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Our planet

Geopolitics. Environment. Natural resources.

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Making sense of cheap chicken, with Giles Whittell

How much should a chicken really cost? It’s our favourite meat and costs less than a pint. We know this has an environmental cost, from deforestation for chicken feed to water pollution. But what’s a fair price – and how can we get consumers to pay it? A discussion that brings in the idea of how often we should eat chicken (and other meat), whether we should tax it, how we maintain access to cheap protein while looking after the environment and respecting animal lives.This ThinkIn is part of Tortoise’s Accelerating Net Zero coalition.The initiative brings together our members and a network of organisations across a programme of ThinkIns and journalism devoted to accelerating progress towards Net Zero.Visit the homepage to find out more about the coalition and join us. With thanks to our coalition members: a network of organisations similarly committed to achieving Net Zero. editor and invited experts Giles WhittellSensemaker Editor Angela JonesEnvironmentalist and Campaigner, ‘Wild Woman of the Wye’ Celia HomyakPh.D. Co-Director & Industry Fellow Alternative Meats Lab Shraddha KaulDirector of External Affairs at British Poultry

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Making sense of hidden Chinese influence, with Poppy Sebag-Montefiore

The West has invested a lot in engagement with China. But in our attempt to build a closer relationship with one of the world’s largest economies, have we given away more than we realised? Maybe Western institutions weren’t assertive enough about their values, or perhaps the profit motive was too strong, but it looks like we got the wrong end of the bargain as China’s Communist Party exerts a greater influence in the UK. From the City’s financial institutions to the UK’s top universities, how much self-censorship takes place when it comes to China and the influence of its government?  When is it activated and when do we become aware of it? Why are we sensitive to it in some parts and what are our blind spots? What does our relationship with China and its influence in the UK say about the tensions in our democracy between free speech and free market?  editor and invited experts Poppy Sebag-MontefioreJournalist and Reporter on ‘Hollywood’s cultural revolution’, Tortoise Isabel Hilton OBEJournalist and Broadcaster, reporting extensively from China and Hong Kong Mark WheatleyCommon Councilman for Dowgate, City of London

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Food crisis: can the UK feed itself?

Improving the food system is one of the greatest challenges we face today. As the National Food Strategy, led by Henry Dimbleby, notes, “the global food system is the single biggest contributor to biodiversity loss, deforestation, drought, freshwater pollution and the collapse of aquatic wildlife. It is the second-biggest contributor to climate change, after the energy industry.” The UK Government is due to publish its formal response in the form of a food strategy white paper this summer. This will be the Government’s chance to set out its vision and actions necessary to help turn the National Food Strategy’s recommendations into a reality. However, the Government cannot tackle this issue alone. A grassroots movement and engagement from across different sectors is required too. Bonnie Wright’s book Go Gently provides practical ways in which people, communities and organisations can do this, while recognising the vital role governments at all levels can play in unlocking the potential for food system transformation. Join us for a ThinkIn that brings together the key voices on this agenda from inside and outside of government to discuss how we can create a healthy, sustainable food system in Britain. editor and invited experts Jeevan VasagarClimate Editor Bonnie WrightActor, Activist and Author of ‘Go Gently’ Henry DimblebyFounder of Leon, Government Advisor and National Food Strategy Lead Victoria Prentis MPMinister of State at DEFRA

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Making sense of batteries, with Giles Whittell

A race is on for control of vital materials that go into batteries. China is way out in front, and demand for these materials — lithium, copper, nickel, cobalt and rare earths few people can name — is going to quintuple by 2030. Is it time for democratic countries to form a western battery alliance to make sure they’re not held hostage by dictatorships as they make the energy transition?This ThinkIn is part of Tortoise’s Accelerating Net Zero coalition.The initiative brings together our members and a network of organisations across a programme of ThinkIns and journalism devoted to accelerating progress towards Net Zero.Visit the homepage to find out more about the coalition and join us. With thanks to our coalition members: a network of organisations similarly committed to achieving Net Zero. editor and invited experts Giles WhittellSensemaker Editor Amber RuddFormer Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change Chris SkidmoreMP for Kingswood Lee RowleyMP for North East Derbyshire Steve LeVineEditor, The Electric

