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Interview With Climate Activist Vanessa Nakate; Democrats Suffer Election Setbacks; Interview With U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen; Interview With "A Bigger Picture" Author And Climate Activist Vanessa Nakate; Interview With Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Aired 2-3p ET
Aired November 03, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Both pieces of legislation are critical. I expect them to become law.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): My conversation with us Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on President Biden's economic bills, the climate and Bono
GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: All righty, Virginia, we won this thing!
GOLODRYGA: Big wins for Republicans, alarm bells for Democrats. We will unpack the key election results and what it all means for America's future.
VANESSA NAKATE, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: No more empty promises, no more empty summits, no more empty conferences.
GOLODRYGA: Making waves and demanding action. Young climate activist Vanessa Nakate on her fight to bring a new African voice to the climate
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): We just saw what the lack of paid leave did to our economy. Five million women losing their jobs is an
GOLODRYGA: Michel Martin speaks to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as she races to save paid family leave and why it's so close to her heart.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back tomorrow.
Demoralized Democrats and jubilant Republicans, a rough election night for the party of the president, who is back in the U.S. after attending the COP
climate summit in Glasgow. In the first major election since he took office, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe in Virginia's
race for governor.
The takeaway nationally? Democrats' razor-slim congressional majorities are now in danger. And it comes as Biden's spending bills still hanging in the
My first guest says she believes the bills are critical for economic growth.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is at the climate summit in Glasgow, where private companies are pledging trillions of dollars to help fight climate
And I started by asking her if they can meet that pledge.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you so much for joining us, Secretary Yellen.
We know that President Biden had left Glasgow having committed billions of dollars in fighting climate change, but experts, including your advisers,
know that the real number to really hit that target is in the trillions of dollars.
And I want to ask you about some news that was just made today, that private companies have committed up to $130 trillion in investments to hit
a net zero emissions target by 2050. How realistic is that figure? And I know you met with some heads of companies and business leaders. Are you
ready to hold them accountable to that pledge?
YELLEN: Well, I think we are.
They have made very impressive commitments of big banks and asset managers, as you said, that have command over 100 trillion or more dollars. They're
committed to reach net zero by 2050 and are thinking very hard. It was impressive to hear them discuss their plans to make that concrete.
So, I think they're very committed to this. And the government needs to make sure that we have policies in place that make clear what the path
should be and the policies that are necessary to support those flows of private and public capital.
And, of course, there's a role for public capital, along with private capital. We have been working with the Multilateral Development Banks to
make sure that the resources they have also leverage private finance to reach -- to provide financing to emerging markets, developing economies as
GOLODRYGA: Well, you yourself have overseen a significant agreement while you have been overseas. It's been in negotiation now for months. And,
obviously, that's getting 136 countries to agree to a 15 percent global minimum corporate tax.
You have said that you are confident that this will be passed through Congress. But we're hearing some reservations from Republican members of
Congress, as well as the U.S. Chambers of Commerce.
So, how can you say that you are so confident when you're hearing some reservations back here in the States?
YELLEN: Well, the steps that the United States needs to take to come into compliance, we already have a minimum tax of 10.5 percent. We need to raise
that to 15 or higher.
And we need to make sure that the tax is -- applies on a country-by-country basis. And those necessary steps are in the reconciliation legislation that
Congress is considering now.
So, I'm hopeful and I fully expect that that will become law. And we will then be in compliance with the global minimum tax.
GOLODRYGA: Well, the president had hoped that would become law last week prior to these two gubernatorial races yesterday that ended in losses, and
a very close race in New Jersey for the Democratic candidate there.
And many analysts are questioning whether that would have been the case had these two bills or even one, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, had been
passed going into last night's election. Do you consider this an own goal on the part of the Democratic Party?
YELLEN: Well, look, I'm not going to weigh in on the politics of this.
What I can tell you is, I believe that they will become law in the near future. And I feel that they will make a very big contribution to American
economic growth and equitable economic growth and addressing some of the structural problems that have been holding back our society.
The infrastructure bill contains not only funding to improve roads and bridges, but also for broadband, to make sure that households all across
the country have access to broadband that they need to participate in our economy. It will improve the electric grid, build charging stations for
electric vehicles, make an important contribution to addressing climate change.
And the reconciliation bill, or the Build Back Better package, contains really critical investments in children, in families, will bring down the
cost of living, lower costs for child care, for health care, for eldercare, very meaningful support for people to participate in the labor force.
So, both pieces of legislation are critical. I expect them to become law.
GOLODRYGA: Well, I don't have to tell you that one of the issue that is concerning to voters and perhaps drove out some of those voters both in
Virginia and New Jersey was that of inflation.
And you yourself have said that you believe that inflation will go back to normal and acceptable levels by mid to late next year. That having been
said, we both know that this can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. And Americans are seeing grocery prices continue to rise. They are seeing
energy prices and gas prices continue to go up.
You have said that this is transitory. And my question to you is, at what point do you say that this is something that's longer and a bigger issue
than just what's playing out in these past few months?
