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Why did the BBC broadcast climate deniers during COP21?

By giving airspace to conmen and conspiracy theorists during the Paris Climate Summit the BBC failed its public service remit. 

Piers Corbyn thinks that climate change is a conspiracy cooked up by Qatar to boost the price of oil. Viscount Matthew Ridley is a coal-mine owner and was chair of Northern Rock when it collapsed.

The latter was recently exposed for falsely claiming in The Times that research backing up his climate denial was peer-reviewed, implying it had gone through the rigorous academic process, when in fact it had just been emailed round the advisory panel of a dubious climate change denying think tank, whose members include Ridley himself and Will Happer, and which has recently been revealed as corrupt in a "science for sale" sting.

What do these two men have in common? The BBC thinks they are appropriate people to put on prominent shows to discuss climate science. Corbyn (brother of Jeremy) was invited on Andrew Neil's This Week, Ridley was given a slot on the Today Program, both in the first week of the climate change summit in Paris. Both directly contradict the strong scientific consensus on climate change and neither have any qualification to do so. 

This is rather like giving serious coverage to the idea that humans didn't walk on the moon or that JFK was assassinated by the FBI. Only, it's much more dangerous than that, because the sowing of doubt about climate change is delaying action on this vast global problem. 

The BBC exists to inform, educate and entertain. They don't fulfil any of those by giving conmen and conspiracy theorists prominent space on their factual programming to spread discredited and dangerous nonsense.

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About the author

Adam Ramsay is the Co-Editor of openDemocracyUK and also works with Bright Green. Before, he was a full time campaigner with People & Planet. You can follow him at @adamramsay.


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