square. It might be where we work. It might be the city or town where we live. It might be the organization that we're involved in.
We have a voice, and we have influence, each of us, in our unique spheres. And wherever we go, we need to be connecting the dots between how climate
change affects what we already care about as a place of work or worship or school or town and what we, as a group, as an organization can be doing to
help contribute to it, the solution, because it's not just about countries.
It's about cities, states, provinces, counties, businesses, organizations, tribal nations, universities, churches. All of us have a role to play,
again, in saving us.
AMANPOUR: And you have sort of categorized the different levels of engagement on this. And I find it really interesting.
This is a study that you have put in your book. Alarmed -- in other words, when it comes to climate, you have got alarmed and concerned, cautious,
So, you said: "Alarmed and concerned have risen from 2008 to 2020. Cautious has remained the same on this issue at about 20 percent. Disengaged have
declined from about 12 percent back in '08 to 7 percent now," so about half. Doubtful and dismissive have remained the same at about 11 percent
and 7 percent.
So what is the -- what there gives you hope that -- which bit there is good to start the conversation?
HAYHOE: Well, we often think that the loudest voices we hear rejecting the science are the biggest problem, but those dismissive are only 7 percent.
They do get a lot of traction on social media, but 93 percent of us are not dismissive; 93 percent of us, most of us are already worried.
When you put together alarmed, concerned and cautious in the United States, that's three-quarters of the population. So what's the biggest problem? We
understand it's about the future of our civilization as we know it.
We understand it's about Antarctica and the polar bears. We haven't connected the dots to how it matters to me, as a mom, as a citizen, as a
neighbor, as a person who works in this industry. And we don't know what we can do about it.
And if we don't know what we can do about an existential threat to civilization as we know it, metaphorically, our human defense system is
just to pull the covers back up over our heads. We need to be empowered. We need to realize we as individuals have agency, and that agency begins by
using our voices.
AMANPOUR: How do you suggest that happens? Because we're going through a very similar thing with the vaccine crisis and the hesitance vs. the
hostile and those who have conspiracy theories, and all the different reasons, similar to what we just read out, that vaccines are having some
lag in take-up.
And many people say it's about putting out -- trying to have responsible conversations, maybe smaller conversations, certainly not mocking people.
How do you suggest that the climate conversations take place?
HAYHOE: Well, the parallels between people's response to coronavirus and climate change are unmistakable.
In fact, that's how I begin the book, by comparing the two and saying that, although I was sad, I was not surprised when COVID reactions rapidly became
politicized, not only in the U.S., but in the U.K. as well, and where I live in Canada, or where I'm from in Canada, too.
So how do we begin these conversations? From the heart, not the head, with something that we agree on, rather than something that we disagree on. If
we can figure out something we agree on and begin that conversation with a sense of mutual respect, the fact that I care about my child, and you do
too, I care about where we work or where we live, and you do, too.
I'm very passionate about a certain activity, sometimes even sports or knitting, and you are too. All of these conserve as connectors to begin the
conversation a footing of mutual shared values and respect together, and then connect the dots to how climate change is affecting what we already
care about, because we are a good parent or a shrewd businessperson or a concerned citizen, and always what is already happening and what can be
done at the level of our spheres of influence.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to read what people think.
There's -- the latest survey shows that 16-to-25-year-olds exist in some state of fear and despair. Nearly 60 percent of young people said they felt
very worried or extremely worried; 75 percent of them say they thought the future was frightening; 56 percent think humanity is doomed.
This was led by Bath University here in the U.K. If they feel that way, and if you see some kind of hope in a new kind of conversation, do you think
they can become real political, I don't know, pressure points?
Because we do kind of keep going through this and having these circular conversations for such a long time. Obviously, in Germany this weekend,
there's going to be a really important election, where climate is very, very high, if not the highest, on the agenda.
How long do we have for this to all work out?
HAYHOE: Well, we scientists have been doing our best to communicate the risks of climate change for decades. It was 1965 when scientists formally
warned a U.S. president of the dangers of climate change, and that was Lyndon B. Johnson.
But you know who's moved the needle the most? Young people. Young people using their voices have absolutely exerted political pressure. They have
done it at the local scale. They have done it at the national scale, and they are 100 percent doing it at the international scale.
