The Great Climate Fight review – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall goes ‘not strictly legal’
Kevin McCloud suggests that solving the climate crisis is possible. This idea may seem far-fetched, especially coming from someone known for stylish scarves and a passion for homes made from shipping containers. However, Mary Portas, who has gone from being a retail expert to a government advisor in just three TV series, agrees with McCloud. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a well-liked and posh TV chef, also chimes in, assuring us that we have the necessary tools to address the crisis. Despite reaching a point of desperation in the face of the climate emergency, I am inclined to believe them. The real question is whether our government will heed their words.
No, that is not possible. Even if famous individuals like Chris Evans, Jon Snow, and Denise van Outen were involved, it is unlikely that Rishi Sunak would be able to provide a response. It may be worth attempting regardless.
Welcome to The Great Climate Fight, a two-part series that may remind you of other popular shows like The Great British Bake Off and The Great Pottery Throw Down. However, this show is not about Mary Portas taking down Jeremy Hunt or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cooking for the Climate Change Committee. In fact, it’s quite different. Despite this, it’s impressive how our country can produce entertainment even in dire situations. Perhaps in the future, when we are facing severe climate change consequences and a familiar politician is promising to achieve net zero emissions, we’ll be watching a show called The Great British Endgame. Picture a far-right politician trying to redeem themselves in a jungle in New South Wales…wait a minute…
The Great Climate Fight is significantly more morally upright than one may assume based on its title. It is also filled with much more frustration and outrage. At one point, Portas exclaims, “They are manipulating and deceiving us completely.” She also calls out the government for their dishonesty. In another instance, the host of Grand Designs wears a hidden microphone to attend a housing Annual General Meeting. In his typical polite manner, McCloud questions the chairman of Persimmon Homes about their involvement in government decision-making. It’s worth noting that 80% of political contributions from the housing industry go to the Conservative party.
Meanwhile, Portas conceals the sixth carbon budget – a beautifully crafted document created by the CCC outlining the UK’s realistic path to achieving net zero by 2050 – inside a falsified proof of a Jilly Cooper novel, and sends it to Sunak. Fearnley-Whittingstall wakes up at 2am to illegally post flyers in Grant Shapps’ constituency. Despite receiving a positive response from Zac Goldsmith, it ultimately has no significant impact. The unfortunate reality is that none of these actions make a difference.
However, each determined presenter continues to fight their own battle. McCloud expresses frustration over the poor insulation in European homes and speaks with builders who are constructing more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective homes. He also praises the use of heat pumps and visits a town in Sweden that is on track to achieve net zero energy consumption in six years. Fearnley-Whittingstall advocates for an end to the English government’s ban on onshore wind energy, which was introduced by the Conservatives eight years ago. Cameron, who has recently returned to politics, is featured in a particularly disheartening segment of the documentary. In 2014, he declared that the public was tired of seeing so many wind farms being built, completely disregarding the global need for renewable energy. As a result, while France and Germany installed 1,000 wind turbines last year, England only installed two. (Fortunately, the restrictions were lifted in September after the series was filmed.)
The Great Climate Fight contains alarming statistics and visual representations. A climate attorney reveals that Shell, a multinational company, did not pay any taxes in the UK in 2020, making it the only country where they operate to do so. Portas takes it upon herself to search for Hunt and demand that he stops providing billions of dollars to oil and gas corporations. However, she is unable to locate him. Frustrated, she exclaims, “It’s absurd, like trying to find Where’s Waldo!” Undeterred, she goes to the Treasury with a megaphone, whether it is to find the perfect dress or the chancellor’s conscience. Kudos to her.
In an unexpected twist, Channel 4 has become the leading voice for climate awareness in our country, similar to the CCC of television networks. In a documentary released in September, Chris Packham’s struggle with whether to break the law resulted in a poignant and moving film. Now, McCloud, Portas, and Fearnley-Whittingstall have taken on what they deem as “the most crucial campaign of our lifetime.”
It is a fact that individuals have limited abilities; it is necessary for governments and large corporations to take action in order to protect the planet. Despite this, there is no instance where a minister meets with them. However, we appreciate the efforts of this dedicated team from Channel 4.