COMMENT BY MATHEW CARR [CarrZee]
Feb. 5, 2022 — LONDON: Reporters are meant to be neutral. Get a round up of views and facts about a certain topic, present the reporting, and finish a compelling narrative with a logical conclusion about why the reader should care or act.
I believed I was the poster child of neutral reporter. That’s what my most-recent employer seemed to be telling me for most of my 20-year career, but apparently it changed its mind during the last few years.
About seven years ago, after more than a decade of writing about climate solutions, it seemed important that the world had signed onto the Paris climate deal. A few years later, I began to notice that there was still a systematic bias in our reporting toward the status-quo dirty system in the energy and commodities team at Bloomberg News.
We were sending scores of reporters to cover the OPEC meetings, where government officials rig the market for crude oil. Climate-change meetings at the United Nations level were allowed to unfold with little coverage, whatsoever, even though I thought it was well known that the switch to a cleaner system was going to be extremely tough because it requires global collaboration.
I was being required to write about natural gas rather than carbon markets.
The fossil fuel bias shouldn’t hold, I was thinking. The world has agreed to cut emissions dramatically. I began to blow the whistle, or I thought I did, at least.
I had limited impact. I was ultimately fired in 2020, after being told I was too biased toward climate action. Management said I’d become incapable. These accusations seemed outrageous then.
And now I’ve been through several internal investigations and more than five unfair-dismissal / whistleblowing hearings in London’s system of employment tribunals, losing at most of them, they seem even more outrageous.
I’m not wrong to assume the world means what it says. What’s so hard? Continuing to kill the climate — that’s clearly bias. Clean energy is already cheap, especially when the cost is spread over 15 plus years (which is can be via financing).
Here is how I argued it to the Tribunal back in August 2020:
The Respondent [Bloomberg] argues the Claimant [CarrZee] was campaigning. Because of the Paris climate deal struck in 2015 the global frame of reference on campaigning journalism had changed. Before then there was no global carbon budget, so anti-fossil fuel reporting could be labelled “campaigning.” After Dec. 2015 there was a global budget (or at least after 2016 when the Paris deal was ratified). Paris required anti-fossil fuel reporting to become the norm, and that is why the Claimant’s disclosures were highlighting a failure of the Respondent and so they are protected. Paris turned much of the benign-fossil-fuel reporting into campaigning. This is why the disclosures were novel, even if that is not necessary to show. See also paragraph 89 of the decision, where the Tribunal states the claimant’s disclosures were too general. Again, the Tribunal might reconsider all the alleged protected disclosures, starting in 2016. The background is crucial in this case, because it is about the Respondent’s behavior toward the Claimant since 2015, when Paris was struck.
The Tribunal dismissed the argument and most of my others, as well. Several other tribunal judges have joined the party. I’ll ignore the legalities in the above text for the purposes of this column.
I’m writing this story today in February 2022 because even still now, we are seeing clean energy undeservably getting the blame for the energy crisis, which is basically caused by high oil and natural gas prices ramped by fossil fuel providers in rigged markets.
The situation is basically this (ignoring many important nuances): polluters are creating a crisis by withholding supply in a bid to delay climate action. It’s predatory and it’s fabricated. The greedy brazeness is just stunning and barely anyone is saying anything about the root causes. So, the polluters’ strategy is working.
The winter is mild and commodity prices really should have collapsed already because of the lower demand. (I’m ignoring a few important nuances here, too.)
Three important “to be sures”:
High fossil fuel prices boost the pace of the transition by making clean alternatives even more attractive.
High prices make it easier to remove fossil-fuel subsidies. The sellers of fossil fuels can back up their economies with high commodity prices rather than subsidies.
And as fossil commodity prices come down (and they will eventually / soon), clever lawmakers can boost / install carbon prices and the end consumer won’t notice as much when higher carbon prices replace commodity costs in their utility bills / at the gasoline pump.
The silence or misleading stories across much of the news media is made even more shocking because we are coming out of a pandemic that’s hurt most of the world’s population financially. Enough is enough.
Of course, fossil fuels will play a declining role for the next three decades at least, but we’ve been beholden to polluters for too long.
More aggressively sticking to the Paris climate deal emission limits would have made the world a much safer place right now. Saying so wasn’t (and isn’t) biased or campaign journalism, it’s neutral science and maths – a logical conclusion based on facts.
Please share and support my GoFundMe, where I’m seeking financial help for what will hopefully be the last part of my litigation and to potentially pay a 40,000 pound cost order sought by Bloomberg LP. Yes, Bloomberg wants me to pay for a portion of its legal costs. See, also, this overview.
(Updates to make the three benefits clearer)