Friday, May 11, 2007



I'm here to tell you about a new initiative we're undertaking at News, one that will affect us all. As many of you know, I grew up in Melbourne, Australia and the last few months and years have brought some changes there: In Melbourne, 2006 was the 10th consecutive year with below average rainfall. And 2005 was the hottest year on record throughout Australia. Australia is suffering its worst drought in 100 years. Now, I realize we can't take just one year in one city or even one continent as proof that something unusual is happening. And I am no scientist. But I do know how to assess a risk-- and 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. We must transform the way we use energy, and of course not only because of climate change... When I look around the world today, I see continued dependence on oil from vulnerable regions... and oil money going to leaders of countries hostile to us. Then there's accelerating development in China, India and other developing economies that are reliant on fossil fuels. But there are promising new technologies-- bio-fuels, solar and wind power, cleaner coal. And we all hear a demand from the public-- our audiences-- for governments and businesses to involve them in solving our energy challenge. Climate change and energy use are global problems-- News Corp is a global company. Our operations affect the environment all over the world. Our audiences-- hundreds of millions of people on five continents-- care about this issue. Three quarters of the American public believes climate change is a serious problem, and in many other countries, developed and developing, the numbers are even higher. And as many companies have already learned, acting on this issue is simply good business. Reducing our use of energy reduces costs. Inviting our employees to be active on this issue helps us recruit and retain the world's best. For us, as a media company-- this is a chance to deepen our relationships with our viewers, readers, and web users. The initiative we are launching today will involve every business, every function. It's not only for our facilities managers or our fleet directors-- it's about how we recruit new employees, how we develop relationships with advertisers and how we design movie sets. This is about changing the DNA of our business to re-imagine how we look at energy. This is all new for us. We have much to learn from others. We studied the example of BSkyB, and we met with non-governmental organizations, with other companies, and with scientific experts. If we are to connect with our audiences on this issue, we learned that we must first get our own house in order... We're not a manufacturer, or an airline, but we do use energy. Printing and publishing newspapers, producing films and television programs, operating 24-hour newsrooms. It all adds carbon to the atmosphere. Our first step was to measure our emissions of greenhouse gases-- our carbon footprint. Our carbon footprint last year was 641,150 tons. It includes the electricity used in all our operations globally, and any fuels we burn. Our analysis was independently verified and, today, we are reporting these figures to the public. We could make a difference just by holding our emissions steady as our businesses continue to grow. But that doesn't seem to be enough: we want to go all the way to zero. Today, I am announcing our intention to be carbon neutral, across all our businesses, by 2010. BSkyB has already done this. 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. Some of our businesses use more energy than others, but our strategy everywhere is the same... first, reduce our use of energy as much as possible. Then, switch to renewable sources of power where it makes economic sense... And, over time, as a last resort, offset the emissions we can't avoid. This will take time, but we have already started: On the Fox lot in Los Angeles, we have completed three separate reviews of energy use, and we found some areas to address immediately... even just switching the bulbs in our exit signs, will reduce carbon emissions by 200 tons. That's equal to 200 flights from New York to LA. We're also experimenting with solar-powered golf carts on the Lot... We've broken ground on the new Fox studios building that will be our first U.S. building officially certified as achieving excellence in environmental design. The New York Post has begun replacing lighting at their plant... and we'll do the same at our headquarters. Our new Fox Networks Center in Houston will utilize the latest LED lighting technology in all of its master control rooms. And at News America Marketing in the U.S. and at News Digital Media in Australia, we've begun replacing the companies' fleet cars with hybrid vehicles. The award-winning Keith Murdoch House in Adelaide, opened two years ago, uses 40% less energy than a typical office building. It uses solar panels to heat water, and collects rainwater from the roof to be re-used in the building. As we upgrade and expand everywhere, building new data centers and office buildings, from Bulgaria to India, from Chicago to Milan, we will always take energy into account... As we reduce our energy consumption, we are also buying electricity from sources that use less carbon... Today, I am proud to announce that both News International and HarperCollins in the UK have entered arrangements to buy renewable energy... 70% of News International's electricity will now come from hydroelectric power plants in Scotland... saving over 36,000 tons of carbon next year alone - enough to fill 650 railroad cars with coal. These two businesses have made such rapid progress that they will be carbon neutral by the end of this year. While we handle our own emissions, we can also work with our business partners to reduce emissions together.... Sky, working with NDS, redesigned their set-top boxes to go to a power-saving mode automatically. Fox Home Entertainment was recently recognized by Wal-Mart for reducing the environmental impacts of our DVDs and-- just yesterday-- we completed an analysis of the carbon footprint of a DVD from the first moment of its production-- all the way to the retailer's shelf. In London, we have done a similar analysis of one issue of the Times-- from the tree to disposal-- looking for ways to reduce carbon up and down our supply chain. While we reduce our own carbon footprint we will encourage the companies who truck our DVDs and newspapers, sell us paper, and provide an enormous range of products and services-- to all contribute. Today, we are joining the Climate Group, a coalition of businesses and governments working together to solve the climate problem. But some emissions will be unavoidable. As a last resort, we will offset these emissions. A carbon