tv Dateline London BBC News July 5, 2021 3:30am-4:01am BST
this is bbc news, the headlines: engineers in florida are preparing to demolish a partially collapsed apartment block near miami. this is the scene live as that demolition awaits. the operation is being carried out because of fears that an approaching tropical storm could bring down debris onto rescuers. more than 120 people are still unaccounted for following the disaster. and there is the demolition, what they have described as energetic felling, the collapse of the remainder of that apartment block, and as we have been saying, the rescuers will resume their efforts to find those who were caught in the initial collapse but some 120 people still unaccounted for as the building itself is demolished.
now on bbc news, it's dateline london. hello and welcome to the programme, which brings together some of the country's leading columnists, bbc specialists and the foreign correspondents writing, blogging and broadcasting to audiences back home from the dateline "london". this week: a valedictory visit from angela merkel. species decline and why it's worth trying to stop it. and how do you live with a centenarian planning to be around for another hundred years? joining us this week: yasmin alibhai—brown is an award—winning newspaper columnist in the uk. thomas kielinger has been
reporting and explaining the british to audiences in his native germany for decades. he's also an historian. with me in the studio is the bbc�*s chief environment correspondentjustin rowlatt. a warm welcome to all of you, good to have you with us. like all political leaders who pre—announce their departure, angela merkel�*s influence has been in decline ever since. two recent rebuffs within the european union — her proposalfor an eu russia summit seen off by poland and the baltic states and her suggestion that british visitors, vaccinated or not, should be quarantined. the german chancellor was in the uk friday. instead of quarantine there was tea with the queen. thomas, chancellor merkel suggested vaccinating brits. after her meeting with borisjohnson it might get us a warmer welcome than she received in britain. has her influence been declining for some time? and is that simply because she pre—announced that she was going or is her cautious, deliberative style of politicsjust going a bit out of fashion? of course anybody who
would announce the day of their departure from power is automatically converting himself or herself into a lame duck, as we call it. you don't expect too much influence from somebody like that. angela merkel, after 16 years, has relinquished power and will leave in september. you described her as cautious and slow moving policies. but when you look at her record, the two most important decisions she took in her time in office were really like lightning overnight — opening the borders for refugees, millions of them from germany, and moving off atomic energy. she decided on the solutions without much consultation or advice from anyone. that is why i'm so sorry that today when she met borisjohnson, the two of them didn't have the guts to seize the window and come up with a joint declaration to say britons who are doubly vaccinated can travel without the hassle in europe,
and johnson could've said those who come from other member countries and have been doubly vaccinated and tested — they will have to go back into quarantine. they missed this opportunity. she talks about a new resetting of relations with germany and britain. but the one moment of glory — like a footballer missing a great shot to score the goal, they missed it. she cannot get herself to even announce such a step. she was willing overnight to allow millions of people to come to germany. she failed to come with a statement to say yes, as from that tweet, britons can travel without worry from quarantine when they are twice vaccinated. this is her language. she is contradictory, in other words, when most of the jury is out. i wonder whether they will be altogether favourable. don't forget she only relied on the coalition partners from the social democrats
to govern for 16 years. on her own she would have been able to do it. —— on her own she wouldn't have been able to do it. it is a mixed bag when you look at her record. but she would not have been able to do it. yasmin, how damaging do you think longer term to the eu was it, her sticking with the orthodoxy of german traditions, saying back during that financial crisis we are not going to share debt across the eurozone and individual countries will have to deal with the problem themselves? it seemed to be not her, but in the end the central bank who saved the euro. and meantime countries like spain and greece had to deal with some pretty austere and difficult times with that. i'm sorry, sean and thomas, i'm not going to go with you on this. i'm apalled — two men slagging off the first female german chancellor, who is as christine lagarde said is a unique
and special woman who combined, yes, meticulous thought and consideration with some pretty daring policies. of course in greece there is this feeling that it is because of her they went through this terrible crisis, but the eu isn't just angela merkel. and i think what she has achieved in these years, a young woman from east germany who came over and has kept germany steady through it all. in the 2008 crisis germany did not suffer as so many others did, because the eu isn't one nation. each nation has its own capacities and distinction. i have just been talking to 32 british people who have taken out german citizenship — a 2,000% increase in those. and in a way, they are the equivalent of thomas, if you like.
