THE BLOG

Green Hypocrisy at Northcliffe House

25/07/2014 12:21 BST | Updated 23/09/2014 10:59 BST

You could not make it up.

Geordie Greig and Gerard Greaves, respectively editor and deputy editor of The Mail on Sunday, have assigned one of their reporters, David Rose, to write a series of articles over the past couple of years, usually under the banner of 'The Great Green Con', which have attacked the science of climate change and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Apart from his campaign to promote climate change denial, Rose is perhaps best known as the conduit through which false intelligence about weapons of mass destruction were delivered to the British public in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.

These attempts to create confusion about the causes and potential consequences of climate change are as harmful to the public interest as the infamous campaign by The Sunday Times, under the disastrous editorship of Andrew Neil during the 1990s, to convince its readers that the HIV virus was not the source of AIDS.

Among Rose's most notorious contributions over the past few years have been an article about global cooling that was based on a fake cover of Time magazine he had found on the web, and another that wrongly claimed Arctic sea ice had grown by 60 per cent because he failed to spot a glaring typographic error.

In the 6 July edition of the newspaper, Rose co-authored a scathing report on the launch of new smart meters which should help households to reduce their energy use and cut greenhouse gas emissions. The article hyped up claims that the meters "will not work" and "pose a security risk to power supplies".

It was accompanied by a leading article, under the headline 'Green 'smart meters' are plain stupid', complaining that "the current Green dogma is constantly pushing governments, businesses and much of the media into policies and actions which we will later regret".

It declared that "the Green fashion has gone unchallenged long enough" and added: "It is time for Ministers, MPs and the media to re-examine the claims of a belief system which has so far brought nothing but higher prices, diminished efficiency and ugly blights on the landscape".

Strong stuff.

So it is perhaps a surprise to find on the website of the Daily Mail and General Trust, the company that owns The Mail on Sunday and its sister newspapers, lots of boasting about its 'Green Week' between 14 and 18 July, with "activities that encourage staff to be more environmentally conscious".

The website explains that it will "put the spotlight on green initiatives" and "also help with DMGT's public commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 10% by 2015".

Perhaps most eye-catching of all the worthy endeavours planned across the DMGT family of companies were the efforts to be undertaken at Northcliffe House, home to the newsroom of The Mail on Sunday. Here is the summary that is posted on the DMGT website:

"A series of DMGT Green Week activities have been arranged for employees at the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, MailOnline, Metro and Wowcher by CR champions across the consumer media company in collaboration with DMGT HQ, the Northcliffe House facilities team and a number of suppliers. Polar bear posters with printer and recycling tips have been placed by printers and recycling points around Northcliffe House. In addition, the company hosted a guest speaker session with Ed Gillespie, author and co-founder of specialist sustainability communications agency, Futerra. A focus on the benefits of plants in the office and energy saving, and sustainable food complete the week."

So how did the polar bear posters and the focus on energy saving go down with Greig, Greaves and Rose?

I asked, via Twitter, Ed Gillespie, who delivered a lunchtime speech at Northcliffe House, how he was received. His response was: "Let's just say it was slightly surreal...barely any editorial present (unsurprisingly!)".

And when I asked Rose what he had done for 'Green Week', he tweeted to me: "I was down a deep cave in Spain. When I emerged, I had a big dinner with some Rioja. How about you?"

This once again exposes the breath-taking hypocrisy of The Mail on Sunday, which tries to convince its readers that threats to the environment are exaggerated, while its parent company is busy trying to persuade investors that it is a sustainable business.

Bob Ward is policy and communications director at the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science.