YELLEN: Well, we did see in the 1970s a series of supply shocks became a longer-run problem, a self-fulfilling prophecy, as you say.
And that partly occurred because policy-makers weren't trusted by the public to deal effectively with inflation. Inflation expectations rose and
a wage price spiral developed.
But I certainly see no evidence that that's the case now. Inflation expectations remain well-anchored. And I think the Federal Reserve has the
ability and has learned from history that, if there were to be evidence, which there's not now, but if there were, to be evidence that it's
developing into a self-fulfilling prophecy, that they would learn the lessons of history and act appropriately.
GOLODRYGA: And we are expected to hear from Fed Chairman Powell, your former job, later on today. I know that you don't step on those policies.
But there is a big question as to whether or not we will hear some terminology coming from him that we could perhaps see a sooner-than-
expected rate increase to address some of these inflation concerns.
YELLEN: Well, I'm not going to weigh in on Fed policy.
I think that the Federal Reserve has a framework that they have adopted to pursue the dual mandate of price stability and maximum employment. And what
the right tactical decisions are to achieve that is a matter for my former colleagues to decide.
GOLODRYGA: There is obviously a debt ceiling looming again on December 3.
YELLEN: Sure. Yes.
GOLODRYGA: And you have really broken ranks in speaking out against Democratic leadership, saying, that if need be, the Democrats should
address this on their own through reconciliation.
President Biden had avoided agreeing and siding along that side with you on that issue before. Have you changed his mind?
YELLEN: I don't think there's any daylight between my views and those of President Biden or the leaders in Congress.
All of us agree it's utterly essential to raise the debt ceiling. It's absolutely unthinkable that the United States should default on any of the
-- its obligations to pay its bills. And we all agree that this is a shared -- should be a shared responsibility that commands bipartisan support.
All that I have said is that reconciliation is one way in which it could be accomplished, and something I wouldn't rule out. But I think that we should
leave it up -- leave it up to the leaders of Congress, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, to decide what is the best way to move this legislation,
but it is urgently needed.
GOLODRYGA: Secretary Yellen, you have been the first female Fed chair, the first female Treasury secretary.
And a photo that you tweeted really piqued our interest about what's next for you, your meeting there with Bono.
GOLODRYGA: And I'm wondering what that meeting was like. And is there a next career waiting for you after politics?
YELLEN: Well, it was a pleasure. I was in Dublin and -- on Monday, and I had the opportunity to meet with Bono.
I think, as you know, he's tremendously interested in global development and tackling poverty. He runs organizations that have made a big
contribution. And that was mainly the topic of our conversation about what we are doing and what we can do to tackle global poverty, make sure that
less -- lower-income countries, poor countries around the world receive vaccines and the help they need at this very difficult time.
GOLODRYGA: Secretary Yellen, as always, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.
YELLEN: Thanks so much, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Well, let's talk more about those election results. A verdict on the Biden presidency or not? That's how some are framing it.
And it's certainly a warning signal for Democrats. The president won Virginia easily last year, but they have chosen a Republican governor. It
was also a much closer race than expected in New Jersey.
Here to dig into all of this, former adviser to Mitch McConnell Scott Jennings and political analyst Larry Sabato.
Welcome, both of you.
Larry, let's begin with you, because you said this morning that, if Democrats don't change, they could really risk losing the House in the
midterms next year. So what is it that they need to change?
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Yes, actually, I think they risk losing it by a big margin, not just losing it,
the way things are going.
What they have to do, and they should have done months ago, was to pass some version of both of the big bills, one infrastructure, the other social
spending, that's been before them for some time. The Senate has already passed the infrastructure bill. And, of course, President Biden has put
before them various versions of the social spending bill.
But, look, this came down in Virginia's case, at least, and I think New Jersey as well, to high Republican turnout and low Democratic turnout. We
know why there was high Republican turnout. They don't like Biden. It's the first midterm election, in effect, of the Biden administration.
But why did dirt Democrats turnout at the very low rate they did? And the answer is, they feel like, why should we bother to vote when we elect
Democrats and they don't deliver on their promises?
And most of what they have done is parade in front of the cameras whining and complaining about one another. That's not a good image for a party,
even while there's a five-alarm fire going off, and they're doing nothing about it.
GOLODRYGA: It's interesting, Scott, because I wonder if you agree, given that Youngkin didn't spend much of his time during the campaign talking
about Democrats not doing much and pushing forward these spending bills?
Instead, he talked more about kitchen table issues and obviously issues related to education, and not Trump. And we will get to that in a moment.
But do you agree with Larry's assessment? Would last night have looked different if at least one of those two bills had been passed?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not sure that it would have, actually.
And I think Larry's assessment relies on the assumption that the bills are popular. And if they're so popular, and all these ideas are so wonderful
and everybody wants them, why does Joe Biden have an approval rating in the low 40s? And why are Democrats fighting amongst themselves over it?
I mean, if this is such a great elixir for all that ails the Democratic Party or the United States, you would think Biden would be in better shape.