they love germany, they love merkel. i wanted to say that because i'm not going to, you know, go on this fairly destructive train of thought you have taken out. now for your question: yes, i think germany and italy during that crisis, maybe the entire eu, should've been more — i don't know, kind or considerate. taking in the refugees was an astonishingly brave move and on the whole it has worked. so i totally admire her, and that will not be shaken. just in terms of the question, we talked about fukushima, thomas mentioned it. that with a dramatic decision — the nuclear explosion, the consequences and the fears of what might come. she immediately announced she was shutting down the civilian nuclear programme in germany. that had consequences. there were consequences in particular because of that. it certainly has. it was very traumatic for the — i'm sorry, yasmin. _
i will be a little bit - critical of angela merkel. all of these men. let's look at the statistics for nuclear power. - germany is the second largest nuclear plant l in the world in- terms of production. it produced 11.5 terawatts of power in 2018. - that is 1 trillion watts, i a huge amount of power. by comparison, all of denmark went to wind turbine. - they produce just - a little bit more power. what we are talking about is one plant that is a huge - supplier of energy to germany. what does that mean? taking that out, it would now be closed next year. - 2022 it's going to be closed. it could've gone on for a few more decades, i people estimated 2048. they are taking that component out of the power system. - what does it mean? it means they are much morel dependent upon gas and more dependent on coal. in fact, germany is not - going to phase out coal under current plans until 2038.
britain is getting rid of its last coal—fired station in 2024. it will be really hard - for germany to meet these climate goals if it sticks with this policy taken i on nuclear power. it makes it much more dependent on russia. i we've got nord stream 2 coming online, there is much less- flexibility on the foreign policies. j hard to argue, certainly from an environmentall perspective, that has. been good for germany. thomas, on the question of relations with russia, is this a really worrying cleavage within the eu, do you think? i dare not go on after yasmin condemned me. laughter. i just want the record straight — no intentional slagging her off as a male chauvinist pig. i have nothing against her except that i say there is mediocrity involved in some of the things, and the male heir apparent who will follow her will follow
in her footsteps. it would not be much of a revolution going on. if she steadied the boat, germans like to do things traditionally, steady as she goes, and she is the ultimate, ideal representative of a very cautiously moving society. about russia, of course she was rather ill advised, together with macron, to launch this initiative — a new high—level dialogue with russia at this very moment. no wonder some countries objected to it. you should award russia for crimean occupation, which has still not been done properly, with the human rights violations and so forth. so that was an ill—considered step, which doesn't completely wipe her off, as it were, of herforeign policy and expertise, but she is like so many other people full of ideas which sometimes work and sometimes don't work. and this one did not work. no, i don't think she is going to be a prominent voice in opening up a new
dialogue with russia. they may have to wait rather longer. yasmin, on that question of what happens now in europe, thomas mentioned macron. his reform ideas for the eu didn't really get much traction among other eu members. he will now be distracted for the next few months trying to hold onto the palace. angela merkel will be gone in september. german politics will change, even if a lot of it will stay the same. another coalition possibly coming in. who is left to lead in europe? what one has to remember, one of the things about the eu is that it isn't one nation. that is the narrative that has dominated in britain for god knows how long. it isn't all germany or germany and france. this is a coalition, a club of nations. the future will be different from the past. as thomas says, that is politics.
that is how society changes. what i fear, though, is that merkel's steadiness — there was a 2020 survey done of the eu countries and in 14 nations 75% trusted her personally. now, the incoming person will have to work very hard to get to that level of trust, so it is always difficult when somebody has left behind quite a legacy. secondly, one doesn't know. i completely agree about the whole dialogue with russia thing. a lot has happened and is happening thanks to putin and his ambitions, and the eu will have to come up with a collective response eventually. they are good at that, so i have great faith in the eu. i will always be loyal to it even though i'm no longer a part of it.
