By some perspectives, the planet owes Lord Nicholas Stern a big thank you - for transforming the debate on climate change into frightening economic terms.

The author of the groundbreaking Stern Review has warned that if action is not taken on climate change, we face an economic crisis ten times worse than the one we are experiencing now.

This week George Negus asks the former World Bank chief economist about Australia’s role in tackling climate change, and what he thinks of the Rudd government’s handling of the issue of late.

As Australia’s politicians ponder delaying any decision until the Copenhagen Summit in December, Lord Stern calls for “a sense of urgency” in the Australian debate. “There’s no way that Australia could be interpreted as going it alone by moving forward now and that is absolutely fundamental,” he says.

While the primacy of the climate issue seems to have cooled in the midst of the global financial crisis, the world is “still warming” says Stern. Powers like Australia cannot afford to wait if they hope to lead in a new global order.

“I think the world will ask if Australia with all its advantages can’t cut back strongly then how can anybody expect us to cut back strongly? If that were the general attitude, then the planet would be in an extremely difficult state and we would be living very dangerously indeed.”



Planting trees for fuel, shade, and food is not what anyone would imagine as the first step toward winning the Nobel Peace Prize. But with that simple vision, Kenyan environmentalist and political activist Wangari Maathai turned around 100 years of deforestation in her country and inspired political activism on a scale that ultimately helped bring down the country’s 24-year dictatorship.

As a result, the founder of Africa’s Green Belt Movement became the first African woman to win the Nobel. In the years since, “Kenya’s Tree Woman” has been busy planting over 3 billion trees - her goal is to reach 9 billion by the end of 2009!

She is also working hard to protect the Congo forest, the world's second largest stand of trees. If the Congo goes, she says, not only will tens of millions of people lose their livelihoods, but the climatic effects would be catastrophic and be felt as far away as Britain and the US.

George Negus spoke with Professor Maathai, as she ramps up her campaign in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Meanwhile the sceptics and economically cautious continue to argue that the scale of the issue is exaggerated and that over-reaction will cost the planet dearly.

So what’s the answer and are we prepared to gamble on it?


REZA PAHLAVI (Pahlavi Crown Prince of Iran)
INTERVIEW - 21st June 2009

The growing street protests over Iran's disputed presidential election mark the biggest threat to its ruling clerics since they took power in 1979.

As seas of Iranians protest the election result which handed victory to the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, George Negus speaks with former Crown Prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, the eldest son of the late Shah of Iran.

For Pahlavi, the protests reflect a nation-wide push for more freedom and a secular parliamentary democratic system. Iran is “a nation that is now demanding self-determination,” he says. The American-educated politician and trained fighter pilot, who today describes himself as an advocate for democracy and human rights in Iran, has lived in the U.S. since 1984, and hasn't returned to Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

While Pahlavi may have strong support in the Iranian diaspora, it is questionable that he speaks for Iranians inside who, while demanding reform, still fundamentally support the Islamic rule.



Is Barack Obama being too soft on the Iranian regime?

As the crisis in Iran continues, George Negus speaks with Washington Post columnist, author, and political commentator E. J. Dionne about Obama's Iranian policy.

For Obama, the issue of Iranian dialogue is a minefield. His critics want him to speak out more strongly against the current government, but that would damage future negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. "Obama has always said that he knows how to deal with complexity. This is his chance to prove it," says Dionne.

George also questions Dionne on next week's US troop withdrawal from Iraqi cities and towns - a day Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has described as a "great victory" for his country.



This week we look at the future for British politics and discuss this "democracy in crisis" with veteran journalist and former independent MP Martin Bell. In the wake of the British expenses scandal, the fall-out for MPs has been immense and what PM Gordon Brown is describing as the end to the "Gentlemen's Club" of Parliament.

While nearly ₤500,000 in expenses money has now been repaid, can either major party clear its slate?

Martin Bell had an respected career in journalism until 1997, when he ran as an Independent candidate on an anti-corruption and 'anti-sleaze' platform for what was one of the safest Conservative seats in England. He won with an overwhelming majority.

These days he acts as an Ambassador for UNICEF, and he's currently on a two-month long tour of speaking engagements.


Please Note: More interviews will be added as time permits.