I also take issue with the issue of enthusiasm that Larry raised. I mean, Terry McAuliffe got 200,000 more votes last night than Ralph Northam, the
current governor, got when he was elected four years ago. And yet he still lost the race to Glenn Youngkin.
I mean, Democrats did turn out. I actually don't -- and so did Republicans. Larry's right about that. So I don't think it was an issue of enthusiasm
for either party. We had a massive turnout. It's never been easier or more fashionable to vote in the United States, which is a good thing. It's not
enthusiasm. It's persuasion.
And I think if Democrats don't wrestle with the idea that a bunch of suburban voters, especially suburban women, who voted for Biden last year
voted for Youngkin this year and the rest of the Republican ticket, if they tune that out, if they choose not to believe that, they're whistling Dixie
past the graveyard, because there was some persuasion going on here on the issues you mentioned, education, economy, inflation and others, and
especially in the suburbs on education.
GOLODRYGA: Larry, it really is easy to dismiss Youngkin's win as sort of a one-off, right? He was a clean slate. Perhaps McAuliffe wasn't the best
candidate here. This was an off-year election.
But New Jersey's a different issue. And that's a bit of a head-scratcher and I would argue even a bigger surprise, given how close it is there in
that state. We're hearing from Governor Murphy's team that above that the issues that they are -- the voters were really grappling with an upset with
going to the polls were issues like vaccine mandates and mask mandates.
How is that going to play out again, as you said and warned, into the midterms throughout the country next year?
SABATO: Well, we don't know where COVID will be a year from now. It may -- let's hope that there isn't another variant that pops up.
But it's entirely possible that the pandemic will clearly be on the wane, at which point you would expect certain aspects of the economy to improve.
And that's going to make a difference potentially for Democrats. But it's got to be more than that. You have got to have Biden's ratings up above 50
to have any realistic chance of either holding one of the two houses or minimizing your losses.
And me let me address Scott's point. And I understand what he's saying, but it is simply wrong, absolutely wrong to suggest that there was an enormous
-- wasn't an enormous enthusiasm gap. There absolutely was. Every poll showed it coming up to Election Day. And the exit polls showed it too.
Nor did Glenn Youngkin attract Biden women suburbanites. The vast majority, almost all of the Biden voters who showed up voted for McAuliffe. Virtually
all, 98 percent, of the Trump voters who showed up voted for Glenn Youngkin.
There was a relatively small group of independents in the middle. Those are the ones that perhaps the issues that Scott mentioned were attracting
independents, real independents, as opposed to people who simply hide their party I.D.
So the problem fundamentally for Democrats is Democratic enthusiasm. And Scott's right about nobody being confused about what was in the social
spending bill, because, Scott, knew what he knew what was in it. And it kept changing.
Instead of fighting with one another, maybe they could have settled on, yes, a smaller package, and actually taken a couple of months to explain
why it made a difference for people.
GOLODRYGA: Scott, going back to the issue of education, it is going to have to be a wait-and-see issue as to how it translates throughout the
country leading into next year.
Obviously, we know there was a lot of pent-up rage among parents and teachers, what have you, about keeping schools open, about opening schools,
about mask mandates, what have you, but Republicans are really running with this right now and see it as an important issue going forward.
In fact, Kevin McCarthy said the Republicans plan to unveil a parents' right bill. So this is something they're moving full steam ahead with. Do
you see this as an issue that can stick nationwide?
JENNINGS: I really do, because I talk to Republican operatives and political people nationwide and average folks nationwide. And I hear the
They're talking about education issues in every community. So this isn't unique to Virginia. It's going on everywhere. And, as you know, Republicans
had a real leak in their vote in the suburbs in 2018 and it got worse in 2020 because of Donald Trump. And so the party has been searching for a way
to have a conversation with these voters that once tilted Republican and then tilted away and towards the Democrats in the last two cycles.
It looks like we found it on the issue of education. And I think some people have misread it to argue that all that Republicans care about is the
curriculum issues. It's deeper than that. It's the closure of the schools. In Virginia, they were closed for 18 months. It's some of the mandates,
some of the curriculum, but it's also parental involvement.
Do I have a right to know what's going on in this school? Can I be involved in it? Can I show up at a school board meeting without being treated like a
common criminal? All these things added up into the general bucket of education, and it really did work to Youngkin's advantage. And McCall have
handed it to him on a tee in the debate when he said parents shouldn't be involved in what your kids learn at school.
And then he kind of flipped off those same parents who were mad about it by campaigning with the head of the teachers union, Randi Weingarten, at the
end of the campaign, huge mistake, both in the front end of that debate and on the back end of the campaign by McAuliffe. And Youngkin drove a truck
through. It was a big issue.
GOLODRYGA: And, Larry, just picking up on that, the CNN exit poll asking voters how much should parents have a say in what schools teach, among
Youngkin voters, it was 94 percent.
But McAuliffe voters, it's 74 percent as well. So is this something that Democrats also are going to have to grapple with and come up with a good
response to this issue over education? Let's hope that it's not about keeping schools open. Let's hope that that phase -- closed. Let's hope that
that phase is behind us, but on the issues of curriculum, are Democrats going to have to come up with a different strategy?
