Select Committee is right to criticise the BBC and other media about climate change coverage
Commenting on the publication today (2 April 2014) by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee of its report on ‘Communicating climate science’, Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “I am glad that the Committee has explicitly acknowledged our evidence that the public interest is being harmed by inaccurate and misleading coverage of climate change by the BBC and other media. While the UK media, including the BBC, has some of the best science and environment correspondents in the world, who provide insightful and factual reporting about climate change, too many editors are willing to publish or broadcast inaccurate and misleading information, seemingly on the grounds that atmospheric physics should be treated as just a matter of opinion. Newspapers in particular have been able to exploit systemic weaknesses of self-regulation, and the Press Complaints Commission has proved woefully ineffective in enforcing the Editors’ Code of Practice when it comes to climate change. It is no surprise that the ‘Daily Express’ and ‘The Mail on Sunday’, which have been guilty of the some of the most inaccurate and misleading coverage of climate change, do not have science correspondents. Many BBC editors have clearly failed to take account of the BBC Trust report by Professor Steve Jones which warned of the dangers of seeking out dissenting voices based solely on their rejection of the scientific evidence for climate change. Too often BBC news programmes attempt to be impartial between facts and fictions on climate change, rather than seeking the truth, which should be its primary aim if it is to uphold the public interest. The report is also right to note that the Government and scientific organisations have failed to communicate properly with general audiences, which has allowed a tiny but well-organised group of climate change ‘sceptics’, together with their cheerleaders in some parts of the media, to dictate the terms of the public debate.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- The ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (https://www.cccep.ac.uk/) is hosted by the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics and Political Science. It is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (http://www.esrc.ac.uk/). The Centre’s mission is to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research.
- The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (http://www.lse.ac.uk/grantham) was launched at the London School of Economics and Political Science in October 2008. It is funded by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment (http://www.granthamfoundation.org/).