The antidote to anxiety, quoting Joan Baez, is action. The antidote to despair is action.
And as Greta Thunberg herself says, don't look for hope. Act. And, when you act, hope is everywhere.
Christiana Figueres, who shepherded the Paris climate agreement to its grand finale, of all people in the world, has the greatest reason to be
frustrated with all of the countries constantly never living up to their promises. Yet she wrote the most absurdly hopeful book called "The Future
We Choose," imagining what a 2030 world would look like if we took action on climate change, how clean the air would be, how affordable the
electricity, how walkable our cities.
And she concluded with these words, as if we were in 2030 looking back. She said, the biggest lesson we learned was that we were only ever as doomed as
we believed ourselves to be. What gets us over that? Action.
HAYHOE: How can we act? We all have a voice.
AMANPOUR: Let's hope we all use it.
Katharine Hayhoe, author of "Saving Us," thank you very much.
As the climate, COVID and migration crises all hit the Americas, Columbia's outgoing President Ivan Duque finds himself defending his legacy.
Having campaigned on economic growth, COVID then hit the Colombian economy and employment hard, and many citizens are also dissatisfied with the slow
implementation of a peace deal with the radical FARC guerrillas.
But as even more migrants from Haiti and Venezuela flock to Colombia, Duque pushed back when he joined us from the United Nations earlier this week,
saying that his country is setting a world standard for more intelligent ways to manage migration, and also trying to make a more equal society at
AMANPOUR: President Ivan Duque, welcome back to the program.
DUQUE: Thank you so much, Christiane. It's a great honor to be back here on your program.
AMANPOUR: First, I want to ask you about a very real situation.
And that is the Haitians trying to get across the Southern border into the United States. We understand that tens of thousands, perhaps 30,000,
Haitians are in your own country trying to do the very same. Biden obviously wants to deter them. It doesn't seem to be working.
DUQUE: Well, Christiane, what is more complicated is that people are leaving Haiti for multiple reasons.
As you know, the bad social and economic effects derived from the pandemic, that's issue number one, the natural disaster derived from the earthquake
that hit them back again, and something that is also more complicated, and is the instability, the political and institutional instability.
I think this is an issue that requires to have a better migration coordination policy among the countries and also to limit the illegal trade
of migration that we have seen in many places, and especially in our country.
AMANPOUR: And, meantime, what looked like manifest cruelty by the U.S. border guards on their horses.
As president of a Latin American country dealing with so many migrants and refugees right now, what did you make of that?
DUQUE: Well, Christiane, the decision that we made in Colombia, we have 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants in our country. They were basically
invisible. People were coming from the border with frozen bones, lacking the access to services, lacking the access to vaccination.
And we decided to do something bold without being a rich country. And it is to grant temporary protection status to that 1.8 million people. We have
800,000 to be given in the first semester of 2022. So we can do something fraternal, with technology with transparency, and in order to evaluate and
understand that, when people have the opportunities, once they locate, they can contribute to social development.
Our approach has been a holistic approach. And I think it has made the contrast of what fraternity can do vis-a-vis the bad examples of xenophobia
that we have seen in many parts of the world. I think Colombia wants to set an example and also to show the world that we can do something much better
in an intelligent way to manage migration.
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you must be worried, like many world leaders, that the increasing catastrophe that is climate change will lead to many,
many things, including mass migration.
There is a big problem with Colombia. You have -- you talk about the need to protect the climate. But, this month, the advocacy group Global Witness
has named your country the world's most deadly place for environmentalists last year, in 2020; 65 people were killed last year, second straight year
that your country topped this rather dubious list.
And the people there are worried, the Global Witness people, that whatever you're doing about it, if you're doing anything, it's not enough. What are
you doing about it? And do you accept being the worst and the most dangerous place for these environmental activists?
DUQUE: Well, Christiane, let me try to put this into context.
One thing is what Colombia is doing to face climate change, because we only represent 0.6 percent of the CO2 emissions worldwide. But we're going to
Glasgow with a clear commitment, reducing by 51 percent our CO2 emissions to 2030 and becoming a carbon-neutral country by 2050.
