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Hypocrites of Northcliffe House

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On 21 November, The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), owners of the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday newspapers, announced that its adjusted profits before tax grew 10 per cent to £282 million during the 12 months to 30 September 2013.

On 22 November, a day after the publication of its preliminary annual results, DMGT published details of the terms of reference for its Corporate Responsibility Committee, declaring that it "will focus on three core areas: environment, people and stakeholders".

In relation to the environment, the Committee will specifically "recommend and monitor performance against the agreed target of a DMGT Group annual consolidated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target/carbon reduction commitment based on commitments of each operating business".

It will also "make recommendations, if appropriate, on related measures, such as carbon offsetting and carbon credit initiatives within the DMGT Group".

And the Committee will "collate and monitor carbon/energy usage abatement measures taken by operating business and the Group, either individually or collectively". In relation to this, the terms of reference state "[f]or the avoidance of doubt, the costs of any such abatement measures shall be borne by the businesses concerned", which means DMG Media, which includes the newspapers, is expected to use its own money to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Elsewhere on its website, the DMGT boasts of "shrinking our carbon footprint", pointing out that it has "made huge headway in its green agenda by achieving a 20% reduction in carbon emissions over a six-year period". It states: "All operations within the group have contributed to the positive result, demonstrating DMGT's commitment to tackling climate change across its portfolio", including the newspapers within DMG media.

And it sets out the following commitment: "In 2013, the group set a challenging new target to reduce emissions per £m of revenue by 10% over the next three years".

This is an important example being set by DMGT that a company can both be profitable and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and owes much to the leadership of its chairman, Lord Rothermere.

It is a great shame then that these efforts are being completely undermined from within DMGT at its plush headquarters at Northcliffe House in Kensington by the activities of Geordie Greig and Gerard Greaves, respectively editor and deputy editor of The Mail on Sunday.

Over the past year, Greig and Greaves have been running a campaign to mislead its readers about the causes and potential consequences of climate change, through a series of articles on "The Great Green Con", written by David Rose.

Among Rose's previous journalistic accomplishments was acting as a conduit for leaks of false information about weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Rose has now turned his attention to recycling of propaganda produced by so-called climate change 'sceptics' in a series of articles that have systematically misrepresented the science of global warming.

In March, the newspaper published a ridiculous article claiming that scientists could not be trusted about global warming because of a few media reports 36 years ago about the possibility of global cooling, but relied on a fake magazine cover that Rose had found on the web.

In September, Rose was forced to admit that another one of his articles, which claimed that the Arctic sea ice extent had increased by 60 per cent between 2012 and 2013, was wrong and based on a typographic error.

But Rose does not limit his output to comically inaccurate articles about the science of climate change. He also attempts to cast doubt on the credibility of climate researchers through allegations that their work is motivated by financial interests.

Yet the source of his articles is usually hand-outs from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a lobby group set up by Lord Lawson to campaign against Government climate policies.

Rose frequently quotes spokespersons from the Foundation, but has never once attempted to find out the identities of secret donors who have given the Foundation more than £1 million to fund its activities.

And of course, Rose's articles have also never told readers of The Mail on Sunday about the newspaper's efforts to tackle climate change by reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases. He is perhaps understandably wary of drawing attention to such blatant hypocrisy at Northcliffe House.

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