For climate change action, we must fight back against the media billionaires

Propaganda - Brain Death by the Daily Mail. Image: Byzantine_K via Flickr (CC BY).
Propaganda - Brain Death by the Daily Mail. Image: Byzantine_K via Flickr (CC BY).
A handful of 'climate sceptic' billionaires, owners of most of the UK's biggest selling newspapers, have used their media dominance to spread a false narrative on climate change, and undermine prospects for effective action to curb fossil fuels, writes Donnachadh McCarthy. Campaigners must fight back - beginning with a series of actions that begin outside the Daily Mail this month.
All our climate actions of the last two decades have had some success, but they pale in significance when faced with the destructive climatically-suicidal agenda promoted by the UK's five climate-crisis denying media billionaires.

There is a looming unspoken-about elephant in the room, when it comes to the blockages to urgent action on the climate crisis in the UK.

It is not the government, it is not the oil corporations, it is not the airlines and it is not even the motoring lobby.

It is the simple fact that the UK media corporations owned by the five extremist right-wing billionaires all are climate change 'sceptics' - at least to judge by the editorial line of their publications.

Take Rupert Murdoch, whose Sun newspaper has been running a false 'grass-roots' pro-fracking campaign, who said:

"We should approach climate change with great scepticism. Climate change has been going on as long as the planet is here. There will always be a little bit of it. We can't stop it. We've just got to stop building vast houses on seashores.

"The world has been changing for thousands and thousands of years, it's just a lot more complicated today because we are more advanced."

Then there are the tax-haven based Barclay brothers whose Telegraph hosted the arch climate sceptics James Delingpole, Christopher Booker and Charles Moore.

Delingpole (a non-scientist) has described climate science advocacy as possibly the greatest threat Western civilisation has ever known. His campaigning against wind farms laid the foundations for this year's Tory abolition of support for on-shore wind turbines.

The Express's owner Richard Desmond is one of UKIP's largest donors. UKIP does not accept climate science and advocates abolition of the Climate Change Act, promotion of coal and fracking, abolition of CO2 emission regulations on coal plants and ending all subsidies to renewable energy.

Finally Lord Rothermere's Daily Mail headlines screamed "Forget global warming - if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again". The Daily Mail has energetically pressed Osborne to end all green taxes and energy efficiency regulations.

Cutting the 'green crap'

When oil lobbyists like Lord Lawson want to destroy government actions on the climate crisis, they go to the Daily Mail's editor Paul Dacre. When the Daily Mail thunders, prime ministers listen and the Chancellor of the Exchequer gives the go-ahead to destroy all the "green crap" that the Tory-LibDem coalition adopted before the 2010 election.

In the last couple of months, many hard won environmental measures trashed by the new Tory government:

1. all subsidies for on-shore wind abolished;

2. renewable energy made subject to climate change taxation!

3. nearly £1,000 of new taxes imposed on low emission cars, while reducing taxes on polluting cars.

All our climate actions of the last two decades have had some success, but they pale in significance when faced with the destructive climatically-suicidal agenda promoted by the UK's five climate-crisis denying media billionaires.

4. solar energy support for households and community groups slashed.

5. massive tax breaks granted to fracking industry, whilst abolishing planning permission requirements to drill under our homes.

6. new Oil and Gas Authority created with legal duty to maximise UK fossil fuel production.

7. huge tax breaks granted to North Sea oil and gas

8. financing for the Green Deal scheme to make homes more energy efficient abolished.

9. massive expansion of airport capacity supported.

10. the tiny budget for UK cycling slashed - while also creating a huge fund for new roads.

11. planning permission for a £3.4 billion offshore wind-farm near the Isle of Wight capriciously denied.

12. zero carbon home standards abandoned.

In the face of this destruction of a generation's campaigning on the climate crisis, the movement must pay serious attention to how do we deal with the root causes. The five climate-sceptic media billionaires are the single biggest blockage to Britain becoming an energy-efficient and renewable energy economy.

All of the petitions, climate marches, election campaigns, lobbying, protests, arrests, peaceful direct-actions of the last two decades have had some success, but they pale in significance when faced with the destructive climatically-suicidal agenda promoted by these five climate-crisis denying media billionaires.

We must make our feelings known!

Occupy The Media Billionaires have therefore decided to take the debate to the front-door of the Daily Mail.

We are staging an 'Occupy the Daily Mail - Climate Crisis Vigil' from 1pm on Friday 23rd October until Sunday 25th October, outside their headquarters on Derry Street in London. Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party will be speaking on the opening day at 3pm.

The peaceful vigil will be putting the following six requests for urgent action to Paul Dacre, the paper's editor.

1. Make saving Britain and our global ecosystems from climate catastrophe a top editorial issue for the Daily Mail.

2. Help Britain save billions every year in wasted energy costs and the lives of thousands of UK elderly from winter cold deaths, by supporting an Energy Efficiency Bill.

3. Support Britain becoming independent in energy and create over a million great British jobs by supporting a Renewable Energy Britain.

4. Save tens of thousands of UK lives from terrible transport pollution deaths every year by supporting move to electric vehicles.

5. Help make our streets safe for our kids again and tackle Britain's disastrous diabetic and obesity epidemics by supporting a protected National Cycling Network.

6. Call for the criminalisation of further fossil fuel exploration including fracking, using the billions of proposed lethal investments, to create up to a million new UK green jobs instead.

The immediate aim of the vigil will be to engage with Daily Mail reporters as they go in and out their workplace. But we also want to encourage all of our climate crisis groups to put the urgent issue of media billionaire opposition to climate action at the top of our political campaigning agenda.

Engaging the media to demand action on climate change

Imagine, even without the necessary media ownership reform, if just these five men decided to support the climate crisis movement! As - uniquely - the Guardian has done with its strong campaign for fossil fuel divestment.

Imagine how many other obstacles to wide-scale positive action would then crumble. The oil, coal, fracking and car corporations' resistance would be swept away. The politics would change overnight and instead of fossil fuel lobbyists disastrously ruling over us, the science and humanity would win out.

Is it possible, if united, for millions of us to persuade just five men to change their minds? We do not know. But what we do know is without their media corporations, it will be almost impossible to achieve the dramatic wholesale change we need, in time.

So that means we must try. And we must succeed!



Action: Occupy The Daily Mail - Climate Crisis Vigil takes place from October 23-25th. More information at

Donnachadh McCarthy is a founder of Stop Killing Cyclists, a member of Occupy Democracy, co-organiser for Occupy Rupert Murdoch Week, a former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats. He can be reached via his website 3acorns. Follow on Facebook.

Books: Donnachadh is author of 'The Prostitute State - How Britain's Democracy Has Been Bought'.

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