We're leading the energy transition in Latin America. We're expanding the protected areas with the idea of having the 30-by-30 initiative, which used
to have 30 percent of our soil in protected land. So all this is happening.
But you mentioned the thing about environmental leaders. We have to be clear that narco-trafficking and terrorism are the responsibles of this
killings. And why do they do that? Because environmental leaders and social leaders are also persuading communities not to engage in those types of
activities, just to say that one hectare of coca that is grown in Colombia destroys two hectors of tropical jungle.
So our duty is not only to protect, to embrace this cause, but at the same time to dismantle the terrorist organizations that have been responsible
for those crimes.
So we will continue not only to dismantle, to denounce, but also to increase the protections on social leaders and environmental leaders in
AMANPOUR: Your predecessor, as we all know, had the deal, the peace deal, between the FARC guerrillas and the government. When you were running first
in 2018, you didn't like it. But once you were elected and in office, you said, you would work to make it work.
There's a lot of Colombians who profess to be very disappointed that they don't think it's worked well enough, that it hasn't delivered all the
promises that you and your predecessor said it would. Do you think it's gone too slow? Do you think it'll survive?
DUQUE: Well, Christiane, first of all, that process was made to be implemented in 15 years.
The Colombian ombudsperson's office released a report a few days ago. And, basically, what they said is that, in the three years of my administration,
more has been done on the implementation side than in the first 20 months of the implementation that took place in my predecessor's term.
So when you look at the facts of what we have done, we're, for example, granting 50,000 land titles by the end of this year in three years-and-a-
half, which is much more of what was done in the previous eight years.
The regional focus development plan, the previous administration only coordinated two. We have coordinated 14 to reach to 16 that are able to
connect 170 municipalities that have been historically affected by violence, moving not only investments, but also putting together more than
1, 300 projects that we have done in our administration.
Obviously, there are still tasks and still challenges, because this has to be implemented within 15 years. But I think what started being a fragile
process when I assumed office today is a consolidated state policy. And I think we're setting the ground, not only to continue the implementation in
a faster way, but also providing more resources.
And if I may say this, Christiane, when I took office, the annual budget for the implementation was $1.5 billion. This year, it's going to be more
than $3 billion. So we have duplicated their resources that are aimed for peace implementation.
So I think we should look at this beyond politics, because, obviously, we're getting into the electoral season, and many people just want to say
we haven't done anything. But when you look at the facts, and what has come out from independent reports, we see that there is a positive road to
accomplish the objectives that we have set as a nation.
AMANPOUR: So, given the elections, given that you can't run again, what would you like your legacy to be after this term in office as president of
DUQUE: Well, Christiane, as I have said many times, my objective is to leave a legacy of closing social gaps. I'm very happy to push and pass the
The most important social reform in Colombia's recent history, that is granting free public university education to emerging middle class and the
poorest of the poor. I'm happy to make the biggest investment in low-income housing in the country, tertiary roads, connecting our society and also
having conductivity throughout the country.
So my legacy is the government of equality, or equity, where we really want to demonstrate that we have -- make the biggest investment, closing the
social gaps, but doing it with fiscal responsibility. And that's why I am also proud that we just passed the most important fiscal reform in
Colombia, having income of more than 1.8 percent of GDP.
AMANPOUR: President Ivan Duque, thank you very much for joining us from the U.N.
DUQUE: Thank you so much, Christiane.
The best to you, and it's a pleasure to be again here on your show.
AMANPOUR: Now, as President Duque a contemplates his legacy in Colombia, we turn to Germany, where a very different rule is about to end, Angela
Merkel's near 16 years as chancellor after winning four terms and becoming the undisputed leader of the global democracy camp.
Through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and now Joe Biden, Merkel has led Western Europe's strongest economy, with a
record for competent crisis management, tough negotiating skills, and a welcoming stance on refugees.
So, how will history remember her time in power? And who will Germans turn to next?
Here to discuss is a close observer, journalist Katrin Bennhold from Berlin.
Welcome to the program.
So there are a lot of questions there. She -- what would you say her superpower was?
KATRIN BENNHOLD, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Her superpower?
BENNHOLD: I think her superpower is to bring young people together, quietly forge consensus around a table where there is a lot of dissent.
