I'm Anthony Day, and this is an unexpected bonus edition of the Sustainable Futures Report for Thursday 17th August. Last Saturday, I was asked if I would appear on TalkTV to talk about the Greenpeace action when they sat on the roof of the prime minister's country house in North Yorkshire. You can hear what I said, what the other panellist said and what the public said as well.
There’s a transcript on the website. Apologies that it’s not up to the usual standard but I’m afraid it had to be done in a bit of a rush.
The host was Peter Cardwell,
As you’ll hear, one caller said, “Peter, where the hell do you get these people from, - Anthony Day? You don't have to always present the other side. It's so annoying that you frequently invite idiots on.” Peter did reset the balance somewhat. “Well, I want to hear the other side. I want to understand why I disagree with it. I think Anthony Day was talking absolute nonsense. But I want to understand,..”
What do you think? Let me know.
Peter Cardwell (00:00):
Well, thank you so much for your company this morning. We're going to go straight to our top debate, uh, but this is a really interesting one. So I, my jaw dropped, I must say, I think it was Thursday night when, uh, the Guardian had its main story. I look at all the front pages of the papers late at night. You can get them on Twitter, and can we bring up the Guardian Actually from the other day, if you're watching on talk tv, you can see this, the front page of The Guardian, the main story, which was, I think this was yesterday's paper saying that Greenpeace were very annoyed because the, uh, government has decided to stop all their meetings. Now, Greenpeace, clearly a very big important eco organisation, had lots of meetings with the government, had lots of time when they were spending with civil servants and ministers and so on.
And Thérèse Coffey, the environment secretary and the Prime Minister, and his advisor said, well, actually, hold on a second. These are people who have gone to Rishi Sunna's private property, his family home in Yorkshire, where he's an mp. They have, uh, covered it with black sheeting. They've trespassed, and now they're saying, oh, you've canceled our meetings. Now. I think that might be a fairly reasonable thing to do. It's not the first time they've done it. They surrounded David Cameron's Cotswold Cottage in 2014. That was where he was an MP in, um, Whitney to campaign against the support for fracking. They mounted the roof of John Prescott's home, the former Deputy Prime Minister in 2005, and in demonstration against the government's slowness as they sought on climate targets. And, uh, yeah, the stunt at, uh, Sunak’s North Yorkshire Mansion. So, should, uh, Greenpeace be heard by government?
Should their meetings continue with government, or should they be written off as just another protest group? Let let me know what you think. Oh, 3 4 4 4 9 9 1000. Let's get into this. I'm delighted that Anthony Day, who is an environmental consultant and host of the Sustainable Futures Report podcast, is with me, as is Henry Hill, who's deputy editor of Conservative Home Henry's in the studio. Hello to both gents, Anthony, uh, maybe I can talk to you first. Uh, thank you for joining me this Saturday morning. Maybe you can tell me why you think Greenpeace should be able to continue to engage with the government.
Anthony Day (02:08):
Yes, of course. Thank you. Good morning. Uh, let me make it clear, first of all, I'm not a member of Greenpeace. I'm not a member of any political party, but the thing about Greenpeace is, yes, it's got a protest fringe because it wants to keep its issues in the forefront of the public consciousness, but it also has a vast resource of experts, uh, across the, the, the climate field and further, um, and they're in Greenpeace because they are concerned about the situation and they want their voice heard. So by turning its back on Greenpeace, the government is turning its back on a significant resource of expertise about the whole climate and environment issue.
Peter Cardwell (02:48):
What do you think, um, achieved more, Anthony, do you think the Greenpeace actually having meetings with the policy makers within government in the environment department achieved more, or you think the stunt at Rishi Sunak’s house achieved more?
Anthony Day (03:02):
They're two different things. Uh, to, to an extent. I would think that the experts within Greenpeace will, uh, brief civil servants when asked. But there are a lot more issues that Greenpeace wants people to be aware of, and that's why you've got the protest fringe, just because they want to keep things in the forefront of the public consciousness.
Peter Cardwell (03:21):
Okay. Henry Hill, what is your thought on this?
