Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Unsustainable world?

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Apr 08, 06:27 PM

TractorIn a short series of reports and debates this week we're look at issues of sustainability and our use of natural resources. On Monday we focus on the controversy surrounding biofuel. Tuesday's programme is devoted to food. How do we feed the world in the future amid rising populations, rising food prices and climate change? We look at the issue of recent food riots in many countries and ask what the solution is to shortages. And we have a report on how much food UK families are guilty of wasting. Finally, on Wednesday, we have a personal film from the CEO of Sainsbury's, Justin King. He'll be discussing the supermarkets' role in sustainability - and why it's not all about plastic bags.

But what are your thoughts about the issues? You can join in the debates below...

Monday, 14 April, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Apr 08, 04:57 PM

Jeremy is presenting tonight's programme, and we'll start the programme with the first in a series of reports this week focusing on the rising price of food across the planet, and the unsustainability of our natural resources.

Rape seedTonight, we look at biofuels. From tomorrow, 2.5% of all the petrol and diesel we buy at the pump must come from biofuels. That's a government target. But even before it's been enforced, the government has signalled that it's cooling on the whole idea of biofuels - amidst concerns that biofuel production is contributing to the rising price of food, and isn't proving all that environmentally friendly. The Chancellor Alistair Darling called for a review of the use of biofuels at the weekend saying, "It would be a profound mistake if we get into a situation where we are growing corn that is essential for feeding people and converting it into fuel." So why is the government insisting on the use of biofuels in petrol?

Also tonight: Gordon Brown insisted today that he is focusing "every effort" on steering the economy away from recession. Meanwhile, the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, has claimed the government's reputation for economic competence is in tatters. Who's right? And what, in policy terms, can the government actually do to prevent a recession? Paul Mason is investigating, and Michael Crick will have the latest on the rumblings from Labour backbenchers about dissatisfaction with the direction of the Brown government.

China in Africa
And we have the first of a series of fascinating films from Tim Whewell in Africa - looking at the ever-growing influence of China on the continent. There are now 700 Chinese firms operating in 49 African countries. And, even though it's still classed as a developing nation, China has sunk more than £12bn into developing Africa's infrastructure since the year 2000. The biggest China-in-Africa deal so far is about to be signed - between China and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If it goes ahead, it will have a huge influence on the Congolese people - even though it's barely known about in the country. Tim has been there to find out how it will work - you can read his article here.

Join Jeremy at 10.30

Prospects: Monday, 14 April, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Apr 08, 11:02 AM

Liz Gibbons is today's programme producer. Here is her early email to the team.

Good morning,

Unsustainable world?

Rape seedIn the first of a series this week on issues surrounding sustainability, we ask if the production of biofuels really is a "crime against humanity" as one UN official has claimed.

What else can we do?
What can the government do in policy terms to illustrate that it can steer the country through an economic crisis?
Is Gordon Brown's authority as PM all but destroyed, as some papers seem to claim?
What's gone wrong with the government's new domestic violence legislation?
Will we get any results from Zimbabwe today?

And we have a fascinating film from Congo - the Chinese are on the verge of signing a multi-million dollar deal with the Congolese government to mine for cobalt - in return the Chinese will build massive amounts of infrastructure - roads, hospitals etc. Will it work? Read Tim Whewell's article here.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites