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Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Monday, 5 March 2007

Go Green or Else!

Justin Rowlatt
Justin ponders what can a family do to reduce their carbon footprint

We are told climate change is the biggest threat facing the world but is there anything the average family can do about it?

On Monday we find out. The BBC has forced one of its reporters and his family to "go green" for an entire year.

Their challenge? To make as big a cut in the family's carbon footprint as they can.

But their efforts didn't just affect the environment.

"With all the rows and arguments it sometimes felt like we were making an episode of Wife Swap rather than a Panorama on how to tackle climate change," says Justin.

'Eco virility symbol'

Every aspect of their life and every family member was affected: Justin and his wife Bee as well as five-year-old Eva, four-year-old Zola and baby Elsa.

Justin with his family
Justin and his family had to give up their car

How long will they be able to survive without their car? Should they invest in expensive insulation and double glazing to cut carbon or are there cheap and simple alternatives?

Then there is Justin's "eco virility symbol". How much carbon free electricity will the wind turbine he wants to install on the roof of their terraced home actually generate?

Justin has a particularly taxing time. He has to stop eating all meat and dairy products for a month to see how that affects the carbon footprint of his food.

'Carbon guru'

Naturally he wants to know if there are any short-cuts to green living. Flights are banned so the summer holiday is by train.

Bee with money
The Rowlatts saved thousands of pounds by going green for a year

But then Justin finds a reason to leave his wife and children at home and to fly to Jamaica. Bee is not impressed so what is his excuse?

He says it's to investigate carbon offsetting and whether it works. So does it prove the solution he seeks to get the family's old lifestyle back?

The final judge of all of this is Professor Tim Jackson of the University of Surrey, the Rowlatt's "carbon guru".

He's an expert in sustainable consumption and ecological economics. The professor calculates precisely how much impact the family's "eco make-over" is having on their carbon footprint.

If you want to find out how the Rowlatts got on you'll have to watch the programme. But there's one thing you should know now. They save serious money by going green for a year - more than two thousand five hundred pounds.

  • Go Green Or Else will be aired on BBC One and on this site on Monday 5 March at 2030.

    Go Green Or Else Transcript
    07 Mar 07 |  Panorama
    Ethical links
    06 Apr 06 |  Newsnight
    I am the ethical man
    22 Feb 06 |  Newsnight
    My carbon footprint
    22 Feb 06 |  Newsnight


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