Climate Change Fellows Gear Up for COP24 in Poland

It has been a busy few months for the 20 journalist Fellows that are part of this year’s Climate Change Media Partnership.  Following the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September, they produced dozens of stories on clean energy, low-carbon transportation and the pledges made there by city, state and business leaders to curb global warming.

At the summit, which focused on local and non-state action to address climate change, Fellows conducted interviews with high-profile climate leaders, such as the mayor of Buenos Aires, Costa Rica’s energy and environment minister, former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos and the head of business development for agriculture at Microsoft.

Stories produced from the GCAS explained why planetary warming of 1.5 degrees matters and shared perspectives from leaders of small-island nations that emit a small portion of the greenhouses gases that drive global warming but often suffer the brunt of the impacts of climate change.

Now they’re gearing up to attend the main event, the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Katowice, Poland in December.

The conference comes just two years before countries that have signed onto the 2015 Paris Agreement must begin implementing plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

It also follows the release of a major UN report in which scientists determined that global warming of 2 degrees could bring catastrophic consequences to many parts of the world, and which suggested that a target of 1.5 degrees in average warming would be a safer target.

Keeping warming in check to limit the worst effects of climate change is still possible, the report stated. But doing so will require “rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

The Climate Change Media Partnership has brought journalists to global events focused on addressing the complex issues surrounding climate change since 2007. But this year carries particular import.

“Given the political currents in the world, including the election of a climate change denier in Brazil to go along with the one leading the U.S., this should be an interesting COP, made more so by its being held in a region of Europe that has been heavily reliant on coal,” says EJN Executive Director James Fahn.

Devon Terrill, Media Program Officer with the non-profit Stanley Foundation, has been working with EJN and four EJN-affiliated trainers to organize educational and reporting opportunities for Fellows during the COP. 

“Journalists will be able to participate in a field trip in Katowice to see how the city is transitioning to clean energy, even while commitments at the national level may be lagging,” Terrill says.  “This could be especially compelling to this year’s Fellows after reporting from the Global Climate Action Summit, where local and regional actors showcased their efforts to lower carbon emissions and signalled to national governments to follow suit.”

As part of the fellowship, journalists will participate in a day-long orientation and will have opportunities to interview delegates and attendees, interact with policymakers and cover news and other developments at the conference as they unfold.  

This year, EJN is again partnering with The Stanley Foundation to support the CCMP and ensure that Fellows have access to the negotiations that will drive future efforts to curb climate change and help communities adapt to impacts they’re already seeing.