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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  October 21, 2021 4:30am-5:01am BST

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this is bbc news — the headlines. the world health organisation has told the bbc it believes the coronavirus pandemic will go on for a year longer than it needs to because of the unequal distribution of vaccines. it comes as a group of charities have criticised the uk and canada for themselves using doses from covax. experts in the us state of florida are investigating whether suspected human remains found in a park belong to brian laundrie. he's the boyfriend of a young woman found murdered in the state of wyoming last month. gabby petito, who kept a popular travel blog, went missing weeks earlier. around 100 people have protested outside netflix's headquarters — over the airing of a comedy special by dave chappelle — which they say was transphobic. netflix staff and transgender activists staged the walkout in los angeles. demonstrators are calling on netflix to fund more trans and non—binary talent.
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now on bbc news: it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. very soon, world attention will be focused on glasgow and the latest effort to get countries across the world to intensify efforts to decarbonise their economies and avert disastrous climate change. breaking with business as usual requires political will and massive investment in clean technology. my guest is andrew forrest, an australian billionaire who made his fortune in mining.
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"part of the problem, not the solution," you might think. well, he's out to convince you otherwise — but do his green credentials stack up? andrew forrest, welcome to hardtalk. good to be back, stephen, thank you. it's great to have you here. now, look, people around the world are going to look at you, a man who has made billions out of mining for metals, generating many tens of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process. they are going to struggle to see you as a green crusader. well, i'd like to reach out to them and say if people like me don't turn green, then we all have a serious problem. it's not those people who don't really produce many emissions, you know. if they turn green, well,
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let's all give them a slow clap, stephen. it's people who are the problem, who are the heavy emitters — which community relies on. we all rely on them, but we are also relying on them to go green, and ifeel i can lead from the front. i'll have the arrows in the back, stephen, you know that, but i feel i should do this. but you partly get the arrows in the back cos — and we're going to discuss it in detail — as you put forward your proposals for a greenerfuture, you still make a fortune every year out of mining those metals. you're chairman of fortescue metals — and fortescue right now, in the last year, is again putting millions of tonnes of c02 into the atmosphere. yeah, look, if i could click a switch, stephen, i'd have clicked that switch already. instead, i've gone wholeheartedly — i'm talking body on the line here, i've travelled everywhere, i did a phd into this, i've been looking at it now foraboutii years, and i'm taking my whole company
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with me to say our future is fully green. and the reason is not only we should do it, but we've got to set ourselves as a sustainable example to business. we've got to show business you can actually make a dollar out of this. because if we don't show that, stephen, business is not going to follow. they're not in the business of going broke. but we genuinely believe, if we put enough effort into this, we'll get there, we'll make a buck out of it, and the world will follow. and so we have to test how serious you are. as i understand it, you and the board at fortescue have said you're going to be net zero in terms of your carbon emissions by 2030. now, no other mining company in australia has made such a commitment. that is a massive gamble. what if you lose? yeah, ok, so losing is a real possibility. but the moment we announced that we were already running at a gallop, stephen — i challenged my team of about 200 really bright women and men to take that drive train out of a haul truck and replace it with a hydrogen fuel cell. i gave them three months to do it. they did it, and they did it with days to spare. not many. but at the same time, steve...
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well, hang on. i mean, i read the reports of this high—profile moment where you invited the press to see this amazing monster truck that was now running on hydrogen. as i understand it, it could only run for 20 minutes on hydrogen. yeah, it's called proof of concept. i mean, did you think about the first flight? it's not like these. i mean, that's proof of concept — it worked. it's no use to you. 20 minutes of truck operation is of no use to you. it might take you many, many more years. judging about the future of the battery in electric cars... the fuel tank, stephen, was about this size, not that much bigger. so now we're putting in a really big fuel tank. we think it can run about 2k hours, and really i'm ecstatic with that. i mean, it's away from the plant, it can refuel in minutes. so if we can get it to 2a hours, i'm shifting those trucks up to site. but, stephen, let's not focus... hang on, i'm trying to get inside your business brain,
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and you've just used the word "if". you're telling me you're utterly committed to this, but i'm asking you if you fail, and it's very possible you will, in 2030 that you're not a net zero emitter, what will you do? will you literally close down the company? there are 15,000 jobs at stake, there's a $30 billion—a—year operation at stake. are you simply saying if fortescue doesn't meet its targets, we'll stop operating? stephen, what we're doing is aiming to get in a little bit earlier than 2030. but if we don't make 2030, i'm not going to go and throw all my toys out of the window and say, "ok, team, we're..." by that stage, we're nearly going to be there. we'll keep pushing ahead, stephen. but, stephen, we're not going into this with eyes wide shut. we're going in eyes wide open. 0ur trucks, yes, you've focused in on that, but don't forget trains. we're up to about 73—74% of green hydrogen running in a train engine and 100% on a ship's engine. now, these are huge emitters, much bigger than fortescue, and we're running green fuel through these machines, proving it can be done.
