Claire's blog

IPCC WG3 - it's decision time for the UK and for the world

Last year, the IPCC produced a report on the science of climate change: it's here, it's because of us and it's set to change our planet fundamentally.

Then last month came the second report, on the impacts of climate change: serious consequences for people around the world even if we curb our emissions to keep warming to around 2C.

Now, the third report sets out a challenge for the world. If we act now, we can step off the path we are on, which would mean up to 5C of warming by the end of this century.

IPCC report shows futility of 'adaptation' rhetoric

There are few, now, who would argue that climate change is not happening. But this denial has been replaced by a dangerous rhetoric: that it will all be ok because we can 'adapt' and, by implication, we don't have to worry too much about cutting our carbon dioxide emissions.

This complacency is hardly very convincing even in the coastal communities and flood plains of Britain. From Bangladesh, a country at sea level where some of the world's poorest already face homes lost to flooding, farmland poisoned by salination and drinking water contamined, it must seem like cruel mockery.

The IPCC's latest report should shatter once and for all the myth that adaptation to climate change could be enough on its own. Adaptation is necessary, of course - but alone it is the equivalent of the proverbial deckchairs on the Titanic. 

The BBC, Today and climate change coverage

The British media is... diverse. And never less so than in its approach to climate change. It might be wondered why, with newspapers such as the Daily Express regularly running strident articles proclaiming global warming a hoax, we would target our campaigning at the more civilised atmosphere of the BBC and Radio 4's Today programme. Why are we so concerned about how they cover the forthcoming IPCC report and climate change in general?

The BBC has a degree of authority and status which few other news outlets have, and with public ownership comes a public service responsibility. The crisis of climate change requires us as a society to take urgent decisions. It is particularly worrying when BBC coverage encourages doubt about climate science and complacency about its implications.

For some reason the Today programme is a repeat offender for inaccurate climate coverage. A quick reminder below:

2011 

Professor Steve Jones led a BBC Trust review into the accuracy and impartiality of BBC science coverage. He found that some programmes set out a 'false balance', "suggesting that there are two equally valid points of view that must be sorted out – ten years after consensus had been reached that (whatever the cause) climate change is happening." A key recommendation was that "there should be no attempt to give equal weight to opinion and to evidence."

2012

quick audit of news coverage by Carbon Brief suggested that the review's findings have not been fully implemented . This was epitomised by John Humphrys' combative interview with Ralph Cicerone, president of the US National Academy of Science.

"Do you accept that if you live in a country like this where we've had a series of rotten summers [...] that actually, we're entitled to be a bit skeptical?"

"You can't absolutely prove, can you, that CO2 is responsible for global warming?" 

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