June has been confirmed as the hottest on record for the UK.
According to provisional Met Office figures, the average mean temperature of 15.8°C for June 2023 in the UK is the highest in a series since 1884, with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also reporting their respective warmest June on record.
This eclipsed the previous record by 0.9°C, while the previous top three Junes were separated by just 0.1°C.
Fingerprint of climate change
A rapid study by Met Office scientists found the chance of observing a June beating the previous record of 14.9°C, like we have this year, has at least doubled since the period around 1940. The previous record of 14.9°C was recorded in 1940 and 1976.
Paul Davies, Met Office Climate Extremes Principal Fellow and Chief Meteorologist, explains: “We found that the chance of observing a June beating the previous joint 1940/1976 record of 14.9°C has at least doubled since the 1940s. Alongside natural variability, the background warming of the Earth’s atmosphere due to human induced climate change has driven up the possibility of reaching record high temperatures.
“Using our UKCP18 climate projections, we can also see that there is a difference in the frequency of these sort of extremes depending on the emissions scenario we follow in the future. By the 2050s the chance of surpassing the previous record of 14.9°C could be as high as around 50%, or every other year. Beyond the 2050s the likelihood is strongly governed by our emissions of greenhouse gasses, with the chance increasing further in a high emissions scenario but levelling off under mitigation.”
The rapid study used the UK’s climate projections, UKCP18, comparing the chance of surpassing 14.9°C during the period 1925-1955 to that for 1991-2020.
A majority of GB News hosts attacked climate action on the channel in 2022, while one in three spread climate science denial, a DeSmog analysis can reveal.
Opponents of green policies have seized on the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to denounce the UK’s net zero target and push for new, environmentally-damaging fossil fuel extraction.
Broadcaster GB News has faced criticism for spreading anti-green messages to millions of viewers since its launch in June 2021. GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos has previously defended the platform by claiming that it presents “multiple sides of the climate debate”.
However, an in-depth DeSmog analysis of GB News’s output from 2022 reveals a pattern of hostility to climate action, including outright climate science denial.
DeSmog reviewed dozens of YouTube video clips of 31 GB News hosts over a 12 month period. Our analysis found that at least 16 hosts (52 percent) attacked on air the UK’s climate policies, including its net zero target.
Presenters claimed that net zero will cause “death by poverty and starvation”, “poses an existential threat to the free world”, and called for the UK to “drill, baby, drill” for more fossil fuels.
The analysis also showed that ten hosts (32 percent) broadcast views in 2022 that challenged or rejected the scientific consensus on climate change. Presenters dismissed the role of climate change in extreme weather, such as the UK’s record 2022 heatwave, claiming “the polar bears are doing fine” and that “the ice in Antarctica is getting thicker every day”.
The world’s leading climate science group, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in 2022 that efforts to tackle climate change were being delayed by “rhetoric and misinformation that undermines climate science and disregards risk and urgency”.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) MP John Nicolson – who sits on Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee – called DeSmog’s analysis “damning” and urged Ofcom to take “urgent” action, while US-based media and climate expert Allison Fisher said that GB News was using “a similar playbook as Fox News”.
At least four GB News hosts have ties to right-wing political parties that are hostile to climate action, while its ranks include well-known anti-green MPs from the Conservative benches. The channel also frequently platforms activists from climate science denial groups such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).
All but two of the hosts who spread climate delay and denial in 2022 are still working at GB News. And, in recent months, GB News has hired two more anti-green MPs as presenters: former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, and current Conservative Party Deputy Chair Lee Anderson.
A GB News spokesperson told DeSmog: “GB News embraces a wide range of voices on all major issues such as climate change and policy.” They claimed that DeSmog’s research excluded “other hosts, guests, politicians, and commentators on GB News who have robustly and resoundingly argued different views on climate policy and science”.
‘Polluting Public Discourse’
Communications regulator Ofcom has repeatedly found GB News to have broken broadcasting rules with false claims about Covid vaccines, and is probing the channel’s use of MPs as hosts. But, until now, GB News’s climate coverage has largely evaded scrutiny.
“GB News prioritises polemicists over journalists,” Nicolson told DeSmog. “Many of GB News’s broadcasts pollute public discourse with right-wing propaganda.
“There is an urgent need for Ofcom now to act. We do not want to go further down the American Fox News route of unchallenged, often scientifically illiterate, culture war propaganda spewing into our homes.”
An Ofcom spokesperson told DeSmog: “In line with freedom of expression, broadcasters are free to broadcast programmes about climate change from a range of different perspectives.
