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Lockdown lessons for climate change and the carbon neutral Cumbrian coal mine

Marnie asks environmentalist George Monbiot if there are lessons for dealing with climate breakdown that we can learn from the lockdown. And the proposed carbon neutral coal mine.

While the world is dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, those who are concerned about the environment are saying that an arguably bigger crisis is being side-lined. Climate change, or climate breakdown, is still happening. Just like the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be the poorest people in the poorest countries that pay the highest price for the breakdown in our climate. But can we learn something from the current lockdown that can be applied to climate change? Can it provide the impetus for us to do things differently. Writer and environmentalist George Monbiot thinks so. He recently wrote that coronavirus is ‘a wake-up call for a complacent civilisation’, and he discusses with Marnie Chesterton whether there is some hope that can be taken from the current crisis.

Last year, it was announced that a new coal mine in Cumbria was given backing in parliament. The Woodhouse colliery would be Britain’s first new deep coal mine in 30 years, bringing much needed jobs to the community. The colliery, along the coast from Whitehaven, is planned to be producing coking coal for the steel industry. Cumbria County Council claimed the mine, which aims to process 2.5m tonnes of coking coal a year, would be carbon neutral, as locally produced coal, negates the need to ship it in from as far afield as the US, Canada, Russia and Colombia. It’s perhaps unsurprising that climate campaigners think this is a huge step back and that the mine is unnecessary and incompatible with UK climate ambitions and that it will hold back the development of low-carbon steelmaking. BBC Inside Science sent reporter Geoff Marsh to explore the story that highlights the difficulties of balancing carbon costs and accounting, with employment and self-sufficiency.

Presenter - Marnie Chesterton
Producer - Fiona Roberts

Available now

28 minutes


  • Thu 16 Apr 2020 16:00
  • Thu 16 Apr 2020 21:00