Henry Hill (03:23):
These tactics are very obviously counterproductive. Whenever any of these organisations do it be it Just Stop Oil , be it Greenpeace, it clearly doesn't work. It's not persuading the government. The government hasn't been persuaded to just stop oil by Just Stop Oil. It’s clearly been deeply counterproductive. Quite,
Peter Cardwell (03:37):
Quite the opposite. Stop while they're continuing.
Henry Hill (03:39):
Well, indeed, they just issued a hundred new licences. Yeah. And again, if you looking back, Greenpeace, Greenpeace have all of these resources. They've got all of this access to government in which they can make, you know, informed, sensible lobbying for changes of policy. And then they throw it away with stuff like this, which clearly is deeply is, is not, is going to alienate the government, and rightly so, because we are lucky in this country that, you know, we're not the United States, we're not France. We don't have our leaders swept down the road in vast motorcades. We don't have these rings of steel. Right. The Prime Minister has a private house, which you can apparently get into and climb on the roof, but if you keep doing that, that's going to change. And I think that we do need to draw a line between lobbying someone and even protesting against someone in the public square and violating their private family home where their wife and their children live. So these tactics should be stopped, and Greenpeace wants to get back into talking with the government. They should deal with the
Peter Cardwell (04:27):
Fringe. Anthony, there, there's a point here from Henry, isn't there? Because if you are protesting peacefully, um, there's nothing to suggest that the protest at Rishi Sunak’s house wasn't peaceful, but it is something different to go to someone's private home. Okay? They weren't there, but at the same time, you're invading their space. They're, there's a 10 year old daughter, there's a 12 year old daughter. They're, I, I don't know, I can't speak for them, but I would assume they're not particularly happy with it. They don't feel particularly safe. I mean, these tactics can't be supported, or can they? Anthony, what do you think?
Anthony Day (04:56):
Well, first of all, as you say, they weren't there. I think it's more of an issue for the people responsible for the security of the Prime Minister's property than anything else.
Peter Cardwell (05:03):
Well, come on, the people who, who trespass, they have to take some responsibility for it, don't they?
Anthony Day (05:08):
Well, uh, what do you mean? Yes. I'm sure
Peter Cardwell (05:12):
There's Well, the responsibility for, for breaking
Anthony Day (05:13):
The law. They were, they were. Sorry,
Peter Cardwell (05:15):
But, but you say, you say it's more about the people who were responsible for the security. I think it's more about the people who staged the protest.
Anthony Day (05:20):
Alright. Okay. But, um, Henry Hills just told us that, uh, all this doesn't work, and yet we are talking about it. No, it's not influenced the government, but if you look at the recent polls, a vast majority of the population are concerned that things need to be done. It's the government, which is, um, not prepared to listen. And that's why protest will continue, because, uh, it's the only way that we have beyond the, the democratic route, a general election, 18 months or something. That's the only way we're going to be able to change the government's mind and make them aware that these issues are urgent and something….
Peter Cardwell (05:55):
But, but Anthony, surely, surely Greenpeace was making the government aware that these issues in their view are urgent. They were talking to the government, they were talking to civil servants, and then a different arm of Greenpeace. And I know it's not a hierarchical organisation. People will do what they want to do, but they they've screwed that up, haven't they?
Anthony Day (06:13):
No. Well, I don't think they have screwed. Look, I, I think I blamed the government for screwing it up because there's this expertise which the government, uh, can draw on, and it's just decided to, uh, uh, close its mind. Now,
Peter Cardwell (06:25):
Come on. I mean, closing your eyes,
Anthony Day (06:26):
They're closing their mind. Closing your fingers in your ears and going, la, la la doesn't mean things will go away.
Peter Cardwell (06:30):
Okay? The, the issues may not go away, Anthony, but at the same time, can't you see the government's point here that if you invade someone's private property, if you stage this kind of protest, that it's a perfectly reasonable thing to say, well, sorry, we're not going to talk to you anymore.
Anthony Day (06:44):
I don't accept that. It's, it's, it's unreasonable. And unless we continue or they continue with this sort of event to keep things, as I say, in the forefront of the public conscious, things will not be done. And things are so urgent at the moment. I mean, we can see things going wrong with the climate. You've seen the news from Hawaii. You've seen the news from Greece. You may have forgotten the news from Pakistan, but the whole world is, is, uh, suffering from the climate crisis. And the government doesn't seem to want to know. It just seems to want to drill for more oil, which will be burnt to produce more. CO2.