offset is a financial tool to support projects that prevent carbon from being released into the atmosphere. Done right, they will widen the implementation of carbonsaving technologies, and give an incentive to create new solutions. We have entered into an agreement to begin purchasing carbon offsets this year, from projects that provide wind power in India. When our net emissions reach zero-- through a combination of operational changes and carbon offsets-- we will be carbon neutral. We need to push ourselves to make as many reductions as possible in our own energy use first-- and that takes time. But we must do this quickly-- the climate will not wait for us. But becoming carbon neutral is only the beginning. The climate problem will not be solved by one company reducing its emissions to zero, and it won't be solved by one government acting alone. The climate problem will not be solved without mass participation by the general public in countries around the globe. And that's where we come in. We're starting with our own carbon footprint. Not nothing. But much of what we're doing is already, or soon will be, little more than the standard way of doing business. We can do something that's unique, different from just any other company. We can set an example, and we can reach our audiences. Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours... That's the carbon footprint we want to conquer. We cannot do it with gimmicks. We need to reach them in a sustained way. To weave this issue into our content-- make it dramatic, make it vivid, even sometimes make it fun. We want to inspire people to change their behavior. Imagine if we succeed in inspiring our audiences to reduce their own impacts on climate change by just one percent. That would be like turning the State of California off for almost two months. And imagine if... we were able to take on the carbon footprint of our audience in Asia. Many of the most serious impacts of climate change will be felt there, and China and India's emissions are rising rapidly. STAR is the number one Hindi-language network in the world. In India alone, we reach 100 million people. The challenge is to revolutionise the message. For too long, the threats of climate change have been presented as doom and gloom-- because the consequences are so serious. We need to do what our company does best: make this issue exciting. Tell the story in a new way. And, as you saw in our opening video, this is already happening... news coverage of this issue is increasing, but we can also do some things that are unexpected: SPEED, the network devoted to cars and motorcycles, is working on a project that will peek into the future as transportation, fuels, and motorsports go green... Our advertisers are asking us for ways to reach audiences on this issue. FOX is developing a solutions-based campaign which will offer advertisers the opportunity to partner with us to engage the general public. 24 is committing to change the way the show is produced... using biodiesel generators, and powering the studio with renewable energy... FOX has plans underway for the All-Star Game this summer. The National Geographic Channel is launching a new effort, called Preserve Our Planet, to offer programming related to climate change... On July 7, a series of concerts around the world, the LiveEarth concerts, will draw further attention to this issue... and Foxtel will be the exclusive Australian broadcast partner for this event. And then there's what we can do online. I'm proud to announce that MySpace has launched a channel dedicated to climate change. slash-- OurPlanet. What better way to enable young people to connect with each other and engage on this issue. Now... there are limits to how far we can push this issue in our content. Not every hero on television can drive a hybrid car. Often times it just won't fit. We must avoid preaching. And there has to be substance behind the glitz. But if we are genuine, we can change the way the public thinks about these issues. Now there will always be journalists... including some of ours... who are skeptical, which is natural and healthy. But the debate is shifting from whether climate change is really happening to how to solve it. And when so many of the solutions make sense for us as a business, it is clear that we should take action not only as a matter of public responsibility, but because we stand to benefit. This all begins with you, our employees. As we reduce our company's carbon footprint, we will help you to reduce your own. I've started myself-- I bought a hybrid car a few months ago-- and of course for each of us there will be some changes we can make, and other changes we can't. But we shouldn't let what we can't do stop us from doing what we can. We have launched Cool Change, our campaign to communicate with you on this issue, including a website where you can contribute ideas, and be rewarded for your efforts. Fox has recently announced a new benefit it is offering its employees: a financial incentive to buy a hybrid car. We plan to roll this out to other News Corporation businesses. I ask each of you to think about how this effort affects your own job, because I am certain it does. As you discover new ways to save money or connect with your audiences or business partners, you will realize: finding a way to act on climate change is not only good for the planet, and not only good for our business, it will be good for your career. And it will be great for attracting new talent-- dynamic, creative, engaged people who think about the future, not one year ahead, but a generation ahead-- exactly the kind of people we need for our company to thrive. Our company has always been about imagining the future and then making that vision a reality. News was once a small publisher of newspapers in one region of Australia... There have always been those who doubted us... Who doubted us when we expanded to Great Britain... When we launched a fourth broadcast network in the United States... When we launched a cable news network... When we bought MySpace... And they have been proven wrong. At each step, we took a risk, and re-invented ourselves. News Corporation, today, reaches people at home and at work... when they're thinking... when they're laughing... and when they are making choices that have enormous impact. The unique potential-- and duty-- of a media company are to help its audiences connect to the issues that define our time. We are only at the beginning of this mission, and we have a long way to go. As we imagine the future, our responsibility now is to make that future our own. I hope that each of you will continue to be inspired by that challenge, just as I am. We have much to do.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Brundtland 20 years on

