A BBC boss has told staff at the corporation that when it comes to climate change, they get coverage “wrong too often”, according to a leaked internal briefing.
The broadcaster’s director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth, sent an email to staff on Thursday, with the BBC’s editorial policy on the matter attached.
The briefing, obtained by website Carbon Brief, confirmed all editorial staff would receive fresh training on how to report on climate issues.
It read: “Climate change has been a difficult subject for the BBC, and we get coverage of it wrong too often.
“The climate science community is clear that humans have changed the climate, but specifically how is more difficult to evidence.”
It also told editors of TV programmes and radio shows that they do not need to “balance” a discussion on climate change with “a denier”.
“To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage, in the same way you would not have someone denying that Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday,” it went on.
In her email, Unsworth highlights the number of upcoming news events that will involve a discussion on climate change, telling staff: “Younger audiences, in particular, have told us they’d like to see more journalism on the issue.”
Detailing the training, she added: “The one hour course covers the latest science, policy, research, and misconceptions to challenge, giving you confidence to cover the topic accurately and knowledgeably.”
The BBC has previously been criticised for including climate change denier Lord Lawson in debates on the topic.
In April, Ofcom ruled that the Today programme had broken editorial guidelines by “not sufficiently challenging” Lawson in one interview, which saw him wrongly claim that average temperatures around the world had “slightly declined”.
“Statements made about the science of climate change were not challenged sufficiently during this interview, which meant the programme was not duly accurate,” a spokesperson for the broadcasting watchdog said at the time.