they do things in a reasonable way. they are not as shouty as we are. it will be fine, but it will take work. thank you very much. now, "grandiose statements lacking teeth and devoid of effective delivery mechanisms" — that's the verdict of a committee of mps examining the british government's plans to protect biodiversity. we think having lots of different species of insects, say, or plants matters, but in truth we're not sure why. still, the risk is clear. the uk, the environmental audit committee reports, is one of the most nature—depleted countries on earth. 15% of its species are under threat. it is probably helpful, justin, wearing your environment hat, if we define the terms. what do we mean by biodiversity, and what does the committee mean by saying 15% of species in the uk are under threat? let's start with - what biodiversity is. biodiversity refers - to the incredible variety of life on earth, -
biological diversity. it represents all the different species on earth — _ animals, plants, fungi, - insects, the whole shebang. we are talking —| this is the point. we don't actually know- the range of species on earth. with that we know, we think| it is about 1.7 million species of animals, plants and fungi, but we don't know for sure. i some scientists say there i could be as many as 8 or 9 million different species. bring in bacteria — - you are in a whole world of biodiversity, a single spoonful of soil can have as many- as 10,000 different bacteria, more in some estimates. - we don't know what we are doing as we get rid of species. - let's have a look at the level of threat there is to species. j we know the rate of extinction is far higher than it— would be without humanity. we think that 25% of mammals are under a threat of— extinction, 41% of amphibians, and about 17% of birds. - there is a huge pressure, extinction pressure. - we don't understand the subtle
processes, as you alluded - to in your introduction, . of how ecosystems work. we do know that in some cases you take one species out - and the whole thing changes. the whole balance. of species changes. as we get rid of species, - we don't know what consequences that will have. it could be catastrophic. the increasing reduction in diversity could have, i just like climate change, a catastrophic effect - on the ability of the | earth to support us. because let'sjust remember- these ecosystems are the source of fresh air, the source of food, the source - of clean water. they are the bases. we sit within this web of life l and we depend on biodiversity to deliver us this — - what crudely, in economic terms, i referred to as services. i that is why it is so important. and that is why the uncertainty around it is also important. we cannot say — we don't know what will happen if we get rid l of certain bacteria, - for example, or even some
mosquitoes for example, i which everybody seems to — we treat like they are vermin. they are the basis of — - they feed all sorts of animals which in turn are i food etc, etc, etc. it is complex and difficult and dangerous to play i with the balance of l species of the world. yasmine, is to come up with effective ways of maintaining this biodiversity and the government — to be fair to it, as the committee says — has some very ambitious targets. but targets have been put into law which the committee wants, but targets have been put on things like child poverty and it turns out, actually, what happens when you have a targeted law when it is failed to be met or broken? you don't drag the prime minister off and stick him in jail. in a sense, there is difficulty here between matching ambition with credibility. as the committee said, it's grandiose statements, superficial strategies.