SABATO: Well, of course.
For one thing, they have to engage on the debate. Yes, McAuliffe's basic problem was that terrible gaffe he made in the second debate about parents
not having a right to tell schools what they should teach the children.
Well, technically, I suppose that's true. You would never settle on a syllabus in any class if every parent had the right of veto. But it came
across as cold and unwilling to accept the fact that parents do have and should have a role in the teaching of their students.
After all, they're paying the bills, at least in some ways. They certainly are at public colleges. So that was part of it. But the other part that's
just inexplicable was the failure of McAuliffe and the Democrats to engage the Republicans on those issues, show either what they had done or what
they wanted to do and why their plan was better.
They seemed to think that if you just skated by it, nobody would remember, nobody would focus on it. And, of course, that wasn't what was happening on
the ground. So I agree with Scott on that one. That's a big mistake. Big mistake.
JENNINGS: I think the reason, Larry, they decided not to engage on it is because they had a clear strategy, and that was to try to make their race
all about Trump.
If you're right, and they think they had an enthusiasm issue, then they thought, well, if we turn Youngkin into Trump, that will solve that and
that will get more Democrats out.
JENNINGS: But you take up all your oxygen trying to paint Glenn Youngkin as Donald Trump and you use none of it on talking about education or other
things that matter to average voters, you're taking a big gamble. And that gamble failed in this election strategy.
GOLODRYGA: Well, and no surprise, Scott, regardless of what role, if any, Trump played in yesterday's election, he is taking credit for it. And he
issued a statement this morning, saying that there would be no Trump in this -- if there were no Trump in this election, there would be no Glenn
But I want to counter that with an exchange that are Jeff Zeleny had with Youngkin just last month on this issue of Trump's involvement in this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Would you like to see him campaign here?
YOUNGKIN: Well, so, no, the person that is going to be campaigning here for the next two-and-a-half weeks is Glenn Youngkin. I'm on the ballot. I'm
running against Terry McAuliffe.
By the way, Terry McAuliffe wants anybody but Terry McAuliffe campaigning. He's inviting the world to come and campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So did Youngkin just deliver Republicans a road map as to how to move forward without being held hostage or closely aligned to Trump, or
was he a one-off, given that Biden outperformed Trump by 10 points last year, and nobody really knew who Youngkin was going into this? There was no
connection to Trump going into this election.
JENNINGS: I think he gave a blueprint to Republicans who are running in purple or blue areas for certain.
I mean, the thing about Virginia is, it's been trending blue. It was a state, as you mentioned, Biden won by 10 points. It would have been
ludicrous to have Donald Trump come and campaign, although I'm sure he would have loved to have done it. And there are certain parts of Virginia
where I'm sure he would have been popular.
But the Youngkin campaign knew that, in order to compete, they had to cut down on those huge margins Democrats rack up in the Northern Virginia
suburbs. And as we found out, they don't like Trump up there, but they do like voting for Republicans that seem like reasonable people with real
platform and ideas.
In this case, it was named Glenn Youngkin. So they played it just right. I think if you're thinking about how Trump's going to be involved in race to
race, Senate race, congressional race, governor's race, you really have to consider the jurisdiction.
In redder states, he's probably going to play better than he would have played in a Virginia governor's race. But for this night, for this
campaign, for this state, the Youngkin campaign executed it flawlessly, and then they didn't bring in anybody else either.
And then they didn't bring in anybody else either. They -- that was the smart play, just say, it's me. It's all about me. And I'm the one on the
And as he pointed out, McAuliffe brought in Biden, Obama, Kamala Harris and all kinds of other Democrats. And the way Youngkin turned that and made it
part of the race was really brilliant. So hats off on that strategy, because the biggest damage to Youngkin would have been had Trump showed up
in Virginia and reminded those suburban voters why they have been voting Democrat the last two cycles.
GOLODRYGA: Larry, I want to get you to respond to comments made earlier by Virginia Senator Tim Kaine about last night's defeat there.
He said: "I think it was on the shoulders of Democrats here, who have the majority. People had a lot of hope for Joe Biden in the Joe Biden agenda.
But Democrats didn't want to give Biden a win."
Is that the sense that you are getting in your interpretation of what happened last night? And if that's the case, why are we now seeing Nancy
Pelosi and other Democrats presenting new potential legislation into that bill about prescription drug prices, as opposed to trying to get the deal
done as quickly as possible?
SABATO: Well, it's a mystery to me. They should have compromised ages ago on some slimmed-down version of it, and then taken credit for it and made
sure people understood at least the popular parts of it.
But that's almost a separate issue. Campaigns, successful campaigns -- and Scott knows this -- they're always about the future. They're not about the
past. And Terry McAuliffe, while he tried to campaign on some future issues, he mainly campaigned on his record as governor in the first term,
but even more than that, that Donald Trump might have his nose under the tent of a Youngkin governorship.