Peter Cardwell (07:18):
Henry Hill (07:19):
I mean, it's just ridiculous that the way that the, the, the nation is concerned about climate change. There are lots of climate change organisations, lots of politicians are invested in climate change. If you talk to, if you actually talk to a na
Peter Cardwell (07:30):
Henry Hill (07:30):
Rather, the policy
Peter Cardwell (07:31):
Henry Hill (07:31):
This government rather than the caricature of mp. So the idea that the only reason that the green agenda is on the thing at all is because some people broke into some houses is just, it's, it's the most sort of self-indulgent and narcissism on the part of the people who just want to do this kind of stunt, regardless of how much it sets the cause back. It's also not the case that Greenpeace is the only environmental organisation, right? There is a difference between shutting out Greenpeace because Greenpeace has engaged in unacceptable tactics and closing your eyes to the green message, right? There's lots of other organisations and expertise the government can draw on. The Prime Minister has only recently resisted pressure to push back the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. The, it's quite clear that the government, you know, it's certainly not perfect from a, a green point of view, but the government is not closing its eyes to the problem. But you do need to draw a line because if you blame as the other guest did, the security, if you say it's the security's fault that this thing happened - Fine - the message of that is, okay, we need to ring the prime Minister's house with steel, right? They need a permanent, permanent guard's permanent gates. And that's just another barrier up between our politicians and the public. And we've had this happen over a decade. You used to be able to walk through Downing Street. Now there's gates and men with guns and every little,
Peter Cardwell (08:35):
But it was partially due the, the Yeah. The IRA having a mortar attack. No, I it's not, it's not about peaceful proof.
Henry Hill (08:40):
No, no, I'm, no, I'm just saying that I'm, I wasn't sorry, I wasn't blaming that on Greenpeace. I'm just saying, I'm just saying that over the past few decades, and now your parliament is ringed with steel again, that was about terrorism. But all of this stuff just adds a little bit of distance between politicians and the public. And we don't want that to happen. I want the prime Minister to have an private home in this country, but that does mean engaging responsibly with the right to protest, doing it where it's appropriate, but not breaking into something where somebody's wife and children live, where they're now going to feel insecure. That's too far. And this is a perfectly reasonable response from the government.
Peter Cardwell (09:10):
We've got, um, some reaction already from our viewers and listeners, Leslie says, hi, Greenpeace not having meetings with the government? I think they should be having conversations in the dock in front of a judge. Max says the government are absolutely correct to kick the stunt fanatics in Greenpeace into touch the opportunist control freaks who think it's okay to commit crimes. Um, Anthony, what do you make of what Henry and our texts have said?
Anthony Day (09:41):
Well, the fact that all the suggestion that that Greenpeace activists should appear in the dock, they're ready to do that. So are the Just Stop Oil people because they are so passionately committed to getting this issue fully on the agenda? Yes, there are lots of other, um, green organisations. Yes, the government is working on parts of it, but it's also working totally against it by, uh, licensing all these new, uh, oil and gas fields.
Peter Cardwell (10:05):
Well Just Stop Oil have Anthony, uh, you know, you're saying they're effective in their protests and you're saying they're very, they're all definitely very dedicated. There's no doubt about that. But actually the government is not listening to them because probably, at least in part anyway, because of what they're doing, because of the vandalism that they go up to, because of the law breaking. They do. And actually, what I would argue is someone who used to work in government, that having a reasonable conversation in those kind of meetings that Greenpeace was having and saying, this is, this is what we want you to do, is actually a much more effective way of influencing government by having a conversation rather than shouting at it and vandalising their buildings. Like Just Stop Oil do, for example.
Anthony Day (10:43):
Yes. But they do that because, uh, they're not being heard and things are not being, ….
Peter Cardwell (10:48):
But they were being heard. They were, I mean, the Green Lobby was being listened to, Greenpeace was having meetings and because of the stunts, they're now not being heard. So their own their own worst enemy, or they're not Anthony.
Anthony Day (10:58):
But if the government is saying, right, we accept what you're saying, uh, but because of the way that you promote what you're saying, we're not going to do anything about it. I think that's reckless and and irresponsible.
