The Australian today runs yet another climate sceptic piece, to go with the piece about global cooling in April, various “just let the planet cook” efforts by Henry Ergas and general whingeing about the need for emissions trading.

The Tele of course has Piers Akerman, and The Herald Sun Andrew Bolt, both of whom regard climate change as a left-wing plot or, worse, a crazy new doomsday cult.

All part of the great Australian tradition of debate and free speech, of course. And as News Ltd has so often demonstrated, there’s no speech more valuable than that with which you’re in vigorous agreement.

News Ltd though is officially a climate change believer. In May 2007, Rupert Murdoch committed all News Corp business to be carbon neutral by 2010, and to “inspire action around the world.” News Corp companies overseas have taken the challenge seriously.

In the US, the right-wingers at Fox are switching to renewable energy sources, cutting down on energy and transport requirements for major events like the Superbowl and investing in massive carbon offsets.

Fox’s Emmy Awards coverage was carbon-neutral with the solar power system used for the production donated to a school; HarperCollins has switched its car fleet to Priuses (Prii?); The Sun in the UK — which might’ve been expected to champion global warming as a means to getting girls to take their tops off — has given away millions of low-energy light bulbs; News International is sourcing 70% of its power from Scottish hydro-electricity. All good stuff.

And in Australia? Well, last year, News Ltd commendably launched “One Degree”, a carbon reduction program. Since July 2007, there’s been, um, three press releases on “One Degree” including a first birthday release on 25 June talking about the 125 initiatives “identified” by News Ltd. The company is now “looking at” these initiatives.

One News Ltd group, News Digital Media, declared itself carbon-neutral in March. And the great bulk of News Ltd’s Australian operations? Well, let’s just say there’s a bit to do between now and eighteen months’ time.

Fortunately The Australian itself is on the case. Its contribution to “One Degree” came last Christmas, when Susan Kurosawa offered some tips on reducing the greenhouse impact of the festive season.

  1. Recycle Christmas paper from year to year.
  2. Deposit Christmas cards and torn wrapping paper in your recycling bin or a Cards for Planet Ark box at supermarkets.
  3. Consider the volume of packaging associated with the gifts and food you purchase this Christmas and reduce where possible.
  4. Use energy-efficient LED Christmas lights, which last up to 100 times longer than incandescent bulbs, and use less than 10 per cent of the power.
  5. Turn off Christmas lights each night before going to bed or use a timer.
  6. If holding a party, opt for reusable rather than disposable cutlery, plates and glassware; recycle disposable products that must be used.

Unfortunately, while these are great tips to make sure you’re not giving the gruesome gift of carbon at Christmas, there’s only two Yuletides between now and 2010, so The Oz might have to get its act together fast. Being left for the dead in the climate change stakes by The Sun and Fox won’t be a good look.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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