“Under our rules, however, any scientifically unsubstantiated claims must be handled with care and put properly into context – for example, by receiving adequate challenge – to ensure audiences are not misled.”
‘Net Zero Must Die’
In 2022, GB News frequently aired claims about climate policy that run counter to the scientific consensus, DeSmog’s findings show.
Net zero targets were a favourite topic. The UK’s 2050 net zero target is legally binding and backed by the world’s top climate scientists. Rapidly cutting carbon emissions is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including drought, famine, and ill health, according to the IPCC.
Yet, net zero was the subject of attacks from GB News hosts last year, with the presenters often veering into conspiracy theories.
For example on 5 November, host Neil Oliver used his show to attack “net zero [and] the green agenda”, which he claimed was part of “a hellish potpourri of policies guaranteed to condemn hundreds of millions to death by poverty, death by starvation”.
Mark Steynclaimed on an 18 May episode of The Steyn Line that climate policy was part of a conspiracy to bring about “a controlled demolition of the western world” by “sinister globalist[s]”. Steyn parted ways with GB News this year after Ofcom ruled that his false claims about the safety of Covid vaccines had broken its standards over potentially harmful content.
Flagship host Dan Wootton argued on 10 March that the war in Ukraine meant “for now the rush to net zero must die”. He urged the government to “frack, frack, frack” for shale gas. In a 2 November show, Wootton attacked Rishi Sunak for agreeing to attend the “eco doomfest” COP27 climate summit, while a graphic on the screen referred to “the deranged march to net zero”.
Mark Dolan, in a 22 September episode of Mark Dolan Tonight, said: “Blindly pursuing net zero threatens to hasten the decline of the west, and therefore poses an existential threat to the free world.”
In a 9 December show, Dolan praised plans to open a new coal mine in Cumbria, saying the UK should “drill, baby, drill” for coal, oil and gas, and adding: “I think the push for net zero here is another element of liberal progressivism which is infecting the west.”
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that any new fossil fuel projects would be incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Coal emits the most CO2 of any fossil fuel.
In July, star host Nigel Farage – who has a long record of opposing climate action – used his GB News platform to launch a campaign for a Brexit-style referendum on net zero.
On 6 December, GB News host and Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox argued for scrapping “those woke billions” that “we are spending each year to appease the sun monster with offerings of net zero”.
Fellow host Nana Akua claimed on 16 July that net zero was “a money-spinning, extreme and impossible goal” that “only relates to the zero sum you will have in your bank account by the time they’re done with you.”
GB News hosts also frequently challenged or rejected the scientific consensus on climate change in 2022.
On 16 July, during the UK’s record-breaking summer heatwave, host Calvin Robinson accused the Met Office of “alarmism”, adding: “Man-made climate change, I don’t buy it, because how much of an impact do we really make if we’re talking about carbon levels?”
On her 16 July show, Akua accused the print media of “climate alarmism” over warnings about the heatwave, which she said “really isn’t that bad,” adding of such warnings that “in any case, most of the time, they’re wrong”.
Six days later, Akua said: “If we [humans] only generate 3.5 percent of CO2 and the rest of it is natural, then surely the CO2 is not the reason for the climate changing because it’s such a small proportion?”
A day earlier, host Beverley Turnercalled heatwave warnings “fear mongering” in order to “facilitate state control over your life”. Turner also spread baseless claims warning viewers to “be aware of green issue propaganda which will serve large corporate interests”, which is “part of a plan to register us all to a Biometric ID and a social credit score system that’ll tell you when you can and can’t leave the house for the sake of the planet”.
On 8 August, Farage questioned the link between extreme weather and climate change, saying: “Which is it? Is climate change giving us floods in the [US] midwest or drought in southern England? I’m confused.”
These claims about the heatwave contradict the IPCC, the Met Office, and a study by the World Weather Attribution service that said the heatwave was made “at least 10 times more likely” by human-caused climate change.
In a 22 September segment, Mark Dolan cast doubt on climate science, saying: “When it comes to global warming, my mind is open, but after two and a half years of, in my view anti-scientific Covid policies, and junk modelling in relation to the virus, forgive me for having questions and not slavishly following ‘the science’.”
In a 10 December show, Neil Oliver asserted that “the polar bears are doing fine” and “the ice in Antarctica is getting thicker every day” – claims not supported by the scientific evidence.
Professor J. Timmons Roberts, co-author of an influential paper on the “discourses of climate delay”, told DeSmog that GB News presenters were “casting doubt on the urgency of meaningful action on climate change and the viability of solutions we now have to this urgent problem.
