[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC OnePanorama


Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 17:13 GMT
Go Green Or Else Transcript

DATE: 05:03:07

JEREMY VINE: Good evening. I'm Jeremy Vine and this is Panorama. Meet the Rowlatts. First we took away their car then their holiday flights and then their Sunday lunch so you can enjoy their pain. But one day we can all be forced to go green, so watch, and weep. Yes, the bin police are coming and road pricing could well be hot on their heels. Now if you're the kind of person who wakes up every morning wanting to save the planet, you will already be doing your bit. But the rest of us may just need some persuasion. Tonight we've got a preview of what's to come, with a family who've been forced to go green for the whole year.

JUSTIN ROWLATT: I'm no tree-hugging eco warrior so I knew exactly what to do when I was told to go green or else.

JUSTIN: I jetted off to the Canaries before they tried to turn me into an ethical man. I took the whole family, my wife Bee, and my daughters Eva and Zola. Do you think I'm going to be a good ethical man?

BEE: I don't think it comes to you naturally?

JUSTIN: What do you mean? Are you saying I don't care?

BEE: Yes.

JUSTIN: And what makes you say that?

BEE: The fact that you don't care.


JUSTIN: She's right, I'm not keen on turning my life upside-down. I mean how much difference can one family really make?

Hi yah Tim. I'm Justin.

TIM: Hi.

JUSTIN: Hi yah.

TIM: You must be Ethical Man.

JUSTIN: My family's whole way of life is in this man's hands because Professor Tim Jackson will be setting our carbon challenge.

Professor JIM JACKSON University of Surrey

The bottom line, Justin, is that your household is responsible for around about 10 tons of carbon per annum.

JUSTIN: It's actually a little lower than average for a family of our size but the Professor doesn't seem too impressed.

TIM: [looking at pie chart] Now here's your electricity 10%, there's your gas 10%. This holiday that you took in the....

JUSTIN: The Canaries.

TIM: In the Canaries...

JUSTIN: Our Canaries holiday is a ton of carbon, almost, over a tone of carbon.

TIM: Almost.. over a ton of carbon.

JUSTIN: That's the same as our entire electricity load for the year, just flying the four of us.

TIM: Just taking that trip.

JUSTIN: I was only there for four days, and it wasn't even that sunny.

So how bad is it going to be? What is the Professor's challenge. Well the government wants us all to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 60% by 2050. Now the professor's challenge for my family is more modest, reducing our carbon footprint by 20% but he's not going to give us 44 years to do it in. He's giving us just the one.

March 2006

That's a tall order, a fifth of my family's total carbon emissions, so where do I start?

This little device I'm hoping will help me in my efforts to save electricity. What this does is take the electricity meter out from under the stairs so you can see how much energy you're using wherever you are in the house. Now at the moment I'm using none because I've turned everything off including the fridge. But if I turn on this 100 watt non-energy-saving light bulb, as you can see, it shows that I'm using just over 0.1 kilowatt hours of energy.

['Binky-Dink' - oddity on wheels] But how much energy is that? Well, believe it or not, this contraption should help me find out. So now when I cycle I'm powering this 100.. is it 100 watt, Danny?

DANNY: This is 100 watt bulb, a normal light bulb.

JUSTIN: So how much effort will it take to keep that burning?


Well I think five minutes will...

JUSTIN: Five minutes (laughing) All right, we'll see how we get on.

All that effort to light one bulb! Okay, that's five minutes. If I had to do that every time I wanted to turn on a light, I'd certainly think twice about it. Well I've had a bit of a break, Danny, and by comparison with the other light bulb, this one is like free-wheeling.

DANNY: This one is much easier, it uses a fifth of the energy of the other one. You could have five of those light bulbs to one of them.

JUSTIN: But the same amount of light?

DANNY: The same amount of light.

JUSTIN: This is more like it then. Yeah, I can do you five minutes of this, no problem.

We've got the lights on in the kitchen. I've got the kettle on to make a cup of tea, and the tumble drier's on and that is 55 times the amount of energy to keep that one light bulb going, 55 ethical men cycling. So to start cutting carbon, I'd better change those light bulbs.

That doesn't even register. Right, how about standby? Let's have a look. Soon we may all be doing things like this, checking out precisely how much power we're using, and that's a lot more than the lights upstairs, because the government has suggested tackling climate change by rationing our carbon footprints, issuing us all with personal carbon allowances.

Meanwhile our energy intensive tumble dryer is banned. Not so easy when you've got kids. But I don't think these little changes will be enough.