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The Hong Kong Diaries: In conversation with Lord Chris Patten

How do you negotiate with China? 25 years after one of the most pivotal moments in British-Chinese relations, we speak to Lord Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong. Between 1992 and 1997, Patten kept a diary describing in detail how Hong Kong was run as a British colony, what happened as the handover approached, and his efforts to secure political freedom for Hong Kong’s institutions. Unexpectedly, his opponents included not only the Chinese themselves, but some British businessmen and civil service mandarins upset by Patten’s efforts, for whom political freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong seemed less important than keeping on the right side of Beijing. With unprecedented insights into negotiating with the Chinese, we’ll discuss Hong Kong, the handover and what has happened since. Join us for a ThinkIn with Lord Patten’s powerful assessment of recent events and his reflections on how to deal with China — then and now. editor and invited experts James HardingCo-Founder and Editor Lord Chris PattenGovernor of Hong Kong, 1992-1997

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Making sense of the right to protest, with Dave Taylor

The government is trying again to pass new laws to stop disruptive and noisy protest from environmental groups like Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion. Is the right to live without disruption more important than the right to protest? Join Tortoise editor David Taylor and special guests to work out where you stand. editor and invited experts David TaylorEditor Emmanuelle AndrewsPolicy and Campaigns, Liberty Rev. Gregory Seal LivingstonFounder & President of EquanomicsGlobal Sophie CorcoranConservative Activist and Commentator

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Sack the leaders: are young people the answer to a net-zero future?

Young people are no strangers to activism. Several young climate activists — Greta Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate and Alexandria Villaseñor to name a few — have led protests that have gathered momentum globally. From platforming the voices of young people fighting for their futures to becoming influential climate champions, young people are at the forefront of the campaign for climate justice. Despite this,  their voices often don’t reach the upper echelons of climate governance conversations.Critics argued that youth participation at COP26 amounted to inviting “cherry-picked young people to meetings like this to pretend that they listen to us”, whilst world leaders simultaneously failed to commit to the drastic action necessary to protect the lives of young people and future generations.So, how can young people turn their activism into impactful action, when it’s often a struggle just to get their voices heard? What evidence is there to illustrate that having young people around the negotiating table makes a meaningful difference in climate governance? And, is this narrative of old versus young helpful?  editor and invited experts Ellen HallidayEditor Emily VernallCOP26 Youth Delegation

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In conversation with Jack Monroe

Monroe rose to prominence writing about their struggles to feed their young son with a food budget of £10 a week on their blog ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’. Since then, Monroe has published cookbooks filled with “austerity recipes” and has given evidence in Parliament highlighting the impact of the rising cost of basic food items on people living in poverty.In response to George Eustice’s suggestion that shoppers could “manage their household budget” by changing the brands they buy, they responded that “somebody who claims £196,000 in expenses in a single year is in no position to tell other people to get cheaper biscuits”.Join us for a very special ThinkIn with Jack, where we’ll be talking all about food poverty campaigning, the cost of living crisis, and the inflation of a bag of pasta with their trademark wit and cutting commentary. editor and invited experts David TaylorEditor Jack MonroeCampaigner, Author and Blogger — ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’

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Making sense of Boris Johnson’s Conservative party, with Lara Spirit

Local elections are done but Boris Johnson’s fate is far from clear. Join reporter Lara Spirit to chew over what the results really mean for the Prime Minister — and who in his party might be compelled to move against him off the back of them.  editor and invited experts Lara SpiritReporter John McTernanPolitical Strategist; Former Political Secretary to Tony Blair Peter KellnerJournalist and Political Commentator