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and again, as a green crusader now, self—styled, would you say that you have to take responsibility for what happens down the supply chain? once you provide your iron ore to china, for example, you know that hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon are added to that product to turn it into steel, which is turned into the buildings that fuel the chinese economic growth. you are part of a chain which remains anathema to changing the planet for the good. how do you square that with your ambitions? because just by hard work, stephen. by really hard work. yeah, we take risk, we take calculated risk. i've taken it all my life. you've known me a long time, you've seen me do it. this is no different. we haven't gone to our dozens and dozens of steel mill customers all over the world and say, "we're going to drop you by 2040 if you don't go green." we haven't done that, stephen. we've said, "we're going to produce green hydrogen. try it in your furnaces. it takes the oxygen and the impurities out of the iron ore as easily as coal, but what comes up the spout isn't carbon dioxide. it's pure water, it's steam.
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let's give that a crack." and they've said to me, "where are we going to get it from?" and i've said, "we're going to supply it." right, so you're now talking about green steel, notjust green hydrogen energy, but actual green steel. yeah — te bigger, scarier commitment for us, stephen, was to have what they call scope 3 — our clients, our customers — which are really hard to control, right? and they use our iron ore. it's not really the problem — the problem is the coal. we have to give them a viable, proper commercial solution to coal. that, stephen, is green hydrogen. and that's why i've staked my company, and as you heard me admit, never worked harder now, never been more committed to anything outside of god and family, of course, than this. we'll get back to the technology and what you hope
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it can achieve in a while. but i want to keep this personalforjust a moment longer, cos you now are perhaps one of the most high—profile businessmen in the world, who has made money out of a "dirty industry," and now say that you want to clean up. but then i look at other things that you and your family do. you have a massive meat beef—rearing operation back in australia. it's where your family's made money for many, many years. are you going to fold that up and close it down? because, as prince charles told us just the other day, meat is a profound problem now when it comes to changing the way we emit carbon. yeah, look, my family's been farmers for many years, and we've discovered, as have you and all of us, that in a feedlot, they emit a great deal of methane. they burp it up. now, we're working with csiro, and we have a seaweed called asparagopsis that can be grown in bulk. it's a high—protein feed, and it virtually eliminates the carbon. so, stephen, we're not
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sticking around saying, "oh, this is a problem. we'll leave it to someone else or to the politicians." we're working really hard ourselves to end methane emissions in our cattle. if we can do that in our cattle, like in our company, we can spread that around the world. that's how global warming will end, stephen, by practical, implementable solutions. the scientists that you talk to, and indeed the advocates like greta thunberg, now say this is a crisis. it's an emergency of now. many of the things you are talking about are not of now, they're of years to come. the easiest thing for you to do would actually be saying, "you know what, we're not going to beef any more because it is incompatible with my climate ambitions." ok, i completely disagree. everything about andrew forrest sitting in front of you is practical, implementable solutions, and we're doing it right now. and i really respect greta, i've met her. but what we need is not gretas to go green — she's green — we need big, ugly, heavy industries to go green. and they're to be expected
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to go green, to be encouraged to go green, and not be slandered when they try. but don't we need people like you to get out of some of the industries that you're in, to say, "we're no longer going to do beef production?" yeah, so what does that achieve? just tell me that. imean, no. it's a message to the world, which says, actually, all of us, as a species, are going to eat less meat. oh, no, eating less meat i completely agree with. if you say, "get out of meat," it's just not going to happen. it's like getting out of shipping. what we need is implementable solutions, stephen. just saying, "0h, we're not going to fly, we're not going to travel, we're not going to eat" — that's not going to solve anything. that will actually prolong the fossil fuel industry. that's perfect ammunition for the fossil fuel industry because they know that'll never happen. what we need, stephen, is implementable, practical solutions. that is asparagopsis in cattle feed, stops the methane, and green hydrogen. but that's a rounding error. the big one, stephen, is all the carbon emissions from heavy industry and the fossil fuel sector. and that's why i'm here to say green hydrogen, which is hydrogen made only from renewable electricity, is the solution. and it's here. well, it's what you're here to say, and it's what you're going to cop26