April 2006

One month into the experiment - I'm regretting I ever agreed to this because the Professor is taking away our car. Cars produce 11% of the country's carbon emissions. According to Professor Tim our estate car accounts for 13% of my family's footprint. The longer we can do without it the more carbon we'll save. So the question is, how long will we last?

BEE: Right, off we go.

JUSTIN: What's going on Bee?

BEE: We're trying to get to kids show.

JUSTIN: And why are we rushing, Bee? Bee, why are we rushing?

BEE: You know, we're late. It's 9 o'clock now.

JUSTIN: Explain to me why we're late. The reason we're late is that we forgot that we didn't have a car, this being the first Saturday without a car and so we misjudged the time.

EVA: We've been practising how to run. As a nation we drive more than ever before, partly because over the last 30 years driving has got cheaper while the cost of taking public transport has almost doubled, and hasn't got any easier.

One week later and the novelty of walking has warn off for the girls too.

ZOLA: I don't like walking, it's ??

JUSTIN: You don't like walking? Why not?

ZOLA: It's horrible.

JUSTIN: It's not horrible, it's nice.

ZOLA: ?? ??

JUSTIN: Come on you two, come on. ZOLA: (throwing tantrum)

JUSTIN: It looks like this is going to be a tough year, and yes, that's right, I still need to make more cuts. Our homes account for a quarter of the UK CO2 emissions. The Professor reckons our 3 bedroom terrace produces more than two tons of carbon, half from power and half from heating. But take a look at this thermal image. We seem to be keeping the whole street warm. All that yellow and white you can see is heat pouring out of my house.

RICHARD MACPHAIL: It's a mid terrace house so there's no heat loss either side and you've got a good gas boiler.

JUSTIN: So those are the good things.

RICHARD: Those are the good things.

JUSTIN: And what are the bad things?

RICHARD MACPHAIL Home Energy Auditor

Well, the bad things are the fact that there's no loft insulation to speak of, and the walls and the windows.

JUSTIN: Those are the bad things. So the entire rest of the house, the roof, the walls and the windows are the bad things. The good things are my boiler.


JUSTIN: Mmm... so what can I do? We use our loft so insulating the roof properly would cost over 1000.

Would it pay itself off? RICHARD: The payback would be long because you're only saving maybe 50 a year so you can do the sums. Twenty years it'll take you to get the money back.

JUSTIN: What about the windows with those cold pockets?

RICHARD: Even longer.

JUSTIN: Really?

RICHARD: Yeah, double glazing has the longest payback period of all.

JUSTIN: How much would it cost?

RICHARD: Well thousands.

JUSTIN: To get it done.

RICHARD: Mmm hm, and the payback period would be 80-100 years.

JUSTIN: So there's a carbon cost, it's wasteful my house, but it's not economic for me to put in the measures that would make it more carbon effect efficient.


JUSTIN: It doesn't make financial sense to heat-proof our home. But the cheap option of doing nothing doesn't make any sense at all. So I'm back to doing little things.

I'm trying to do the draft-proofing around the house.

BEE: That's good because the weather is really cold, but the fact is, you always leave the doors open, all of them (laugh). There's little point insulating the windows when the doors are wide open. JUSTIN: Yes, but that behaviour I can address that, I can start closing the door.

BEE: Oh good. Okay.

JUSTIN: We've also turned down the thermostat. I've bought some lining for the curtains in the girls room. We're putting a bit of insulation in the leakiest bit of the attack and all for less that 300 quid.

Do you think I should block it?


JUSTIN: Do you think that would make things a bit....

ZOLA: Because wind coming up.

JUSTIN: But the problem with doing these little things is they are a bit boring. I'd like to do something a bit more dramatic. I'd like an eco virility symbol, one of those wind turbines up there on my roof, then I'd be able to generate my own carbon free electricity, and, as it happens, I've been offered one to try out for free. You can buy a wind save turbine like this in B&Q. It costs 1500 pounds but the people who make it say it could generate as much as a quarter of my family's electricity, and they've sent an eco-architect round to check out my house.

LEIGH BOWEN Eco-architect I've seen a few working now, they really fly on a day like today.

JUSTIN: Really?

LEIGH: Yeah.

JUSTIN: That's great. But I can't put one up until I get planning permission.

July 2006

It is a scorching summer and I'm learning about rubbish and recycling. This man is a composting king. He even recycles his own pooh. (laughing) I can smell that, John.

The government has talked about limiting how much rubbish we can all leave out. How about a 10 monthly charge for each of your bins. That's something that's been discussed. So John is teaching me how to cut down on my waste.

