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RTÉ apologises for climate change reporting

Jon Williams, the Managing Director of RTÉ News, has apologised for RTÉ’s reporting of climate change, saying that the broadcaster was wrong not to more strongly link extreme weather, such as the recent heatwave across Ireland, with climate change.

This is despite Williams having previously pointed out, correctly, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have said that determining whether any “specific, single extreme weather event” is due to climate change is “difficult, if not impossible.”

Williams says that RTÉ will “double down” on its coverage of climate issues and that “every journalist in RTÉ News” will shortly take part in a workshop looking at how to report “climate science.” A team of reporters who will be “dedicated to reporting the climate crisis” will also be set up.

That’s likely to be good news to Covering Climate Now (CCN), the left-wing activist group which RTÉ is a member organisation of – RTÉ is the only state broadcaster to be a member of the group.

CCN aims to “transform” the media and they offer training to journalists on how to “accurately” and “effectively” report on climate change. CCN have long advocated that all extreme weather events be linked to climate change, despite the fact it’s impossible for a reporter to prove a link between any particular weather event and climate change.

Part of the problem, Williams said, is that “RTÉ’s financial challenges” meant that RTÉ only had one correspondent, George Lee, covering “both science and environment.” The pandemic meant Lee moved to covering COVID-19, leaving no correspondent dedicated to the environment. Williams said that if “everyone” paid their TV licence RTÉ would be able to afford to hire an environment correspondent. It is unclear why RTÉ don’t have the money to fund an environment correspondent already, given that RTÉ’s annual report for 2020, released earlier this month, shows that the broadcaster received €196.6 million euro from licence fee revenue over the year, and that the broadcaster had a surplus of €7.9 million.

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