Covering climate change: an open letter to the BBC

Posted in: Environment

Posted on: 13.05.2019

Dear Lord Hall,

I write as a strong advocate of the BBC’s mission to support learning and help the public engage with the world around them.

Good Energy was founded with a purpose to help people become part of the solution to climate change. These two visions are connected, and now, informing the public about the increase in global temperatures and its consequences is more important than ever.

The BBC’s recent Climate Change: The Facts documentary was an important contribution to this issue and the renewed public debate we are currently witnessing. As the documentary was the first BBC programme on climate change in 10 years, we were pleased to see the subject covered with such length and breadth.

Climate Change: The Facts was an important contribution to this issue and the renewed public debate we are currently witnessing

On the BBC’s climate change news reporting, John Humphrys’ recent controversial interview with Ed Miliband shows that there remain improvements to be made. I understand new guidance on climate change reporting was issued to your journalists in the latter half of last year. This included an invite to attend a one-hour training session on the issue — is it time this offer be made compulsory? And is one-hour enough to cover the most significant crisis facing humankind today?

Further to this, it is essential to engage audiences on the practical actions individuals and businesses can take to end our overall contribution to climate change. Simply raising awareness on the issue leaves people in despair. For the public to fully engage with climate change, we must offer them tools and advice on how to respond to it.

This was touched on in the documentary, and the digital news team are making great strides, even experimenting with chatbots. However, this thread needs to be woven into the BBC’s climate coverage more tightly.

For the public to fully engage with climate change, we must offer them tools and advice on how to respond to it

Recent research from BAFTA on environmental coverage in one year of UK television showed a tendency to emphasise the problems over the solutions. Mentions of climate change and global warming, for example, far outweighed those of electric cars or solar power. However, these technologies have an equal role to play in understanding the impacts of our changing world.

There are so many positive stories to be told about the better world we must build. Let’s tell them.

Good Energy has a strong track record of working with the UK’s vital creative industries in becoming more sustainable. Our partnership with BAFTA’s albert initiative has helped UK production companies increase their sustainability credentials and is changing behaviours.

I would welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues with you at greater length.

Yours sincerely,

 

Juliet Davenport OBE
CEO and Founder
Good Energy

InnovateUK Council Member
Grantham Institute Advisory Board Member
Natural Environment Research Council Member

Good Energy is a partner of BAFTA’s albert initiative to promote sustainability in the UK’s film and TV industry.

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