JOHN COSSHAM Composting Guru I compost cardboard and paper and tissues, in fact anything that's ever lived or grown recently.

JUSTIN: Because you have got a few creatures composting away over here.

JOHN: Yeah, the thing is that dead bodies decompose as well, so in one of these I found.. I'm sorry to say I found a cat on the side of the road and I've composted that.

JUSTIN: The hot summer has brought a drought. John's suggested a little trick to improve your compost and save precious water. He's told me to use the toilet less by urinating in my compost bin.

Obviously we're right on the street.

BEE: Overlooked by neighbours on both sides.

JUSTIN: What do you reckon Bee? Is there anyone down there?

BEE: Just a minute. No.

JUSTIN: Is anyone coming?

BEE: No. No, nobody's looking, quick, quick, quick. Oh God!

JUSTIN: I'll be honest. This isn't what I expected when I joined the BBC. In fact, I need a holiday.

Of course this summer, flying is out. We're taking the train. Right, well here we go, we're on our way. The holiday starts here. Come on girls.

Our sneaky trip to Tenerife in February just before the experiment began notched up well over a ton of carbon - 12% of our footprint for the year. We're off to the South of France, a 12 hour journey. Taking the train is up to ten times less polluting than flying but it can be more expensive. That's in part because airlines don't pay tax on the fuel they use. Air passenger numbers in Britain are expected to double by 2030 helping make aviation the fastest growing source of CO2 worldwide. It's hard to see how the government expects to reach that 60% target for carbon cuts.

(accepting beachside cocktail) Thank you Jethro, that looks fantastic.

I mean me travelling to somewhere like say Jamaica uses about five times the amount of carbon than my entire family travelling all the way to southern France and then all the way back again.

(bongo drums) I've left the family back in Blighty for this trip, a bit more exotic than the South of France. So how can I justify jetting to Jamaica when I'm supposed to be cutting carbon? That's certainly what my wife Bee wanted to know.

BEE: We've been living ethically for nearly a....yeah, for about half a year, we've done everything. We've got rid of a car, we've done a plane-free holiday, and as soon as you want to illustrate something you fly to Jamaica to do it. It's rubbish. I think your viewers will think you're a fraud and a charlatan - ethical man my arse! I hope you get lots of really abusive emails. Write to him viewers.

JUSTIN: What I should have explained is that I'm here in Jamaica to find out about the big idea that we're told will let us all come on holidays to places like this without worrying that we're ruining the planet. It's called carbon off-setting. At it's simplest, what you do is work out your carbon emissions, two tons of carbon dioxide for this trip and then get someone else to cut their carbon emissions by the same amount. What you're doing is offsetting your carbon use against their carbon cuts.

Buying a carbon offset couldn't be simpler. You just log on, calculate your carbon and pay up - 15.84 for my weekend in Jamaica. So where does that cash go? That's what I'm here to find out, because some of that money helps this man install energy saving light bulbs in..? Yeah, a beachside hotel.

LIPPY BUTLER Director, Eco-Tec This is a 15-watt bulb compact fluorescence. Basically it's going to save you about half a ton of CO2 in its lifetime. JUSTIN: Half a ton of...! So my two tons of CO2 that we estimate I emitted as I flew over, four of these would be enough to offset that?

LIPPY: 100%.

JUSTIN: So how many of these have you installed in this hotel?

LIPPY: About 800 bulbs.

JUSTIN: This offsetting lark is so simple I've decided to do a bit of DIY offsetting.

This should save you... this is like cost.. just use one fifth of the electricity. Would you like that?

JAMAICAN: Yeah man.

JUSTIN: Will you use it in your house if I give it you?


JUSTIN: Because I want to give it to you so that there's less pollution in Jamaica and then I can fly around the world.

Frankly, if it's as easy as this, I could pay a company a couple of hundred quid and get my entire life back - my car, the tumble drier, holidays abroad, the lot.

JAMAICAN WOMAN: Only one bulb?

JUSTIN: Well I'll take it away then.

JAMAICAN WOMAN: Oh give it to me. (laugh) JUSTIN: Solving global warming can't really be this simple, can it?

Hi Tim.

TIM: Justin, tell me it isn't true.

JUSTINE: Oh you mean Jamaica ?

TIM: What were you thinking of?

JUSTINE: Well the idea was, you know, we'll offset it.


University of Surrey

How offsetting. Yeah, but the whole point is.. you know, it's your responsibility for carbon footprint. The emissions are up there now, there's nothing you can do about it. I'm going to have to put it in your footprint. Do you know how much it's worth?