Peter Cardwell (11:07):
Henry, you're chomping at the bit <laugh>.
Henry Hill (11:08):
Well, it's also the case that, you know, there's, there's diff, there's variations in the green movement and Just Stop Oil’s demands are absurd when you say they're not being heard, their demand for absolutely no oil and gas license is one. There's going to be a transition. We're not ready to do a straight flip to tomorrow. Two, if we're going to be burning oil and gas, which we will be for some decades, yet, it might as well be British oil and gas. Third, even after we've transitioned to green energy, we're still going to need oil for plastics, which civilisation is going to need forever. So Just Stop Oil . It's a very catchy slogan. It's an absolutely demented policy. And I think it's important to distinguish between a government that is engaging reasonably with the grid, the reasonable elements of the green movement to make a transition towards a, a clean, clean energy and a green economy. And these people who have an absurd demand, which they back up with these self-indulgent tactics, which they know will never be met, and that just gives them an excuse to keep pulling these stunts.
Peter Cardwell (11:54):
These tactics are too far. Are they not Anthony?
Anthony Day (11:58):
No, I don't think they are too far. And I don't think
Peter Cardwell (12:00):
It's just, just, just to be clear, Anthony, sorry. You think it's okay to vandalise government buildings? And do you think it's okay to trespass on someone's property in a home where their children live? Okay, they weren't there. But what's going to be going through those children's minds about people coming to invade their home? I mean, why is that okay?
Anthony Day (12:18):
Because the greater issue is so great. The greater issue is that if climate change or as climate change gets worse, it's going to affect every single one of us. It's going to affect every single one of us as, uh, agriculture fails. I mean, we haven't seen the effects of this summer's extremes, but the signs are that crops in the UK are going to be down because of the climate change induced bad weather. And of course, across Europe, where
Peter Cardwell (12:45):
You've had to, it's been a really mild summer. What, what's the climate change induced bad weather? It's been a really mild summer.
Anthony Day (12:51):
Uh, it, uh, well, we had, um, drought in June and we had floods in, in in July. Um, we did not have our ideal growing conditions. And of course, in the, in the south of, uh, the Mediterranean, um, crops there have been affected by the extreme temperatures.
Peter Cardwell (13:08):
Tanya says, hi Peter. You should,
Anthony Day (13:09):
I mean, these are the sorts of things going to affect us all.
Peter Cardwell (13:12):
Tanya says, uh, hi Peter. You should have pulled your up on your guests. The fires in Greece were arson. The fires in Pakistan always happen. Fires in Hawaii were exacerbated by the woeful fire service. And an alarm that didn't go off the world is not burning. He should stop the catastrophising says, Tanya, what do you make of that, Anthony?
Anthony Day (13:28):
Well, yes, arson can start a fire, but if, um, drought has made everything incredibly dry, then the fire is going to get much worse. If you have unseasonable hurricane winds as you do in Hawaii, whether the fire is started by arson or by lightning strikes, then the climate conditions make it that much worse.
Peter Cardwell (13:52):
Henry, final word from you.
Henry Hill (13:53):
I think the frustrating thing for me is, as someone who actually really excited about moving over to clean energy and supports, not the way we're doing net zero, but supports the ambitions of net zero, this sort of conduct makes the green movement look like cranks, and it actually just empowers skeptics inside the conservative party. It's entirely counterproductive. And if Greenpeace wants to get back around the table, they should disown these people.
Peter Cardwell (14:12):
They should disown these people. Anthony,
Anthony Day (14:14):
Well, I'm delighted that you've dis uh, agreed to talk on on your show about this because it's so important. Um, we need every bit of publicity we get about these existential problems, which are just around the corner.
Peter Cardwell (14:27):
An existential problem just around the corner is that not just, uh, raising this to, to a real crisis level. That just isn't the truth, Anthony.
Anthony Day (14:35):
Well, whether it's the truth is a matter of opinion. If you ask the Secretary General of the United Nations, if you ask the chair of the International Energy Association, they are saying those sorts of things and they're saying that about everybody in the world. And that's you and me as well as all the other countries which have suffered with their wildfires and their floods this year.
