David Attenborough brands Boris Johnson ‘shameful’ for skipping climate change TV debate

‘I don’t know what else he had to do, but it would have to be very, very important to dodge this one’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 29 November 2019 18:52 GMT
Channel 4 News unveils ice sculptures in place of absent Conservative and Brexit parties ahead of Climate Change debate

Sir David Attenborough has strongly criticised Boris Johnson for avoiding the TV election debate on climate change, branding the stance “shameful”.

The legendary environmentalist said: “I don’t know what else he had to do, but it would have to be very, very important to dodge this one.”

The criticism comes after Downing Street went to war with Channel 4 over its placing of an ice sculpture in the prime minister’s spot during the broadcast on Thursday evening.

Earlier, Mr Johnson suggested he was too busy to debate the climate emergency, telling a radio interviewer: “I’ve done plenty of debates – I can’t do absolutely everything.”

But when it was pointed out on Channel 4 that the prime minister did not take part, Sir David replied: “I know. And I think that is shameful.”

In the interview, Sir David warned that the climate crisis would lead to “civil unrest on a great scale and mass migration on a great scale”.

“I think we will go on finding enough food, though it may not be precisely the choice that we will take freely. But I think that’s what I fear, anyway,” he said.

It was put to him that an 11-year-old had asked, ”Is it anyway too late to reverse climate change?”

Sir David replied: “It’s too late to reverse it. Not only in my lifetime, but in the next lifetime.

“I don’t think you can reverse it. I think the best we can hope is that we will slow it down and slow it down considerably. If we can do that.”

He turned his fire on all political leaders, saying: “It’s very difficult to detect real action in politicians anyway.”

The Tories made a complaint to the watchdog Ofcom about Channel 4 after the debate – and “sources” issued dark threats about reviewing the broadcaster’s licence if the party wins the general election on 12 December.

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