Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, has committed to going carbon neutral by 2010. Host Bruce Gellerman talks with Rachel Webber, the director of News Corp’s Global Energy Initiatives, about the new campaign.
GELLERMAN: Well, the current occupant of the White House also seems to have felt the political heat of climate change. President Bush has softened his position as he prepared for the G8 summit meeting. He now says he wants world leaders to meet this fall to come up with targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
BUSH: The United States is taking the lead, and that's the message I'm going to take to the G8. I'm looking forward to working with them.
GELLERMAN: This could represent a change of heart and policy for the Bush administration. In the past its rejected emissions targets in the past.
Well, a change of position on climate change seems to be going around. It was just about a year ago that Fox News channel aired this documentary about global warming:
[FOX NEWS: “Global Warming: the Debate Continues”]
GELLERMAN: The Fox News documentary “Global Warming: the Debate Continues” casts a skeptical eye on scientific findings.
[FOX NEWS: “Global Warming: the Debate Continues”]
GELLERMAN: The Fox News network slogan is: We report, you decide. Well in a surprising move Fox and its parent company News Corporation have now decided global warming is very real and Rupert Murdoch – the global media mogul who owns the company - says he’s going to do something about it. Rachel Webber is director of the effort and joins me on the line:
WEBBER: Hi, thank you for having me.
GELLERMAN: So, what is News Corp. doing now in terms of global energy? Why are you changing?
WEBBER: Well, we’ve recently launched our permanent commitment to energy use and climate change. And our work really falls into two buckets. It’s a massive effort to reduce our own energy use and carbon emissions and also to engage our audiences around the world on the issue. By 2010 we’ve set the target that each one of our businesses will be carbon neutral, so we’ll reach zero carbon emissions. We’ve intentionally set the target a few years away in order to focus on squeezing out as many energy reductions as possible first.
GELLERMAN: Well, for News Corporation and Rupert Murdoch this is a big change of heart.
WEBBER: We really see this as falling in line with what the company does. We’re always looking to innovate. We’re always looking to what do our audiences care most about and there’s no doubt that climate change and energy use is, one of, if not the biggest consumer facing issue of the next decade.
GELLERMAN: I know that when Rupert Murdoch made this presentation to the employees around the globe, he said , “Climate change presents clear catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent but we can’t afford the risk of inaction.” And he puts the accent on afford. I mean, it’s a business decision.
WEBBER: Yes, this is clearly a big business opportunity. And I think a number of companies out there have really proven that there’s a space here for businesses to get involved. Whether it’s in developing new technologies or engaging with a consumer through a technology that they’re going to implement in their homes or into their business life. And there’s a chance to save money with our operations. When you’re reducing energy use you’re reducing your costs. Recently we completed the measurement of our carbon footprint which was just under 650,000 tons of carbon, which isn’t enormous when you look at the grand scheme of the issue, but it’s definitely a place where we can make our start.
GELLERMAN: I heard on the set of 24 that you’re using a biodiesel generator.
WEBBER: Yeah, we’re looking, we’ve started using biodiesel generators and we’re looking at ways to cut carbon as much as we can. It’s hard in some places because of what’s available. And it’s an opportunity also to kind of put that demand out there.
GELLERMAN: Is it true that Rupert Murdoch recently bought a hybrid car?
WEBBER: Mhmm. It’s a, I think it’s the Lexus Hybrid, that he has.
GELLERMAN: Uh huh. Ms. Webber, wasn’t it you guys who were telling the world that climate change, you know, was hog wash and let’s listen to Sean Hannity. We have a clip of him.
HANNITY: First of all, the first thing I want to say is any time you talk to Al Gore or any of these liberal global warming hysterical people they all say the debate is over. So, I’m going to put up on the screen a list of scientists that indeed do question and are skeptics of this new mad hysteria here.
GELLERMAN: So, liberal global warming hysterical people.
WEBBER: Well, I think there’s always going to be questioning about these issues and I think it’s healthy to, to, to enter into a debate over what the solutions can be. And what we’re doing as a business, this is not a journalistic mandate. And our company prides itself on journalistic independence and that’s at the core of what our company does.
GELLERMAN: Is there no politics behind this question? Is it simply…
WEBBER: No I think what’s really exciting here is that this is de-politicizing the issue if anything. This is, this is saying this is an important issue to our audiences and we have the opportunity to make a change in house and out of house and I think it’s really exciting for our employees as well. It’s really, as it becomes more and more solution based it becomes more exciting about re-envisioning what a cleaner more efficient future could look like.
GELLERMAN: Well, Ms. Webber I want to thank you very much.
WEBBER: Thank you.
GELLERMAN: Rachel Webber is the director of News Corporations Global Energy Initiative.
Following Rupert Murdoch’s announcement, NBC Universal got into the act with its “Get on Board” program. The company vows to cut greenhouse gas emissions by three percent by 2012. It’s part of the parent company General Electric’s “ecomagination” campaign.
MUSIC: Anonymous “Fox News Blast (Theme Sting)” from ‘FOX News, News Corporation’ (May 2007)
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