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in glasgow to say to world leaders, but it doesn't seem they're listening. i'm trying to find any government, any state around the world which is actively embracing hydrogen as the energy option for the future. countries are clearly investing massively in wind, in solar, even in nuclear, but i see very few investing massively in hydrogen. yeah, look, they're fantastic rear—vision managers, stephen, but they need other people to take... sorry, who are? politicians are great rear—vision managers. they need something proven to them. they're going to be spending other people's money, stephen. they don't actually get congratulated for losing it. they need people to take risk to prove that it can be done, and then they can back it. what i'm doing with my company — as you've noted, it's a very successful company, it's scary doing it — but we're taking the risk to turn ourselves fully green, make a quid out of it, that's critically important — if we don't make a quid, no—one will follow — make a quid out of it, and then supply green hydrogen, which is a full replacement to make steel with, cement, fertilisers, replace all the energies in mobile and the fixed plant. now, electrification is critical, but let's
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not kid ourselves. the grid isn't clean. the grid's got oil, gas, whatever you like in it. at least green hydrogen, you can drive for a million kilometres, not put a molecule of carbon into the air. because for those who don't know about it, the essence of hydrogen as a power is that you use energy to take from water the hydrogen molecules, which can then be used as a source of energy themselves. and the key is to use renewable electricity to do thatjob. exactly. and that makes it green hydrogen. stephen, you'vejust nailed it. oh, thank you very much, but i want to ask a question. you have to shoot this with electricity from a renewable source. exactly, that's your green hydrogen. and then you burn it,
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and it goes back to water. but here's your problem. you said you hope to make a quid out of it. as i understand it, you, for the last year, have been travelling the world trying to find places where you can find sources of reliable, cheap renewable energy to undertake this hydrogen revolution. i believe you've been to afghanistan, to democratic republic of congo, all sorts of countries which one wouldn't necessarily see as energy powerhouses. what is the thinking behind this? yeah, there aren't tourist destinations, but the last bit of your statement, can ijust help you with? they do have energy powerhouses. the drc has huge renewable energy. in fact, what i love most about the world's conversion from fossil fuel, dirty fuels to a green renewable fuel, particularly green hydrogen, is that most of that power is within the developing world, within the southern hemisphere. the northern hemisphere initially would use most of it, stephen, but you can create very large economies, fully sustainable, electrify their countries, have their kids be able to study at night like ours, which they can't without the lights on, and turn export economies into their countries. and you're trying to persuade me that this is,
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as you're using this word repeatedly, implementable in the short term, to set up in afghanistan, in countries like drc, the renewable energy sources that will power up a hydrogen—based economy around the world. i find that fantastical. all right, well, stephen, we're not talking afghanistan. i've been asked if i'll implement the projects. i did agree with the former government. i've said, "now, we have a set of principles. you can't abide by them. the answer is no." but we have 130 projects, stephen, around the world. now, there's trillions of dollars, there's any type of government commitments, there's lots of bold statements, but there just don't happen to be a lot of projects. and these are great projects, which fortunately many are in the developing world, which can put sustainable economies into their countries, give them exports, give them electrification. so, yes, i'm not shying away from the fact we're investing heavily in the developing world, but we're also investing in north america, we're investing in europe, we're investing in australia, you know? so, really, thank you forjust letting me speak one more moment.
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the beauty of green energy and green hydrogen is that you can get it from home. britain doesn't have to import it. it can get it from home. australia can have all its energy from home. so can the drc. so can central asia, so can north america. listen, there's no question you speak with great passion. it is a very exciting vision that you are offering to the world — a truly clean, renewable energy which we all, every country, doesn't matter what natural resources you've got, every country could tap into it. i get it, it's exciting — but isn't the truth that you, like your whole government and nation in australia, are betting the farm on future technologies because you don't want to face present—day realities — that actually what would make a difference today, for example, is a carbon tax, a pollution tax, which you and your government in australia have always shied away from. isn't that, here and now, the best solution?