Peter Cardwell (14:54):
Anthony, thank you very much indeed. That's Anthony Day there, who's the environmental consultant and host of the Sustainable Futures Report podcast. You can go and listen to that if you really want to. Henry Hill, uh, was the deputy editor of Conservative Home. Thanks for coming in to the studio. What do you make of this? Oh 3 4 4 4 9 9 1000 is the number to call. Dan says, actually, Anthony, most people understand that the climate is getting warmer because it's been changing for millions of years. Impoverished targets are unsustainable for a balanced life. Uh, Diane in Northern Ireland says, hi, Peter Greenpeace should still be listened to. They do good work. The Prime Minister is lucky. It was only black sheets used. It could have been oil or paint used. The sheets can be removed, no damage was done, and the protest attracts attention. Job done. It is a vitally important topic that cannot be ignored, says Diane, Mark and Beckel says, people like Anthony Day need to understand that the vast majority of people living outside the M 25 are more worried about putting food on the table and heating their homes this winter, rather than the climate debate.
Most families can't afford net zero. I want to make sure that I get your voice heard on this. We'll take a call on this after the break because there's lots to talk about
Well, thank you so much for your company. Loads of calls, texts and tweets coming into the building. We're going to talk to Margaret and Bedford in a second who I think used to work at Greenpeace. First of all, uh, Stu Vern texted me to say, your guest’s position that the Prime Minister security team is responsible for Greenpeace deciding to engage in trespass, is a perfect illustration of a man determined to change the facts to suit his favourite narrative. I'm sure Anthony Day would say he doesn't do that, but Stu says, it does make me wonder if the environmental narrative is simply similarly based on bending the truth. Neil in Hornsey says, Peter, why the hell do you ha get these people from, Anthony Day? You don't have to always present the other side. It's so annoying that you frequently invite idiots on. Uh, it says, Neil in Hornsey.
Well, I want to hear the other side. I want to understand why I disagree with it. I think Anthony Day was talking absolute nonsense. But I want to understand, I want to think about it. I want to challenge you. I want you to think about it and not just hear things that you agree with all the time, Neil and I probably agree with you on this, Neil, I certainly agree with Henry Hill in terms of everything you said, but I want to make sure that we understand where other people are coming from, even if they're talking nonsense, so we can disagree with them and know why we disagree with them. Robert Taylor in Nottingham says what Greenpeace did at the Prime Minister's house amounts to an act of terrorism, and the, uh, perpetrator should have been treated accordingly, says Robert Taylor. Well, we actually haven't heard so far whether there'll be any charges. I don't think terrorism is going to be one of the charges because it wasn't, uh, violent in any way.
Uh, we'll see what happens there. Uh, Judy says, Peter, no one is asking the people who pay for net zero, and if they believe they have the support of the people, then they should not prevent a referendum on this issue next year. I don't think there's going to be a referendum on net zero. It is the policy of all three main parties. Remember, the conservatives introduced it under Theresa May and Labour and the Lib Dems also believe that net zero should be the policy of this country. But on Greenpeace specifically, want to talk to Margaret in Bedford who's given me a call on oh three four four four nine nine 1000. Margaret, is it right that you used to work at Greenpeace?
Speaker 4 (18:08):
No, no, that's not me. I I don't know where they, oh,
Peter Cardwell (18:11):
Apologies. Okay. I must have called the wrong one. No, no worries. Someone must have made the wrong, the wrong note there about not to worry about that. What is your view on this, Margaret?
Speaker 4 (18:17):
Yeah, you know, I, Greenpeace has been around since I was a teenager. We always thought that they were the, the, the quote, good guys. They went out and they saved the whales and they, they put their lives on the line.
Peter Cardwell (18:28):
Well, they were quite reasonable for some years. They did, they did protest, but they seemed to be quite a, you know, I, I wouldn't necessarily be a Greenpeace supporter, but they're people who seem to be quite reasonable for some time in their views
Speaker 4 (18:39):
And they're very active in that. But to me now, now I wake up today and say, no, they've, they've gone over the line. They're getting very close of, uh, going to the Prime Minister's residence of ticking over into domestic terrorism. I already think Just Stop Oil is domestic terrorism. I don't think they're protestors and that, but, uh, yeah, he's delusional when he thinks that they are, um, getting people on their side because like I said, for decades I thought they were the good guys today. I don't think that, no, I don't.