JUSTIN: No, go on.

TIM: It's about the same as six months of giving up your car.

JUSTIN: The same as six months of the car?

TIM: Yeah, you've blown it.

JUSTIN: What, you're saying you're going to count it?

TIM: Of course I'm going to count it. I'm your carbon guru.

November 2006

JUSTIN: I desperately need that wind turbine to get me out of this mess. The planning permission has come through but...

BEE: Oh, what's happened?

JUSTIN: Well Windsaver rung to say they're not going to put the turbine up. They were going to come on Friday, three days time, and now they're not going to do it. They say that we're not getting a turbine.

BEE: Why not?

JUSTIN: Well they said the house isn't suitable but they've known what the house is like since the architects first came round in March or whatever, so they've had 7 months and 3 days before they put it in they've decided we ain't going to get it.

They've told me there's not enough wind at my home, even though I live on a hill. So when would it be worthwhile? Well the average wind speed in the UK is just below 6 metres per second, so how much would that shave off your electricity bill?


Chief Executive, Windsave

46 metres you'll save about 10 a year. From 6 metres onwards you can save up to 50 - 100.

JUSTIN: Metres per second.

DAVID: Metres per second.

JUSTIN: So 4-6 metres 10 a year. I mean that's barely anything, isn't it, if you're paying one and a half grand for the turbine.

DAVID: Over that, you will then.. you could save 50-100. JUSTIN: But even where speeds are higher than 6 metres per second, if there are buildings nearby you wont always get the full force.

Most people who live in cities and towns cannot benefit from your system, can they?

DAVID: One in five can benefit.

JUSTIN: These are coastal... these are coastal, these are people who live on the coast where there's very high winds. You've said yourself, the problem here is that I'm surrounded by other houses. The wind - what wind there is - is broken, so the truth is, most people in towns and cities, except in really exposed towns and cities, will not be able to benefit from a small turbine.

DAVID: In areas where they can get the wind speed they will benefit.

JUSTIN: I am getting really worried. How on earth am I going to meet Professor Tim's target? It seems the only things that work are turning the telly off at the end of the day and changing a couple of my light bulbs.

It's time to get serious! To my amazement we're doing okay without the car. We live in a city and are well served by public transport. We're all cycling now and what's more we're saving loads of money. Without all the cost of having a car, I reckon we're two grand a year better off. But what really persuaded us we could live car free was the day our baby was born back in May.

Bee's contractions started at 2.00am and with no car and so late at night we.... well we walked to hospital. It is pretty close by. Fifteen long hours later and Elsa arrived. If we can get through the birth of a child without a car, we reckon we can live without it permanently.

Seven months ago we had our car taken away, now we've decided to give it away. My friend Gideon is getting it but first his run down old rust bucket has to go. We've agreed to a kind of car share. Gid will lend us back our car for the occasional holiday trip. So we've taken a polluting old banger off the road and almost all of it can now be recycled to make other things.

December 2006

Meet Ned, he's my Christmas dinner. All year I've been trying to cut the carbon cost of my family's food. We've been cutting food miles by buying locally grown veg. I've even tried foraging for fruit on the streets around my home.

BEE: For the neighbours who didn't catch you pissing in your front garden and will now be able to see you nicking stuff out of their garden.

JUSTIN: This is a delicious bunch of grapes, I'm not sure they're... it's a little bit late in the season.

BEE: What do you think Zoe?

ZOE: (sampling the grapes) Yuck.

JUSTIN: Now, with just a couple of months left the Professor has a final challenge for me, to give up all meat and dairy products.

Look at that! (grabbing Ned by the legs) Right Ned, you're going to meet Tony, every turkey's worst nightmare. And Ned will be my last meat. Watching Ned's last moments didn't dull my appetite for him. Have your food, Eva. How's Ned?

EVA: Where's Ned?

JUSTIN: Ned's on your plate. How's Ned, Bee?

BEE: Oh Ned is delicious.

JUSTIN: Really? BEE: Look, Elsa's eating him too. Come on Elsa. She loves him.

JUSTIN: Now Ned is dead, all animal products are off the menu. Why? Because farming animals produces an astonishing 18% of all greenhouse gases. That's more than all the transport on earth, planes, trains, cars, the lot, and these are the main culprits. I'm hoping to record a cow burping. Sounds like a joke but the methane in the burps and farts of the world's 3 billion cows and sheep, together with the nitrous oxide produced in their manure contributes 10% of all global warming gases. That's right, 10% of the world total. Of course there are emissions issues for vegans too.