This has been the superpower in Europe and this has been her superpower in Germany, because she hasn't always done what was popular within our own
camp. But you did it nevertheless, because this woman has a kind of sense of moral clarity. And she does what she thinks is right.
AMANPOUR: And would you say -- people talk competent crisis manager. As you said, she's a great negotiator. She won't leave a room in a crisis
until she's brought people together and can walk out with a solution.
And then, of course, there's the incredible example that she led in 2015 of humanely saying, we can manage this. And, eventually, 1.2 million refugees
entered Germany. Which one of those do you think will be what she is remembered -- which one had the most impact on Europe, on Germany and on
BENNHOLD: There's no question that the thing that she will be remembered for most is her decision in 2015 to welcome those refugees.
I mean, this was the country with an ugly past, the country that committed the Holocaust, that did the right thing, that was on the right side of
history, and that welcomed these people in need at a time when all these other countries, which traditionally might have been more associated with
being welcoming to outsiders, being immigration countries -- and I'm talking about the United States. I'm talking about Britain, even France --
were not welcoming.
And so, in that sense, it was kind of a redemptive moment for Germany. And it was kind of a moment of healing. And it sort of instantly created this
aura around her that was quite emotional, a kind of very positive emotional narrative, which I'm not sure Germany ever had before. And it certainly
turned her into an iconic leader.
AMANPOUR: And this is how she described that moment when I spoke to her about it a couple of years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: We have to tell our young people what history has brought over us and others and these horrors, why we offer
democracy, why we try to bring about solutions, why we always have to put ourselves in the other person's shoes, why we stand up against intolerance,
why we show no tolerance towards violations of human rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Katrin, she's very clear about that. She brought -- brings up obviously Germany's terrible past, her own experience as part of a
Germany divided into totalitarian and democratic spheres.
And she really did set the stage. And you know better than I do there are so many refugees who've come to Germany who name their kids Angie or Angela
or just plain Merkel. I mean, it's a thing. And they take her example very, very, very seriously.
And so too does at least one of the people who's trying to replace her, and that is -- that is the head of the Greens Party, Annalena Baerbock, who I
talked to also while ago. Let's see what she just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNALENA BAERBOCK, LEADER, GERMAN GREEN PARTY: It was very important, and many people came. And over the last years, even though there was a rise of
a populist party within Germany, the big majority of Germans supported the integrations of refugees within Germany.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Katrin, that is really interesting. She's saying the majority supported, but, obviously, we're hearing pushback now. It's not so
You have got a whole new wave of refugees, certainly from Afghanistan, that are being kept back. And there was this rise for that moment after 2015 of
the far right AfD party.
How has that fallen out? And is it still, the AfD, a major political threat? Does welcoming refugees, was that great for 2015 and doesn't really
apply anymore? Where is Germany on that issue right now?
BENNHOLD: I mean, first of all, you have to say, I mean, she did the right thing in 2015, but she sort of did the right thing for Germany. She --
these people were treated well. They were integrated well.
Many of them speak Germen. They have integrated better than previous waves of refugees. So, something clearly is working in Germany.
But Europe, today, is not a welcoming place for refugees. And so, in that sense, Angela Merkel lost the in Europe. And, you know, we're seeing that
at the external borders where European law is being broken by European border guards. So, the situation isn't sort of one-sided.
The kind of backlash, political backlash you're talking about has to do with that, of course. Because, you know, what that decision in 2015 did was
to sort of bring out this dark underbelly of populism which, for a long time, was sort of hidden in Germany, and Germany sort of, probably naively,
thought that with its history and its atonement for history, it didn't exist in the same way that it existed in neighboring countries.
But the AFD, as you know, on the back of that migrant crisis, using it to fuel fears and really create a situation where ethnic hatred sort of was
back in the game in terms of language and rhetoric and so on. And where Germany has had, in fact, you know, far-right terrorist attacks. That party
became the first party since World War II to actually, you know, make it into the German federal parliament.
And, you know, you could say it's flatlining right now, but it's still there and there's absolutely no question, it will be back in parliament
after the election on Sunday. It's sort of now part of the political landscape. At the same time, you know, it polls at about 10 percent. So, 90
percent of Germans don't agree with it. And Angela Merkel, after 16 years in power, walks out of office, the most popular politician in the country,
having made those very difficult moral decisions. And in some ways, the sort of lesson is that you don't have to be a martyr to do the right thing.
