Earlier this year BBC Radio 4's flagship news
programme came under fire after a discussion it hosted about the
possible links between severe flooding in the UK and climate
change. Now the BBC has agreed the programme gave "an inaccurate
and misleading impression of the evidence."
The Today Programme featured climate scientist
Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, head of the Grantham Institute for
Climate Change at Imperial College, in a head-to-head with Lord
Nigel Lawson, founder of climate skeptic lobby group the Global
Warming Policy Foundation.
Soon after it aired, the programme received a series of
listener complaints accusing it of promoting a false
balance, and giving the impression Lawson's views carry equal
weight to Hoskins' when it comes to explaining the science behind
recent storms, heavy rainfall and flooding.
The Today Programme initially defending the interview,
saying the lines of questioning "were designed to help
listeners judge how to assess the recent bad weather in the context
of climate change".
But in a letter seen by Carbon Brief, the BBC
Editorial Complaints Unit has upheld the complaints, concluding the
programme "gave an inaccurate and misleading impression of the
Cause for complaint
Back in February, The Today Programme invited Lord
Lawson to discuss with Professor Sir Brian Hoskins the role, if
any, of climate change in the flooding engulfing parts of the
Hoskins began by explaining how scientists know
climate change is linked to heavier bursts of rainfall, but made
clear that any link with the frequent storms that hit the UK last
winter is far less clear.