Peter Cardwell (19:07):
Um, Margaret, thank you for your point. Really appreciate it. Tony is in Norfolk. Uh, let's get his views on this. Tony, what do you think of, uh, Greenpeace saying, oh no, isn't it terrible that government are cancelLed our meetings and aren't talking to us? What do you think?
Speaker 5 (19:18):
Well, Peter, I think what's happening there is, uh, there's a group taking over this and, um, they're dictating to what the rest of the, the country and the world are thinking. Now, it to me, why aren't they gone to China and demonstrated there or, or gone to India?
Peter Cardwell (19:34):
Well, we, we know what would happen in China if they did, if they went up to, to the president of China's house and started, uh, trespassing on his land, or indeed in America at Joe Biden's house, we know what would've happened and it wouldn't have been, excuse me. Yeah, could you please come down the ladder?
Speaker 5 (19:47):
Yeah, you're right. You're right there. But another, another issue I'd like to bring up on that is, surely they should be worrying about the rainforest because it's, it's declined. I I, I, I haven't got a true figure, but I would imagine there's 20% of it gone. And surely that's got a big effect because of older carbon release.
Peter Cardwell (20:05):
They're certainly talking about that as well. But do, do you have some sympathy with, with what Greenpeace is saying, even if not their, their methods? To me, no.
Speaker 5 (20:11):
I've got no sympathy for them. 'cause they're doing it the wrong way. You don't go to people's houses, whether it's the Prime Minister or Jack the Plumber up the road. You don't go around people's houses and doing things like that. I, that's defeating the object, isn't it?
Peter Cardwell (20:23):
Totally agree with you, Tony. I just think it's totally unfair, especially in those little girls as well.
Speaker 5 (20:27):
Yeah, you're right. Bring it. That's another thing I can't get around. Well, people want to bring children into it. Well, they,
Peter Cardwell (20:33):
They, they live in the house as well. And look, they might not have been there at the time, but at the same time, Tony, they would've, you know, they, they'll be thinking about it. It'll be something that we'll worry about. Um, and I just think it, I just think it's totally unfair. Tony, thanks for your call. Really appreciate it. We'll take more calls on this. Oh 3 4 4 4 9 9 1000 is the number to call on this or indeed any other issue, uh, that you want to talk about. Robin’s being in touch. He says, hi Peter. I was a member of Greenpeace in the 1990s and just like Captain Paul Watson, a founder member of Greenpeace, I was disillusioned right from the start. I found 'em to be a load of anoraks who wasted £1.3 million invading an oil rig. They cared very little about animals. And the wheel protest was a stunt. Says that texter. Uh, well, there's lots to talk about, not just in terms of Greenpeace, but also, uh, in terms of what's in the papers. Vincent Moss is a political commentator and former political editor of the Sunday ADEs. How have you with us again, Vincent? How you doing? Very
Speaker 6 (21:23):
Well, thanks Mon. Peter,
Peter Cardwell (21:23):
Just before we go on, I mean, you, I'm sure you have views on this as well in terms of the <inaudible> and Greenpeace saying, oh, isn't it terrible that they're not, the government's not talking to us anymore. I mean, my view may not be your view, but my view is you reap what you sow - get on with it. Stop whinging.
Speaker 6 (21:36):
Absolutely. And I think what Greenpeace did was terrible really, because they not, they may have had no violent intent, but they've identified the house to many people who might have violent intents, put the family at potentially huge risk. Uh, and it's a very dangerous thing to do. I think one of the problems that Greenpeace have faced is a lot of people competing for space and time and headlines. And they've probably come up with a stunt that sounded pretty good when they talked about it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's really backfired them and really got the public, um, very much against them. So it's not worked out well for them at all. Or for the police, by the way, who have lots of questions to answer. Lots of questions about how it, how it got to the point It did.
Peter Cardwell (22:07):
Well, it wouldn't have, as we were saying earlier in China or America that had been gunned down......
I’ll leave any further comments to you, dear listener.
I’m Anthony Day.
The Sustainable Futures Report will be back in September.