“These are classic discourses of delay, honed by the fossil fuel industry and its allies, building on the decades of experience of the tobacco PR machine,” he said.
“GB News appears to be utilising a similar playbook as Fox News to push climate misinformation and throw sand in the gears of climate action,” said Allison Fisher, Climate and Energy Program Director for the US-based media watchdog Media Matters.
“Attempting to discredit climate science, denying the link between our warming planet and ever-increasing extreme weather, all while keeping up a steady drumbeat of attacks on climate solutions and policies intended to address the climate crisis, are tactics Fox News has used for years to misinform its audiences and delay action on climate change.”
All of the hosts cited in this article have been approached for comment.
At least four GB News hosts have ties to political parties with a record of climate science denial: Nigel Farage, former leader of the Brexit Party (now Reform UK) who also heads up the anti-green group Vote Power Not Poverty; Calvin Robinson, who was a Brexit Party parliamentary candidate in 2019 and a former Reclaim Party advisor; Arlene Foster, former leader of the Democratic Unionist Party; and Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox.
Another host, Philip Davies, was one of five MPs to vote against the Climate Change Act in 2008. Davies, Anderson, and Esther McVey – who is also a GB News presenter – are all members of the anti-climate action Net Zero Scrutiny Group of backbench Conservative MPs.
Owned by the Dubai-based investment firm Legatum Group, GB News reached 2.87 million viewers in December alone, reportedly beating rival station TalkTV in key time slots. Despite this, the broadcaster lost £30 million in its first year on air.
The Legatum Institute think tank, which is run by the Legatum Group, has previously received donations from a foundation linked to the US-based Koch Industries oil dynasty. Three of the five parties with significant control of GB News’s parent company, All Perspectives Limited, are executives at Legatum.
GB News last year appointed a new chair, Alan McCormick, who is a partner at Legatum and previously shared articles online which dismissed the threat from climate change.
Legatum Group did not respond when contacted for comment.
GB News not only gives a voice to climate denial and delay via its hosts; it also platforms guests who are hostile to climate science and net zero policies.
Frequent guests include Lois Perry of the climate science denial group CAR26, as well as figures from the GWPF, the UK’s principal climate denial group, which campaigns as Net Zero Watch. On 30 April this year, GB News hosted the GWPF’s head of policy Harry Wilkinson in a segment on net zero.
GB News has also promoted GWPF material under its own banner. In May 2022, GB News published an online story criticising government subsidies for wind farms which, although it was based on a Net Zero Watch analysis, did not reveal the group as its source.
GB News’s online story carried quotes from Conservative MPs Steve Baker and Craig Mackinlay, both of whom are Net Zero Watch allies. These quotes were identical to the statements featured in the Net Zero Watch press release.
The on-air version of the story featured an interview with Andrew Montford, deputy director of Net Zero Watch, while the story was also cited in a new report by the influential Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) think tank that called for a “phase out” of renewable energy subsidies.
Richard Wilson, board member of the Stop Funding Heat campaign, said GB News was pushing “biased messaging on climate change and net zero.”
Wilson urged advertisers to pull support for the channel, saying: “Any company that cares about climate change, and the future of humanity, should be steering well clear of GB News.”
Fisher at Media Matters added: “At a time when the window to act on global warming is rapidly closing, the last thing the world needs is another Fox News.”
For a full breakdown of GB News’s record on climate, visit its new profile in DeSmog’s climate disinformation database.
Methodology Using online video footage of GB News segments, mainly on YouTube, DeSmog analysed the comments made on air in 2022 by the presenters listed on the GB News website.
We excluded six of these 37 listed hosts – Mark Longhurst, Rosie Wright, Darren McCaffrey, Mark White, Ellie Costello and royal correspondent Cameron Walker – as they were news anchors or reporters who did not regularly express opinions.
DeSmog’s analysis found that, of the 31 GB News hosts, 16 (52 percent) attacked climate action on air, while 10 (32 percent) challenged or rejected basic climate science.
We defined “attacks on climate action” as hosts attacking “net zero” and efforts to cut CO2 emissions, or supporting a major increase in fossil fuel extraction, e.g. overturning the UK’s fracking ban or opening a new coal mine. We excluded specific calls for more North Sea oil and gas extraction because, while this still contradicts the IPCC and IEA, it is a more mainstream position, held for example by the current UK government.
We defined “climate science denial” as hosts rejecting or casting doubt on the role of human-caused CO2 emissions on global warming, and on its role in extreme weather events such as last year’s record heatwave in the UK.
