In Australia, Murdoch-Owned News Outlets Vow to Back Away From Climate Denial

Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, at a meeting of the World Economic Forum, January 30, 2009.

Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, at a meeting of the World Economic Forum, January 30, 2009. Monika Flueckiger / World Economic Forum

Though long hostile toward climate science, News Corp Australia is planning an editorial campaign calling for a zero-carbon economy, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. In mid-October, News Corp Australia, owned by conservative media magnate Rupert Murdoch, will launch a two-week campaign advocating for a target of net-zero emissions by 2050. The campaign will be supported by Sky News and will run in metropolitan tabloids. The News Corp-owned national newspaper, The Australian, will not take part, thought it is expected to moderate its historically dismissive stance on climate change.

While Australia’s conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the country is on a path to net-zero emissions, he has not committed to a timeline, and his government remains supportive of coal. Responding to calls from the United Nations for Australia to phase out coal power, the country’s resources minister said on Monday that coal could would remain central to its economy well beyond 2030, Reuters reported.

The News Corp campaign could push Australia’s conservative government to set more ambitious climate targets ahead of the forthcoming UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, The New York Times reported. “If genuine, this could provide a critical boost to momentum needed for the Glasgow summit in November,” Joëlle Gergis, a climate scientist at the Australian National University, told The Times.

However, many observers remain skeptical, including former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. A frequent target of News Corps outlets, he was ousted in 2018 by fellow conservatives after he backed legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“That right-wing populist climate-denying section of the coalition is very influential, and its foundation is the News Corp media … That’s where they live and thrive. If there’s a change there, that would be significant,” Turnbull told The Times. But, he added, “I’m not going to give them credit for something they haven’t done yet.”