Has Rupert Murdoch turned into a climate change sceptic?

(And, if so, his late mother wouldn’t be very pleased)

There must have been some heads in hands at the New York HQ of the self-proclaimed “first global media company to achieve carbon neutral”.

Executives at News Corp have spent several years building the company’s green credentials, under the guidance of Rupert Murdoch, only for the founder and executive chairman to suggest it may have all been a waste of time and money. “World growing greener with increased carbon,” the media mogul wrote on Twitter last Sunday. “Thirty years of satellite evidence. Forests growing faster and thicker.”

The outburst was part of a flurry of activity from Mr Murdoch on his new favourite communications platform. A little earlier his target had been the search for renewable energy and the strain it places on public spending. “Why not switch from useless renewable energy investments to real job creating infrastructure projects. Many great possibilities waiting,” he wrote.

Mr Murdoch had been moved to speak out partly by an article in his Wall Street Journal by Matt Ridley, a provocative science author and a columnist on the paper. In a piece last Saturday, headlined “The Greening of the Planet”, Ridley wrote: “Did you know that the earth is getting greener, quite literally. Satellites are now confirming that the amount of green vegetation on the planet has been increasing for three decades.”

While there may seem nothing remarkable about a free-market capitalist expressing doubts about the environmental consensus around climate change, Mr Murdoch’s tweets appear to hint at a change of heart for someone who had previously warned of the dangers of global warming.

Inspired by his mother, Dame Elisabeth – one of Australia’s most famous gardeners and a fierce climate change campaigner, who died in December aged 103 – he oversaw attempts to reduce the carbon footprint of News Corp’s global operations. The company still boasts on its website about “minimising its environmental impact, growing sustainably and inspiring others to take action”.

Nearly six years ago, Mr Murdoch stood up at the lectern in the Hudson Theatre in New York and gave a stark warning: “Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can’t afford the risk of inaction.”

As he signed up to a coalition of businesses and governments called the Climate Group, Mr Murdoch – standing alongside Tony Blair – talked enthusiastically of “promising new technologies – bio-fuels, solar and wind power, cleaner coal”, and urged global leaders to act fast. “The climate will not wait for us,” he said.

Rupert’s son James pioneered green policies at News Corp’s British outposts and pointedly drove to work at the company’s Wapping newspaper offices in a Toyota Prius hybrid.

At a time when he was the presumed heir to the News Corp throne, James oversaw the opening, at a cost of £350m, of “the most energy efficient print plant in the world” as well as the biggest. Meanwhile The Sun hired its first environment correspondent and the News of the World launched a campaign called “Go Green & Save”, encouraging readers to recycle their mobile phone handsets.

James’s wife, Kathryn Hufschmid, is known as a “climate hawk” and works as a public relations strategist for the Clinton Climate Initiative, set up by former President Bill Clinton.

But much has happened to Rupert Murdoch between the two public outbursts, including the death of his mother. The phone hacking scandal has also blown off course the career of James Murdoch. The company airlifted him out of London and promoted him to a job in New York.

Bob Ward, the policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics, said: “Under James, News International [the UK arm of News Corp] had a very clear commitment to be a carbon neutral company. It’s rather odd that [Rupert] should be expressing these views when the company is still largely making such a big thing out of it.”

But News Corp’s corporate position on climate change is very different from that of many of its news outlets. Both Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are longstanding and outspoken climate change sceptics, as are News Corp’s main Australian titles. Although The Times is less obviously critical of accepted thinking in environmental science, it has also published articles by Ridley and it currently does not have a designated environment correspondent.

A cartoonist once pictured Dame Elisabeth looking over Rupert’s shoulder as he read an attack on Australia’s carbon emissions tax in one of his own papers, and asking her son: “Do you still read that rag?”

It seems Mr Murdoch is still reading and that he shares the scepticism.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam