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Monday 5 December 2011

Carbon Moving Target

[Update at end of post]

Once again, the cheap and nasty modus operandi of the Desmond press and its inability to report certain subjects without screaming headlines has revealed how papers like the Express get much of their content second hand, and that agenda driven hackery is here at its crudest. The headline, “Petrol Cars To Be Banned In Huhne’s Green Revolution”, is all you need to know.

The story, under the by-line of Giles Sheldrick, sounds assertive enough: “All petrol and diesel vehicles will be removed from the roads as part of a controversial ‘green revolution’ being drawn up by the Government, it was revealed last night” he tells. As ever, it’s always “last night” in Express land. But the story was lifted from copy published by two other papers the previous day.

First into print was the Sunday Times, which was then followed by the Telegraph, and thus Des’ finest did not have to shell out for the paywall. Both are reporting on the Government’s Carbon Plan (read it HERE [.pdf]) which envisages more renewable and nuclear power coming on stream in the next three to four decades, and significant lowering in road vehicle emissions.

But the plan is a wish list, not a diktat, something the Telegraph merely hints at. Thus there is no talk of “banning” anything from the roads. Moreover, the attempt to personalise the plan as being Chris Huhne’s doing alone misses the minor fact that the document has been signed on to by both the Prime Minister and his Deputy. It is not merely “Huhne’s carbon plan”.

And, interestingly, it is the Daily Mail that for once provides a more nuanced account of what the plan envisages. For starters, wind turbine technology is moving ahead apace, with more powerful devices coming on stream – most notably in China, which is stealing a lead on the West. So the Express shock horror figure of 32,000 wind turbines could turn out to be just 10,000.

But the Desmond press has its line to toe, so the usual frighteners are deployed: “the move will cost Britain’s motorists tens of millions of pounds ... ‘Green’ cars are prohibitively expensive”. The canard of Government deliberately impoverishing the population is once again aired, with the thought that fossil fuels are not securely sourced, nor predictably priced, not allowed to enter.

Not having the debate, but instead stoking up a hate campaign against a Government minister while nicking stories from other papers? That’ll be another Benchmark Of Excellence.

[UPDATE December 6: the Daily Mail has taken a step backwards today, as hack Steve Doughty has gone back to the more sensationalist "32,000 wind turbines" idea, instead of the 10,000 figure from yesterday's, er, Daily Mail. Perhaps he could try reading his own paper before sharpening pen. Doughty also makes an elementary howler when he tells that the Renewable Energy Foundation supports taxes which will go to help pay for renewable energy, managing not to realise that this is another Astroturf lobby group whose sole objective is to put out anti-renewables propaganda]

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