You can do the right thing and not be voted out of office and even stand proud and be the most popular politician in the country.
To me, that is really an important takeaway, if you look at how some other centrist populations on left and right have, at times, pandered to
populists because they were worried about their own political future.
AMANPOUR: So, who then do you think stands to benefit from challenging her and from her legacy? Because her own party, I mean, you tell me, I know you
can't predict and everything's very fluid and we wouldn't want to call the election ahead of time, but is the CDU placed to win again or the center
left, Social Democrats? Greens are going to make a big showing.
BENNHOLD: I mean, they're basically three candidates who want to be chancellor and who have nominated a candidate. The Greens for the first
time, incidentally, they never did that before because they never really had a chance, but they have been the second strongest political party in
the polls over the last two years. Until they were recently overtaken again in this campaign by the Social Democrats. The traditional sort of second
strongest party, which was counted out of this election. But now, actually looks to be the frontrunning kind of party in this race.
So, to answer your question, I mean, Angela Merkel's party, the center right, has a candidate, Armin Laschet. And it was really his election to
lose, given Merkel's popularity and given the fact that this party really is an election winning machine. I mean, they've governed 52 out of 72 years
in post-war history and they were pretty confident that they would win again. But he has made many blunders. He's been caught on camera laughing
at an event that was sort of commemorating the victims of those deadly floods in the summer where, you know, 180 people died in southern Germany.
It's something Merkel would never be, you know, caught doing.
And so, his initial sort of attempt and his party's hope that he would come across as almost Merkel 2 as a kind of candidate of continuity flopped. And
he's now trailing. The guy who runs for the Social Democrats, the traditional opposition party, but which has been in coalition with Merkel
and -- Olaf Scholz, the candidate, in fact, has been her finance minister for the last four years, and in some ways, is more associated with her
administration than with his own party, which is actually to the left of where he stands and presents himself.
And in some ways, Olaf Scholz has turned out to be the candidate that can project to be the most like Merkel. And in fact, at times, has done so in
very unsubtle ways. I mean, for example, you know, Merkel has his way of holding her hands. And, you know, after 16 years, it's kind of become a
thing. She does this kind of diamond shaped thing with her hands when she gets photographed. We even we have a name for it in German, you know, she's
doing the raute. It's a geometric shape. I think you guys call it rhombus.
So, Olaf Scholz, you know, was being photographed doing the rhombus. And, you know, Laschet gets quite up upset by it and sort of challenged him on
that, and it became a little bit ridiculous. But the point is that, you had these two guys who were desperately trying to come across as kind of
embodying continuity and stability and really being quite like Merkel. And at the moment, it looks like Olaf Scholz is winning at that game.
AMANPOUR: What about international leadership? Obviously, Germans are very proud, you know, that's being the strongest country in Europe for such a
long time. And it's been the defender, certainly under Merkel, loud and clear of democracy, even under these terrible turbulent years of the pop
populous rise since 2016. This is what her former protege, Ursula von der Leyen, told me, how is now, of course, the European Commission president,
about her and then, we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: It is impressive to see how she's able to convene people. She's a tough negotiator. But she
always makes sure that the other side comes out with a win. So, that we can step forward in negotiations with a win-win situation. She is plain and
simply a good character, and that's something where you have not too many people in the world where you can say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, in one minute that we have left, what will her absence mean for Europe, for Germany and do you think there's a competitor? Could France
try to compete with Germany as sort of leader of Europe?
BENNHOLD: I mean, I think this is probably the moment that Emmanuel Macron has been waiting for. I think he would love to be the leader of Europe.
There was a time he was freshly elected, that people kind of saw him as that. It was a time when Merkel had some difficulties and he seemed to be
the new kid on the block who could take on that mantle. He looks weaker now and I think we won't really know what his position is until France has its
own election, difficult election coming up in June next year.
But basically, the short answer is, I think Angela Merkel's shoes are too big to fill in Europe right now. And it's far more likely that it will be a
more leaderless Europe, that there will be -- you know, it would be a question of several leaders having to (INAUDIBLE) and come around the table
and sort of do what she did very much as a kind of the gatherer of the club. You know, she had that unique ability to bring people together and
I'm not sure I'm seeing it right now anywhere else in Europe.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating and really the end of an era. Katherine Bennhold, thank you very much indeed.