Well, to most people, even though Donald Trump may well run for president again, and he may be part of our future, not just our past, to most people,
he's the past president. He's not relevant to what they're doing today and what they want to do tomorrow, whereas President Biden is.
He's going to be in office for the next three-plus years. The Democratic Congress is. They're in office now. That, I think, was a fundamental error.
It's partly national politics. It's partly local politics. But the fundamentals there never sold.
Now, let's also remember, it was a two-point race. We're not talking about a landslide here on the Republican side. But those two points make all the
difference. And you get a whole ticket in, you carry the legislature, the House of Delegates, which the Republicans have done, and it's a whole new
world in Virginia with very different laws and executive orders.
GOLODRYGA: And let's not forget how slim the majority was the Democrats had going into last night's election as well.
We will continue this conversation for sure.
Larry and Tim, thank you so much for joining us and for your perspective. We appreciate it.
JENNINGS: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: well, we return to Glasgow now, where my next guest has been reminding world leaders of their responsibilities to future generations.
Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate has become a superstar for her work in the movement for climate justice, a struggle she puts down on paper in her new
book, "A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis."
Vanessa Nakate joins me now from Glasgow.
Vanessa, welcome to the program.
So, we started this conversation with the Treasury secretary. And she was there saying that she is confident that commitments ranging into $130
trillion from some of the world's biggest finance leaders, will be able to go into effect and will help provide aid to fight climate change.
I'm curious to get your thoughts on whether you think a number like that is realistic and if it's big enough.
NAKATE: I can first talk about the $100 billion finance, climate finance that has been delayed until 2023.
So it's hard for me to have hope for new finances being promised, and yet what was already promised has not yet been delivered. I feel like what we
are getting from the leaders, it's continuous empty promises. It's continuous empty words. It's continuous empty phrases, showing us that we
can have hope with their words, but, in the end, these words are not implemented into action.
So I don't really have hope that we will see that money being implemented, if the $100 billion climate finance has still been delayed for countries
who are on the front lines of the climate crisis, but are not responsible for this crisis.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, delayed by at least three years now. So, your skepticism is obviously warranted.
Talk about your start in activism on the streets there of Kampala in Uganda a few years ago. What is it around you and your environment, what you saw
in a daily life perspective in your reality, that made you become this activist?
NAKATE: The climate crisis is a present reality in my country, Uganda. My country heavily depends on agriculture for survival. For many communities,
for many families and for the economy itself. But with the rising global temperatures, we are seeing changes in weather patterns. We are
experiencing more extreme rainfall, more extreme droughts, and this means that too much rain is a lot of destruction of farms, people's homes,
people's businesses, hospitals and schools, and the lack of rain, it means hunger, starvation and death for very many communities.
So, the climate crisis is a present reality for a country that is not responsible for this crisis. But not just in Uganda, across Africa. The
climate crisis is ravaging different parts of the African continent, which is ironic given that Africa is only responsible for 3 percent of global
GOLODRYGA: You said that everybody, every leader that comes to the conference, that speaks out, that makes pledges needs to address a "ticking
clock," that is climate change and the perils of it on humanity. And without that, that their words are meaningless. Explain more about that.
NAKATE: Climate change is more than weather. Climate change is more than statistics. Climate change is more than data points. Climate change is more
than 1.5 degrees. Climate change is about the people. And that is what I want leaders to understand, that climate change is destroying livelihoods
of very many people right now. And if we are to have climate justice, it has to have the hearts of the people in these decisions.
I feel like many people think climate change is something that is coming far ahead or something that we can calculate by degrees or something that
we can calculate by statistics, but without looking at the human impact and how many communities, many individuals are being impacted right now.
GOLODRYGA: I want to put up a picture for you about the leadership there at COP26 because there is some scrutiny being directed at the fact these
leaders are all male, most male, and there is little representation from the Global South. What is your response to that? And is your voice being
NAKATE: What I can say is that climate justice is only justice if it includes everyone. But we have seen challenges with many activists from the
Global South, those are the most affected areas facing challenges with attending this conference. Many activists failed to get accreditation,
funding, terrible visa processes and even vaccine inequity that many countries are experiencing right now.
So, I can say that many activists weren't able to make it to the conference because of these challenges. And how will we have climate justice if
communities who are at the front lines of the climate crisis are being left out of these conferences? Like you've said, the number of male leaders and
female leaders in these places is very worrying. We cannot have climate justice if half of the team is left behind. Women are more than half of the
world's population. But if women are not in the leadership spaces that decide our destiny, that decide our fate, then we can't have climate
justice at all.
GOLODRYGA: Climate justice, you mention, is something that became an important issue for you while you were in school. And I am curious, you are
a young age. Prior to having to be forced, in many ways, to deal with it given the environment and the surroundings that you were in and facing due
to climate change, what is it that you were hoping to do with your career professionally as you look to the years ahead?
NAKATE: I really don't have any specific professional plans, but I have plans for next year. And the plans I have for next year is to continue with
the installation of solar panels and ecofriendly cook stoves in different schools across Uganda. This is a project that I started in 2019. And as I
speak right now, we have done installations in certain schools. And with more support and donations coming in from different people, I hope we can
cover as many schools as possible to drive a transition to renewable energy in schools in Uganda.
