The BBC was accused yesterday of “rank dishonesty” over climate change by an influential body of sceptics. Former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson was joined by two other peers – one Labour, the other a Liberal Democrat – in urging the new BBC director general Lord Hall to review the Corporation’s coverage of climate change.
In recent years the BBC has been accused of an unquestioning approach to its coverage of climate change.
Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation yesterday claimed that its coverage has been marked by “bias, ignorance and credulity” and has failed to measure up to professional standards.
In an open letter to Lord Hall, GWPF trustees Lord Lawson, Labour’s Lord Donoughue and Liberal Democrat Baroness Nicholson highlighted “28gate” – a BBC seminar that shaped its coverage of climate change.
It was held in 2006 between 28 senior BBC staff and 28 outsiders whom the BBC Trust later described as “some of the best scientific experts”.
After the meeting the BBC said the weight of evidence meant it could no longer justify giving the same space to climate sceptics as climate change advocates.
But the GWPF claims that only two of the outsiders were scientists.
The rest, it says, were mainly environmentalists or “non-scientists with a vested interest in promoting renewable energy”.
The three peers wrote: “So the BBC stands convicted not only of culpable imbalance but also of rank dishonesty.”
They urged Lord Hall to order a review. They wrote: “We hope that, once you have grappled with the more immediate challenges facing the BBC, you will revisit this important issue.
“We suggest that you might start by convening a new high-level seminar, this time a more balanced one, whose non?BBC participants would be qualified climate scientists, energy and environmental economists, and experienced policy-makers whose names, would be made known.
“The Global Warming Policy Foundation would be happy to be represented in any such seminar.”
The GWPF describes itself as “open-minded on the contested science of global warming” but “deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated”.
The Corporation said yesterday: “The BBC’s climate change coverage is balanced and impartial despite pressure from all those who would seek to influence the way this story is reported.”