British journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer was wrong about climate change.

British journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer was wrong about climate change. Contrary to her claims during a recent interview with Asad Rehman, extreme weather is increasing around the world especially in North America, Europe and Asia.

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Claim: According to British journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer, extreme weather events are not increasing worldwide

Fact: Extreme weather events are increasing across the globe, especially in North America, Europe and Asia, according to the Summary for Policymakers report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

On 2 September 2022, Talk TV, a recently launched British TV channel, posted a video clip in a tweet captioned, “Julia and poverty campaigner Asad Rehman come to blows over whether man-made climate change has caused Pakistan’s extreme floods.” 

In this 5-minute, 49-second video clip, host Julia Hartley-Brewer interviews climate change activist and anti-poverty advocate Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want, a London-based charity working on human rights issues such as poverty and global justice.

While discussing the floods in Pakistan, Rehman explains that Pakistan has become increasingly more vulnerable to climate change, “Climate scientists have already told us that Pakistan’s vulnerability increases between 33 to 100 times because of the climate crisis, and we have seen this happen everywhere. Extreme weather events are happening faster, sooner and lasting longer.” 

To these statements Hartley-Brewer says this is simply not true and claims that official international data does not back it. She then says, “You deal with it [climate change] by countries getting richer, and that is by using fossil fuels, and that is about making countries richer, developing their countries, spending on infrastructure.” 

As the discussion continues, Asad Rehman quotes the IPCC report on climate change and says that these reports link the vulnerability of countries like Pakistan directly to fossil fuel expansion. Hartley-Brewer cuts him short and says, “But they are quite wrong”, and right afterwards, she says, “I’m sorry but they don’t say that the IPCC reports. The actual facts are that extreme weather is not increasing. This is not just my opinion, these are actual facts.”

In the reply to this tweet, verified

Fact or Fiction?

 Twitter user Professor Richard Betts tweeted that he is an IPCC author on both the chapters; the one on water and the one on extreme weather events. In response to Talk TV clip, he wrote, “You are totally incorrect to claim “extreme weather is not increasing” Many types of extreme weather *are* increasing, including heatwaves and heavy rainfall.” 

To investigate this further, we looked at the official IPCC reports on climate change which can be accessed through their website. On page 10 of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) report prepared by the IPCC, data collected by climate scientists is pictorially presented to show that some of North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and much of South America and Africa have observed an increase in “hot extremes”. The data shows that for Asia, there is also an increase in the observed change in heavy precipitation, which in the case of Pakistan, contributed to the devastating nature of this year’s floods. 

Image explaining the findings of the IPCC report with regards to extreme weather events.

Chapter 11 Weather and Climate Extreme Events in Changing Climate of the IPCC report called “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis” clearly states that extreme weather incidents have been observed in South Asia regarding rising temperatures and precipitation. 

One of the lead authors of this chapter is Muhammad Adnan, senior scientific officer at the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC). Soch Fact Check got in touch with Muhammad Adnan, who categorically confirmed that extreme weather events are increasing worldwide. He shared the data shown on the right side above, where South Asia is seen to experience increased heavy precipitation. He said that this figure shows “observed increases in heavy precipitation (with high confidence) in the South Asia (SAS) region, which includes Pakistan.” He also added that there is high confidence in the increasing trend of extreme events in the South Asian region and Pakistan.

Muhammad Adnan also shared another figure representing data from chapter 11. “This figure (see below) also shows a high confidence in the observed increase in the heavy precipitation at 1.5 °C (currently, we are between 1 to 1.5 °C approximately of the global warming)”, he said.

Therefore, Julia Hartley-Brewer’s comments are false.

Virality

The tweet made by Talk TV reached 359,569 users on Twitter and gathered 1,041 interactions. Several Twitter users, including climate scientists and students, corrected Hartley-Brewer’s comments in the replies section.

Talk TV has 318,000 subscribers on YouTube. This Press Gazette article quotes that the channel reached 1.9 million people in the UK by July 2022.  

Earlier in 2019, Talk TV UK also published a post with a similar video in which Julia Hartley-Brewer and Asad Rehman discuss climate change and Hartley-Brewer claims that extreme weather events are not increasing around the wrorld.

This tweet is a part of the larger discourse over whether Pakistan’s current flood conditions were worsened by bad governance or the reckless exploitation of fossil fuels by richer countries which worsens the climate crisis.

Conclusion: On a popular 24/7 British channel, journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer claimed that climate change is not leading to extreme weather events across the globe, and she argued her stance with Asad Rehman, a climate change activist from Pakistan. Soch Fact Check proves that she was wrong, and contrary to her claim that the IPCC reports support her statement, they do not. 

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