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Question Time -Rupert Read: Extinction Rebellion

Page history last edited by paul.crosland@... 3 years, 10 months ago

BBC Question Time 10th October 2019:




Question Time Extinction Rebellion  9/11/19 

Grant Shapps 

Lisa Nandy

Rupert Read

Julia Hartley Brewer

Theo Paphitis


Member of the audience: Should climate change activist be applauded or arrested? 

Lisa: 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 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 always kicked into the long grass as there is always something that is supposedly more important, always something that is supposedly more pressing and I think that without those young people going out on climate strike and without the protestors in the streets this issue would simply not be on the agenda, but what really happens now is what happens next because there is 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 were not even on track to keep our net zero target by 2050, the reason for that is actually Grants department, transport, which is actually going backwards in terms of emissions not forwards.  I suppose the only thing I would say to the protestors, many of whom I really admire is that you’ve got to take people with you on the journey.  There is no point 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 2 years.  This has got to be a positive agenda about creating clean energy jobs in towns like mine, jobs that were lots when the mines were closed many years ago, about warmers homes, about better futures for our younger people and about a better environment and if we make common cause with people who are trying to improve the daily lives of ordinary people in this country I think this is a battle we will win, will start to take action and will build a better Britain in the process. 

Theo: I think the argument is undeniable, although I think there is a bloke across the pond who is denying its ever happened, put him to one side for the moment. But the reality is the argument is undeniable, the method is ridiculous because I have just come back from my company conference, 2 days, ive had 500 colleagues there and I’ve got to tell you that climate change was the number one question we had for discussion at that conference. We had many things for our business, everyones tuned into the environment, sustainability, climate change and what our business is doing and in fact they even voted that now this year we should plant a tree for every colleague we hire. Over 4000 trees this year and they are saying they’d rather have that spent out of their bonus pot, that’s how important it is, so we don’t need someone to get super glue stick it on someone else’s butt and hang around there for two days stopping them from going to work, stopping them going to hospital, stopping them 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. 

Sandy (audience): I think its really interesting Lisa,  that you worded the question ‘protestor’ because I deliberately worded the question activist which is suggesting I support the cause which is absolutely right that this is highlighted and governments world wide take notice. But I agree with Theo that the methods I 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 think there are better ways to grab headlines. 

What do you think Rupert when you hear that, because you want to take people with you? 

Rupert: Well I think the first thing to say is that if there’s a better method, honestly I’m all ears because I’ve been in this game a long time.  I’ve been working in NGO’s, in the Green Party for many years, knocking on doors, and do you know what, none of it worked.  Earlier on this year we are still on the same trajectory to disaster as we had been for the last 20 years, but then what happens? In April we had Extinction rebellion and the first glimmer of starting to change and we started to push the issue up the agenda when a 1000 of us braves souls, and its because of them, those now 2000 people of ours being arrested that I have the privilege of being here on this panel this evening at all otherwise I wouldn’t be here, 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 to remote. So yeah after April a lot of people we agree,  climate change is an emergency  but it still feels too remote, it doesn’t feel like an emergency, so you know those of you who are thinking is it really as bad as they are saying, I get where you are coming from, I understand that.  I tried for 20 years with the old methods and the old story and it doesn’t work. So here’s my message for this evening, we are changing up in term our methods, non-violence civil disobedience, the same thing that succeeded for the Suffragettes, Martin Luther King, Ghandi and many others and we are changing up with the message.  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 crops in this country were failing as they were baking in the fields, this is about the vulnerability of our food supply, this isn’t even about our children and grandchildren any more , this is about the intense vulnerability of our whole society to this catastrophy that is already descending on us that’s why we were 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 change. 

 Audience: obviously we all know that the environment is a huge issue, I myself follow a plant based diet because of it but its interesting you talk about the methods.  For me a load of people dancing in the street, probably off their head, dreadlocks, soap dodgers; I think it’s the wrong type of people who are putting out this message.  I think there’s a real argument for the environment and its completely painting the wrong picture, its stopping people going to work, its causing normal people problems and it shouldn’t be, it should be a problem that we all adopt and we all change our regular life styles for and I think when you see these people dancing in the streets, its not a protest it just a field day and I think its really important that we make this a proper issue not make it look stupid. 

Audience: I do worry about some of the younger people seeing this and thinking its an appropriate thing for them to do, potentially getting criminal records and then potentially harming their employment prospects by having a criminal record which then means that job opportunities aren’t available to them. 

Audience: One individual called Greta Thornburg we know has got a lot of support as an individual around the world and we know whether you like her attitude or not she has actually done that.  Where as what we have now are activist in London who are actually alienating people.  I think they are actually starting to destroy the argument and I think we need to be very careful. 

Audience: I was going to reference a George Monbiot article written a few days ago where he spoke about the need to refer to this as an extermination event rather than an extinction event as its too passive and I wondered what the panel think about that? 

And do you support the action taken by the extinction rebellion? 

