Sir David Attenborough. Photograph: Mike Dixon/Wikimedia Commons Sir David Attenborough. Photograph: Mike Dixon/Wikimedia Commons

2019: 10 of the most striking climate and environment quotes

In a year when the climate and environmental crisis made the headlines like never before, ENDS looks back at the most controversial statements made by public figures in the UK and abroad.

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough (photograph by: Mike Dixon/Wikimedia Commons) 

“To chuck plastic into the ocean is an insult. To have the nerve to say, ‘This is our rubbish, we’ll give you money to spill it on your land’ is intolerable”Sir David Attenborough 

Speaking at the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee on 9 July veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough criticised the industry practice of shipping plastic waste to other countries. 

In September, Attenborough was announced as the ambassador of a new Treasury review into the economic benefits of biodiversity and the costs and risks linked to its continued decline.

Greta Thunberg (photograph by: Anders Hellberg/Wikimedia Commons)

“I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic… and act as if the house was on fire” Greta Thunberg

The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg told delegates at the World Economic Forum that they were to blame for a global climate crisis. Speaking on 25 January in Davos, Switzerland, the 16-year old told the audience of business elites that solutions to the climate crisis would not be solved with another boardroom meeting. 

Having taken a return trip across the Atlantic by boat, Thunberg is demonstrating at the COP25 climate conference this week in Madrid after unrest in Chile forced a last-minute change of location.

Chris Packham (photograph by: Garry Knight/Wikimedia Commons

What’s so depressing is there’s an enormous amount of good science, but it’s still not listened to or it’s perverted for tabloid news” – Chris Packham

Broadcaster Chris Packham has been vocal in his support for well-planned species reintroductions across the UK to restore ecosystems and boost biodiversity. Speaking to ENDS in April he warned against reactionary tabloid pieces which went against the “good science” which has supported schemes such as the reintroduction of white-tailed sea eagles on the Isle of Wight.


Feargal Sharkey (photograph by: Leo Wilkinson)

“If they had any morality or honour they would all just resign”Feargal Sharkey

The former Undertones frontman and chalk streams campaigner spoke to ENDS in July demanding that the Environment Agency “step up to the plate and fucking regulate”.

There are only around 225 chalk streams in the world, with 95% of those in England and the bulk of these in the Chilterns area, many of which are now in a poor ecological condition. 

In October, Sharkey was made an OBE.

Sir Harry Studholme (photograph from: Forestry Commission)

“Invasives could be served up as food, whether it be grey squirrels in London restaurants or eating more wild venison such as muntjac deer” – Sir Harry Studholme

The Forestry Commission’s leader, Sir Harry Studholme, spoke to ENDS in October outlining the need for tougher plans to deal with invasive species in the UK which are threatening the land and the country’s trees. 

The vote to elect a new chair for the commission is due in February 2020. 

Sir James Bevan (photograph by: Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images)

“And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the jaws of death – the point at which, unless we take action to change things, we will not have enough water to supply our needs” – Sir James Bevan

In a speech made at a conference hosted by water efficiency organisation Waterwise on 19 March, the Environment Agency’s chief executive Sir James Bevan said climate change and population growth had created an “existential threat” and an impending crisis where water supply might be unable to match demand in 20-25 years’ time.

Caroline Lucas (photograph from: UK Parliament)

I think this whole area around nature is one that the green movement as a whole has perhaps taken its eye off slightly, as climate change has become such an all-embracing concern”Caroline Lucas 

Speaking in November, the Green Party’s only MP in Westminster, Caroline Lucas, told ENDS that environmental issues such as the collapse of the swift population over the past 20 years have largely gone unnoticed. 

Lucas is hoping to retain her seat for Brighton Pavilion which she has retained since 2010. 

Imran Khan (photograph by: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“I feel that there is a lack of seriousness. Perhaps world leaders do not realize the urgency of the situation. We have a lot of ideas, but as someone said, ‘ideas without funding is mere hallucination”Imran Khan 

The prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan made his comments at the UN’s 74th general assembly meeting in September. The former pro-cricketer demanded that other world leaders step up to the plate in delivering action on climate change to better support developing countries deliver on their climate pledges.

Donald Trump (photograph by: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

“Don't forget, it used to be called global warming, that wasn't working, then it was called climate change, now it's actually called extreme weather because with extreme weather you can't miss” Donald Trump

In June the president of the United States gave an interview with Piers Morgan on the ITV programme Good Morning Britain discussing a conversation with Prince Charles. 

Since Trump took office, 85 environmental rules and regulations that have either been overturned or are in the process of being rolled back. During his presidency Trump began the process of pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement and has described climate change as a “hoax” invented by the Chinese.

Professor Hans Bruyninckx (photograph by: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

“Europe’s environment is at a tipping point. The windows are closing. If we don’t see a bending of the trends in the next decade, science tells us that we will be in for a very rough ride after 2030”Professor Hans Bruyninckx 

The executive director of the European Environment Agency this week issued a series of striking remarks over the threat of climate change ahead of a major EU report on the new European Green Deal due later this month. 

Bruyninckx warned that methane emissions from thawing permafrost, melting ice and forest degradation were speeding up the acceleration of climate change and that the window to act was closing.

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