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ok, so, stephen, i mean... you can try and fence me into this. you know, you're a bit of a hypocrite. yeah, heavy manufacturing, you shouldn't be doing this, that. all i can say, stephen, we need solutions. we need solutions right now. fortescue�*s implementing solutions right now. we are big believers in green hydrogen. we believe, unlike a carbon tax, it'll actually save you money. it's like a carbon tax in reverse. now, are politicians, are you asking, very good at spending other people's money and putting a carbon tax on? yeah, they are. do i have a view on that? no, i don't. what i would like to raise, though, which seems asinine if we're ever going to go green as a country or as a world, what are we doing about these monster big subsidies paid for by you, by me, by every other taxpayer out
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there into fossil fuels? how does that work? how do we assimilate fossil fuel subsidies with the slow elimination of fossil fuels to a green future? so, what is your message to your own government, your own people? you want to deliver on a green agenda. australia right now is the second—biggest coal exporter in the world. 50,000 jobs directly in coal, but many, many tens of thousands are more connected to the coal industry. do you believe australia has to divorce itself from coal? so, stephen, ido. you know, you say 50,000 — that's actually less than the people who work in the retail chain of hardware called bunnings. i mean, it's not a really big number. if you look at... no, but the regional economies of your particular states in australia rely on coal, and it has incredible political power to this very day. we see it in the morrison government. stephen, you make a great point. i'm saying to you that those politicians relying on that big coal lobby, they're getting pretty lonely because the truth is coming out. stephen, these huge renewable
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energy projects where we're putting an electrolyser manufacturing centre, where we're putting our green energy projects, they're all in the regions. you can't park them in fleet street or toorak. they're in the regions. they're where the coal workers are, where the farmers are, where you need the employment most. that's the real key here. and i just want to talk for a second, take electrolysers, splits water into hydrogen. we're going to double the capacity of electrolysers with one factory in one country, in australia, in the next couple of years. and we're going to bring the cost of electrolysers down from 1.2 million euros, which is what they cost here per megawatt, down to about 250,000. now, stephen, that is a huge step change in the cost of making green energy. like, per megawatt, it's about 800,000, but per gigawatt, it's 800 million. now you're talking real money which can take on the fossil fuel sector dollar—for—dollar. i get you, but, again, it's this debate we've had since the conversation started
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about what's deliverable in the short term. in the short term, australia right now is still reliant, i think, to 60% on coal for its electricity. i said if i could flick a switch, mate, it would've been flicked by now. instead, with my little life, with everything i can do in our time on this planet, i am going as hard as i can. as you correctly pointed out, it's not just the first australian mining company, it's first australian... first mining company full stop. one of the first, if not the first, very heavy industry companies, heavy carbon—polluting companies to say not only we will have our customers green by 2040, we will go green by 2030. and here's the trucks running on green. here's the trains running on green. here's the ship's engines running on green. we're going flat out, stephen.
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so, here and now, i can't do more, old mate, i'm doing my best. while you're doing your best, you are one of the world's richest men. i read all the reports about your fortunes. i didn't know that was a crime, stephen. no, it's not a crime. in fact, farfrom being a crime, if you can... i couldn't get away, remember. ..if you can leverage that money — and you've promised to give most of it away — if you can leverage that money to deliver some of the things you're talking about, people around the world would embrace you and they would welcome it. but i'm just fascinated by your relationship with the politicians, coming back to australia. you are led by a prime minister who, until the last few days, has shied away from committing australia to net—zero by 2050. he didn't apparently want to go to the glasgow cop26 summit, although now he says he will. what do you feel about the political leadership you're getting? we are a big, noisy, colourful democracy. i have this funny crack about my country — we always do the right thing after we've exhausted all other options. but i do think, stephen,
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i do think that australia is coming on board, the prime minister coming. you know, notjust me, many of us spoke to the prime minister, said you really need to be there. we have trading partners all over the world. we have to not only do the right thing, we have to be seen to be doing the right thing. but mostly, stephen, i'd say this about my country — we might be slow getting into the blocks, but we will be very fast coming out of the blocks. and stephen, i'm just one company, but the enthusiasm is out there. i went net—zero by 2030. you've had rio tinto, one of the great companies here, come out and say they'll be 50% down. now, that is by 2030. big industry's starting to embrace this, stephen, they're starting to see the lead. they're starting to say, actually, we've got to do this. so, i'm... it could've happened fast. stephen, bloody oath — i'm a big believer in what ijust said. let's make it happen. just one quick question about scott morrison in glasgow, and then ijust want to move on to something else. but scott morrison has a choice to make. does he come to glasgow and say australia will go far beyond what it's already promised to do, which is to cut by 26—28% its emissions by 2030? the americans are now over 50% as a promise by 2030.