And today, we will also treat you to Merkel's lighter side when the outgoing chancellor visited a bird park on Thursday. A handful of colorful
parrots got to say hello. And one rainbow lorikeet mastered nerves of steel because it pecked the iron chancellor's hand and got that reaction. Don't
often see it.
Now to COVID. With over half the American population fully vaccinated, a similar hesitancy that affects the climate as we discussed lingers on. Also
in large part, due to misinformation that spread online.
Neal Mohan is the chief product officer at YouTube and in charge of combatting this issue at the platform. Here he is speaking to Hari
Sreenivasan about striking the balance between free speech and dangerous lies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane. Neal Mohan, thanks for joining us.
NEAL MOHAN: Hi, Hari. It's great to be with you.
SREENIVASAN: So, Neal, for our audience to have some scale of how big YouTube is, some of the stats that I think we should remind of is that
there are about 2 billion users of YouTube. They consume about a billion hours of video every day and about 500 hours of new content is uploaded to
YouTube every single minute. While there's no doubt that there's phenomenal YouTube videos for all kinds of things that would be helpful in my life,
that lack of a gatekeeper also creates an opportunity for people to use your platform, misinform or disinform audiences that might not know any
So, what kinds of steps have you taken in the past few years to try to kind of deprioritize that when it comes to someone searching for the answer to a
MOHAN: So, that responsibility that you describe, Hari, in terms of ensuring our platform is not a place for misinformation to spread other
types of, you know, what we deem to be violated content on our platform to spread is my number one priority. It's the top priority of -- you know, of
all of us at YouTube.
If you'll indulge me for a minute, I'll give you sort of the -- our full approach to that challenge. The first step, of course, is that, yes, we are
an open platform and I'm a firm believer in the power of that open platform. Our mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world,
which is about giving everybody a creative outlet, a business outlet but also giving people, as you're describing, access to information that helps
them make their lives better, and I think that comes from an open platform.
But it has never been anything goes. We've always had community guidelines on our platform. And those community guidelines, whether it's around
misinformation or hate speech or harassment, child safety, violent extremism, govern the content that can remain on our platform or that will
get removed. In addition to the first R of remove, we have three other R's that I would argue are equally and if not more important.
The next one is we call raise. And that's about, when users are looking for information around the fast-breaking news even, for example, or a health
crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, we endeavor to raise up content from authoritative sources, from channels like our news partners or health
authorities, whether it's the CDC or the World Health Organization or other local health authorities in countries around the world, and you've seen
that run on YouTube. Every time you open the app, you probably noticed that COVID-19 news shelf running there, it's been running for over a year and a
The third R we call reduce. That's about reducing recommendations of content that might not have been quite policy (INAUDIBLE), might be in a
blurry space, might be in a faster moving space where there aren't yet content community guideline policies. We endeavor to reduce recommendations
of that type of content in our home feed, in the videos that we recommend to watch after you're done consuming a video on YouTube. That's the third
And the final R is called reward. And that's the recognition that, you know, 99.9 percent of the creators on our platform are looking to do the
right thing. They're looking to build an audience, build a business. And we want to reward those creators, we want to direct, you know, the financial
resources that are generated through what we talked about in terms of advertising, et cetera, to those creators that are looking to do the right
And it's that four R's approach, remove, raise, reduce and reward, that is our comprehensive approach not just to misinformation, but to other types
of content that we deem to be problematic and (INAUDIBLE) on our platform.
SREENIVASAN: It's kind of a fine line to walk between what is free speech, what is safety, what's an unpopular opinion versus a dangerous one. And in
a way, you are the app -- the company that is tasked with figuring that out on the fly with 500 hours of video coming at you every day.
MOHAN: Yes. I mean, I think I will go back to what I alluded to before, which is, I am a firm believer and I think many of us at YouTube are around
the power of an open platform. You know, one of my favorite examples of the power of our open platform is the gold medal winner at the recent Olympic
Games in Tokyo in the javelin. It was a young Indian man who learned to throw the javelin by watching YouTube videos. It was an incredibly powerful
inspiring story and that is the power of an open platform.