I do. I think its sad that they are being arrested rather than applauded, that’s a waste of police time. 

Julia: Absolutely I think we should be tackling environmental issues and 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 which suggests we are moving towards a catastrophe, a crisis, mass extermination or anything of the sort.  This is scare mongering of the worst kind. 

The UN says we have 12 years to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 ° and urgent and unprecedented changes are needed.

Julia: Well look, what it actually says if we do actually want to try to prevent 1.5 ° , there’s a two third chance that we can do that , if we do address those issues but its not necessarily anything catastrophic if we don’t do that. The earth has actually been warmer than that, but the key thing is what we have to do in order to achieve to do that.  What extinction rebellion are doing and  what they want, which is very very different from what has been discussed by other climate activist over the years is net zero global carbon emissions by 2025 in achievable not by getting rid of diesel cars, or perhaps people having a bit of extra tax on their flight to Majorca on holiday, we are talking about getting rid of all cars, all buses, all trains, all central heating, all flights, state rationing of meat, this is what it would actually involve, its impossible to achieve that target in other ways.  This is about taking us back to pre-industrial age.  We are told constantly that industrialisation is a terrible thing.  Industrialisation is the greatest thing to ever happen to man kind.  It has delivered, longer healthier happier more fulfilled lives  for billions of people than anything else that has ever been achieved on our planet.  The best time to be alive is right now, apart from tomorrow.  Whatever the issues are caused by climate change they will be solved by technological innovation by the markets, by Governments getting together and having 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 and facts, it is to all sense and purposes a sawzi religious death cult. And I for one think its absolutely insane that people are listening to their absurd demand.

Rupert: I apologise to the young man for not having a nose ring and I apologise for not being part of any cult, infact I take a lot of my prompting from the UN and from the IPCC who repeatedly say in their most recent report: to limit global over heat to 1.5 °,   which is the tip of the threshold for danger, we need rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.  Where’s the action towards that goal? Today those famous eco-extremists, the International Monetry Fund said this: the risk of catastrophic and irreversible disaster is rising, implying potentially infinite costs of unmitigated climate change including human extinction.  Now if that is not a licence for the kind of thing we are saying and doing then I am not sure what is? Greta Thonberg was mentioned.  I have the privilege of knowing Great and I asked her in public when she was here in April to support our first rebellion.  Whats your view of Extinction Rebellion Greta? And her reply was simple, she said ‘ I support it whole heartedly’ and do you know what, at the end of the day this isn’t about whether you feel warm towards Extinction Rebellion,  it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is we succeed in drawing attention to the issue and if we succeed atlast to start to get the action we need to stop ourselves driving over a cliff, that what it is about.

Theo: but Rupert don’t you understand? Your acting like numpties! Your turning people away from the great cause that we all believe in. 

Rupert: We are talking about it now, ive just explained the cause and actually im getting a decent amount of applause here so actually I think we are doing alright. 

Grant: My department the transport department is responsible for the CO2. Here’s the thing that is not in doubt, we have to get a grip of this. 27% of CO2 comes from transport.  90% of that from  vehicles and theres some really easy things we can do which is for example move to electric cars and that would be a very big first move.  Ive got an electric car and its fantastic.  These are practical steps we can take.  Heres the thing I don’t understand Rupert, we are living in a country, the industrialised country that’s done more to move further and faster to decarbonise than any other country in the world.  Thats legislated to get to net zero so rather than stopping people from getting to work and stopping people from getting to hospital appointments, go to the country that isn’t doing any of these things and protest there. 

Audience: I totally agree was just said there.  Instead of making it difficult for other people why don’t you protest peacefully and protest outside where they are not doing anything at all. 

Audience: I was in London today at Charing Cross and there was a whole load of people with lead makeup and wearing green and red walking silently through and I made the presumption they were extinction rebellion because they were all in Trafalgar Square.  I applaud the sentiment behind it however it is alienating a lot of people and for me personally I do think there is a climate problem and I do think we need to do something however, the person that has made the most impact on me is Sir David Attonborough, in Blue Planet when he said quite respectuffuly and majestically the amount of plastic that is in the ocean and that the wales and other creatures are sswallowing and for me that made a huge impact and I think we all need to get together to do something small. 

And did it make you change your behaviour? 

Audience: yes it did, it made me take things seriously, for him to go on record and say that and the way he says it and made me pay attentions and my nephew is 6 and he watches the Blue Planet and I know it will make an impact on him an he is the future for us. 

Audience: I find really incredible Grant, that you can sit there and say ‘lets look at other countries’, lets take some accountability here in the uk.  Lisa I think what you said about public transport in northern areas is so true, and what id like to see is some accountability from the Government about private car ownership and Taxing something that we know is incredibly dangerous and investing that money in public transport specifically in northern regions where systematically London is overfunded and northern regions are left and private car ownership is a necessity. 