BEE: What's it like being a vegan, vegan boy?

JUSTIN: I'll tell you what, I've saved quite a bit of money.

BEE: You've lost a bit of weight as well.

JUSTIN: Yeah, I think so. A little bit slimmer.

BEE: Any unpleasant side effects?

JUSTIN: Yeah, a modest increase in ?? emission, yeah, and a little bit more... I fart a bit more, yeah.

BEE: Thank God this year is nearly over.

JUSTIN: But have there been any benefits?

BEE: You've lost two kilograms.


Your total cholesterol came down from 5.5 to 3.4.

JUSTIN: That's amazing.

JOHANN: It is amazing.

JUSTIN: I'll be honest, a month is enough. I'm not going to stay vegan but I will try to eat less meat because Professor Tim reckons my vegan diet halved the carbon footprint of my food.

Feb 2007

But how has this year changed the whole family's carbon footprint? Well, our experiment comes to an end today. The professor is coming round to tell us what difference, if any, all this going green has made. This is the moment of truth.

Okay Tim, lay it on us. How did we do?

TIM: Oh Justin, I've bought you a present. JUSTIN: Great, that's a good start.

TIM: This is your carbon footprints. (producing gateaux pie chart)

JUSTIN: That's our ten tons is it?

TIM: It was your ten ton and I'm going to show you how much you've cut. It's about that much.

JUSTIN: That is a generous slice of cake in my book.

TIM: It is about the 20% I asked you for.

JUSTIN: 20%?

BEE: That's all we've saved.

JUSTIN: Well we met his target.

TIM: You met the target, and you have to remember this is all the carbon.

BEE: It felt like more than that.

TIM: Yeah, because in a sense you did more. This is not just the stuff you're directly responsible for. This is all the carbon and all the goods and services, hospital, schools, government and the businesses who make the things that you use.

JUSTIN: The stuff we buy, okay.

TIM: You don't have a great deal of control over that, but you do have a lot of control in your home.


TIM: And I've brought you another cake.

BEE: Okay.

TIM: This is what you have achieved on your direct household footprint.

JUSTIN: Oh right, that's not bad... that's not bad.

TIM: That was 37% of your direct carbon footprint. So that's... let's have a look at what you have done.

JUSTIN: So how have we achieved that?

TIM: Well you've done a number of things really, it's not all in one place. You see you've cut down your gas consumption a little bit, a little bit of insulation.

JUSTIN: A little bit! 15%!

TIM: 15% reduction. Electricity is even better. You've got a 22% reduction in one year in your electricity.

JUSTIN: So that's just from doing stuff like changing the light bulbs which, to be honest, I was quite sceptical about.

TIM: And a little bit of behaviour change, turning stuff off.

JUSTIN: Turning stuff off. That will save us serious money. The gas and the electricity will save us money.

TIM: It will save you money and is reducing carbon.

JUSTIN: It's probably like 150-200 quid a year.

TIM: It's a no-brainer really.

BEE: This is a great saving.

JUSTIN: The car - 92%!

TIM: It's the single biggest thing that you've done. I mean I know it was a kind of tough lifestyle choice.

JUSTIN: I suppose one disappointment comes here with these holiday flights.

TIM: (laugh) Holiday flights!

BEE: It's not the saving it should be, is it really.

TIM: Justin, I mean this is my biggest disappointment, I have to tell you...

BEE: And mine.

TIM: This would have been 100% reduction but it's not.

JUSTIN: This is the trip to Jamaica you're alluding to I suppose.

TIM: 47% reduction only.

BEE: How could you, Justin!

JUSTIN: We really do get to cut our carbon cake and eat it too because going green has saved us serious money, I reckon about 2,500 over the year.

BEE: So Justin, it's all over. How was it?

JUSTIN: It was easier than I thought it was going to be, even doing without the car has been absolutely fine. But there are some things we're going to go back on and now I'm going go turn the camera on you. What are we going to go back on, Bee?

BEE: Well I've actually just booked our summer holiday and we are going to fly, but we will fly a lot less, maybe once a year. But yeah, there's one thing that you still haven't learnt to do and that's shut the door. It can't be that hard.

JEREMY VINE: That is a pretty good result, and remember, all of this is coming our way. Justin Rowlatt reporting. He's usually to be found on Newsnight. Our thanks to Bee and to the long-suffering Eva and Zola and little baby Elsa.

Next week - murder in slow motion. One by one the clues the police ignored that led to the murder of a woman stalked by her ex-boyfriend.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific