BBC Environment Correspondent Roger Harrabin:

“Why I haven’t reported that wind farm emissions savings may be zero”

OK.  I’ll be honest.  I shouldn’t have put in the quote marks.  He did not use exactly those words.  But nonetheless I got a strong sense from recent correspondence that that’s what he was telling me.  I wrote to Mr. Harrabin in the following terms:

Dear Roger,

I wonder if you’re familiar with the work of Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University, who finds that when you look at the emissions from systems consisting of wind plus conventional back-up, the emissions savings are somewhere between trivial and zero?

If so, do you agree with it? 

And if you do, why do you write that on-shore wind farms are the only way to achieve CO2 targets?  It appears not only that they are not the only way, but they are not any way at all.  You can seek to reduce emissions with energy conservation and efficiency, with insulation, with hydro and nuclear.  You can reduce emissions by switching from coal to gas.  But you can’t save emissions with wind turbines.

I’d be glad of your comments.

Best regards.     


He replied to me, and I replied to him again.  I thought the issue so important that I told him I’d publish the correspondence.  He asked me not to, and said if I wanted to publish I’d need a formal response from the BBC — not his personal e-mail.  I agreed to that, and asked for the statement.  He then told me that he couldn’t supply it, and that I’d have to go through BBC channels and apply formally.  I thought that was a step too far, and said if he didn’t get the statement for me, I’d publish anyway.  He described this as “reprehensible”.

Cooler heads have prevailed.  I will not actually give you his words verbatim, since he feels so strongly about it, but I will give you a rough paraphrase.  If Mr. Harrabin should feel that my paraphrase fails to do him justice, he can of course publish his original words.

He said that indeed he was familiar with Prof Hughes’ work, and also with the work of others who took a different view.  But there were so many aspects of the debate that it simply wasn’t possible to mention all of them in a short media piece on the subject.  I responded as follows:

Dear Roger,

Thank you for your reply.  You may well not have written that wind is the only way to reduce emissions — but also you have never written, or mentioned on air (so far as I know) that a respected academic has raised serious doubts about whether wind can fulfil its core objective of cutting CO2 emissions.  I quite understand, of course, that you have to take a balanced view and to recognise that there are those (often with a financial interest in wind) who take a different view.

But surely Professor Hughes’ conclusion is so important, so striking, so critical for energy policy, that we could expect you to feature it on air?  Perhaps you should even include a routine caveat in any discussion of wind power: “Of course there is a disputed but credible case, from a respected academic, that wind turbines save very little in the way of emissions, if anything”?

I apologise in advance if you have already done these things, and I have somehow failed to notice them.  But I think not.

In view of the huge importance of this question to our energy and environmental policies, I am sure that you will expect me to publish this correspondence.  Tomorrow at the UKIP Conference in Birmingham I shall be launching our Party’s new energy policy, and we will of course send you the Press Release.

Best regards.  


So here we have it.  The BBC’s leading Environment Correspondent knows that there is credible, well-researched evidence from a respected academic suggesting that the fundamental basis of the EU’s (and the UK’s) renewables policy is indefensible, but he feels no obligation to mention it.  It appears that the BBC is simply not prepared to report or countenance any serious work which challenges their Warmist preconceptions.  No one who knows the BBC will be surprised, but it never ceases to amaze me that they so disregard their obligation to balance and objectivity.

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20 Responses to BBC Environment Correspondent Roger Harrabin:

  1. John Bolton says:

    Strong financial interests in renewable’s in the BBC’s pension fund?

  2. Paul says:

    Roger, publish and be damned. After all you’re paying his wages, along with the rest of us. It’s like the Frank Gardiner issue in reverse. What are they going to do, sack you? Or just end up with egg on their faces?

  3. Mike Haseler says:

    Let us imagine another scenario. The UK like the US have “medicalised child birth”. The left of centre pro-women BBC hear of a group of people called “midwives” who although not doctors do have medical qualifications – but aren’t “doctors”. This group claim that child birth should not be seen as a problem, that it is in fact a natural process and that their are self-interested groups trying to scare women to believe it is a problem.

    Do the BBC:
    a) Ask a doctor to review the situation and decide whether the BBC should allow anyone who is not a doctor to express a view … and then knowing that the doctor will pronounce that only doctors should express a view on medical matters (even though it affects everyone).
    b) Do they ignore the protestations of the doctors claim that their charter requires them to be impartial and liberally cover the views of “midwives” on every “fair” program like woman’s hour.

    Obviously we all know what the BBC would do. They would clearly go out of their way to champion the “rights” of women not to have this “wonderful” natural process turned into a scientific/medical problem.

    So, what is it about scepticism that such different rules apply?
    1. Sceptics are men?
    2. Many sceptics are right of centre?
    3. The BBC don’t agree with sceptics so their charter doesn’t apply?

    Just to explain to anyone from the BBC

    The world has see a small rise in temperature. This rise is about the amount that women experience through the menstrual cycle. It is as if a “doctor” or “Climate doctor” had taken a measurement at day 1, noticed at day 20 that the temperature of their “patient” had risen and then declared that they had a terminal disease that not only meant the patient was critically ill, but the patient needed very expensive treatment that … just happened to benefit the doctor/climate doctor.

    The rise could indicate a problem. On the other hand the “doctor” could just be a charlatan”. Worse these climate doctors are self-appointed, they have diagnosed “terminal cooling” then “terminal warming” then “scientifically proven accelerated terminal warming” and now on day 20, counter to all their predictions the “patient’s” temperature has stopped warming.

