Rupert Murdoch may own a hybrid car but he’s found an even more carbon-neutral way of getting to work: walking. Plenty of footprints, none of them carbon.
He walked to work, even if it was only a short stroll from Fifth Avenue to Sixth, where News Corp headquarters are located, on the day he announced that his company was taking a leading role in the climate change debate. Not that he is about to grow a beard and wear sandals. He’s still got the corporate jet.
Last week’s announcement that News Corp intends to produce zero net carbon emissions by 2010 was the emphatic sign that at 76, Murdoch remains as pragmatic, unorthodox and up-to-date as ever.
Although his various newspapers have long been on the sceptics’ side of the climate change issue, for close Murdoch watchers the announcement was not surprising. Last year, at a corporate retreat at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course in California, he invited Al Gore along to show An Inconvenient Truth.
Last November, while in Japan, he announced his change of heart. "I have to admit that, until recently, I was somewhat wary of the warming debate. I believe it is now our responsibility to take the lead on this issue," he said then.
"Some of the presumptions about extreme weather, whether it be hurricanes or drought, may seem far-fetched. What is certain is that temperatures have been rising and that we are not entirely sure of the consequences. The planet deserves the benefit of the doubt."
The person most influential in the greening of Rupert is his son James, who runs Murdoch’s part-owned satellite television franchise, British Sky Broadcasting. James has always been portrayed as the leftie sibling. He did have a beard, and once ran a hip-hop music label. He drives a Toyota Prius to work and a hybrid SUV on the weekends, while his wife, Kathryn, works for the Clinton Global Initiative.
James has led the greenhouse gas charge, turning BSkyB into a carbon neutral company. It was apparently this example that led Rupert to take the plunge and commit the whole global empire to greenhouse gas neutrality by 2010.
According to Murdoch snr, the process – which was only announced this week but which has been under way for almost a year – has made good business sense. Reducing energy usage not only cuts greenhouse gas emissions but saves money, too. Admittedly, a media and entertainment conglomerate is not exactly a smokestack industry. But it is slightly surprising that its activities generated 641,150 tonnes of greenhouse gases last year.