tv Unspun World with John Simpson BBC News June 18, 2022 2:30pm-3:01pm BST
don't take that weather front line, though, too much as gospel for where we'll see the rain, because some showers will break out ahead of it. we are looking, basically, at some wet weather across parts of the midlands, east anglia and southern england into the small hours of sunday. some heavy and thundery rain possible but a cooler story by the end of the night, particularly for the likes of london, where temperature stayed in the 20s all night saturday. sunday daytime some showers potentially continuing to bother southernmost counties of england. quite a breeze for northern ireland and scotland. it will take the edge of the temperatures, could bring in a few showers, but for many parts of the uk we're actually looking at a dry and fine if fresher day. now on bbc news its unspun world.
hello, and thanks forjoining me here at the bbc�*s headquarters in central london for unspun world, the programme where bbc experts give straight answers to the big questions of the moment. are we actually making any progress whatever in combating climate change? well, hot air? there is also the possibility that we could use our ingenuity and our unique abilities as human beings, as homo sapiens, to get out of this. what's russia got up its sleeve for the parts of eastern ukraine that it's captured? there are further efforts taking place to amalgamate those parts into russia. and who said this? "ukraine today could be east asia tomorrow." it was, in fact, the japanese prime minister. we'll take a look at how he's stepping up cooperation with nato.
they're drawing a direct connection between what's taking place in ukraine, a desire to change the status quo there through force, and what china might be contemplating in taiwan. another big international conference on climate change, this time in bonn. everyone — well, almost everyone — feels the situation is getting really worrying. the developed countries have promised to create a fund of $100 billion to help the world adapt. but they haven't actually forked out the cash. there's absolutely no guarantee that the nations of the world will reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. and a lot of people are now worried that the target of keeping the rise in overall temperatures to 1.5 centigrade is slipping away from us.
it all sounds like a mess. but is it? i turned tojustin rowlatt, the bbc�*s climate editor. it's a halfway house. it's kind of taking stock, getting everyone together, setting the agenda for the next big, you know, international conference, which is in sharm el sheikh, in egypt, in november. they're knocking heads together. saying, come on, guys, this is a really important issue, you've got to remain focused on this. whatever distractions there are in your country, you know, fuel crisis or cost of living... 0rwar? yeah, depending where you are. yeah, it's saying, we really have to bear down on this because this goes on being a huge issue for humanity into the future. we're coming up to sharm el sheikh. well, some months away, still. is that going to be yet another one of these things where, you know, everybody says what might have been, rather than what actually was? this year, they are going to be asking people to increase their commitment in terms of cutting emissions. so, we'll hope to see an increase.
it may be modest because it is a difficult year, because of the energy crisis. the tone of the year is set by the chair, who is hosting the negotiations. so, egypt is very keen on adaptation, very interested in the developed world, delivering on promises it has made to give money to the developing world. and if we see some of that, it will be progress, john. it will be progress. as i say, it is incremental. there isn't a magic wand that is going to solve this crisis. and is it damaging to take the line that i've been taking, you know? they don't agree anything, they can't get round to it, so what the hell? i mean, that is quite damaging, isn't it? well, i think it's dangerous if we set the bar too high and then we are forever disappointed. it's easy to underestimate the scale of the challenge that we've set ourselves, or that climate change has set for us, which is changing the energy system of the world. now, energy underpins absolutely everything in our economy. you know, changing the energy system
is going to be arguably the biggest project humanity has ever undertaken. any sign that the war in ukraine, the various embargoes on russian oil, russian gas, that these are actually working in what you might regard as the right direction? it's transformed the economics of renewable, to make them look a lot cheaper. energy security now has become a huge argument for switching to renewable sources of power, which are much more diffuse, most nation states do have resources. in the short term, yeah, we are going to see more coal being burnt. but, in the longer term, maybe we will see a faster transition to renewable power around the world. we are, though, starting to see climate change happening in front of our eyes, aren't we? we are beginning to see changes in weather systems around the world. we do see this extreme weather more frequently than we did. and that obviously, is a worry. at the same time, i don't want to sound like a panglossian, an eternal optimist.