completely counterproductive policies which are more about exploiting nature even now — a very 18th and 19th century, kind of man—centred, if you like, view of the natural world. and it's still going on. and in a way, i worry that all the right things are being said, but the kind of aggressive capitalism of our times is deeply uninterested in these very important things that have just been said so evocatively by your correspondent about the natural world, about balance, about biodiversity, about all of our futures. those two are enemies. and i don't think i feel this government is taking any of this seriously, but they know what to say and they might tinker and they might make promises, but they're about as empty as the promises that our prime minister has made to the whole
world and to whoever, yeah? i think we have to take it seriously. thomas, the challenge is integrating this into all the policy you make, isn't it? whether it's planning policy, whether it's how you subsidise agricultural fisheries. i mean, do you get a sense that this is something that can — i mean, a lot of attention on climate change — which is again big, grand and dramatic — but this kind of quite detailed, subtle, some might say even quite boring policymaking actually doesn't create enough attention, whether it's from the media or from politicians themselves — or, indeed, from the voters — to sustain the policy change. maybe the reason why it doesn't demand so much attention is that we've left out one important factor in all this debate so far, and that is population. the greed of ever—growing population development on the earth is tending towards notjust capitalism, as yasmin said, but the basic needs of feeding, eating and using arable lands
for their purposes, irrespective of the damage they do to the ecological system. so i think we have to find a consensus — also with china in particular — as we're talking about when is the level — when is the breaking point reached in terms of world population? 9 billion we are already. we are looking down the barrel and coming to the moment of crisis. if we go much beyond that, whatever we do politically to save individual species, we have to attach ourselves to the need for 9 billion or more people to do damage to the natural habitat. something has to give, asjohnson so rightfully said. when the day of execution is near, you concentrate the mind. and this is what we need to do. we need to concentrate the mind on what more than 9 billion people are likely to do with the earth, instead ofjust continue to multiply without any thought about the future danger
to the ecological surroundings. so i think i would definitely bring the population issue into this whole debate. thomas, thank you very much. one wonders what would happen if we had maintained species diversity for humans as well and still had neanderthals around with us. right! for the last 12 of the 16 years that angela merkel has been in charge in germany, xijinping has been running china. having abolished term limits, there's every reason to think he'll be in power for many years more. the chinese do longevity — something demonstrated in thursday's choreographed display of popular euphoria marking the centenary of the chinese communist party. asked by an interviewer whether it will still exist in another 100 years, the exiled artist ai weiwei observed drily chinese dynasties very often last 200 or 300 years. whether they do or not, yasmin, the reality is we have to live with and operate with china as a very real presence in the world. in terms of other countries
looking at china and working with china, there was a belief 20 years ago that as china becomes more capitalist, its politics will change too. that clearly hasn't happened. what do we do now? how do we sustain an effective relationship without conceding the things we believe in? it's a really important question. i do think anyone has the answer to that. the power of china, it's very quiet, actually, it's very quiet, not only in terms of hong kong, which we get a lot of coverage of, but, you know, iwent to uganda, my old country, a couple of years ago and every single infrastructure project is being run by the chinese in uganda, in tanzania, across southern africa, and they do sign these agreements with the leaders where, you know, in exchange for this influence and— and extraordinary,
untroubled influence across india, they do this infrastructure work and they don't even use the local labour. as one of the people i met there, the local people said, they don't even use us to clean and so, it's happening, it's a world power, it's certainly economically controlling the huge amount of world space stop but its values and its politics are deeply unappealing. to most people around the world who are democrats. ijust don't know where it is going to take us. india has the capacity still to resist this chinese megalomaniac ambitions. but i don't know for how long. it is a very serious issue.- a very serious issue. justin, ou a very serious issue. justin, you were — a very serious issue. justin, you were a _ a very serious issue. justin, you were a correspondent l a very serious issue. justin, | you were a correspondent in india and india has a strong leader in mr modi, narendra modi, but it has a very noisy,
messy but genuinely kind of floral political system. how does it respond to its neighbour, its big potentially aggressive neighbour? i was there when there were a couple of these| cross—border skirmishes between the indians - and the chinese. and that geographical position of india and china is very- important in this debate. they have a huge, long border through the himalayas with i china. it's very close to china. china is a much bigger economy — about five times the size - of india. it's a very big and very strong neighbour. - india has a long historyl of not playing a big role in international affairs. it was one of the key- players in the non—aligned movement, you'll i probably remember. so this is a great - tradition of india's not... not taking sides. not taking sides and not playing a game of setting up alliances. | you can imagine with the huge, long border, siding—
