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  • On tonight's panel -

  • Grant Shapps, the Government's Transport Secretary, former Minister

  • and Chairman of the Conservative Party under David Cameron.

  • A Labour MP for nearly 10 years,

  • former Shadow Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, Lisa Nandy.

  • Rupert Read, Professor of Philosophy at East Anglia University,

  • former Green Party candidate and now spokesperson for climate

  • change campaigners Extinction Rebellion.

  • Journalist and breakfast host on talk radio, Julia Hartley-Brewer.

  • And businessmen and guest Dragon on the BBC's Dragons' Den,

  • Theo Paphitis.

  • APPLAUSE

  • Welcome very much to our panel, to our audience here

  • and, of course, to you at home.

  • Join in the conversation, you can argue along in the usual way,

  • #BBCQT, on Facebook, on Instagram and on Twitter.

  • We'd like to hear what you've got to say.

  • So, let's hear our first question tonight, which is from Sally Knight.

  • Should climate change activists be applauded or arrested?

  • Lisa.

  • Well, I really support what's happened in the last few weeks and

  • I don't say that lightly, but the reason I say it is because I've been

  • a member of Parliament now for nearly 10 years

  • and over that time, I've seen how this is an issue, the most

  • important issue of our time, that is always kicked into the long grass.

  • Because there's always something that is supposedly more

  • important, always something that is supposedly more pressing

  • and I think without those young people going out on climate strike,

  • without the protests that we're seeing in the streets,

  • this issue just quite simply would not be on the agenda,

  • but what really matters now is what happens next,

  • because there's a chance now

  • to build a really broad coalition that will keep that pressure up.

  • Why do we need to keep the pressure up?

  • Because we're not even on track to meet our net zero target by 2050.

  • The reason for that is actually Grant's department, transport, where

  • we're actually going backwards in terms of emissions, not forwards.

  • And I suppose the only thing I would say to the protesters,

  • many of whom I really admire so far,

  • is that you've got to take people with you on this journey.

  • There is no point in telling people in towns like Wigan

  • to get out of their cars when our trains and our buses have been

  • brought to a standstill for the last two years.

  • This has got to be a positive agenda about creating the clean

  • energy jobs in towns like mine,

  • jobs that were lost when the mines closed many years ago, about warmer

  • homes, about better futures for our young people

  • and about a better environment,

  • and if we make common cause with people who are trying to, to,

  • to improve the daily lives of ordinary people in this country,

  • I think this is a battle that we'll win, we'll start

  • to take action and we'll build a better Britain in the process.

  • APPLAUSE

  • Theo. What's your view?

  • Well, I think the argument is undeniable,

  • although I think there's a bloke across the pond that is denying

  • it's ever happening, but we'll put him to one side for the moment.

  • Because it's not very important here tonight.

  • But the reality is the argument is undeniable.

  • The method is ridiculous

  • because I've just come back from my company conference. Two days,

  • I had 500 colleagues there and I've got to tell you, climate change

  • was the number one question we had for discussion at that conference.

  • We've got so many things for our business,

  • everybody's tuned in on the environment, sustainability,

  • climate change and what our business is doing,

  • and in fact they even voted that now we should plant every...

  • this year, a tree for every colleague we hire

  • and that we already have.

  • That's over 4,000 trees for this year and they're saying

  • they'd rather have that spent out of our bonus pot.

  • That's how important it is, so we don't need people to get

  • superglue, stick it on somebody else's butt

  • and hang around there for two days, stopping them going to work,

  • stopping them going to a hospital, stopping them going through their

  • normal, everyday lives, where they work to put food on the table for

  • their children, a roof over their head and to lead a normal life.

  • That just is not acceptable.

  • Sally, what's your view? As you asked the question.

  • I think it's really interesting, Lisa, that you used

  • the word "protester," because I deliberately worded the question

  • "activist," which is suggesting that I support, absolutely support

  • the cause and it's absolutely right that this is highlighted

  • and that governments worldwide take notice.