But you're pointing out something that I completely agree with. Misinformation in particular, by nature is fast moving, it changes
regularly. We have seen that play out in the midst of this global pandemic. There's been all sorts of types of misinformation that I simply would not
have been able to predict, even a few days before they became a trend. You know, for example, it sounds like ancient history now but when the
coronavirus was associated with 5G cell towers. That was a piece of information that sort of came out of the blue.
But the reason why we weren't able to act is we had in place a framework around medical misinformation, even before the pandemic, that was based on,
you know, things like false cures, based on actions that would prevent people from -- or content that would prevent people from seeking timely
medical intervention. And we use that framework to write the specific rules around COVID-19 misinformation. And in fact, we were the first platform
early as February 2020 to have a comprehensive COVID-19 misinformation policy.
Now, did that mean that we needed to continue to adjust that with new types of misinformation, you know, popping up in the midst of the pandemic? Of
course, we did. To make sure that viewers around the world were getting credible high-quality information. But again, it's not just about the
content that we remove. Also, remember, when users were looking for that information, either searching on YouTube or watching videos, we were
recommending content that came from authoritative sources, health outlets.
We ran information panels on the order of hundreds of billions of times for viewers all over the world that had links to local health authorities with
the most recent information about how you could protect your health, protect your families in the midst of this very fast-moving pandemic.
SREENIVASAN: Do you have any idea of how those panels work? Because at the same time, there were -- you know, there was research that looked into, I
think it was about a dozen people that spread enormous amounts of vaccine and coronavirus misinformation, and they were on all kinds of social
platforms. They were profiting off of misinforming others, in some cases, very intentionally so.
So, I'm wondering if one of those bad actors is on YouTube and you have this panel at the bottom there that says, here's the best information from
the CDC, right below the video. How many actually click through from a video where they could have been misinformed to a better source that you
had taken the time to curate?
MOHAN: The core sort of way that we measure it and the way that we hold ourselves accountable at YouTube is a metric called the violative view
rate. And that is view rated random sampling of videos across our corpus that we look at and evaluate to see if those videos contain misinformation,
contain content that is violative of our policies. And in a nutshell, we try to drive that number down as close as possible to zero.
And, of course, in a fast-moving world of misinformation, other types of content, speech, et cetera, it is not quite zero. In fact, the latest
metric there is, I think, between 0.19 percent and 0.21 percent. So, relatively small. But that means that out of 10,000 videos, about 20 were
deemed to be of the nature of that you were describing.
And in the interest of transparency, a few months ago we've actually started to publish that number, the violative view rate number on a
quarterly basis externally as well.
SREENIVASAN: Now, you know, you mentioned the 0.19, the 0.21 number. If it was 10,000, you'd have 20 videos, right. But you've got billions and
billions of videos that are on there. So, if I t's 0.19 to 0.20, that's still hundreds of thousands, if not millions of videos that are kind of
slipping through the cracks. I mean, how do you improve that?
MOHAN: We've made, I think, a dramatic improvement in this area over the last few years. For example, recommendations of that sort of harmful
misinformation, borderline content is down 70 percent. We've made dozens of changes to our recommendation algorithms to do that, in addition to content
we remove. But again, our work is by no means done. We're not perfect and we're going to continue to chip away at it.
SREENIVASAN: People are concerned about what they would call the rabbit hole. How the recommendation engine leads down paths that are more
sensational and more sticky. The sort of super harmful side, you can see increased political radicalization. And the less harmful side, you've
watched a child start with a soccer video and then 15 minutes later, you come back in the room and it's like gory animals eating other animals video
that they shouldn't have been watching. But it's hard for people to wrap their heads around what is at the core of this recommendation and how is it
structured to get to these other end results and why can't we stop that?
MOHAN: When we have looked at it in an aggregate basis, we haven't really seen evidence of that. Again, that doesn't mean it hasn't happened, you
know, for individual viewers anecdotally, et cetera, but we have looked at that and actually, third-party researchers have looked at that as well, and
have not seen our recommendation sort of moving people towards more of this polarized type of content.
