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Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active

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Media Supertanker Turning On Climate Action

News, Fake News and how to tell them apart
British newspaper editors, and other three-headed beasts, asleep at the wheel.

A recent review of UK newspaper editorials on climate change makes for interesting – we dare not yet say encouraging – reading.

The survey was a collaboration between Carbon Brief and Exeter University that analysed major newspaper editorials over the past decade. Broadly speaking, 

climate denial no longer sells papers, but flag-waving on green issues does.

The Changing Face of Climate Action

The report bears closer scrutiny, and there’s a lot of important nuance in the details. Some key points the authors flagged:

  • In 2011, most editorials about renewables framed them as ‘too expensive’. A decade later, most frame them as ‘good investments’.
  • The last mainstream media editorial to explicitly question climate science was in the Daily Telegraph in 2018.
  • 5x more editorials referenced the climate benefits of renewable energy v. those that referenced the climate benefits of nuclear power.
  • 110 editorials supported fracking, 26 opposed it. 
  • Right-leaning papers published 2x as many editorials criticising renewable energy (especially wind) as those praising renewables.
  • Between 2011-2021 there were 556 pro-climate action editorials, and 63 anti-climate action.

For fans of human civilisation, parents, or readers of the IPCC reports, this report is a mixed bag.

Good News or Bad News?

Whether you find it uplifting or depressing probably says more about you, than any volte-face on climate action by the British media.

  • Glass-Half-Full types will note all the trends are positive in terms of responsible reporting on the climate crisis.
  • Glass-Half-Empty types will note how painfully slow this change has been, with billionaire-owned papers the biggest and slowest of all.
  • See Through News, being of the Glass-At-50%-Capacity persuasion, merely reports that both of these are true.

So it seems that for the most part, the Media Heads of the Three-Headed Beasts remain an obstacle, and not a bridge, to carbon drawdown.