The analysis did not include the regular attacks on climate protesters by GB News, or contestable claims about the UK being a “world leader” on climate action.
In drawing up these definitions DeSmog was guided by the peer-reviewed 2020 “discourses of climate delay” paper published by Cambridge University.
We were not able to review all of GB News’s 2022 output, as not all of it is currently publicly available after live broadcast, so there may be more examples that were not captured in this analysis. We also found that several hosts made delay or denial statements in 2021 or 2023 which fell outside the time frame and so were not included in this analysis. A full dataset is available upon request.
A Met Office attribution study, produced this week, has estimated the chances of exceeding the record-breaking temperature witnessed in April and May in 2010 – which saw the highest combined average April and May temperature since 1900.
The study shows that the natural probability of a heatwave exceeding the average temperature in 2010 is once in 312 years. In the current climate – accounting for climate change – the probabilities increase to once in every 3.1 years. And by the end of the century, the study – incorporating climate change projections – shows this will increase to once every 1.15 years.
Dr Nikos Christidis produced the Met Office attribution study. He said: “Spells of heat have always been a feature of the region’s pre-monsoon climate during April and May. However, our study shows that climate change is driving the heat intensity of these spells making record-breaking temperatures 100 times more likely. By the end of the century increasing climate change is likely to drive temperatures of these values on average every year.”
Greenpeace said it had been warned by port authorities not to sail up the River Clyde to the global climate conference, but added the vessel would still attempt the journey.
If the voyage is successful, the four youth activists on the Rainbow Warrior plan to meet fellow members of the Fridays for Future climate strike movement on Monday afternoon outside the summit to deliver their message.
The stakes could hardly be higher. The consequences of the world failing to agree on the action needed are potentially catastrophic. Already we are seeing the devastating effects of the climate crisis.
Those impacts are no longer distant or theoretical. They are being experienced now. Just this year we have witnessed wildfires in Greece, massive flooding in Nigeria and Uganda, a food crisis in Madagascar – as well as devastating flooding in western Europe.
The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could not have been clearer about the necessity of action. Compared to pre-industrial times, global temperatures have already risen by more than one degree on average.
And, as the UN Secretary General made clear last month, the definite promises made by member states at that stage – assuming they were all delivered – were sufficient only to keep temperature increases to 2.7°C. He said that would create a “hellscape” on earth.
The message was wholeheartedly endorsed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said she “couldn’t agree more”.
The summit kicks off this weekend before world leaders attend the summit for an official opening ceremony on Monday.
Speaking to delegates earlier, Epinosa warned: “Humanity faces stark but clear choices. We either choose to achieve rapid and large-scale reductions of limiting emissions to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C or we accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet.”
The last seven years have been the hottest on record – with sea levels rising to new highs and climate-related destructive weather extremes in 2021, UN experts have said.
In its annual state of the global climate report launched as the UN Cop26 summit gets under way, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said that 2021 is likely to have been the fifth to seventh hottest year on record.
While it is not quite as hot as some recent years, due to a “La Nina” weather phenomenon in the Pacific – which has a cooling affect on global temperatures, it still averaged 1.09C above pre-industrial levels, the WMO said.
The last seven years since 2015, when countries secured the Paris Agreement to curb temperature rises to 1.5C or well below 2C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, have been the hottest in records dating back to 1850.
And the UK’s Met Office warned the world’s temperature has reached an average exceeding 1C above pre-industrial levels for the past two decades, the first time a 20-year period has been at that level since the records began.
FORMER business secretary Alok Sharma, Boris Johnson’s appointee to chair Cop26, sought to put China in the dock today with his widely publicised comments “we expected more” — hardly the best way to win consensus ahead of a critically important conference.
There are two issues here. One is truth. The other is the contrast of approach between two different social systems.
In terms of carbon emissions per head, China today stands at 7.3 tonnes and the US at more than double that at 15.2.
More striking, however, is the speed of China’s development of zero-carbon technologies. In 2016 the EU generated 101 gigawatt of solar power and China 78.
Today the figures are reversed: China 204 and EU 134. Equally with wind power. In 2014 the EU generated 128 gigawatt and China 114. Today China produces 281 and the EU 201.
And in terms of relevant technologies China is well ahead. It produces 80 per cent of the world’s solar panels. It has over two-thirds of the world’s high-speed electric trains. It has as almost as many electric cars as the US and the EU combined — and 57 percent of its Belt and Road energy investments are for renewables as against 28 per cent two years ago.