Royal Society mobilises environmental thinkers for You and the Planet series of events across the UK

22 August 2019

The Royal Society has announced a five-part event series to engage the public with leading experts on the environment. The You and the Planet series will encourage the public to become involved in decisions about our planet’s future.

The UK government has pledged a carbon neutral UK by 2050. Achieving this will be a significant challenge, but a possible path is outlined in the Society’s 2018 Greenhouse gas removal report. Success will require public support for action to ensure that we can grow enough food and meet our energy and other needs without damaging the environment and the life it sustains. Recognising this, the Royal Society will explore the environmental challenges that define the planet’s future by hosting five key events at some of the UK’s cultural landmarks, including the Natural History Museum and the Eden Project.

The series will launch at the Royal Society on 22 October 2019 with a discussion of The State of the Earth which will feature Christiana Figueres, who led the 2015 Paris Agreement and scientist Professor Sir Brian Hoskins FRS. The event will be hosted by Tom Heap (BBC Countryfile, Radio 4’s Costing the Earth). This will be followed by three events covering current issues around energy, food and biodiversity to be held in Swansea (6 November 2019), Newcastle (January 2020) and the Eden Project in Cornwall (February 2020), respectively, and - like all five events - will be open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

The fifth and final event, hosted at the Natural History Museum, London, on 21 March 2020, will be an all-day You and the Planet Festival, featuring talks and hands on demonstrations of technologies of the future.

On the pertinence of You and the Planet, President of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan, says:

“Many of us encounter environmental degradation on a daily basis, be it ‘record-breaking’ summer temperatures, reading about yet another species that has become extinct or the unimaginable food requirements of the near-future. Yet paradoxically, it is this wealth of information that has made it difficult for the average person to disentangle the severity and priority of issues, and action that is fertile versus that which is futile, leaving many to feel less-informed and perhaps even hopeless.

“With You and the Planet we hope to strip away that noise and provide a stage to those at the forefront of real change: Christiana Figueres, who steered the historic 2015 Paris Agreement, Julia Brown, chair of the Carbon Trust and Vice chair of the Committee on Climate Change, and Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon restaurants and leader of Britain’s long-term food system review.

“You and the Planet is a celebration not only of information about the challenges but also of possible solutions. Our greatest threats—mass extinction, global warming, food shortages—are no longer forecasts for tomorrow, but realities of today. But thankfully the panellists in this series will discuss how some of the solutions are already here in the research findings and technologies developed so far and what needs to be done for the future. Through You and the Planet, shown free and streamed live, we aim to inspire a reasoned and rigorous hope for tomorrow.”

The Natural History Museum Director of Engagement, Clare Matterson, says: “The catastrophic consequences of climate change have long been a focus of both our scientific research and our public engagement which reaches over 20 million people globally.  We are excited to partner with the Royal Society to host the ‘You and the Planet Festival’ to provide an inspiring day for young people to gain the knowledge, the passion and the skills to help create a world where both people and planet thrive.”

Eden Project Chief Executive, Gordon Seabright, says: “The Royal Society’s You and the Planet series could not be more timely. The events offer a compelling opportunity to engage with a wide audience on the great global challenges of our age. Collaborating in the struggle against climate change and biodiversity loss can only make us stronger.”You and the Planet series will be live-streamed on the Royal Society’s channels for those unable to attend the public lectures, each talk being made freely available online thereafter.