A Conversation With Gro Harlem Brundtland
20 Years Later, Again Assigned to Fight Climate Change

by Andrew Revkin
Published: May 8, 2007

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Reaching out even to competitors like China, where coal-powered plants continue to rise, is crucial, she said.

Twenty years ago, the former Norwegian prime minister and public health doctor directed a United Nations commission seeking ways to balance the human enterprise and the planet’s limits.

The human population was then spiking toward five billion. Scientists were raising early concerns about a buildup of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. The Amazon was ablaze. The latest African famine had struck. The eco-disasters of Bhopal and Chernobyl still resonated.

What became known as the Brundtland Commission concluded in a report titled “Our Common Future” that a global goal should be to make social and economic development sustainable, meaning that it “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Today, the human population is more than 6.5 billion, and nearly half the people in the world live on less than $2 a day. Emissions are rising relentlessly in established and emerging economic powers, and economic expansion is still the prime goal around the world.

And at 68, after a stint directing the World Health Organization, Dr. Brundtland is being asked to attack global environmental problems once more.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon chose her as one of three special envoys with the job of prodding world leaders to act on at least one environmental front: cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Brundtland’s focus will be getting countries to commit to new actions under the Kyoto Protocol, under which only a few dozen countries are required to make cuts in emissions, and the underlying 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change, which committed nearly all the world’s countries to avoiding dangerous human interference with the climate system but did not mandate any steps.

In a telephone interview from her home in Nice, France, Dr. Brundtland reflected on the need for leaders to shape national priorities for the future and for the sake of people on the other side of the globe.

Q. There seem to be many people who haven’t accepted that humans are influencing the environment on a planetary scale, particularly the climate. Does it surprise you that it’s taken such a long time for us to absorb the idea that we’ve gone global?

A. At the time of our report in 1987, the messages we gave were very clear about the issue. And they were explained in relatively simple, readable terms. The message certainly spread to environmental groups, to the scientific and research community, to the universities and to the political environment in many countries. But then, when you go from that level to the average person, it probably is a different question. These are complicated issues. So it has taken a long time for public opinion to put pressure on politicians.

Not in all countries. In Norway we had elections in 1989, and the environment was so high on the agenda that it really overshadowed most other issues. In 1990, my government instituted a carbon dioxide tax. I had all the oil-producing countries of the world lining up against me. I explained there is no other way to deal with climate change than to do something about the price of carbon.

You have to do things that hurt. It hurt certainly industry and the oil industry when this happened. Today, 20 years later, this has affected Norway’s continental shelf. It is the cleanest oil technology anywhere, because they’ve had a tax and regulations that inspired or forced them to do the right thing. Now more and more political leaders understand that things need to be done, and we cannot accept politicians who are not taking this seriously.

Q. This sustainability concept as you laid it out 20 years ago goes against one of the foundations of established economic theory, which is that the future will always be richer and smarter than the present generation, so we shouldn’t sacrifice today for their sake.

A. For people in their 50s or 40s today, if you look back in history that has always been the case. Everything they’ve learned or experienced has led in this direction, and they haven’t had to listen that there are some problems that are not integrated with that economic theory. Now, as more and more economists are aware, these environmental costs cannot be externalized, the environment has to be integrated and taken account of. Now economists are not taken seriously anymore if they disregard this new reality.

Q. So does protecting the global environment require a new economics in a way?

A. You have to put it into the equation. That is what has been done in the new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ( Actions in the next two or three decades will determine if it is possible to get to no more than 2 or 2.4 degrees temperature increase (3.5 to 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit). They find it is possible, using existing technologies and developing technologies that are now realistic. And they find it is a very small cost involved. It is not as if what needs to happen is plainly impossible for economic or other reasons. The challenge is political — it’s whether political decision makers around the world can act quickly enough to make a difference.

Q. How much does the rich world owe countries that haven’t contributed to the greenhouse gas buildup so far?

A. We were very clear in 1987 that the responsibility for dealing with these problems building up in the atmosphere, that responsibility belongs to the industrialized world. We have to clean up our problems, and at the same time we have to help the developing world have new technologies to make it possible for them to jump over the polluting stages that we have been through.

Q. There are many in the United States, and Europe to some extent, who say that fast-growing countries like China are already our fierce competitors, so why should we be helping them?

A. These are some of the reasons progress is slow. Somehow, though, you have to reach out your hand to those countries that really need investment support to avoid the coal-fired plants that come up every week in China with no cleaning technology. This cannot continue.

That kind of reluctance is an illustration of underestimating the reality that we are in this together. What kind of world is it if we think in traditional terms of competitive advantage, or being overrun by countries that are developing and competing with each of us, and at same time we lose the future for our children due to our lack of action in a situation that is irreversible? I think now that more people understand that there is no way around this. I believe it, but I choose to be optimistic.

Q. What message will you be carrying on your climate mission?

A. We have no time to lose. The data are now clearly presented and have very high confidence levels. There is no question anymore about scientific disagreement. So many things are easily done and lead to improved energy efficiency and a number of other benefits.

Unless we start immediately fulfilling the Kyoto Protocol and then continuing with a broader basis with all countries involved, this is going to get completely out of control and we will not be able to cap carbon dioxide levels. It’s a drama playing itself out in front of us, where we are still able to change a very dangerous scenario but we cannot wait for another 5 or 10 years. We must be active now.