Audience: I was held up by the Extinction Rebellion protestors today and I was late picking my son up from school as a result and he was in floods of tears, desperately upset because I wasn’t there when he was expecting me to be. In 20 years time he is not going to remember that.  What he will remember is if we fail to act now on this emergency. We can cope with a bit of disruption now if it has the effect of us actually taking action, then this disruption is nothing. 

And whats next Rupert? The plan is this will go on for the next 2 weeks and then what happens after that? 

Rupert: Well if it lasts for the full fortnight will depend on how many of the audience come and join me after tonight. There’s a couple of key things to respond to: the net zero carbon that the Government has legislated for – great.  That wouldn’t have happened without us.  That was outside the window of political possibility before the April rebellion.   And our action changed the figures completely in terms of how important people thought the issues were.  This is fact.  Look at the poles before and after the rebellion.  After the rebellion people suddenly start saying the environment is a more important issue than immigration, more important than the economy.  The first time that has ever happened in this country.  That’s down to us.  Now lets look at the figures you gave us Grant in how well the country is doing: the first demand of the extinction rebellion is tell the truth.  I just so wish you would start telling the truth.  The figures where you claim we are doing so much better than other countries.

Grant: we have decarbonised faster than any other G20, gas emissions and greenhouse gases have come down faster than all G7 since 2010. 

Rupert: only if you exclude from the figures all the figures for air travel and sea travel and all the products we buy from China and India. We fly a lot more in this country than people do in others countries.  Not in the USA but in Europe. So if you get the figures right, if you tell the truth, we are not doing well at all. Our carbon emissions have barely come down since 1990, those are the facts, that is true I just so wish you would start telling the truth.  Now in terms of the thing about other countries, saying why don’t you go and protest in China, our rebellion is world wide.  What we have started here is being exported all over the world.  A great British export! Its completely peaceful, completely non violent but as the lady said, its disruptive. But do you want to see real disruption? Crop failures.  Children not knowing if they are going to have a future at all. 

Julia: this is absolute nonsense. This is the stuff that is being predicted.  This nihilistic the world is going to end stuff.

Rupert: the IPCC and the IMF

Julia: the IPCC is not predicting any of that.  There is nothing in the science, nothing in the documents, nothing in any of the IPCC reports that is predicting any of that. What this is and the tactics that you are using, you don’t have aims in the extinction rebellion you have demands and what those demands are, your trying to push through by bullying.  You’ve got the option to stand at the ballot box.  You have the cheek to talk about the Suffragettes and the Civil Rights movement in the USA. Women didn’t have the vote and neither did black people in America and that’s why they had to resort to that sort of action.  You have the ballot box.  Last time with the European elections under PR where the green party isn’t actually affected by first past the post system, got 11.8% of the vote.  That’s a massive increase from the last general election 1.6%.  So it just shows if you want to persuade people at the ballot box, if you want to have the argument then lets. To bully people is what this is, its just bullying.  

Lisa: Julia you are wrong. Its not bullying to point out to people that this is an international crisis that has to be taken much more seriously.  Its no good for Grant to sit here and say look at all the brilliant things we’re doing when his Government that slashed investment in solar, effectively banned new windfarm, subsidised diesel which is the dirtiest fuel of all slashing transport funding. 

Julia: your party is opposed to fracking which is one of the cleanest energy forms.

Lisa: we’re in favour of giving people a right to decide which frankly strikes me as democratic if your going to have fracking imposed on your area.  But let me say this to you as well this isn’t just about the environment, as absolutely critical as that is.  This is about Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England saying very very clearly that climate change and our failure to tackle it is the biggest threat to our global financial system.  This is  peoples pensions, this is peoples savings, this is peoples livelihoods, and if you don’t care about the future of the planet, which you clearly don’t, and you wont accept the evidence about that, at least accept that   there are people in this room and people watching at home who stand to loose an awful lot if you carry on pretending that this is not real. 

Julia: this is the nonsense scaremongering we have and instead of having a sensible debate about the science and about the facts an about the economic and political cost are about various forms of action to tackle, we just shout ‘well you don’t care about the children if you don’t agree with me’.  That’s not a sensible political debate and im not ignoring the science.  

Grant: gentlemen over here aid we should move faster on cars, which by the way wed already said wed end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, before any of the extinction rebellion action, last week I talked about bringing that forward to 2035.  Gentlemen over here talked about northern rail and we are putting a huge multi billion package in to build it.  I don’t think this should be a political issue in as much as across parliament we agreed to vote for this but Lisa I have to pick you up on your solar claim because 99% of all the solar capacity in this country has been built since this Government was in power so your fact is simply wrong and Rupert, you want us to be fact based.  We are following the facts of the committee on climate change.

Rupert: you are lying on statistics. the committee on climate change are telling you you are way off the pace and your efforts on adaptation look like your dads army.

Grant: So when we have a country, for example last year low carbon production of energy made up 53% of our entire production as a nation.  If I listened to you id think we were getting no where where in fact this economy is decarbonising. As I’ve said before rather than disrupting peoples lives here go and protest in the country where the carbon needs to be cut at a much faster rate where they don’t have any plan in place.     







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