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has australia got to go much further? look, stephen, i can only say that we can. we absolutely can. iam big industry... you're a hugely influential voice in your country. you couldn't do more than say, "we can?" you can say, "we must, and if scott morrison doesn't, i will do all in my power to bring him down." yeah, well, stephen, i'm not going to play politics here, old mate. that's just not who i am, but i can say trust a bloke not so much by what he says, but what he does, 0k? so, what i've been doing, i've been speaking to barnabyjoyce, the leader of the nationals. he really understands now that... part of the coalition. part of a coalition, and the kind of handbrake on all this, but he's needed to see the numbers. i believe i haven't persuaded, stephen, that the regions will cop the bulk of the investment. you can't build these things in a coffee shop. so, you're trying to shift australia in that green direction. as hard as i can. my final point to you is that australia's got a profound problem. when one looks at the countries around the world most affected by changing climate today,
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the heating of our planet, australia comes out pretty much on top. we've seen the wildfires, we've seen the prolonged droughts. do you really fear for the future of your country? look, it's not the future of my country alone. i fear for the future of the world. i put myself back into school. you know, science has told me that we'll reach a point — it's called the tipping point or, in science, runaway global warming, where we cannot stop global warming. you know, this is not a joke, global warming is real. i'm putting my company on the line and proving to the rest of business around the world — you can make a dollar out of this, so follow. this is very serious, stephen. we have to end global warming. if you couldn't make a dollar out of it, would you still do it? i would still do it, stephen,
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but no—one would follow. so, it wouldn't be sustainable. yes, i would. but the trick here is to show all the other companies, all the other businesses around the world there's a buck in this. "i know you're not paid to go broke, so follow me, let's do this together." andrew forrest, it has been a pleasure having you back on hardtalk. thank you. thank you, stephen, great to be here. hello. thursday is going to feel chilly — especially when we contrast it with the temperatures we had at the start of the week, when we were getting daytime highs in the high teens, even the low—20s. and it will feel all the more cold because we'll pick up a keen northerly wind. the cold air plunging in behind this weather front, sinking south overnight. ahead of it, some heavy rain which pull off into the continent. and then, through thursday daytime, we open the floodgates for cold air to sweep all the way south through the uk. we'll start the day with some cloud and rain to the south,
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the weather front pulling away, making way for lots of sunshine come the afternoon — but there will be some showers to the northwest, and they will be wintry across the hills and mountains of scotland. the wind a notable feature, gales possible down the north sea coast. these are the temperatures that you'd see on the thermometer — but, factor in the wind, those temperatures along the north sea coast will feel more like 4—5 celsius. we continue with showers streaming into the north and west as we move overnight thursday and into friday. quite a chilly night, as well — in sheltered eastern spots, there could be a patchy frost with sitting in quite cold air, but the strength of the wind will protect many from actually seeing bits of frost. through thursday daytime — sorry, friday daytime, though, the winds will start to ease back a little as a ridge of high pressure builds in from the atlantic. still some showersjust managing to sneak into the top of that ridge, a bit of cloud under it, as well — perhaps not the faultless blue skies of thursday, but it should just feel a little bit milder because the wind won't be quite as cutting. but, for things to really become milder, we need to get to the weekend, and it's all about the change in wind direction. as we say goodbye to this ridge of high pressure, it pushes away to the east
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and we start to pick up a south—westerly. for saturday, i think, actually, a lot of fine weather across the uk. there'll be some cloud closing in to the west, and we will see some rain for northern ireland by the end of the day. but the temperatures lifting up, we should hit the mid—teens, but it will feel so much warmer because we're moving back into a more atlantic airstream. sunday, greater chance of some showers just about anywhere across the uk — sheltered eastern areas favoured for the driest and brightest weather. temperatures possibly up to 15—16 to the south.
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this is bbc news — i'm sally bundock — with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. a stark warning from the world health organization — the pandemic will last longer because of the unequal distribution of vaccines. the g20 will meet at the end of october, we need them to say, "where are we against those commitments?" and i can tell you today, you are not on track. you need to really speed it up. the uk government's under mounting pressure to reintroduce coronavirus restrictions in england — with doctors accusing ministers of being "wilfully negligent". experts in florida are investigating whether suspected human remains belong to the boyfriend of a young woman found murdered last month. and protesters demonstrate outside


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