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This week in Tortoise: Cop 26

This week in Tortoise: Cop 26

A couple of things, before we get to Cop 26:

  • Sweet Bobby, the investigation into an extraordinary case of online manipulation and deceit, was top of the Apple charts for news podcasts this weekend (similarly, running high on Spotify); the third episode of Alexi Mostrous’ reporting of this digital – but all too real – story of love, fantasy and betrayal will be in the Tortoise app and on the website for members from Thursday. In the same spirit of narrative investigations, i.e. compelling human stories that reveal so much about our times, this week’s Slow Newscast looks into the disappearance of Princess Shamsa, the daughter of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed, who was apparently abducted from the streets of Cambridge in 2000. Since then, Princess Latifa, another of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters, fled and was recaptured and Princess Haya escaped to London, where she is now in a revealing court battle for custody of their children. But Princess Shamsa’s story has largely gone uninvestigated and ignored, conveniently so, as the Sheikh has formed ever-deeper bonds with the British government, royal family and business. In Shamsa, the forgotten princess, this week’s episode of the Slow Newscast, we shine a light on Princess Shamsa’s story and why it’s been largely ignored for so long.
  • The Arms Race stepped up a gear last week. As you may have seen, Tortoise helped coordinate the publication of an open letter to Mario Draghi, Italian prime minister and chair of the G20, to press for the urgent delivery of vaccines globally. It was written and driven by Gordon Brown and signed by over 150 former heads of government, multinational CEOs and leaders of global organisations. The FT generously gave over a full page to publish it. And, once again, the stalwarts of this campaign – Duke University, the Covid Collaborative, Brunswick and Unilever – helped make it happen. I’d love to report back a breakthrough at the G20 in Rome, but again it was more words than action. That said, there really does seem to be some momentum now: the G20 committed to deliver vaccines to 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by mid-2022. Given how few of the vaccines that have already been promised have actually been delivered, it’s the job of #TheArmsRace campaign and the Tortoise vaccine tracker to see if, finally, they start delivering. 
  • Tonight at 6.30pm, please join us for a ThinkIn with Nicky Gumbel, a rare chance to discuss Christianity, the Church of England and the arguments around faith in the modern world with the Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton and the developer of the Alpha Course. And on Thursday at 11am GMT we’ll be holding a private ThinkIn in Abbey Road Studios. For an hour and a half, accompanied by Isabel Garvey, the studios’ managing director, we’ll discuss the use of technology in music and its effect on creativity. It’s an event exclusively for Friend of Tortoise members – to join us, just upgrade your membership here.

For the next fortnight, Tortoise will be in Glasgow. We are moving in with the New York Times at their Climate Hub round the corner from the Cop 26 negotiations and we hope to:

  • Make sense of those official discussions and the cascade of public statements in our daily Sensemaker from Cop.
  • Host ThinkIns every day that help us come together to a better understanding of some of the big issues beyond the scope of the UN summit, i.e. the future of the car; the possibility of a carbon tax; sustainable technology; a secure, economically viable plan for the rainforests; measuring the gap between what CEOs say and what they do.
  • Offer a series of short podcasts – John Browne’s Net Zero and Beyond – that examine how climate is impacting everything from wine to lighting to biodiversity and what we can do now to make a difference. 
  • And bring the businesses and organisations in our Accelerating Net Zero coalition together to explore what needs to be done practically to move further and faster on the climate agenda.

You can see the full list of speakers at our Tortoise ThinkIns – as well as the ones we’re working on with the New York Times in the Climate Hub – here; please do join us, either in Glasgow in person or online. We’d love to hear what you think. 

Have a very good week.


James Harding
Editor & co-founder