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Channel 4 announces Climate Emergency Season


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Channel 4 today unveils a slate of programmes dedicated to exploring solutions to the climate crisis as part of the public service broadcaster’s on-going commitment to inform the public about this urgent global issue.

Following a call out in 2022, the independent production sector responded to Channel 4’s Climate Emergency brief. The resulting programming is focused on exploring solutions to climate change: what do experts and environmentalists think governments must do to stop it? And how might big business and viewers at home play their part?  

Channel 4’s Head of Factual Entertainment, Alf Lawrie said: “This season is about hope, not despair, because the world has the tools to solve climate change. Together, these films explore how climate change could actually be solved - and follow presenters as they fight in different ways for meaningful real-world change.” 

THE BIG CLIMATE FIGHT [w/t]

Get ready to join forces with three Channel 4 faces, as they take on the most pressing issue of our time: how to stop climate change.

With their combined, deep expertise, Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and Mary Portas will front a powerful three-part series aiming to kickstart real change, by identifying the practical steps that governments and big business can take to eliminate our carbon emissions.

The series will explore how Britain can truly move to a carbon-free way of life, and set out a vision of a future UK that is greener, happier and healthier – powered by abundant, cheaper sustainable energy.

Guided by some of the most respected climate experts in the world, they will highlight the areas where they think the government needs to do more, campaigning for tangible improvements in key areas like energy and housing. They will put pressure on those in power, and join forces with other celebrities to create eye-catching stunts to draw attention to their cause.  

Kevin McCloud said: “I am armoured and ready for The Big Climate Fight and excited to be part of it. Time is running out to halt climate change and rethinking the way our homes are built, heated and refurbished in this country is a win-win: good for the planet, and good for the people who live in them and have to pay the bills.”

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “It’s increasingly obvious that we need to make our world a better, cleaner place in which to live, and our changing climate is at the heart of that challenge. So I am excited to team up with Kevin and Mary to explore how to tackle climate break down. It’s clear the world already has many of the solutions – but we need our politicians to show the leadership and courage to implement them. So the three of us will be calling on the UK government to take the decisive actions that will put us on the right road to a stable climate and a better future.“

Mary Portas said: ”For me, The Big Climate Fight is about hope. It’s about acknowledging the challenges we face and coming together, businesses included, to find solutions. I am excited to be part of a series that has the potential to spark a movement for change, and I am confident that together, we can build a brighter, more sustainable future.“

Alf Lawrie, Head of Factual Entertainment at Channel 4, said: “Viewers know climate change is happening, and they are scared about it. What they don’t know, is how to stop it. This series – and our upcoming season of films - is designed to start plugging that knowledge gap.” 

Will Anderson, Executive Producer for Keo Films said: “We are proud to have Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and Mary Portas on board as our expert presenters. Their combined knowledge and expertise make the complex issue of climate change accessible and understandable for all viewers. We hope this series tackles the urgent issue of climate change in a positive and inspiring way.”

The Big Climate Fight is a 3 x 60 series and will be produced by KEO Films, executive produced by Will Anderson, Creative Director and series produced by Martha Delap. The series was commissioned for Channel 4 by Alf Lawrie, Head of Factual Entertainment, and Tim Hancock, Factual Entertainment Commissioner.

 

CHRIS PACKHAM: IS IT TIME TO BREAK THE LAW? [w/t]

At 62, Chris Packham has spent his lifetime committed to cherishing and celebrating the natural world, but climate change now threatens the very thing he loves the most. With the cost of the climate crisis threatening our world Chris Packham looks at what he, and the rest of us can do to save it.  

The spectre of climate change has been known about for decades, and both scientists and activists have been urging the world to tackle it during all that time. Promises have been made and broken and experts are now suggesting this lack of action means we are “sleepwalking into oblivion”. Every year, carbon emissions continue to rise and environmentalists are taking more extreme measures to get through to those in charge.

All his life, Chris has been committed to the idea that we must protest peacefully, and within the law. Chris is so concerned at the missed targets and lack of action he has begun to question if peaceful protest is pointless. Facing the stark fact that decades of peaceful protesting has not managed to drive real and systemic change toward halting climate change, Chris is now asking himself and viewers the shocking question, does extreme need require extreme measures? Would more disruptive protest methods finally force governments into action? Is now the time to break the law?

