Jenni Murray

Dame Jenni Murray / 27 August 2021

Broadcaster and Saga Magazine columnist Dame Jenni Murray shares her thoughts on climate change



As the COP26 conference to be hosted in Glasgow to discuss climate change approaches, I ask myself, ‘Why have we ignored all the warnings and left everything so late?’

I remember during my early years in broadcasting at BBC Radio Bristol – nearly 50 years ago – regular ‘urgent’ discussions about proposals for a Severn Barrage and the importance of finding effective, natural ways of using wind, water and sun to create the energy to which we’d all become used. The barrage is still discussed, but hasn’t happened.

Make your home more eco-friendly

Why have so few of us appeared to care?

Why are billionaires spending their vast amounts of cash playing at flying into space, polluting the planet even more?

Why are sales of cars, most often petrol driven, rocketing? Why, after 18 months of fear of the pandemic, are so many of us spending the money saved in lockdown on a flash new vehicle, even though we know they pollute the atmosphere, making us ill and clogging up the roads? It’s madness.

A longer version of this article appeared in the September 2021 issue of Saga Magazine: subscribe today

I’ve been reading advice from Allegra Stratton, a journalist I’ve long admired, who is now the Government’s lead on the climate summit. How do we, as she says we must, ‘keep 1.5 alive’?

The world has already warmed by 1.2 degrees, scientists insist we must go no higher than 1.5 and we’re on course for 3 degrees.

Movement on coal, cars and trees is top of her list for bringing carbon emissions down by 2030.

We’re clearly not doing so well on cars and I doubt there’s much we can do ourselves on the other big issues.

Don’t rinse your dishes before they go into the dishwasher

I’m sure we all do our best to ensure we separate our rubbish into ‘recycling’ and ‘other’, try to buy as little plastic as possible and make the effort to waste as little food as we can. My house is well insulated, but I can’t see me getting rid of my efficient gas boiler. I may hate the heat in summer, but don’t want to be without it in winter. I don’t have the space to fit one of the new air source heat pumps nor the £12,000 to spare to pay for it, but, according to Allegra, there are other small steps we can all take that will help.

Don’t rinse your dishes before they go into the dishwasher, she says – it’s not necessary with a good quality tablet in the machine. I’ve started doing that and she’s right.

Don’t buy shower gel in a plastic bottle is another word of advice. Apparently it’s available as a bar in cardboard packaging. (I suspect that’s known traditionally as soap!)

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Other tips include freezing half a loaf of bread when you get it home and taking it out when you need it. I’ve done that for years as it takes me ages to get through a whole loaf. So, no more mouldy crusts to add to the rubbish.

She also suggests walking to the shops rather than driving. All very well if the shops aren’t far away, you’re nimble on your feet and can manage to carry heavy bags home. Sorry, I’ll be sticking with my little Mini.

One Step Greener, according to Allegra, won’t stop climate change, but it will help. I’ll be OK on the dishwasher question, the shower gel and freezing the bread, but it’s the bigger things, the boiler and the car, that make me pause. Creature comforts are difficult to relinquish for all of us.

I just hope we haven’t been too selfish for too long and left it too late for our children and theirs.

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