GOLODRYGA: There's been a lot of focus on President Biden and his role in these COP Summits and he notably apologized for his predecessor and for
having exited the Paris Climate Accords. Were you satisfied at all with at least some of the commitments that he was able that -- for representing the
United States to bring to the summit?
NAKATE: No, because one of the last statements that he said was leaving everything to God and for God to be able to save us and save the planet. I
am a Christian. And I believe in God. But now is the time for leaders to take up the responsibility. I feel like responsibility is being handed over
to young people. Responsibility is being handed over to God.
But leaders have the responsibility to make the decisions. They have a responsibility to look at the state of their huts and make decisions that
rise up for the people and for the planet. In fact, let them be inspired by the love and grace of God to make decisions that will ensure that all of us
have a future that is sustainable and healthy.
GOLODRYGA: Have you expressed your views on that to other leaders there? Who have you been meeting with? How was that been received? How has that
NAKATE: The leaders in person or activists?
GOLODRYGA: In person.
NAKATE: No, I haven't been able to do that. I just had a meeting with the first minister --
GOLODRYGA: So, who are you talking to there?
NGUYEN: Right now?
GOLODRYGA: Yes, tell us who you have been talking to. I know you met with the Scottish first minister, Nicholas Sturgeon.
NAKATE: Yes. Yes. Well, I spoke to her about loss and damage, an issue that is already happening right now in different parts of my country,
different parts of Africa and across the Global South. Loss and damage is here with us now. And I just always love to repeat something that I said
when I spoke at the Youth Summit in Milan that at this point, communities cannot adapt to starvation. Communities cannot adapt to extinction. They
cannot adapt to lost couches (ph) or lost histories or traditions, and this is what the climate crisis is doing right now. And she promised that her
government would put in a fund specifically for loss and damage.
GOLODRYGA: Well, I have no doubt you will be holding her accountable to that promise. Vanessa, thank you so much for your dedication to this cause
and you are a voice that the world should hear from. Thank you so much.
NAKATE: Thank you. You're welcome.
GOLODRYGA: Well, now, as we've discussed, last night's election results could increase pressure on Democrats to enact President Biden's agenda. In
a major shift today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would reverse course and include paid family and medical leave in the social spending
package. One of the provision's key backers, New York Senator Kyrsten Gillibrand. Here she is talking here to Michel Martin about how she plans
to convince fellow Senator Joe Manchin to get onboard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Bianna. Senator Gillibrand, thank you so much for talking with us today.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): You're welcome.
MARTIN: As we are speaking now for people who haven't been following this as closely, a number of popular provisions were taken out of the big bill
the Democrats are evaluating and you have been fighting to get paid family leave back in. Where do things stand now as we are talking?
GILLIBRAND: Well, I'm still negotiating with Senator Manchin. Senator Manchin came to this issue earlier in the week without a lot of background
information. So, I not only explained to him what paid leave is for, it's for families that are in urgent crisis, whether it is a sick or dying
family member, whether it is a new baby, whether you're ill yourself. These are all moments when families need someone to care for a loved one.
And we saw during the COVID epidemic over the last year and a half that without the support of a real paid family medical leave program it left a
lot of families having to quit their jobs. 5 million women lost their jobs during this pandemic and millions are still trying to get them back. And
so, I started there and then went through all of the questions that Senator Manchin had. And we are in a place where I am trying to write some
legislation that he could support based on the framework he has offered.
MARTIN: You certainly know this issue as well as anybody. You've been fighting for this issue for years now. But for people who don't, you know,
only about one-quarter of American workers have some access to paid family leave. Lower wage workers are the least likely to have access. You know,
only about 46 percent of working adults were eligible for even unpaid family leave. And of those, only a minority could actually afford to take
unpaid time off.
And this, of course, you certainly know, the United States is an outlier among nations worldwide and certainly among peer economies in offering no
national program of paid family leave. So, there were a couple questions on this, is why do you think the United States is such an outlier in this? And
is Senator Manchin aware of those numbers? At least, was he before you pointed them out?
GILLIBRAND: He was not aware of this issue largely until I really started to work with him to explain sort of this is harming the U.S.
competitiveness to be the only industrialized country without paid leave. It just means workers are constantly being undermined and can't necessarily
stay in a job when these family emergencies hit. Families have to make these tough decisions. Do I quit my job to meet the need of a loved one who
may be sick or dying? Or to care for myself? Or do I work and not meet that need? Those are terrible choices that families frankly shouldn't have to be
And we know in the states that have paid leave, it works. California businesses say -- 90 percent of them say it had no negative impact on their
bottom line or a positive impact and 99 percent of businesses said it had a positive impact on retention and morale. So, the reason the U.S. does not
have paid leave is a more complex answer. We are very focused in the United States on keeping workers in the work place. I think a lot of European
countries, Asian countries, they don't necessarily assume women will stay in the work place. And so, they will offer far longer leaves and not
necessarily have any care infrastructure if they are not themselves on leave with a new child for example. There's affordable day care at three
months, as an example.
