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Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. going carbon neutral by 2010

By Kenneth Barbalace
[Wednesday, May 16, 2007]
Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul at the helm of News Corporation, whose conservative leaning newspapers and Fox News channel have long sided with climate change skeptics, has announced that he and News Corp. are going carbon neutral by 2010. In addition, Murdoch plans to use his media empire to encourage readers and viewers to do the same. Australia's The Age quoted Rupert Murdoch as saying last November in Japan:
"I have to admit that, until recently, I was somewhat wary of the warming debate. I believe it is now our responsibility to take the lead on this issue."

"Some of the presumptions about extreme weather, whether it be hurricanes or drought, may seem far-fetched. What is certain is that temperatures have been rising and that we are not entirely sure of the consequences. The planet deserves the benefit of the doubt."

Although the announcement that News Corp. is going green was just announced, the company started working towards going carbon neutral some time ago. Rupert Murdoch found through an independent audit that News Corp. produces 641,150 tons of CO2 annually through its daily activities. In his "Global Energy Initiative Webcast" to all News Corp. employees Rupert Murdoch stated:
"This one is clear. Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction."

"When all of News Corporation becomes carbon neutral it will have the same impact as turning off the electricity in the city of London for five full days."

Rupert Murdoch's plan to take News Corp. carbon neutral by 2010 consists of three parts: 1) News Corp. will reduce its consumption of energy as much as possible; 2) they will switch to alternative "green" energies where it is feasible; and 3) as an absolute last resort they will offset those carbon emissions that they can not eliminate with carbon offset credits. Some of the ways News Corp. is reducing their energy consumption include solar powered golf carts for Fox Studios, replacing their fleets of vehicles with hybrids, and using the latest in LED lighting technologies in their new construction. According to Murdoch, two News Corp. companies, News International and Harper Collins Publishing, are already on track to be completely carbon neutral by the end of 2007.

News Corporation's efforts to measure their carbon footprint has extended so far that Fox Home Entertainment even calculated the total carbon footprint of individual DVDs they sell from manufacturing through the store shelf (0.75 lbs), and The Times of London calculated the carbon footprint of a single copy of their newspaper from tree to disposal (5.36 oz).

Beyond initiatives to reduce News Corp's own carbon footprint, its properties will reinvent the message of taking action on climate change from "doom and gloom" to "telling the story in a new way" to make addressing climate change "exciting" without "preaching". This includes a channel on MySpace called "OurPlanet" dedicated to climate change.

Given the traditionally conservative leanings of many News Corporation properties and their traditional favorable treatment of climate change skeptics, some more cynical types may think this is calculated a marketing ploy by Rupert Murdoch. However, after watching his webcast (which included comments by U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a discussion after Murdoch's comments), and seeing what News Corp. has already done, I don't believe this is a marketing ploy.

Climate change really appears to be a very genuine concern for Rupert Murdoch. I for one applaud his goal to take his company carbon neutral and to strive to get others to do the same; after all, as Rupert Murdoch stated, when it comes to climate change "we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction."


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