But what I will say, that's even -- I would say sort of even kind of one level above that is, we don't want that to happen. We don't want our
recommendations to push people to those extremes. That is not, I think, good for responsibilities as a global platform standpoint, and also, make
the point that it is not fundamentally good for us as a business.
SREENIVASAN: I get that the researchers might not see it, but we have interviewed former white supremacists on this program and there have been
plenty of cases where people tell you that here's the way to beat the algorithm, here's the way be more sensational, get more clicks and, you
know, be more edgy. And that these rabbit holes exist. And once you are watching, you know, a vaccine misinformation thing, the next day, you are
kind of shown a flat earth thing. And the next, realize you're in a 9/11 conspiracy truther thing.
No human could ever sit there and watch all the incoming YouTubes and, you know, moderate and say, OK, this is going to be OK and this is
questionable. Let's put this this bin. Let's put this in that bin. How do you train an algorithm to do that?
MOHAN: We are by no means perfect. We were going to continue to chip away. We make improvements to our recommendation algorithms on a regular basis.
In a fundamental sense, the way that we do this at our scale is twofold. The first is, we are not making these decisions on our own. We work with
external evaluators all over the world. They are given a set of guidelines. We actually publish those guidelines that are externally available
guidelines that are the means by which they should evaluate a sample of videos that we give them.
And a video is evaluated by nine different, you know, radars that are -- that come from this, you know, kind of broad external pool based on these
external guidelines. In cases of specialized content, for example, health related, we actually rely on medical doctors and it is -- you know, these
are the soft of external evaluators that create the ratings of a certain set of videos and we use those videos to train well tested machine learning
algorithms that allow us to apply those principles and those guidelines that are developed by the radars to our entire corpus.
The vast majority of, you know, videos that we act on -- are acted on, you know, with minimal views, you mentioned flat earth, for example. So, what I
can tell you is that there's a lot more videos around the earth being flat being created than videos of the earth being round. You know, you make a
video of the earth being round, you don't need to make too many of those, right? You make one that sort of becomes the canonical video. But the views
on those, on average, are dramatically, dramatically lower than the, you know, kind of round earth videos.
And so, I do think it's a bit of a myth that a video that's a conspiracy video by its nature is actually going to draw more engagement, more
interaction. We actually don't see it bearing out and that's a very concrete example of kind of a longstanding conspiracy where that hasn't
SREENIVASAN: So, what happens in the political context? Recently, there were cases in Brazil with their president and some of his supporters. You
decided to take some of those videos down, I think, under a violation of the health policies guidelines because it was in the context of
coronavirus, right? And you had mentioned that kind of all users have to live by the same community guidelines.
So, in the case where you are taking down a president's video, is that not an inherently political act to all of that president's supporters? I mean,
let's bring it closer to home. President Trump is not on YouTube right now. Is he going to come back and what would the threshold be?
MOHAN: The best way for us to be able to address that is on an open platform like YouTube is to have a clear set of community guidelines and to
have those guidelines apply universally, regardless of who the speaker is, and then also, to have a framework by which we act.
And so, one of the long-standing sorts of frameworks that we've had at YouTube is what's called a three strikes framework. You're given three
chances, if you will, around policy, you know, violations around your content before your channel can be terminated from YouTube. And of course,
we terminate channels for violations on a regular basis. Again, regardless of who the speaker is. It's based on their -- on the content on the
In the case of -- you know, the examples that you're describing, we have taken action on channels that have -- on videos that have come from heads
of state. They have been violations, clear violations of our community guidelines. And when that happens, we will issue -- we will remove the
video and issue a strike. And in the case of President Trump's channel, that's what happened back in January. There was a video that was uploaded,
it was a violation of our community guidelines. And as a result, the video came down and channel received a strike.
Now, normally, our strike regime is one where, for the first strike, the channel is, you know, kind of in a suspended state for about a week, for
seven days. But we reserve the right to also take into account external factors like risk, as I said at the very beginning, to things like kind of
real-world harm, egregious harm physical violence, et cetera. And when that's the case, we will maintain that kind of suspended state underneath
the strike regime that we described, and that happens to be the position that that channel is in right now.
SREENIVASAN: Neal Mohan, thanks so much for joining us.
MOHAN: Thank you. It's great to be here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching. Good-bye from London.