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« Extracting the Michael | Main | You know when you've arrived... »
Sunday
Dec212008

More on CEMP

TonyN at Harmless Sky has had an interesting comment on one of his blog postings about the BBC seminar that Roger Harrabin's CEMP set up to decide the global warming issue for the purposes of BBC output (no prizes for guessing what their conclusions were!).

We know that the seminar took place at the BBC on 26 January 2006, but the corporation has resisted attempts to discover who actually attended. The attendees were, we are lead to believe, a panel of leading climate experts, but the only names identified as attending were:

Jana Bennett, Director of Vision (then Television), BBC and Helen Boaden, Director of News BBC. It was chaired by Fergal Keane, Special Correspondent with BBC News. The key speaker at the seminar was Robert McCredie, Lord May of Oxford.

So as far as the scientists were concerned, only Lord May counts (he is a biologist, IIRC).

The new name revealed was discovered in an article in the Times. In a gossipy column, journalist Rachel Johnson describes a conversation she had with Andrew Simms, a wonk at the New Economics Foundation, in which they discussed how the greens won the battle for public opinion:

Well, I thought that the piece Susie Watt did for Newsnight last week, questioning whether economic growth is good, was a real marker,” he said, “But I think the real conversion took place about 18 months ago . . .” He trailed off to snaffle a tranche of Cornish yarg before resuming, “when I was asked to attend a BBC seminar on climate change, and Fergal Keane was there.”

This conversation took place in January 2008, and this, together with the presence of Fergal Keane, suggest that they referred to the same climate change seminar in 2006 - even the BBC can't have that many.

Andrew Simms is head of policy at NEF and directs their climate change programme. What is rather more interesting about him is that he is a board member of Greenpeace UK and a founder member of the Green New Deal Group.

So those of us who were wondering whether the BBC's group of leading climate scientists were in fact a group of tofu-munching environmentalists are increasingly convinced that we were right.

The BBC - the public relations arm of Greenpeace.

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Reader Comments (5)

"...even the BBC can't have that many."

They had another seminar on September 14 and 15, 2006. See here (pdf):
http://www.ibt.org.uk/all_documents/dialogue/Real%20World%20Brainstorm%20update%2030Jul08.pdf
Dec 21, 2008 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Jackson
Not about climate change though.
Dec 21, 2008 at 2:58 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
"It was chaired by Fergal Keane"

Hah! Of course!
Dec 21, 2008 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam Duncan
I (an ex-BBC exec) have attended a number of BBC "seminars" over the years. It seems that the climate change one may have been very similar to the most recent I attended, which was about the development of broadcasting in Africa (when I was chief exec of an organisation developing psb in Africa).

The idea was to help forge a strategy between "interested organisations". Those, it turned out, were almost entirely from the NGO or DFID sector, most of whom held views entirely in keeping with then government policy linked (in turn) to Bob Geldof/U2/Bono. My own organisation favoured a much more market led (as opposed to aid) approach - but surprise, surprise, the overhwelming majority there weren't interested.

I should add that I only got to attend the seminar by using old contacts - the first I knew the event was taking place was two days before. So I and my capitalist organisation only got in by gate-crashing.

My main point is that my guess is that the climate change seminar followed exactly the same lines - probably with almost the same cast of people present (ie from Oxfam, WWF, etc). It's the BBC hearing what it wants to hear via people who are government supporters and left-liberal think tanks/NGOs.

This part of th BBC was run by Michael Hastings, their head of "corporate social responsibility", now Baron Hastings of Scarisbrick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Hastings,_Baron_Hastings_of_Scarisbrick). He has since moved on but he set the tone and tenor for this part of the BBC's operations. Michael now sits as a cross bencher in the House of Lords, but all his sympathies lie in the green/NGO arena and he is firmly in the NuLabour inner circle (I know him reasionably well, having once employed him).
Dec 22, 2008 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Horbury
Thanks for this, Robin. Michael Hastings is a new name for me, but the idea of the head of CSR playing a leading role makes sense. The BBC has announced that the panel was made up of leading scientists, so it will be interesting to see whether this actually turns out to be the case. Interestingly, he seems to have left the BBC shortly after the seminar, apparently because his elevation to the peerage (which took place 9 months earlier) was deemed to be incompatible with his position. It seems to have taken them a long time to work that out.
Dec 22, 2008 at 7:07 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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