but, in a way, if you see climate change happening in your country, if you see unusual weather events, that's going to focus your mind, isn't it? it gives you a real sense of what the stakes are. and one of the problems that environmentalists and climate scientists have had in the past is persuading people that it's in their interests to take action. you said you didn't want to be panglossian, it's quite difficult to be an optimist in yourjob, isn't it? it would be hard to do the job if you didn't allow the possibility that we could succeed doing this, because if you gave up hope, i mean, what would be the story you were telling? it would be a tragic story of decline. perhaps it is? perhaps it is. perhaps this is the tragedy of human beings. it may well be. ultimately, it may be. we may have sown the seeds of our own destruction. there is a kind of poetic resonance in that, isn't there? but there is also the possibility that we could use our ingenuity
and our unique abilities as human beings, as homo sapiens, to get us out of this. we are at the juncture where, for the first time ever, there are real alternatives that are economically viable to fossil fuels. however worried you are about climate change, there is an optimistic story about our ability, human beings ability to see a challenge and riddle our way through it, to find the beginnings, maybe, of some kind of solution. and i think that's exciting and optimistic. try and get your head round this. every second there are currently a5 births and 2.0 deaths in the world. a net population rise of 2.3 per second. that means, in the few minutes since this programme began, more than 1,000 more human beings have been added to the world's total. very soon now we will hit 8 billion, and every single one
of us needs feeding, at a time when ukraine, one of the biggest producers of grain and fertiliser, has been largely knocked out of the market by the russian invasion. can we actually sustain a population of 8 billion? i spoke to the bbc�*s population correspondent, steph hegarty. so, ukraine was a huge wheat supplier. but it only supplied 7% of the wheat for sale on the global market. why is it having such an outsized effect? and that's because our global food systems were in this really precarious position anyway at the beginning of this year. and that's because of a series of shocks all happening at the same time which, to some extent, is bad luck, and to some extent is just the system just not being strong enough to be able to withstand the shock. so, things like the pandemic, of course, which affected food supply in so many different ways, whether it means labour shortages
on farms meant that farmers weren't able to produce as much, or supply chain disruptions. a port closed in shanghai, or a back—up in a port in la, those all have knock—on effects on the food system. but also, what covid showed us is that once a supply chain is disrupted, it's really hard to shift it. ukraine shows us that as well. the biggest shock, which i haven't mentioned, but is probably the most existential is, of course, climate change. and what will that impact be? will people die in large numbers? or will we simply find other ways of feeding ourselves? prices are rising all over the world. some countries will absorb those price rises, and some countries won't. and the countries that will be worst affected are the ones that aren't producing the food that they eat themselves. so, a lot of north africa, the middle east, they eat a huge amount of bread. it's their main staple, their main source of carbohydrates, but they don't grow a lot of wheat. and they'll grow even less as their climates get hotter and the crops just won't be
able to survive. is there any indication of when the supplies might come back to normal? i think one of the big problems is if farmers in ukraine can't get a good price for the grain that they have in store now, in stock now, they won't be able to farm next season. so, i think that is the real worry. they are also worried that the grain storage silos are going to be full, there will be no where to put that wheat. that might go to waste. if they can't get that money in for next season, they can't plant. and then, of course, the price of fuel all over the world, but especially in ukraine, is really high at the moment. so the inputs for those farms are skyrocketing. is this the early stages of an utter catastrophe? or is it something that, in the way of things, human beings can find little routes around to keep on going? i think we can vastly mitigate the effects of climate change
