By Christopher Booker
Since 2006, the BBC has relentlessly promoted the global warming orthodoxy as a pressure group in its own right.
The story of the BBC’s bias on global warming gets ever murkier. Last week there was quite a stir over a new report for the BBC Trust which criticised several programmes for having been improperly funded or sponsored by outside bodies. One, for instance, lauded the work of Envirotrade, a Mauritius-based firm cashing in on the global warming scare by selling “carbon offsets”, which it turned out had given the BBC money to make the programme.
Just as this scandal broke, I was also completing a report, to be published next month by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, on the BBC’s coverage of climate change. It ranges from the puffing of scare stories dreamed up by “climate activists”, to BBC reporting on wind farms, often no more than shameless propaganda for the wind industry. Part of the story told in my report is the unhealthily close relationship that developed between the BBC and organisations professionally involved in the “warmist” cause.
Some years back, the BBC adopted a new editorial policy –that the scientific and political “consensus” on climate change was now so overwhelming that it should be actively promoted, while climate sceptics, or “deniers” as the BBC calls them, should be kept off the airwaves.
A key moment in developing the new party line was a “high-level seminar” in 2006, attended by a bevy of top BBC executives. It was organised by Roger Harrabin, one of its senior environmental correspondents, and Dr Joe Smith, a geographer and climate activist from the Open University. They had set up the Cambridge Media and Environment Programme to promote the consensus line on global warming, funded by, among others, the Department for the Environment (then in charge of government policy on climate change) and WWF, one of the leading warmist pressure groups.
For a long time the BBC was remarkably coy about what had transpired at this gathering, but gradually – aided by the Freedom of Information Act – the details were dug out by two diligent bloggers, Tony Newbery of Harmless Sky and Andrew Montford of Bishop Hill. Their submission on it was, however, brushed aside in that dotty BBC Trust report last summer, where Prof Steve Jones recommended that the BBC’s coverage of climate issues should show not less bias but more.
Since 2006, the BBC has relentlessly promoted the global warming orthodoxy as a pressure group in its own right. In covering the latest twists of this story on his blog, Montford cites another odd BBC programme, Earth Reporters: Sea Change, funded by Unesco, which was like an adulatory commercial for the scientists who push alarm about the impact of global warming on the oceans, via the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The scientific adviser for the programme was the same Dr Smith who organised that 2006 seminar, and whose website lists a string of other BBC programmes he has worked on.
The irony is, however, that just as the BBC adopted its new hard line on climate change, in the real world the story was beginning to shift. Ever more searching questions have come to be asked about the supposed “consensus” on man-made warming, and the BBC’s coverage has come to look ever more one-sidedly absurd.