MARTIN: So, (INAUDIBLE) other countries paid family leave is really an extension of some sort of income support, income floor, it is not really
GILLIBRAND: It is not geared toward work. It is geared towards a societal view that it is appropriate -- especially for parental leave, that it is
appropriate for a primary care giver, typically a mother to stay home with an infant for three months, six months, nine months, a year or two years.
But what the United States is trying to accomplish is rewarding work, urging people who want to be working to be working at their fullest
The problem when you don't have paid leave especially in the terms of parental leave or even for care giving, is that more often than not women
are the care givers, meeting the needs of the elderly or dying parents, meeting the needs of the new baby. When that person, that female worker
does not have leave, they often are forced to quit their job to meet that family emergency. And then, when they try to get rehired, they are rehired
for less money, back at the bottom rung.
This is a dynamic that we call the sticky floor. They can't get off the floor of wages. They can't get above the minimum wage because every time a
family emergency happens, they are the ones to cut back, have to leave the work force. And getting back in the work force is difficult and it costs
them experience, it cost them their salary and it cost them their ability to earn their highest potential.
And it is why there's, over time, such a massive differential between men and women in the work place. It is one of the reasons why beyond -- and
there are others -- why women still earn on average 78 cents on the dollar for the same work as men.
MELVIN: So, what is Senator Manchin's objection? Does he have some philosophical objection to offering this kind of program or is it the total
price tag that he finds objectionable and he is just looking for places to save? What is his objection? Has he articulated it to you clearly?
GILLIBRAND: Based on my conversations, it is neither of those things. He actually supports paid leave and said those words many times. I support
paid leave. I just don't want to do it now. Or I support paid leave, I just think we can do it with Republicans. So, he is not against paid leave but I
think he is deeply misinformed about what our colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle are willing to do.
I've talked to them at length, in depth. And there is interest in paid leave but their view of paid is very different. For example, President
Trump ran on paid leave, too. And so, when he was president, he put four weeks of paid leave in both of his budgets. It wasn't for all life events.
It was just for parents and it was just four weeks.
What we want, what I want, what any -- all the -- what the advocates for paid leave want is starting at 12 weeks, because we know, just take
parental leave for example, very few daycares take children younger than 12 weeks. So, 12 weeks is the right number especially for parental leave. It's
also the right number for lots of illnesses and for end of life. So, he's is not against leave and he's not against the idea of it.
What seems to be his issue is how you pay for it. He doesn't want it to be just funded by the government. He doesn't want it to be a safety net that
isn't self-sustaining. And I understand that. Because when I initially wrote paid leave, we wrote it to be an earned benefit exactly like Social
Security where you would buy in across your lifetime, just putting in a percentage of your income. Today, that would probably be about 0.5 percent
of your income and matched by your employer all told about 1 percent of your income putting into a fund for all workers.
And then, you get a leave that up to three months and it would be capped. It would be capped at maybe $5,000 a month. Something like that is what we
are trying to pass. And I think I could -- I'm going to offer to Senator Manchin a way to pay for this bill that is an earned benefit, that is --
have attributes of employer-employee matches in it to see if it is something he is willing to do.
MARTIN: What is your sense of the viability of this? I mean, one of the arguments --
GILLIBRAND: Oh, it is viable.
MARTIN: But one of the arguments President Biden had made is that this is the best moment to make these kinds of critical economy shifting
investments that would position the economy, the American economy for the future.
MARTIN: So, the argument is if we don't do it now when are you going to do it? And so, that's --
GILLIBRAND: If we don't do it now, it won't be done for five or 10 years. We are in a moment of time that is unique because we just saw what the lack
of paid leave did to our economy. 5 million women losing their jobs is an extraordinary number. And it just showed how there is no safety net for
this care economy. There is no -- you know, too much of our economy is based in the mad men era back in the 1950s and 1960s when it was more
likely that a parent stayed at home.
Today, I think the number of parents who stay is 15 percent or less. So, you're talking about 85 percent of the work force that's either sole or
primary wage earner or two wage earners. That is the reality of families today. So, to allow your work force to fully recover post pandemic, which
is President Biden's vision, this is part of what he imagined to create a growing economy, this is a tool he wants in his tool box, and he wants it
MARTIN: But what about on the business side of it? What would be your argument to businesses for why this is in their interests?
GILLIBRAND: I would just urge them to look at the data out of New York and California. California has had it over 10 years and the business community
loves paid leave. And they said it had -- literally, 90 percent polled said it had no negative impact on their bottom line or a positive impact. And 99
percent said improved retention and morale.
So, the business communities like this bill. And small businesses love it. Because they can't compete with the big stores. They can't compete with big
successful businesses that have economies of scale and can offer better benefits unless there is a federal paid leave program, they can't compete.
Also, small states can't compete. New York, California, New Jersey, we can have paid leave plans because we have huge populations.
