This apparent change of heart is just another tactic to delay effective climate action by campaigning for vague, meaningless and impossibly distant emissions reduction targets. It's also mightily convenient that this apparent change of heart comes just two months before the Morrison Government has to face the international community at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
A report in the Nine newspapers on Monday claimed that, from mid-October, News Corp "will end its long-standing editorial hostility towards carbon reduction policies and advocate for the world’s leading economies to hit net-zero emissions by 2050".
Campaigning for net-zero emissions by 2050 is the fossil fuel industry's latest tactic to delay phasing out coal and gas and switching to 100% renewable energy. Outright climate denial doesn't work anymore, so advocating for weak, rubbery targets decades down the line is the new strategy. It also gives the Government licence to pour public money into unproven, fossil industry-friendly non-solutions like Carbon Capture and Storage, rather than the transformational economic and social change needed to avert climate catastrophe.
This new News Corp campaign is essentially an admission that its climate coverage for the past ten years — at least — has been one long disinformation campaign. A report funded by GetUp members and released last year found that 45% of all News Corp climate coverage expressed climate scepticism.
Lies, debates, and silences: How News Corp produces climate scepticism in Australia also found that News Corp's coverage of policies to combat climate change was overwhelmingly negative; that News Corp was more than twice as likely to quote a politician as a scientist in a climate story; and that sceptic commentator Andrew Bolt accounted for more than 10% of all climate coverage across The Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, and the Courier Mail combined.
GetUp Climate Justice Campaign Director Kathryn McCallum said:
"News Corp's apparent concession that climate change is real and carbon reduction policies are required is eyebrow-raising, at best.
"By flagging this upcoming editorial campaign, News Corp is effectively admitting that its climate coverage up to now has been dominated by lies and fearmongering. That won't come as a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention — of more than 8,000 News Corp climate articles we analysed, 45% were openly sceptical of the science.
"It's a pretty remarkable coincidence that this comes as the Morrison Government prepares for COP26. It's almost as if this announcement is designed to give Morrison permission to make a nice-sounding but meaningless announcement designed to head off the mounting criticism Australia is copping from the international community.
"If News Corp is even remotely serious about its belated realisation that climate change exists, it will overhaul its climate reporting, stop giving a megaphone to professional sceptics and vested interests, and apply some basic journalistic principles to reporting on the most serious issue of our times.
"It can ditch its most prolific professional climate sceptics, like Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair and Peta Credlin. It can stop spreading dangerous conspiracy theories when natural disasters like the Black Summer bushfires occur. And it can publish a diverse range of voices who its newspapers have historically ignored, like scientists, First Nations peoples, Pacific Islanders, and women.
“2050 is too late. And 'net zero' is an excuse for creative accounting. It’s a smokescreen for 29 more years of burning coal, oil and gas, so it’s no wonder the Murdoch Press are now promoting it. Real climate action means phasing out burning coal and gas this decade.”
Media contact: Alex McKinnon 0411 829 334
Kathryn McCallum, Climate Justice Campaign Director at GetUp