An apparent change of heart?

The Daily Mail and General Trust is making headway in offsetting the firm's carbon footprint, but its efforts stand in contradiction with a range of editorial articles denying the existence of global warming

The Daily Mail and General Trust is making headway in offsetting the firm's carbon footprint, but its efforts stand in contradiction with a range of editorial articles denying the existence of global warming

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This week, IoM Friends of the Earth’s Cat Turner notices – and celebrates – an apparent change in heart from a publication formerly in denial over climate change

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‘Tis the season for . . . among other things, many companies to report their annual financial performance.

And so it was that on November 21, the publishing group known as Daily Mail and General Trust (which owns such popular organs as the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday)issued its profits for the year to end of September 2013.

Next day, DMGT also issued the terms of reference for its corporate responsibility committee.

For those not familiar with the CRC, this body says it aims to ‘focus on three core areas: environment, people and stakeholders’.

Among other things, it’ll ‘recommend and monitor performance against the agreed target of a DMGT Group annual consolidated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target/carbon reduction commitment based on commitments of each operating business’ and ‘make recommendations, if appropriate, on related measures, such as carbon offsetting and carbon credit initiatives within the DMGT Group’. Good stuff.

And there’s more. DMGT’s CRC will ‘collate and monitor carbon/energy usage abatement measures taken by operating business and the Group, either individually or collectively’.

Apparently, and for ‘the avoidance of doubt, the costs of any such abatement measures shall be borne by the businesses concerned’.

What does all this mumbo-jumbo mean?

Well, among other things, it means that DMG Media, which includes the newspapers, will spend its own money to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Hurray!

And this surely can’t be just lip-service, for after all, DMGT also shouts on its website that it’s ‘shrinking our carbon footprint’, and has ‘made huge headway in its green agenda by achieving a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions over a six-year period’.

It states: ‘All operations within the group have contributed to the positive result, demonstrating DMGT’s commitment to tackling climate change across its portfolio’, including the newspapers within DMG media.

Well done, DGMT.

It intends to go even further, of course, saying that ‘[in] 2013, the group set a challenging new target to reduce emissions per £m of revenue by 10 per cent over the next three years’.

It just goes to show that an organisation can, with the right leadership (in this case Lord Rothmere) both remain profitable and cut the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

So it’s a constant source of puzzlement that the Mail on Sunday continues to run a campaign aimed at misleading readers as to the causes and effects of climate change.

Most of the articles that form part of this are penned by one David Rose, and form a series on the (so called) ‘Great Green Con’.

Mr Rose doesn’t have the most stellar of journalistic backgrounds – he’s infamous for having acted as a conduit for leaks of false information about weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion – but his editors at the Mail on Sunday seem happy to let him loose on this most important of issues: climate change. It’s not gone well.

In March 2013, MoS ran a frankly ludicrous piece claiming that scientists couldn’t be trusted about global warming because of a few media reports 36 years ago about the possibility of global cooling.

He rather undermined his case by supporting it with a fake magazine cover that he’d found on the internet. D’oh!

Then, in September, he had to confess that another of his pieces (claiming that Arctic sea ice cover increased by 60 per cent between 2012 and 2013) was wrong and based on a typographic error.

And the Met Office has, on more than one occasion, had to issue a public rebuke to Rose for misquoting or misrepresenting its findings, alleging that it has shown warming to be abating, when the reverse is true.

It’s not very encouraging, is it?

This is a man who apparently can’t tell the difference between ‘cooling’ and ‘slowing in the rate of warming’. But not discouraged, he’s supplementing his comically inaccurate articles on the science of climate change, with others attacking the credibility of climate researchers by claiming that their work is motivated by financial interests.

He gets much of his ‘information’ on this from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Lord Lawson’s anti-climate policy lobbying group.

Despite his habit of quoting foundation spokespeople, it’s not clear how far – if at all – he’s seen fit to investigate the identities of the people and organisations that have funded its ‘work’.

It’s a puzzler, isn’t it?

I can’t work out whether the apparent difference in views is a healthy sign that the paper’s ultimate leadership isn’t controlling its editorial content or whether DMGT is showing distressing signs of a personality breakdown.

Either way, it’s one to watch.

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