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David Shukman: Life after the BBC

38-year veteran BBC reporter who influenced how everyone covers climate looks ahead

In this episode of Wicked Problems, Richard Delevan interviews David Shukman, a seasoned journalist with a 38-year career at the BBC. They delve into the evolution of climate reporting, the challenges faced by the media in covering environmental issues, and the changes in public perception and policy over the years. David shares personal anecdotes from his career, reflects on the advancements in climate technology, and discusses his transition from journalism to new roles in climate communication.

Key Topics Discussed:

  • Career Reflections:

    • David’s early journalism days at Coventry Evening Telegraph.

    • Transition from typewriters and smoking in newsrooms to modern-day digital media.

    • The evolution of climate reporting and the media’s struggle with recognizing trends.

  • Changes in Climate Reporting:

    • The shift from giving equal weight to climate change deniers to emphasizing peer-reviewed science.

    • The impact of the BBC’s move towards "due impartiality."

    • Challenges in maintaining impartiality while conveying the scientific consensus on climate issues.

  • Personal Experiences and Stories:

    • David’s transition from BBC to new endeavors.

    • His work with business leaders and moderating events like Innovation Zero.

    • Reflections on covering climate stories globally, including frontline reporting from Bangladesh.

  • Climate Technology and Solutions:

    • Advances in renewable energy: solar power, wind turbines, and electric vehicles.

    • The importance of government policies and incentives in driving technological change.

    • The potential of affordable renewable energy solutions and their global impact.

  • Future of Climate Communication:

    • David’s new book project focusing on climate adaptation and the human impact of climate change.

    • The need to bring new voices, like firefighters and first responders, into the climate conversation.

Notable Quotes:

  • "The implausible becomes not only plausible but actually kind of normal in society."

  • "We had some ludicrous and damaging situations where our coverage didn't reflect where the evidence lay."

  • "I'm loving what I'm doing now – it's wonderfully enjoyable to be liberated and not think about impartiality."


  1. Adaptation in Bangladesh:

    • Ingenious local solutions like replacing chickens with ducks in flood-prone areas.

  2. Energy Efficiency Insights:

    • Amory Lovins' perspective on the impact of efficient design in industrial processes.

  3. Historical Inspiration:

    • David’s great-great-grandfather's embrace of technological transitions, from sail to steam, paralleling today’s shift to renewable energy.

Call to Action: If you enjoyed this conversation, please share it and leave us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Consider becoming a paid subscriber at for ad-free episodes, exclusive content, and to support climate tech storytelling.

Production Credits: Written and edited by Richard Delevan. Production assistance by Theodore Delevan. Wicked Problems - Climate Tech Conversations is a production of Wicked Problems Limited.

Reporting from the Climate Frontlines by David Shukman - produced by Kate Stephens, released on the BBC in Nov 2021

2023 Innovation Zero panel featuring David and Solitaire Townsend et al

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A show about climate tech - the intersection of people, politics, technology, and capital that will help shape the future. And whether you'd want to live in it.