with america against china i might be a very uncountable position. but you're absolutely right that india feels very- uncomfortable, it feels circled by all those countries, - just as yasmin saw in africa, that are having all sorts - of road — or infrastructure projects being funded by china i as part of belt and road. it feels encircled but, - you know, it has this aversion to building - alliances, so it's in an uncomfortable position. and i think the thing . about india, we should remember, is it is an inward—looking country but it's building a very. strong and big economy. and in the future multipolar world — it looks very bipolarj at the moment — but in - the future multipolar world, india should be an- important pole of that. and i think india is playing. a long game to build itself up before it asserts itself - on the international stage. thomas. yeah, well, ithink, as yasmin said, what the chinese are up to in africa and how they help the development there, i'm rather relaxed about. why? it's a country with a huge surplus of people, of billions of people who have, you know,
talents to play with and use them as they do the world over. yes, they're buying influence for china in a sort of non—offensive way. my concern is when china would determine to use her influence and her power and her bigness, as it were, to militarily make inroads in the balance of power in south east asia seas. and i've watched with interest who biden is now conducting this week maritime manoeuvres withjapan in and around taiwan because obviously, after hong kong has so shamefully virtually lost its freedom to china in the to the liberty and libertarian system, the next appetising victim is likely to be taiwan for china, who have never recognised taiwan as a independent country and consider it part of their mainland. so they have to be very careful. one last thought — a brief talk, justin. presumably, all this involvement around the world
has potential, doesn't it? president xijinping has recognised the danger of climate change. it might be possible to get him to harness that to reduce some of the damaging projects that are happening internationally. there's a really interesting ledger— there's a really interesting ledger on _ there's a really interesting ledger on china's- there's a really interesting ledger on china's table. i they talk about building more coal—fired power stations - but at the same time, i they have invested really heavily— in renewable energy. in fact, it is thanks - a china that solar and wind and batteries are so much cheaper than they were. l and just to put that i into context, a tenth of the price is what it costs for solar power| now— than it did a decade ago. that is largely . thanks to china. that is revolutionary in terms of the world's ability- to tackle climate change. justin rowlatt, tom is killing us. thank you very much. thank you all very much forjoining us. thank you forjoining us on dateline london. more debate same time next week. goodbye.
hello. sunday evenings showers brought some flash flooding to edinburgh. for example, we had widespread thunderstorms for a time, and it's because we've got low pressure sat on top of the uk and it's with us through the day ahead. in fact, we're also watching this developing area of low pressure to bring some more persistent rain in later. but still plenty of showers as we get going on monday morning — perhaps a few in the south and east, as well as those close to the weather system in the north so, needless to say, a pretty mild start to the day. but it does look as if we will see more sunshine compared with sunday across the southern half of the uk. still plenty of showery rain across northern england, northern ireland, north wales and scotland as well, some misty low cloud near the coast, and some of those will turn out to be quite heavy, again with some thunder around — can't rule out the odd one further south — but fewer than we saw during sunday. some strong sunshine, but look at this coming in through during the mid
afternoon to the south and the west. so once again with sunshine — strong sunshine — high levels of pollen — grass pollen, of course, at this time of year for many — so that's something to be aware of if you are heading off to wimbledon for the day. i think quite a lot of dry weatherfor the most part but come the evening, we are going to start to see those clouds thickening and the rain rolling in, and that's really a risk for tuesday as well. i wouldn't like to rule out showers wednesday or thursday. but this is the low pressure we're watching. clearly, we've got the scope for some really intense and torrential downpours with some localised flash flooding in the north. and then, this system comes in, sweeps its rain and across england and wales during the course of monday evening and overnight, so several hours of quite heavy rain, but also some unseasonably windy weather — some gale—force winds and gusts even 40—50 miles an hour inland, so that's unusual for this time of year — and it could well, combined with the rain, cause some disruption further north and west, as you can see. still some showers around on tuesday. that low pressure makes its way into the north sea, we think dragging rain up across the east coast of england and scotland with showers following on behind, so the pattern remains really quite unsettled. some sunshine in between,
18 or 19, so not quite as high as the day ahead. now, that low pressure then starts to drift and fill further north and east, so the isobars open up. not as windy by the time we get to wednesday and thursday — in fact, a ridge of high pressure starts to try to build in, so that will quieten down the shower activity — but there is still some in the forecast even until late in the week. bye for now.