    As for wind …. that would be treatment by leeches (and we all know who the leeches are!)

  4. orkneylad says:

    Richard Black has gone, Harrabin is next. Both are damaged goods.

  5. Jenny Keal says:

    I must have written 20 or 30 letters of complaint to the BBC about their biaised reporting on wind issues and never has anyone bothered to reply to me. They have been emails and hard copy letters both typed and handwritten. Not a peep from them. Jenny Keal, Mid Wales

  6. Tony says:

    Surely this is an egregious example of a breach of their charter? Is there no remedy?

  7. Leroy Whitby says:

    Corruption is corruption. Intellectual corruption as well. I say publish it. But then I’m an old school, pre-Obama, American. Freedom and doing the right thing, God, Family and Country, kind of guy. These lying leftists are bankrupting the world.

  8. Alan says:

    Is this the report that compares the costs of generating power using wind or gas while neglecting to include the cost of the gas itself?
    As for the BBC pension fund you can see all the BBC investments here, draw your own conclusions based on the facts.

  9. Ilma630 says:

    Roger, If the MSM, incl. BBC, can use the reason “in the public interest” to publish, then so can you. Roger Harrabin IS the BBC’s correspondent on environmental reporting, he is not some anonymous background writer, so what he says in response to a letter addressed to him as BBC correspondent on an issue he has written about under the BBC banner is public, not private. The fact that he’s trying to hide behind the BBC’s name is evidence that he’s writing in the BBC’s name, which as it’s been rightly pointed out, we (have no option but to) pay for. Anything he writes, whether an article or dialog, whilst under the BBC correspondent banner is public property.

  10. BBC ‘journalism’ has reached a new low on the subject of windpower and Harrabin is in part to blame.
    Transparency and balance are no longer required. Last night BBC Wales reported that Powys County Council has rejected a further three large wind’farm’ proposals in addition to the two others rejected in March this year. The BBC’s final comment … “The Public Inquiry [into all 5 wind’farms’] could cost £2.5 million.”
    No mention of the many £millions in subsidies that might go to ‘developers’, no mention of those tens of thousands who will be in fuel poverty if Government pursues a dual-build strategy thanks to unreliable windmill power, no mention of the environmental and ecological damage concerns.

  11. Phil Ford says:

    Just wanted to record my thanks to you, Mr Helmer, for raising this issue with Mr Harrabin. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever ‘find time or space’ to mention this important study simply because it goes so counter to the BBC’s pro-CAGW bias. We know that the BBC has an editorial policy never to entertain skeptical climate debate (unless it’s to take a cheap sideswipe at it), but your efforts are appreciated. Infact, for me, UKIP’s vocal, skeptical stance on CAGW is the chief reason you can count me as a supporter. Keep it up – and don’t let them wear you down!

  12. Old Goat says:

    It’s a shame that anyone still believes that CO2 has any relevance about anything to do with climate change. It has never been proved, and all the current evidence amassed rather seems to indicate that rising CO2 levels have no effect on global temperature, which is either stable, or cooling. So emissions are really a red herring anyway.

  13. neil craig says:

    At least Harrabin gave you some sort of answer.

    The BBC’s obligation to “balance” is simply the law of the land, forming part of their Charter. On the other hand they know perfectly well that their whole real purpose is to serve as propagandists and liars for big government and that under no circumstances will government hold them to the law.

    If Paxaman can say the BBC have “abandoned any pretence at impartiality” I think we can confidently say it is true. The BBC has proven it will cansor any fact, tell any lie and censor any dissidents in the totalitarian cause.

    It is ironic that the BBC regularly criticise Russia as not a real democracy because the government owns some of the media when the state media in Britain is far more of a monopoly and far more prone to lying and censorship than the Russian.

    Harrabin has merely demonstrated one minor instance of the fascist censorship the BBC engage in, on all subjects us to and including promotion of torture & genocide (the activities of the KLA/NATO police in Kosovo) on a daily basis.

  14. robertcraythorne says:

    Roll on the day when a strong giverment decides to scrap the BBC license fee…

  15. Mike Spilligan says:

    I’ve written to the BBC about twice a year on various subjects, including “global warming”, and the response is always the same; in paraphrase: This is the BBC and we always get these matters just right.

  16. grumpydenier says:

    Nice to see how easily these people fold. (starts at Page 50 – the rest is worth a read, though)

  17. Just to clarify my comment on BBC ‘transparency’.
    A short while ago they propped Tony Juniper up in front of a camera and had him doing his ‘renewable energy measures cost just 2p a week’ spiel.
    What they FAILED to do was identify Juniper and his proper title :-
    Chairman of Action for Renewables.
    A mouthpiece and his team working for the lobbyists at ReneawbleUK.

  18. James P says:

    The BBC warmist bias is so widely applied (the Today programme, for instance) I feel there must be an official general instruction to that effect somewhere in the Beeb. Once you have that…

  19. rfhmep says:

    Thanks everyone for helpful comments. James P: I don’t think there’s a general instruction. It’s scarier than that. They have a Guardianista mind set (perhaps because they’re all recruited through the Guardian) and they don’t even realise that their facile assumptions are contentious.

  20. It’s odd how the BBC’s Climate Correspondent, Roger Harrabin, completely ignores a story about the Antartic Sea Ice levels this year, such as this.

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