The BBC was yesterday accused of bias in its coverage of climate change after a senior MP was “ridiculed” for attempting to question the extent of global warming. BBC claims it remains “committed to impartial and balanced coverage of climate change which gives due weight to all sides of the debate.”
Peter Lilley, a long standing member of the energy and climate select committee, has made a formal complaint to director general Lord Hall after discovering that mandarins had issued an apology following claims he made that the effects of climate change were being exaggerated.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s ‘What’s the Point of The Met Office’, Mr Lilley stated that, while he “accepted the thesis that more CO2 in the atmosphere will marginally warm up the earth”, he questioned the assertion that global warming would be as dramatic as is being portrayed in some scientific circles.
Mr Lilley, who graduated with a degree in natural sciences at Cambridge University, said: “I’m a ‘lukewarmist’, one who thinks that there won’t be much warming as a result of it, and that’s the scientifically proven bit of the theory. Anything going on the alarmist scale is pure speculation.
Referring to the Met Office, he added: “The sad thing is that they’ve become committed to a particular pseudo-scientific doctrine and are now unwilling to change that doctrine when the facts refute it.”
Mr Lilley was horrified to discover that the BBC later placed “health warnings” on the programme’s website, and issued an apology for “giving voice to climate sceptics” and failing to “make clear that they are a minority, out of step with the scientific consensus.”
The apology was written to listeners who had complained, including academic Dr Andrew Smedley, of Manchester University, and then re-stated on the BBC Rado 4’s programme Feedback.
Speaking to the Sunday Express today, he said: “A colleague of mine alerted me to the fact that they’d slapped disclaimers essentially branding my views invalid.
“My biggest concern is that the BBC breached the impartiality clause of its charter.
“I was asked my views on climate change and I expressed them. My opinion should not be banned from the airwaves. And they should not accompany my remarks with a health warning, saying that I’m outside the scientific consensus, which is untrue.
“Actually my views are within the range of views reported by the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), albeit it at the less extreme end of the spectrum.”
Furious, he sent a formal letter of complaint to BBC director general Lord Hall, asking: “Is the BBC now saying that anyone who takes a less than alarmist view of the likely rate of global warming is outside the scientific consensus and must be publicly labelled as unreliable or excluded from the airwaves?”
It is not the first time the BBC’s impartiality on climate change has come into question.
In 2006 a report into BBC impartiality by the BBC Trust stated: “The BBC has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal spacing to the opponents of the consensus (on climate change).’
But its author, warned: “It is not the BBC’s role to close down this debate. (Dissenters) cannot be simply dismissed as ‘flat-earthers’ or ‘deniers’.”
Last year former Chancellor Lord Lawson was reprimanded for suggesting on Radio 4’s Today programme that there was “no evidence” to support claims that flooding had been caused by climate change.
It came after a complaint from Chit Chung, a Green Party activist who runs a draught proofing and insulation business in Dorset.came after a complaint from Chit Chung, a Green Party activist who runs a draught proofing and insulation business in Dorset.
In his apology letter Fraser Steel, head of the BBC’s complaints unit, said that Lord Lawson’s views on climate change were “not supported by the evidence from computer modelling and scientific research and I don’t believe this was made sufficiently clear to the audience.”
Recalling the fracas last night, Lord Lawson, author of the bestselling climate change book ‘An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming’ and founder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said: “ Peter Lilley has been treated very badly by the BBC. The same thing happened to me.
“Both the BBC and I received an orchestrated barrage of complaints accusing me, among other things, of being a geriatric retired politician and not a climate scientist and that it was an outrage that I was allowed to discuss the issue on the programme at all.”
He added: “This was the first time I had ever been asked to discuss climate change. I strongly suspect it will also be the last time.”
Last night the BBC insisted it remained “committed to impartial and balanced coverage of climate change which gives due weight to all sides of the debate.”
However a spokesman added: ‘We accept that in this episode about The Met Office, the comments made about science and climate change would have benefited from broader representation from the mainstream scientific community, although we did hear from a range of contributors as well as from The Met Office.”