BBC Energy and Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin on his career highlights

BBC Energy and Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin spoke about his award-winning career in a fascinating and fun conversation with Principal Sir Michael Dixon as part of Giving Day 2021.

Roger, an Associate Fellow of Green Templeton and alum of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, has broadcast on environmental issues since the 1980s.

The BBC created the role of Energy and Environment Analyst in 2004 to allow Roger to work across all media. He has won multiple awards in print, broadcast and radio for his journalism.

During the conversation, Roger spoke on topics including:

How he became an environmental journalist

‘When I joined the Coventry Telegraph, I met one of the founders of the UK Green Party which was then called the People’s Party…  I wrote a big feature about him and he talked to me about all the great things that that had come up in scientific conferences and all the fears there were about the planet and what we needed to do mend the problems and I got very interested.

‘When I joined the BBC, I found that nobody was reporting on these things. The great Geoffrey Lean was reporting for the Observer but there was nobody reporting for the BBC consistently on the environment and there were big stories about pollution, agricultural pollution and acid rain, they just weren’t being touched, so I started doing stuff unofficially and then just carried on, and that was 35 years ago and I’ve never stopped!’

Christmas Eve drinks at Margaret Thatcher’s house

‘After the interview, she said “Mr Harrabin, as it’s Christmas Eve would you like to come upstairs for a drink?” So I opened my mouth to say no because I had two small kids at home, it was Christmas Eve and I still hadn’t finished a feature about the Philippines, But I thought, no you can’t turn down this, a personal invitation for a drink with Mrs Thatcher. So I went upstairs.

Roger Harrabin, Associate Fellow of Green Templeton College
About Roger Harrabin

Associate Fellow Roger Harrabin is the BBC’s Energy and Environment Analyst. Find out more about his career.

‘What can I talk to Mrs Thatcher about? I mean, she wasn’t an easy conversationalist. So I thought I’d tell her about this man in the Philippines who’s illegally cutting the Philippines forest while also standing as a Member of Parliament and also being the main BMW dealer in the Philippines. She seemed to be quite disturbed by what I was saying. Then she suddenly jumped up and said, “Oh excuse me, I must go and put on the chicken!”’

Arguing with Al Gore after an interview

‘I went to interview him after one of his screenings of An Inconvenient Truth in Cambridge… When I started asking him questions about things that I thought he’d rather misrepresented, he started to get tetchier and tetchier.

‘After the interview he stood right in front of me,  just shouting at me. And his right-hand man joined in and he stood right next to me and he was shouting at me as well. What do you do when you’re being shouted at by the Vice President of the United States? I thought, well, I suppose I better shout back.’

Watch the conversation

Other topics Roger and Sir Michael discussed during the wide-ranging interview included Roger’s thoughts on how climate change became part of the global agenda, his views on alternative energy sources including solar, wind, nuclear and burning biomass, how he manages his own carbon footprint, and dealing with ‘really offensive’ emails from critics.

Watch the full conversation between Roger and Sir Michael:

Created: 22 June 2021

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