  • But I agree with Theo that the methods...

  • I really don't applaud at all

  • and I think for normal people just trying to get to work,

  • do the right thing, it really is deplorable

  • and I just think there are better ways to grab headlines.

  • So, Rupert, what do you think when you hear that?

  • Because you want to take people with you.

  • Well, I think the first thing to say is, if there are better methods,

  • honestly, I'm all ears because I've been in this game for a long time.

  • I've been working in non-governmental organisations,

  • in the Green Party for many years, knocking on doors, etc,

  • and do you know what? None of it worked, right.

  • Earlier on this year, we're still on the same trajectory to

  • disaster as we have been for the past 20 years but then what happens?

  • In April, we had Extinction Rebellion

  • and the first glimmer of starting to change, we managed to push

  • the issue up the agenda when a thousand of us brave souls,

  • and it's because of them,

  • it's because of those 2,000 people now of ours who've been arrested.

  • You're deluded! Excuse me, let me just finish this point, it's key.

  • It's because of those 2,000 people that have been arrested,

  • yeah, that I have the privilege of being here on this panel this

  • evening at all, right, otherwise I wouldn't be here, yeah.

  • But look, what I do want to acknowledge is this,

  • there's a reason why the story hasn't worked until recently.

  • And the reason is that the problem feels too remote,

  • so, yeah, after April, a lot more people said, "We agree,

  • "climate change is an emergency."

  • But it still feels too remote to people,

  • it doesn't feel like an emergency.

  • So, you know, those of you who are there thinking, "Well,

  • "is it really quite as bad as they're saying?"

  • I get where you're coming from. I understand that.

  • I tried for 20 years in the old methods and the old story

  • and it doesn't work, so here's my message this evening.

  • We're changing up.

  • We're changing up in terms of our methods,

  • nonviolent civil disobedience, the same thing that succeeded for

  • the Suffragettes, for Martin Luther King, for Gandhi

  • and many others besides, and we're changing up with the message,

  • so my message to you tonight is forget about 2050,

  • forget about rising sea levels, forget about polar bears

  • and penguins, precious and beautiful though they are,

  • this is about us now.

  • This is about the fact that last summer,

  • the crops in this country were

  • failing as they were baked in the fields.

  • This is about the vulnerability of our food supply.

  • This is not even about our children or our grandchildren any more.

  • This is about the intense vulnerability of our whole society

  • to this catastrophe that is already descending on us.

  • That's why we're at London City Airport today,

  • showing some of that vulnerability.

  • That's why we need to be out there until that message gets through

  • and starts to really, really change.

  • OK, let's hear a little bit from the audience here.

  • The man in the denim jacket.

  • Obviously we all know that the environment is a huge issue.

  • I myself follow a plant-based diet because of it,

  • but it's interesting that you talk about the methods. For me,

  • a load of people dancing in the street, probably off their head

  • and, you know... No. ..dreadlocked, soap dodgers...

  • You may be maligning a whole group of people there,

  • I'd just like to say. There's no drugs or alcohol

  • at Extinction Rebellion events.

  • I think it's the wrong type of people who are putting out

  • this message. There is a real argument for the environment

  • and it's completely painting the wrong picture,

  • and as Theo said, it's stopping people going to work,

  • it's causing normal people problems and it shouldn't be.

  • It should be a problem that we all adopt

  • and we all change our regular lifestyles for and I think

  • when you see these people dancing in the street, it's not a protest,

  • it's just a field day, and I think it's really important that we

  • make this a proper issue and not make it look stupid.

  • Rupert, I know you want to come back in and I'll let you.

  • I'm just going to get round the audience a little bit.

  • Yes, you in the front, you wanted to say something.

  • I do worry about some of the younger people who are seeing this

  • and thinking it's an appropriate thing for them to do,

  • potentially then getting criminal records and then potentially harming

  • their future employment prospects by having a criminal record which then

  • means certain job opportunities aren't available to them.