on our agricultural systems. but we can't stop them, because the changes have already started. so we have to adapt. ithink if... i mean, there's no other industry where we've seen such huge technological progress. in the past 50 years we've managed to feed almost 8 billion people. we've managed to do that with a handful of crops. so, using technology, using fertiliser, using seed technology, using machinery, we've managed to vastly increase the amount of food that we produce. there is vast amounts of potential as well, because most african countries have very low land productivity at the moment. so, there's huge potential to improve that. i think, on average, most african countries have about half the average land productivity of a country like india, and a fifth of the us. but there are bright spots. nigeria has increased its land productivity i think three times over the last three decades. so, the potential is there. we can increase the amount
of food we are producing, and we can produce better food and healthierfood. it's only a few weeks since some western intelligence agencies were forecasting that ukraine might actually win the war that vladimir putin has unleashed on it. they're not saying that now, and things are clearly shifting russia's way. which is why ukraine is desperate for more western weapons to even up the balance. for a long time, russia claimed to be on a crusade to "denazify" ukraine, but that claim seems to be fading in favour ofjust turning as much of ukraine as possible into russian territory. vitaly shevchenko, who specialises in the countries of the former soviet union for bbc monitoring, comes from eastern ukraine. what is russia doing in the areas it's now occupying? it's difficult to maintain this
pretence of trying to liberate ukraine from neo—nazis once you start taking grain, ukrainian grain, and exporting it to your friends in the middle east. cherries from areas they have occupied have been shipped out, metal. there is talk of two more regions being incorporated into russia. and if you look at that, it's really difficult to see how all that feeds into this idea of, "no, we are not against ukraine, we are helping ukraine." "this is not a war, it's a special operation." the latest confirmation of that that we've heard were remarks by president putin, which he made at events celebrating peter the great�*s 350th birthday, where he said, peter the great, he returned what belonged to russia, and this is what we're doing as well.
it's kind of revenge against ukraine for breaking away, rather than any kind of crusade to de—nazify them from all these evil people. since russia first attacked ukraine eight years ago, what i've been seeing is this relentless narrative aimed against the very idea that ukraine has a path of its own, is free to choose between russia and nato, it's free to choose its own leaders. do you think that in the future, ukrainians from your part of ukraine willjust say, well, it's awful, it's dreadful, it shouldn't have happened, but that's where the line now exists and we willjust have to live with it. this is a dilemma faced by the ukrainian government. what do you see as your victory, what is the ultimate objective? do you want russians to leave whatever parts they've captured?
or are you prepared to compromise and say, well, look, it's all about saving lives, let's ceasefire, as long as nobody gets killed, and talk about the geography and the territory later. but longer term, of course, there is a feeling in ukraine that so many people have been killed, we can'tjust stop, we can'tjust give up our territory at this stage, it's all or nothing. what's it like for people in towns and cities that the russians have taken over? are they just assimilated immediately, or are they treated with hostility by the russian forces? in the beginning, russians seemed to exercise a softly softly approach. that has changed, pro—ukrainian activists have been targeted, abducted, imprisoned,
disappeared as well. and there are further efforts taking place to amalgamate those parts into russia, or, the russian cultural space or sphere of influence, as they like to call it. what i mean is that there are ukrainian textbooks in schools being replaced with russian textbooks, the ukrainian currency is out in some places, been replaced by the russian ruble. they are handing out passports as well, that creates a feeling of, "we are here to stay." in the northern indian state of uttar pradesh, the authorities have bulldozed the houses of several muslims who were allegedly linked to the recent religious protests in the state. this is an escalation of a row that's been going on since two former leading figures in the governing hindu nationalist
bjp made some derogatory remarks about the prophet muhammad. the bjp controls uttar pradesh, where the houses were demolished, but nationally, the bjp government has distanced itself from all of this, after various muslim countries objected strongly to the remarks of the two officials. how serious is this new threat to the always delicate hindu—muslim relationship in india? nitin srivastava, news correspondent in the bbc�*s delhi bureau, comes from uttar pradesh, and he talked me through what's been going on there. there are experts who believe, and there are people who have credible evidence, who say that the society in india is now increasingly getting polarised, especially between the majority hindus and minority muslims, who are more than 200 million in the country. the national party, the bjp party,
