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10th Jul 2019

David Attenborough delivers stark warning to parliament about the climate crisis

The documentary daddy told a select committee the government 'cannot be radical enough' in its approach to reducing emissions

Oli Dugmore

David Attenborough

The documentary daddy told a select committee the government ‘cannot be radical enough’ in its approach to reducing emissions

Sir David Attenborough appeared before a parliamentary select committee to discuss environmental policy with MPs.

The BBC presenter said climate denial may become as repugnant to society as slavery, adding that he believes attitudes to the climate crisis were rapidly changing and young people provide him with hope about the future.

When asked about the government’s 2050 target for net zero carbon emissions by the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee Attenborough said he wasn’t sure if targets were the best approach.

He said: “In a way I would think that is not the way of focusing on the problem. We cannot be radical enough in dealing with the issues that face us at the moment. The question is: what is practically possible? How can we take the electorate with us in dealing with these things?

“The most encouraging thing that I see, of course, is that the electors of tomorrow are already making themselves and their voices very, very clear. And that is a source of great comfort in a way, but also the justification, the reality, that these young people are recognising that their world is the future.

“There was a time in the 19th century when it was perfectly acceptable for civilised human beings to think that it was morally acceptable to actually own another human being for a slave. And somehow or other, in the space of 20 or 30 years, the public perception of that totally transformed.

“I suspect that we are right now in the beginning of a big change. Young people in particular are the stimulus that’s bringing it about.

“People are understanding that to chuck plastic into the ocean is an insult. To have the nerve to say: ‘This is our rubbish. We’ll give you money and you can spread it on your land instead of ours, in the far east,’ is intolerable. And for some reason or other young people understand that. And that’s a source of great hope to me.”