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Can we be green without losing our freedoms? 14 Jan 2009

Gripping panel debate about the most serious issue facing the world today: can we tackle climate change without dictatorship?

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Earthrise, seen from the moon (detail) (picture: NASA)

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Shedding energy-efficient light on the climate change debate

In this unmissable talk, five experts debate how we can best tackle the biggest single issue facing us all – climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

Clearly we need change. But how do we persuade politicians to make the changes necessary, and the public not to vote out anyone who threatens their short-haul holiday flights or who tells them which lightbulb to use?

The panel was chaired by climate change broadcaster Dr Gabrielle Walker and included Simon Retallack of the Institute for Public Policy Research; Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth; Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London; and David North, 'green guru' of Tesco.

Their contributions were authoritative, intriguing, and often worrying. The panel agreed that while fundamental human freedoms are sacrosanct, lifestyle choices are something different, and are not.

In fact, climate change is a huge threat to the most basic human freedom: the right to life. Which means changes of lifestyle choice for everyone: less meat, no leaving on standby, fewer flights, more loft insulation...

And all were agreed on the scale and urgency of the problem – but all believed that workarounds can be found.

Listen to the full debate to find out why it doesn't matter from a greenhouse gas point of view whether you buy milk from next door or the other end of Britain; how Tesco halved plastic-bag use at a stroke; how we could halve our emissions without changing lifestyles; and how to persuade politicians to make it happen.

A fascinating talk for anyone intending to be alive in the future.

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