Why we're 'covering climate now'

Do not bring speeches, bring plans, UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres has told the world leaders assembling in New York next week for the UN Climate Action Summit.

"I want to hear about how we are going to stop the increase in emissions by 2020, and dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century," he has told the Paris Agreement signatories.

Guterres acknowledges the scale of the challenge. The summit slogan is "A race we can win", but publicity for the event describes the reductions required as "a very tall order, as global emissions reach record levels and show no sign of peaking".

Those record global emissions have contributed to the last four years being the four hottest on record. Winter temperatures in the Arctic, where Greenland has this northern summer lost hundreds of billions of tonnes of ice, are up 3degC since 1990. Significantly, for those of us in the South, melting in the Arctic accelerates sea-level rise here, due to the mechanics of gravity.

The plans Guterres wants to see are governments' plans to step up their Paris commitments so we cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, thereby limiting global temperature rise to "well below" 2degC. If the international community can keep warming to 1.5degC, scientists say we might avoid the most calamitous climate-driven impacts.

Despite the rise in emissions globally, there is cause for optimism. The technologies needed to shift economies to a low-carbon footing have been assembled. In New Zealand, as elsewhere, the work has been done to frame what that future will look like and identify how to get there. Economists have estimated it need only have a modest impact; if we start now.

Still, the task should not be underestimated. Guterres says the plans must transform economies. There seems no conceivable way of achieving that ambition without broad-based understanding and buy-in.

With that in mind, the Otago Daily Times has joined an international news media initiative in the run-up to the UN Climate Action Summit.

More than 250 newsrooms representing 32 countries with a combined monthly reach of more than a billion people are co-operating under the banner Covering Climate Now.

During the week leading into the summit, we have agreed to share resources and focus coverage in a way that does justice to the defining story of our time.

Other New Zealand news media involved include The New Zealand Herald, Radio New Zealand, TVNZ and Stuff. International outlets include The Guardian, Covering Climate Now initiators Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation; wire service Bloomberg; television stations CBS News and Al Jazeera; Spanish daily El Pais and The Times of India; Getty Images; Agence France-Presse; scholarly journals such as Nature, Science, and the Harvard Business Review; and publications such as Vanity Fair, HuffPost, and The Daily Beast.

It is not just the news media bringing a renewed focus to the issue this week. On Friday, students around the world will lead climate strikes to again call for stronger action. In New Zealand, the strikes will take place a week later, on September 27.

The strikes are inspired by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg's Fridays For Future movement. She will herself be in New York for the summit. There is a Youth Climate Summit two days before the "grown-up" version.

In a recent interview, she underlined the power of collective action. "We should not underestimate ourselves because if lots of individuals go together then we can accomplish almost anything," she said.

That message could apply equally across these various endeavours of the coming week, whether the UN Climate Action Summit, the Fridays For Future and School Strike movements, or Covering Climate Now.

The key to them all is informed, co-operative, co-ordinated, concerted effort.

 

Comments

If the editors of the world's media did any investigation into the IPCC they would realize that this whole charade is political. My submission to the zero carbon bill spelt out 4 irrefutable deceptions of the IPCC
The gullibility, naivety and ignorance of journalists and editors is nothing short of amazing.
Head of UNFCCC Christiana Figueres made it clear, its aim was to destroy capitalism, Ottmar Edenhoffer of the IPCC said climate is about transferring wealth from rich countries to poor, it has nothing to do with environmentalism any more.
Of those 4 lies; In 1995 the scientists said "no evidence that CO2 was having any effect" the bureaucracy deleted that and said it was having an effect.
2. Irrefutable research data shows half life of CO2 in atmosphere is 10 years, not the 200 plus the IPCC claims.
3. the models all predict a hot spot in the tropical upper atmosphere. Data from balloons and satellites show no hot spot. CO2 is not having effect claimed.
4. IPCC evaluates methane's effect in dry air. but air contains water. Water absorbs the same wavelengths of infra red as methane. with 12000 water to one methane then methane has no effect.
We need balanced reporting

 

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