A popular weatherman announced Saturday evening he has been sacked by leading French news channel France Télévisions for publishing a book which accused top climate change experts of misleading the world about the threat of global warming.
Philippe Verdier, a household name in France for his daily weather reports on the France 2 channel, announced in an online video that he had received a letter of dismissal.
“My book ‘Climate Investigation’ was published one month ago. It got me banned from the air waves,” said the weatherman, who was put “on leave” from the TV station on October 12.
“I received this letter this morning and decided to open it in front of you because it concerns everybody- in the name of freedom of expression and freedom of information.”
His announcement comes four days after France Télévisions chief Delphine Ernotte told French MPs that Verdier had been summoned to a formal interview that could lead to his dismissal.
An employee who picked up the phone at France Télévisions on Sunday morning told FRANCE 24 that there were no PRs present to confirm or deny Verdier’s dismissal.
‘Many positive consequences to global warming’
The controversy around Verdier’s claims has likely been heightened by their timing, with his book coming just weeks before the start of a much-anticipated UN climate change summit, known as COP21, to be held in Paris at the end of November.
“I put myself in the path of COP21, which is a bulldozer, and this is the result,” Verdier told RTL radio station in October.
He said he was inspired to write the book after France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with TV meteorologists and asked them to highlight climate change issues in their broadcasts.
“I was horrified by this speech,” Verdier told French magazine Les Inrockuptibles last month.
In his book, Verdier accuses state-funded climate change scientists of having been “manipulated” and “politicised”, even accusing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of publishing deliberately misleading data.
He also argues that there are “a great many positive consequences to global warming”, such as lower consumption of fuel used for heating and fewer cold-related deaths in winter.
“I am being punished for exercising my freedom of expression,” the weatherman told RTL.