the hindu party, if you like, has actually sacked the two officials who made these supposedly derogatory comments about the prophet muhammad, so, this is not nationally driven, is it? the ruling party in india, which is the right wing bjp, has definitely taken action against its own office bearers. this is also very rare, because it's not been seen very often. but yes, the fact remains that such sentiments have been there trending in the indian social media landscape for quite some time. people say that divisions have been so stark that people are afraid to come out, and some say that only because this time it was the prophet muhammad, that people decided to come out on the streets and start protesting, and that's when we have seen houses being demolished. how widespread has the destruction of property been? destruction, demolition of property,
of people, was so sudden, so swift, and that is what has created a lot of questions, because there is a process wherein you alert somebody, you give them notices, in this case, of demolishing the properties, of protesters, most of them muslims, the government says that they were given due time, which amounts to a day or two. is it going to stop here or is it going to get worse? we have seen all sorts of violence because of religious hatred in india in the last few years. it is obviously not all across the states, but incidents have been happening, so, it will be very difficult to predict if it is going to stop. it appears that it is here to stay for some time at least. was this the bjp's intention, to kind of push muslims to the edges of indian society? they never said that they don't want muslims in india, they have of course been saying
and talking about and passing legislations about banning entry of foreigners in india from neighbouring countries which are muslim—dominated, for example bangladesh and pakistan and other countries. but the sense is that muslims in india are getting anxious, year by year, with actions such as this recent action about demolishing a house. do you think we should start to be worried about this or is it something that comes up from time to time and then goes away again? india has a culture of rich heritage, of civilisation, people from all religions, all walks of life, have coexisted together for ages and ages. so, i would not say this is something which has been happening all through, this is something which has been brewing up of late. it still is, i mean, not all is lost, i would say. what does xijinping, china's president, think
when he gets the news from ukraine? does he think putin has made a really dangerous gamble and his armed forces are nowhere near as good as he has been told they were? or does he think, putin has got away with it, i could do the same if i invaded taiwan? japan's prime minister, fumio kishida, is worried that it's this second version that's uppermost in mrxi's mind. and as a result, japan is pondering the advantages ofjoining some variant of nato in east asia to guard against whatever china is planning. to guide me through the complexities of all this, i asked celia hatton, asia—pacific editor for bbc world service, and a leading observer of both china and japan, for her thoughts. well, in the words of the japanese prime minister, ukraine today could be
east asia tomorrow. so, they're drawing a direct connection between what is taking place in ukraine, the desire to change the status quo there through force, and what china might be contemplating in taiwan. and yes, i think there is an internal battle going on inside tokyo, inside the governing party, the ldp. there are those who side with the prime minister, who are trying to decide what they can do within the bounds of japan's pacifist constitution. now, the famous article 9 of this constitution, which was really imposed onjapan by the americans after the second world war, denounces warfare. and so, they are meant to be spending their defence budget on defence. so, they're trying to figure out, what does that mean? and they've already given themselves some leeway. so, they've announced much closer ties, much intention to cooperate more with nato. they of course are fostering closer
ties with the quad, so, the grouping of the united states, japan, australia and india. and they are also committing huge amounts of money to things like training in southeast asia, giving money for training to countries in southeast asia, giving them money for coastguard patrol, basically giving them money to be able to counter china even a little bit more. and so, they're working within those bounds. now, there are other issues that some in the governing party are pushing for even more, those who align themselves with the former prime minister shinzo abe. and they're considering things like, can we defend ourselves through pre—emptive strikes, does that fit within the bounds of what is self defence? pre—emptive strike on china? yes, for example. if china really moved into taiwan, could japan then. ..? how far would japan go to defend taiwan?
