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Chris Packham warns wildlife shows ‘fail’ to inspire action on climate change

Chris Packham delivered the Bafta Television Lecture (Bafta/PA)
Chris Packham delivered the Bafta Television Lecture (Bafta/PA)

Wildlife programmes have “failed wholeheartedly” to spark action on climate change and environmental conservation, Chris Packham has claimed.

The environmental activist, 58, said during a Bafta Television Lecture that film-makers have made parts of the world look like “absolute utopia”.

He said while viewers have fallen in “love” with the natural world, he has not seen this converted into making a “real difference” to the environment.

Packham, speaking at London’s Barbican Centre on Tuesday, cited WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 which indicated wildlife populations decreased 60% globally between 1970 and 2014.

Wearing a shirt bearing the slogan “Rebel for life”, he asked: “What have we been doing about it; we that make environmental and natural history TV programmes?

“For most of the last 30 years, we’ve been making bits of the world look like paradise, absolute utopia.

“We go to places, there are never any people there, everything is functional, everything is beautiful.

“We’ve excited people, we’ve fascinated people, we’ve shown them things that they could never, ever have dreamt of, and they have fallen in love with that environment and through awe and wonder and affinity.

“But has their love actually transferred into making a real difference? Well no, of course it hasn’t – I’ve just told you we’ve lost between 40-50% of wildlife across the world.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Chris Packham during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration (Victoria Jones/PA)

“Our method, like many methods of environmental care and conservation, has failed wholeheartedly.”

Packham, whose Horizon documentary 7.7 Billion People And Counting aired on BBC Two on Tuesday night, called on the television industry to make its environmental productions carbon neutral within three years.

He also challenged his audience to root out fake news in environmental journalism.

He said: “What about the quality of environmental journalism? Well we’ve just had an election and I was pretty dismayed by the quality of the journalism.

“Channel 4 News are definitely flying the flag as a brilliant daily bulletin, Newsnight excellent, the Today programme fantastic.

“But for a lot of the time, we were giving a platform to uncontested lies.”

Packham’s previous TV credits include The Really Wild Show, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch.

Previous speakers to deliver the television lecture include Jane Featherstone, Armando Iannucci, Sir Lenny Henry and Stephen Fry.

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