The history of successful protest movements in the past has often included law-breaking. The Suffragettes damaged property, and chained themselves to railings and Gandhi was repeatedly imprisoned for defying British laws. Some climate change activists now believe the situation is so dire that it is time for the climate movement to follow their example.

Meeting activists and environmentalists, as well as politicians and police, Chris will explore this most timely of debates. As protestors continue to break the law, and be imprisoned for it, and as changes to British law make it harder to protest, Chris will consider their impact on the climate movement – and question whether more people should be joining them for the sake of the planet.  

This intensely personal film follows Chris as he grapples with deeply ethical questions: Is the threat of climate change so serious, that law-breaking in the name of stopping it can ever be ethically justified? And where do the responsibilities lie, in trying to halt continued carbon emissions?

Chris Packham said: ”Scientists, activists and naturalists like myself have been delving deep into the pressing issues surrounding the climate crisis for decades, shedding light on the disheartening reality that governments continue to fall short on their environmental promises. Peaceful protest has been a cornerstone of activism, but as the urgency grows, we must question whether it is enough. What will compel decision-makers to listen and take decisive action? The time for complacency has long passed, and it is up to us to drive a tornado of change that cannot be ignored. Our planet’s survival depends on it"

David Dehaney said: “Proper Content are thrilled to be following Chris as he grapples with this vital question of how far individuals could, or should, go to stand up for the planet. This journey of standing up to injustice while forging a positive blueprint for change is one that we often feature in our programmes but never before has it felt so urgent, or universally resonant.”

Alf Lawrie said: “Through this deeply personal, bold, and timely film we hope to recognise the powerlessness many feel in how to stop climate change. Together with other films in this season we hope to explore what we, as citizens, can do to play our part in driving real and positive change.”

 

BEEF VS CHICKEN: THE BIG SWITCH (W/T)

Channel 4 has commissioned ZANDLAND to make a surprising and disruptive documentary about the impact of diet on climate change, hosted by presenter and journalist Ade Adepitan.

We’ve all heard that going vegan is the best thing for the planet. Less familiar is the message that, actually, by eating chicken instead of beef, you could still be massively reducing your impact on the climate. But that is now the argument that some experts are making.

The climate cost of beef is the highest of any food stuff – and in the UK it’s around five times as much as chicken.

Ade looks at the science and meets those campaigning to “make beef the new smoking”, arguing it should be taken off the menu in government institutions, company canteens, restaurants and homes, as well as farmers and other specialists in the red meat and dairy industry, who contend that beef can be enjoyed sustainably.

While plant-based consumption is seen as the gold standard for the climate, Ade explores whether shifting from beef to chicken is a comparatively small change that would still make a huge impact towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions. He investigates just how easy a switch it could be for consumers, governments and institutions to make.

Ade Adepitan comments: “I’m passionate about climate change and about all of us being properly informed so we can make responsible and impactful decisions which will benefit all of us and our planet.  In this documentary we’ll be looking at the actual data and asking some really challenging questions about whether beef should now be off limits”

ZANDLAND Executive Producers Ben Zand and Josh Reynolds add: “We don’t think there’s anyone better to take on such a radical and impactful campaign than Ade. Asking a nation to give up one of its most beloved foods won’t be easy, but the data of its impact on the environment is eye-opening. At ZANDLAND we try to push the boundaries of journalism and entertainment, and this show is an exciting opportunity to make a real difference.”

The film has been commissioned by Tim Hancock, Commissioning Editor for Factual Entertainment, Jonah Weston, Commissioning Editor for Specialist Factual, and Alf Lawrie, Head of Factual Entertainment.

Channel 4 commissioners Tim Hancock and Jonah Weston comment: “There’s nothing more British than roast beef, but Ade’s investigation has the potential to uncover evidence that changes the nation’s opinion towards our most beloved meat. His findings could have a real impact on Britain’s difficult but essential path towards net zero.”

The film will air during a season of Channel 4 programmes dedicated to exploring solutions to the climate crisis as part of the public service broadcaster’s ongoing commitment to inform the public about this urgent global issue.

 


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