is china going to invade taiwan? i wish i knew, john, i wish i knew. ithink... this is one of the key policies of xijinping, the all—powerful ruler right now, of china. he has stated for years that he thinks it is part of taiwan's destiny to be reunited with the mainland. it's a tricky time in china right now, because of course those in china are looking to what is happening in ukraine, they're looking to what is happening in russia, and perhaps some are seeing that as a reason not to consider an invasion of taiwan, to see what has happened to the russian economy, for instance. others are thinking, well, if russia can do it, they're still going, maybe this is something we should consider as well. but i think also there are real domestic concerns in china right now, this is a country that is steadfastly pursuing another one of xi jinping's policies, the covid zero policy,
where they are still willing to shut down entire city hubs, the entire financial hub of shanghai was effectively shut down for a couple of months, and the economy is reeling from that. and so i think as long as the country continues to pursue one of xi jinping's policies, covid zero, can they really, honestly, continue to seriously consider another policy, which is reunification with taiwan? and ijust don't know if the country has it in it, i don't know if the ruling communist party can really balance those two. celia hatton, asia—pacific editor for bbc world service. these are difficult days in many parts of the world, and the news can seem really relentless at the moment. still, we've heard from two bbc experts earlier on in this programme, justin rowlatt, talking about the efforts to cope with climate
change, and steph hegarty, who was discussing food supplies for a hungry world, and they were both, perhaps surprisingly, optimistic that human ingenuity and scientific progress will be able to see us successfully through these immense challenges to our very existence as a species. a noisy, destructive, quarrelsome species, true, but a remarkably inventive one as well. that is it from this week's unspun world. i hope to see you again soon. until then, goodbye. hello. cooler, fresher conditions are working their way south scotland
cooler, fresher air is now making its way south across the uk, and marking that transition, we have a weather front along its length. england and wales sitting under much great skies through the remainder of the saturday with some showery rain sweeping through. that is the boundary between the very hot air to the south of the uk, extending up from spain and france where we have the heatwave conditions at the moment and this cooler air is trying to work in orfrom the north, so we can draw the line between those two air masses and what have you got? a weather front, and that is what is going to be bearing some rain as we move through saturday evening. don't take it too literally, however, because yes, it marks the boundary between the two air masses, but because the air is so warm in the southern reaches of the uk as we go into this evening, there is a good chance that we could see some locally sharp showers breaking out even before the front moves through, but certainly through the evening, some wetter weather for the midlands, east anglia, thunderstorms getting into the south—east and into the small hours of sunday, it looks like we will see a focus on the livelier weather, perhaps shifting down towards the channel islands.
but the cooler air should get into the majority of the uk by the end of the night. it will still be quite warm and muggy across the channel islands, perhaps the far, far south—east of england, but much fresher for london, and we only had lows in the low 20s into the small hours of saturday. sunday, lots of fine weather on the way for the uk as a whole. there is a low swelling out here in the north sea and that will pick the breeze up for scotland and northern ireland, a few showers here, but there will also be some sunshine. just a question over how much showers will clear the south coast of the uk, through sunday, though. some of the southernmost counties could see some quite heavy and persistent showers through the course of the day and if anything, we can see them making a resurgence northwards across southern england, as far north as the midlands, parts of east anglia through sunday evening. into the week ahead, as always, low pressure is pretty close to the south of the uk, low pressures try and run in further north, between the two, a ridge of high pressure, so for the majority of the uk, i think, for the week ahead, there will be a lot of fine weather, but the causes of the south coast
this is bbc news with the latest headlines... union leaders say that talks trying to prevent rail strikes next week have failed — and the walkouts will go ahead. passengers across the country will be affected. there are so many people struggling, we have to help each other where we can. theyjust want more money. they can hold the country to ransom. the government is to trial a scheme allowing asylum seekers who cross the channel in small boats to be electronically tagged. tens of thousands of people march in central london calling on the government to do more to help tackle the cost of living crisis. police in brazil confirm a body found in the remote amazon rainforest is the missing british journalist — dom phillips. coming up — aaron heslehurst examines the impact of the war in ukraine on food prices and levels of global hunger —