climate change

Sir David Attenborough directs stinging criticism towards Boris Johnson


Sir David Attenborough. Photo credit: Reuters / Simon Dawson.

By Anders Lorenzen

Less than two weeks before the UK general election, and on the eve of the UN climate change negotiations, COP25, David Attenborough, the much-loved naturalist and nature documentary presenter has directed a stinging attack at the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for failing to take the climate challenge seriously.

On Thursday last week, the UK Broadcaster Channel 4 hosted the first-ever televised climate debate in the UK in which all party leaders took part, except for Johnson and the climate-denying Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage. 

As a result of their absence, Channel 4 had replaced the prime minister and Farage with two melting ice sculptures. This was to illustrate the rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets due to accelerated climate change. The Conservative party responded by using the media regulator Ofcom to launch a review of the government funding of the broadcaster.

But in an interview with Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow on Friday, Attenborough reacted strongly to the absence of Johnson from the debate. He said that he, of course, did not know the prime minister`s plans or engagements; but he must have had something really important to do if it was more important than discussing the biggest challenge that humanity faces. 

Attenborough, who is loved and admired nationally and globally for a lifelong career celebrating the wonders of the natural world spanning from the 1960s to today, also praised Channel 4 for hosting this critically important debate.

Attenborough thought it was shameful for the prime minister not to take part. He elaborated on this saying: “I don’t know what else he had to do, but it would have to be very very important to dodge this one I think.”

Attenborough went on to praise Channel 4 for hosting the debate and forcing the issue. He explained that the political parties did not really want to do it, “You forced them to do it, and more strength to your elbow. They think that the issues facing the electorate are ones that you kind of have to change their lives tomorrow and the day after. And those are the ones that they concentrate on. And that is the problem of having a short term life for government”. 

He added that when you have elections every few years no one thinks about what will happen in 10 or 15 years time. 

All the key political parties (apart from the Brexit Party) have released climate and environment policies which they all say are the most ambitious ever. But so far amongst the parties who have released those plans, the Conservatives and Johnson are the only ones who have refused to discuss them on a platform designated to discuss the climate crisis.

UK voters go to the polls on the 12th of December. 


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