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Sir David Attenborough: We first polluted planet so let’s lead clean-up

‘Great change’: Sir David told MPs we need to alter our diets and lifestyles to tackle climate change PICTURE: EPA

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH has blamed Britain for the world’s climate crisis and demanded urgent action to protect the planet for future generations.

The TV naturalist urged MPs to do more for the environment or risk great ‘social unrest’. And he said the UK had a duty to do more than most because the coal-fuelled Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries had begun the severe damage done by air pollution.

Sir David, appearing before a committee of MPs at Westminster, warned necessary measures would cost money and we would need to change our diets and pay more for air travel.

But there are ‘huge opportunities’ to profit and benefit from new innovations, he told Parliament’s business, energy and industrial strategy committee as part of its inquiry into clean growth and international climate change targets.

The 93-year-old broadcaster said: ‘Who started the problem? This country — it was the Industrial Revolution that started here. The Industrial Revolution was based on burning coal. If we’re now taking a lead in solving the problem, that’s only right and responsible.’

He said industry should be encouraged to invest in new technologies for generating, storing and transporting energy, such as batteries.

Questioned on whether calls for Britain to be carbon neutral by 2025 were realistic, he said: ‘You can’t be radical enough in dealing with issues at the moment. The problems of the next 20 to 30 years are going to cause great social unrest and cause great changes in what we eat and how we live.’

The Blue Planet presenter warned if climate change continues ‘large parts of Africa are going to be even less inhabitable’ and said polluting the planet could become as morally abhorrent as slavery.

But he said young people’s awareness of the problem was ‘a great hope to me’.

His appearance came as a committee on climate change report today accuses the government of a ‘ramshackle’ approach to ensuring the country can cope with global warming. Chairman Lord Deben said: ‘The whole thing is run by the government like a Dad’s Army.’