David Attenborough to present “unflinching” BBC climate change film

“We're running out of time but there's still hope," the naturalist says. Find out more about the BBC documentary

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 22/03/2019 - Programme Name: Climate Change with David Attenborough (tbc)  - TX: n/a - Episode: Climate Change with David Attenborough (tbc) - announcement (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: ***STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:00:01 FRIDAY 22nd MARCH 2019*** Sir David Attenborough - (C) BBC - Photographer: Polly Alderton

David Attenborough is returning to BBC1 for a one-off film tackling climate change.

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In Climate Change: the Facts, Attenborough will examine “the science of climate change and the potential solutions to this global threat”.

The documentary will also focus on the impact of global warming and explore the innovations, technology and actions available to viewers and the world’s governments to prevent further damage.

Leading climate change scientists will also speak in the hour-long show, unpacking the science and delivering what the BBC describes as an “unflinching” examination of what could happen if global warming exceeds 1.5 degrees and major reductions in CO2 emissions are not made in the next decade.

When is Climate Change: The Facts with David Attenborough on TV?

The documentary is set to air on BBC1 at 9pm on Thursday 18th April. It will then be made available online via BBC iPlayer.

What does David Attenborough say about climate change and global warming in the new film?

The film is set to be one of the most politically engaged climate change films featuring Attenborough on the BBC so far.

“In the 20 years since I first started talking about the impact of climate change on our world, conditions have changed far faster than I ever imagined,” Attenborough says in the film.

“It may sound frightening but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.

“We’re running out of time but there’s still hope,” he adds. “I believe that if we better understand the threat we face, the more likely it is that we can avoid such a catastrophic future.”

Following the release of Our Planet on Netflix, the BBC is keen to showcase Attenborough’s return to the public service broadcaster, and highlight its efforts in explaining the threats posed by climate change.

Climate Change: The Facts forms part of the BBC’s Our Planet Matters season, highlighting environmental issues. Other shows include BBC1’s Blue Planet Live, presented by Chris Packham, Liz Bonnin and Steve Backshall, and an investigation into the use of plastics with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Why has the BBC’s reporting of climate change issues been controversial?

The season is a significant statement from the BBC, which has been criticised in the past for giving airtime to climate change deniers in an attempt to maintain ‘balance’. Most notably, in 2018 Ofcom ruled that Lord Nigel Lawson was “not sufficiently challenged” after he dismissed such environmental concerns as “claptrap” in a Radio 4 interview.

In September 2018, a reported email from BBC News boss Fran Unsworth to journalists stated that “man-made climate change exists” and warned against “false bias”.

“To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage,” wrote Unsworth, “in the same way you would not have someone denying that Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday. The referee has spoken.”

A source told RadioTimes.com: “The film does not feature climate change sceptics because there is now mainstream consensus that climate change is real and happening now. This film examines the science of climate change with contributions from some of the world’s leading climate change scientists.”

Who are the scientists in Climate Change: The Facts?

Leading climate change specialists and scientists are set to feature in the film, from former Nasa scientist James Hansen to science historian Naomi Oreskes.

In the UK, director of the Energy and Climate Change Intelligence Unit Richard Black and the Met Office’s Dr Peter Stott contribute, while Sunita Narain, Director General of the Centre for Science and Environment in India, is one of a number of figures offering a global perspective on the issues of climate change.

Alongside climate change experts, schoolgirl activist Greta Thunberg also makes an appearance in the closing moments of the documentary.

The Swedish teenager started a global climate change movement when she launched her ‘School Strikes for Climate’ campaign last year.

“My future and everyone else’s future is at risk and nothing is being done, no one is doing anything, so then I have to do something,” she says in the documentary. “So I sat myself down on the ground outside the Swedish parliament, and I decided that I wasn’t going to go to school.

“The first day I sat all alone. Then the second day people started joining me. I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that this would happen. It happened so fast.”

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Climate Change: the Facts airs at 9pm on Thursday 18th April on BBC1


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