A small state like North Dakota, which I went to visit with Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp, we toured all these small businesses and they all said, oh,
my gosh. If you had a federal program I could buy into, I would love it. It is not expensive. The most it's going to be is a small percentage of your
employees' salary and you could guarantee paid leave when they need it.
And the reason it works for a small business is because if that person needs paid leave, they can go off, have their baby, care for their baby,
and come right back. They don't need to find a new worker. They don't need to train a new worker. And just to be able to make due for three months,
find a replacement worker is so much less expensive. All that time and effort put into that employee that they want to retain will come right
Moreover, they get to compete with bigger employers to keep the ones and to -- more of the ones they want because they have good benefits as well. So,
this is a win for small businesses and small states if you have a national program. And we desperately need a national program.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, I wanted to talk about the election results last night. As we are speaking now, there were what are called off year
elections and the ones people are closely following are in Virginia and New Jersey. New Jersey is too close to call, at least in the governor's race.
But in Virginia, the former governor, Terry McAuliffe, lost his bid to regain his seat to first time candidate, Republican Glenn Youngkin. A
first-time candidate, a business candidate who was running, frankly, on some of the same culture war issues that animated the Trump presidency,
talking about, you know, critical race theory, which is not taught in Virginia schools, K through 12. But, also, talking about sort of tax
reform, eliminating the grocery tax and sort of things like that. I'm just wondering, what is your take on it?
GILLIBRAND: You know, I do think elections are quite cyclical. And I think that there is a natural tempo to things. But I can't Monday morning
quarterback a governor's race that I didn't really know much about. But I do believe it takes time for people to understand what we're actually
trying to accomplish. And I do believe that when we do pass these bills and talk about what we are fighting for, affordable daycare and universal pre-K
and a paid leave plan and affordable housing and ways to clean up water. So, this is what we're trying to accomplish.
And I think when we focus on what we are for and we actually talk about how we're lowering costs for prescription drugs, how we're lowering costs for
day-to-day bills that families have like daycare, I think that's a choice voters can make. And I don't know if those are the issues that the
governor's races were about, but that is certainly what we're working on here in the Senate.
MARTIN: The president's currently low approval ratings, his -- well, how do you understand that? He is fighting for the things Democrats said that
they wanted. Doesn't seem to be picking stupid fights. What do you think is going on and do -- because --
GILLIBRAND: You know, we're in a very 24/7 world these days. People want things done now. And so, they are less patient than things take. And one
thing I've learned in my time here in Washington is that things always take longer than you imagine.
And, you know, I also -- I just thought of something on the governor's race in Virginia, you know, a lot of things that Republican ran on, it was --
they were lies. I mean, one of the challenges we're up against is just the fact that there's no standard of truth anymore. And it is frustrating
because, as you said, critical race theory isn't taught in Virginia schools. He just made it up. He wanted a dog whistle. He was literally
being racist in his campaign.
And unfortunately, that is the legacy of Donald Trump, racism and division. And I'm sorry that Terry McAuliffe's message wasn't able to break through
what the candidate in Virginia, Youngkin, said because he just -- he was lying and he was dividing the nation. And I hope our politics can move away
from that in the years to come. Because President Trump really did damage, the climate of politics by giving permission for people to lie about facts
and to race bait and to distort people's fears.
I think a lot of the parents' rights movement is about fear. And I think parents are very worried about their children and they want what is best
for their children. But when you try to mislead them about the importance of keeping safe, getting vaccines, wearing masks, you're playing with
people's lives. And I think what Youngkin did was do exactly that, and it is a shame.
MARTIN: Does this give you concern about the midterm elections which are coming very soon?
GILLIBRAND: You know, I think we have great candidates for the midterm. And I know which races are tightest in the country, which states are red
and purple. But the candidates that are running in those places are extraordinary and I really believe in them. And so, I think woe cane can
hold the Senate. And a lot of the candidates in the House who won in these red and purple suburban districts are among the strongest legislators I
know. People like Lauren Underwood and Lucy McBath are extraordinary. And yes, their seats are purple and red but I still believe they'll win re-
election because they are that effective at representing their constituencies.
I feel the same way about Reverend Warnock and Mark Kelly in the Senate. I think they're so effective in their jobs and fighting for working families
and helping businesses grow in their states that I think their states will vote for them. So, I think it's about who you are and what you fight for
and whether you meet the moment with what you're for. And I think that ultimately always decides elections. And I think that we will have the
candidates that -- and the values and what we're fighting for that people need. So, I'm optimistic that we can hold these Senate seats and hold these
MARTIN: Senator Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, thank you so much for talking with us today.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And finally, tonight, coming up tomorrow, a candid conversation with Huma Abedin. He Hillary Clinton's longtime adviser often seen at her
side through some major moments in history and preferring to stay out of the spotlight.
Well, now, Adebin is taking center stage with the release of her revealing new memoir. It's called "Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds." And in the book,
she opens up about marriage, faith, and being a woman in Washington.
Well, that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across social media. Thank you so much for watching and good-bye from