By Anders Lorenzen
In January 2020, before the coronavirus was to bring normal life in the UK to a halt for more than a year, an ambitious project was in operation. It was `The Climate Assembly`, put in place by six committees in the UK Houses of Parliament. The objective is to invite people in the UK from all walks of life to come up with solutions to the climate crisis, through a series of roundtable discussions, as to how the UK should best tackle it.
Now a BBC documentary chronicles the journey, and it is a fascinating watch.
The film follows a group of individuals, some with very little or no knowledge of climate change. We see their reactions and their journeys as they become more aware of the issue.
The volunteers taking part in the project are given presentations and speeches by scientists and experts, including the naturalist and TV presenter – the much-loved David Attenborough. The film shows just how serious the volunteers are about the task they have been given and that they are 100% engaged with their task at hand.
Human impact stories
The film tells several important human impact stories as it follows the various people taking part in the Climate Assembly during the period of the project. There is a single mother who heats her home with coal and has a son with asthma. Due to her work with the climate assembly, she managed to link the use of coal and indoor air pollution as a trigger to asthma, and learn how to fix it.
Another individual who works for British Gas wanted to do more to tackle climate change while being worried about losing his job, so is re-training for a job in a company dealing with electric vehicles.
And there is the pensioner who, while not denying climate change, is not overly concerned about it and certainly does not think we should change our way of life at all. That is until he is diagnosed with cancer and learns about the link between air pollution caused by fossil fuels and their links to cancers. This changes his opinion.
A model for other countries to follow
This is a great documentary and many kudos must be given to the BBC for telling such an important story. It is a story about a fantastic initiative which deserves to be told to the whole world as a model to be copied by other countries. The film explains perfectly that not only is it right that the people who have to live with the impacts of climate change and society`s role are also given the chance to come up with solutions to tackle the problems. Something amazing happens when you give people all the facts and allow them to discuss solutions bringing new perspectives to the problem, rather than relying only on politicians.
And crucially, ordinary people get the chance to discuss this at the highest level with the latest science. When science is presented in such a way that not only policy and science nerds understand, it also gives a whole new level of awareness. The people we follow in the film have since changed their lives as they have become aware of how pressing it is that we deal with the climate crisis.
In the UK, The People vs Climate Change is streaming on BBC Iplayer.