BAKER & MCKENZIE advised News Corporation on its plans to become carbon neutral by 2010.
In May, Rupert Murdoch said News had to reduce its carbon footprint and cut the 641,150 tons of greenhouse gasses it emitted in the 2006 financial year.
“Climate change and energy use are global problems; News Corp is a global company. Our operations affect the environment all over the world,” Murdoch said when announcing the plan.
“Our audiences — hundreds of millions of people on five continents — care about this issue. Three-quarters of the American public believes climate change is a serious problem, and in many other countries — developed and developing — the numbers are even higher.
And as many companies have already learned, acting on this issue is simply good business. Reducing our use of energy reduces costs. Inviting our employees to be active on this issue helps us recruit and retain the world’s best.
“For us, as a media company — this is a chance to deepen our relationships with our viewers, readers, and web users.”
Environmental law specialist Martijn Wilder in Baker & McKenzie’s Sydney office worked with News Corporation’s global in-house team to advise on how to go about reducing emissions, including market rules on purchasing carbon offsets and doing the deals to purchase the offsets.
“For a company whose business spans the globe with news, media and entertainment services, this initiative reinforces the importance of addressing climate change to a global audience,” he said.
“It is an incredibly significant announcement that hopefully will be followed by many other multinationals.”
Wilder said the lack of mandatory carbon trading schemes in countries like the US and Australia hadn’t prevented the establishment of voluntary carbon markets. “It is a serious market, split into wholesale and retail, with pricing for voluntary carbon regularly running as high as US$30 ($35).
Bakers has had a group that specialises in climate change since the Kyoto Protocol was agreed to a decade ago, when lawyers involved in the negotiations at Kyoto established the practice.
The impact of News Corp becoming carbon neutral will be equivalent to turning off electricity in London for five days, Murdoch said.
News Corp’s BSkyB in the UK is already carbon neutral, and other moves so far undertaken include the new Fox studios in the US, which will be the company’s first US building certified as achieving “excellence in environmental design”; and the Fox Networks Center in Houston and News Digital Media in Australia are also replacing all company cars with hybrid cars.
The Keith Murdoch House in Adelaide, which houses all pre-production personnel for The Advertiser newspaper, opened two years ago, and uses 40 per cent less energy than a typical office building, assisted by solar panels to heat water. It also collects rainwater from the roof to be re-used in the building.