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Murdock Vows to Green News Corp. Globally Because 'The Risk is Clear'

News Corp. generated 641,150 tons of carbon in 2006, including all the fuels and electricity used globally. "Imagine if we succeed in inspiring our audiences to reduce their own impacts on climate change by just 1 percent. That would be like turning the state of California off for almost two months."

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NEW YORK, May 9, 2007 -- "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," News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch told employees today.

Murdoch unveiled to employees a worldwide initiative to make its operations more environmentally friendly, including a goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2010.

As a first step in the process, News Corp. assessed and independently verified their carbon footprint -- the amount of CO2 emissions generated by the corporation's activities worldwide. According to the assessment, News Corp. generated 641,150 tons of carbon in 2006, including all the fuels and electricity used globally.

Murdoch laid out a three-step program to reach carbon neutrality in three years. First, he said, the company must reduce its energy use as much as possible, wherever possible. Murdoch estimated that simply replacing the lights in the exit signs at Fox's studio in Los Angeles to more energy efficient designs would reduce carbon emissions by 200 tons per year.

In addition to energy efficient lighting in all its buildings, News Corp. has also broken ground on new Fox studios in L.A. that are intended to acheive LEED certification for environmental design.

The second step in the carbon-neutral plan is to use renewable energy "where it makes economic sense," Murdoch said. The company has just unveiled an arrangement to purchase 70 percent of the energy used by its U.K. operations from hydroelectric power plants in Scotland.

The third step, and one Murdoch labeled a "last resort," is to purchase carbon offsets for any emissions that the company is unable to eliminate from its operations. To that end, News Corp. has already begun purchasing carbon offsets from wind power projects in India.

In addition to greening News Corp. from the outside in, Murdoch said the company would encourage its suppliers, manufacturers and shipping partners to develop ways of reducing their own environmental impact.

The media properties owned by News Corp. -- a myriad of film, television, print and online publications -- will also join the endeavor, by encouraging viewers to take their own steps to improve the environment.

"Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours," Murdoch said. "Imagine if we succeed in inspiring our audiences to reduce their own impacts on climate change by just 1 percent. That would be like turning the state of California off for almost two months."

In an interview with Grist's Amanda Griscom Little, News Corp.'s V.P. of Business Development, Roy Bahat, laid out how he envisions the new environmental messages appearing in media.

"It will naturally become more prevalent throughout our programming, be it sitcoms or news," he said. "We are asking all of our creative leaders to incorporate climate change in ways that would make drama more dramatic, or comedy funnier, or news more relevant -- ways that inspire viewers to bond with the program."

Today's announcement may be a surprising revelation from the head of a company that is seen as politically conservative. But Murdoch, who was born in Australia, told his employees that he had seen many signs that showed just how real the threat of global warming is.

"In Melbourne, 2006 was the 10th consecutive year with below average rainfall. And 2005 was the hottest year on record throughout Australia," he said. "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."

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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