The BBC is under fire for dropping an awareness-raising programme on climate change.

The scrapping of the programme, Planet Relief, an awareness-raising broadcast similar in concept to programmes such as the poverty-focused Comic Relief and Live8, and planned for early next year, is a real cop-out by the BBC.

Environmentalists and politicians have rightly criticised the BBC for abandoning the programme. In response the corporation said that it had decided it was not the BBC’s job to lead opinion on the global warming issue.

 However, critics complained that the effect of the decision was to imply that there was no scientific consensus on the reality of climate change and its human causes, and accused the corporation of being swayed by increasingly vocal climate-change sceptics.

Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat spokesman on the environment, said: “The consensus about global warming in the science community is now overwhelming, so accusing the BBC of campaigning on such an undisputed threat is like suggesting it should be even-handed between criminals and their victims.”

The green activist and author Mark Lynas said that the decision showed “a real poverty of understanding among senior BBC executives about the gravity of the situation we now face.

“The only reason why this became an issue is that there is a small but vociferous group of extreme right-wing climate ‘sceptics’ lobbying against taking action, so the BBC is behaving like a coward and refusing to take a more consistent stance,” he said.