Local Journalists Play Key Role in Covering Climate Change Talks

Fifteen journalists from around the world reported from the United Nations climate negotiations (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco as part of the Earth Journalism Network’s long-standing Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) program.

During the one-week fellowship, these journalists produced over 90 stories – many of which can be viewed on EJN’s website – and had the opportunity to attend high-level press conferences and interview leading diplomats, scientists and climate leaders.

Dubbed the “COP of Action,” following last year’s decisive progress in Paris, a major focus of the 2016 talks was to develop procedures and guidelines for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. With the threshold for entry into force (55 Parties to the Convention accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions) reached in October 2016—far earlier than expected—this conference marked the first time that the Agreement’s governing body (known as the CMA) would meet to discuss key decisions needed to drive implementation in the years to come.

This year’s delegation, funded by the Oak Foundation, included print, radio and television journalists from the Philippines, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Jamaica, Russia, Qatar, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Journalists were selected from a highly competitive pool of over 300 applicants to cover the event. Many of these countries will be some of the hardest hit by climate change; others will play a decisive role in whether or not progress is made in preventing and adapting to climate change.

Prior to attending the conference, journalists participated in a daylong seminar where Global Environment Facility CEO Naoko Ishii, Asher Minns of Future Earth, and the Third Pole Project’s Joydeep Gupta briefed them on climate finance, new research and an overview of key topics at issue in the negotiations. They also traveled to the coastal city of Essaouira to take a first-hand look at a jatropha farm; the plant is being tested as a possible green energy solution in Morocco.

At the summit, they played a key role in shaping discussions, as well as informing and contextualizing the latest developments for their home audiences. Fellow Vidya Venkat of The Hindu, for example,spoke on the recent air pollution crisis in New Delhi and the role of developing nations in pushing their developed counterparts to meet emissions targetsduring an interview on Democracy Now. Other published stories examined the impact of conference decisions from regional and national perspectives in six major languages: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Mandarin.

As uncertainty around the impact of the United States’ election of a new president cast a long shadow over the conference, journalists attended key press conferences held by outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Climate Envoy Jonathan Pershing, and followed reaction from their various delegations. A series of stories written by fellows Juan Mayorga of Mexico, Laura Rocha of Argentina, Tatiana Pichugina of Russia, and Crystal Ching Chow provided a comprehensive assessment of the potential effect a Trump presidency might have on climate action.

Journalists also had direct access to negotiators through EJN’s annual Negotiator Press Briefing.

Since 2007, the Climate Change Media Partnership has been providing fellowships for developing country journalists to go to the UN climate negotiations and other major events that they would otherwise be unable to attend. It aims to improve media coverage of climate change, and therefore increase public engagement on the issue with a focus on developing countries and critically affected regions.

2016 CCMP Fellows:

  • Laura Rocha, Argentina
  • Sohara Mehroze Shachi, Bangladesh
  • Ines Kuassi, Benin
  • Bruno Calixto, Brazil
  • Adrienne Engono Epse Moussang, Cameroon
  • Didier Mukaleng Makal, DRC
  • Crystal Ching Chow, Hong Kong
  • Vidya Venkat, India
  • Carol Francis, Jamaica
  • Zablon Markoloo, Kenya
  • Juan Pablo Mayorga, Mexico
  • Innocent Onoh, Nigeria
  • Purple Romero, Philippines
  • Ayswarya Murthy, Qatar
  • Tatiana Pichugina, Russia