  • Man in the classes.

  • One individual called Greta Thunberg, we know,

  • we understand her, she's actually garnered

  • a lot of support as an individual around the world and

  • whether you like her attitude or not, she's actually done that.

  • Whereas what we have now is our activists in London,

  • we're actually alienating people against them.

  • I think that's starting to destroy the argument

  • and they need to be very careful.

  • The woman in the yellow sweater here.

  • I was going to reference an article a few days ago

  • where you spoke about the need to perhaps refer to this

  • as an extermination event rather than an extinction event,

  • because that's too passive

  • and I wondered what the panel thought of that.

  • And do you support the action that's been taken by Extinction Rebellion?

  • SHE SIGHS I do. I do, yes, fundamentally.

  • With a big sigh. I do, yes.

  • I think it's sad that they're being arrested rather than applauded.

  • I think that's a waste of police time.

  • APPLAUSE

  • Rupert, I'll come back to you in a minute, just let me hear

  • a little bit from the rest of the panel. Julia.

  • Look, absolutely I think we should be tackling environmental issues,

  • moving towards renewable fuels, cleaning up our waste

  • and our oceans and looking after our planet,

  • but there is nothing in any of the science, nothing in any

  • of the IPCC reports that suggests we're heading towards a catastrophe,

  • a crisis, mass extermination or anything of the sort.

  • This is scaremongering of the worst kind.

  • Well, the UN says we have "12 years to limit global temperature

  • "rise to 1.5 degrees and urgent, unprecedented changes are needed."

  • Well, no, what it says is if, if we do actually want to try

  • and prevent a 1.5 degrees...there's a two thirds chance we can do that

  • if we do address those issues, but there's no, there's not

  • necessarily a catastrophe that results if we don't do that.

  • The Earth has been warmer than that,

  • but the key thing is what we have to do in order to achieve that.

  • What Extinction Rebellion are doing and what they want, which is very,

  • very different from what has been discussed by other climate

  • activists over the years, is the net zero global, of carbon

  • emissions by 2025 is achievable not by getting rid of diesel cars

  • or perhaps people having a bit of an extra tax on their flights

  • to Majorca on holiday,

  • we are talking about getting rid of all cars,

  • all buses, all trains, all central heating, all flights,

  • having state rationing of meat, this is what it will actually involve.

  • It's impossible to achieve that target otherwise.

  • This is about taking us back to a preindustrial age.

  • Now, we're told constantly this is a terrible thing,

  • industrialisation has been a terrible thing.

  • Industrialisation, the Industrial Revolution is the greatest thing

  • that's ever happened to mankind.

  • It has delivered longer, healthier, happier,

  • more fulfilling lives for billions more people than anything

  • else that has ever been achieved by our planet.

  • The best time to be alive is right now, apart from tomorrow.

  • Whatever the issues are regarding climate change, they will be

  • sold by technological innovation by the markets, by governments,

  • yes, getting together and by a sensible debate based on the facts.

  • What we've got with Extinction Rebellion, I'm afraid, is not

  • a sensible debate based on science or the facts. It is to all intents

  • and purposes a sort of quasi-religious death cult

  • and I for one think it's

  • absolutely insane that people are listening to their absurd demands.

  • Rupert...would you like to respond to that?

  • Quasi-religious death cult.

  • Well, look, I apologise to the young man for not having a nose ring

  • and I apologise for not being a part of any cult.

  • In fact, I take a lot of my prompting from the United Nations,

  • from the IPCC who repeatedly say in their most recent report

  • "to limit global overheat to 1.5 degrees,"

  • which is considered the threshold for danger,

  • "we need rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all

  • "aspects of society" and why we're back is to say, "Where's the action?

  • "Where's the action towards that goal?"

  • Today, those famous eco-extremists,

  • the International