BBC Climate Editor Justin Rowlatt defends flying to Spain to report on heatwave

The journalist came under criticism for flying the 1,800-mile round trip to present a report on BBC News explaining the rise in temperatures across Europe was partly due to carbon emissions.

Justin Rowlatt presenting Panorama - Wild Weather: Our World Under Threat - TX: 03/11/2021 - Episode: Panorama - Wild Weather: Our World Under Threat (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Justin Rowlatt - (C) BBC - Photographer: BBC
Justin Rowlatt, presenter of Panorama special Wild Weather, defended air travel to report on climate change. (BBC)

BBC Climate Editor Justin Rowlatt has defended flying to Spain to report on the recent heatwave caused by Climate Change.

The journalist came under criticism for flying the 1,800-mile round trip to Murcia in Spain to present a report on BBC News, explaining the rise in temperatures across Europe was partly due to carbon emissions. The return flight with Iberia Airlines would have produced an estimated 0.32 tonnes of carbon emissions.

Rowlatt, 57, told BBC Breakfast: "There were claims of hypocrisy that we flew there. I'm a reporter, it's my job to go and cover the big stories. I'm the Climate Editor of the BBC. Climate change is a hugely important story, not just for Britain but for the world, not just for people but for all of life on Earth. It's changing the environment in which we live in a really profound way.

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"As a journalist my job is to bring home, tell the story in vivid ways, to connect with people and make them understand the issues under discussion. I think that by being there and going out, for example with social services in a city in Spain that was experiencing heat of 43 degrees seeing homeless people and making sure they're okay - I think that vividly brings home the challenges that climate presents."

Flooding caused by Storm Ciara at Rothay Bridge in Ambleside, Lake District, UK, with Justin Rowlatt, the BBC environment corespondent wading along a
BBC Climate Editor Justin Rowlatt reporting on flooding in the Lake District. (PA)

He went on: "These are difficult decisions. We do take into account carbon emissions when we make these choices - but the viewers will judge for themselves whether they think it's important. Like with any deployment - sending a Foreign Correspondent to cover a war, Royal Correspondent to cover a Royal tour, you decide whether there's going to be value added. And we, the BBC, and I certainly felt here was value added form me being there."

Rowlatt added: "That was broadcast on all out international channels and online so hopefully reached a lot of people."

Tomasz Schafernaker, winner of 'Best TV Weather Presenter' at the TRIC (Television and Radio Industries Club) Annual Awards, at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.   (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Tomasz Schafernaker denied a GB News report that claimed the BBC had used ground temperatures to exaggerate the heatwave in Europe. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, BBC weather reporter Tomasz Schafernaker has hit back after a report on GB News claimed reports of the heatwave were inaccurate and were "driving fear" to try and control people by making them, "terrified of the weather."

Archaeologist and TV presenter Neil Oliver told GB News' Dan Wootton that reports of temperatures reaching over 40 degrees in Europe were "dishonest" as he claimed they were based on ground temperature figures, and not air temperature.

British television presenter, freelance archaeologist, conservationist and author Neil Oliver attends a photocall during the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2019 on August 13, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images)
Archaeologist Neil Oliver claimed weather reports of the heatwave had been dishonest in attempt to drive fear. (Getty Images)

He said: "The BBC and others are driving this narrative, those terrifying temperatures that were being predicted, all starting with 40 this and 40 that, were obtained using satellite images of ground temperature - how hot the ground was to touch. That's never been the temperature that's used in weather forecasting."

He added: "The whole thing is so transparently, blatantly, dishonest."

But meteorologist Schafernaker accused Oliver of lying, saying that reports of the record temperatures in Europe were based on air temperature.

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He tweeted: "This absolutely not true. The temperature being reported is AIR temperature above ground (over 1 metre+), not the GROUND temperature. Ground temperature will have been even higher in many of those locations, well in excess of 50°."

Watch: Greece is currently experiencing a heatwave and wildfires