Climate News Network

Helping journalists see through the COP haze

DSC_0985Journalists from China, Pakistan, Togo, Nepal and France are among those attending a three-day Climate News Network workshop at the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP).

The workshop – ‘Understanding the COP Process’ – is designed mainly for developing world reporters. The workshop aims to help those covering the COP navigate their way through the complex negotiating process and to produce articles and broadcasts that are concise and clear – and free of the jargon which often pervades such gatherings.

The first day of presentations and discussions, held at the Paris HQ of the International New York Times, focused on the key COP issues: the latest science and the notional 2C target figure being set by negotiators, money transfers from the wealthier countries to the developing world, identifying stories and navigating through the maze of the talks.

“Journalists need to have a clear understanding of these issues in order to properly report on the COP,” says Alex Kirby, one of the Climate News Network editors.

“If they don’t have a grasp of the essentials not only will their stories and reports be confused but the people who matter – their audiences back home – just won’t be able to follow the momentous events happening here and the impact what does or does not happen in Paris will have on their lives.”

The workshop’s second day moved into the media centre at the COP conference at Le Bourget, on the outskirts of the French capital. A succession of speakers came to brief journalists and to answer questions.

Nick Nuttall, head of media at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the body organising the COP, says at least 3,500 journalists have been accredited to attend the conference – and many others had to be turned away due to space and other constraints. So far, says Nuttall, the signals at the conference are positive.

“For a start we’ve had 184 countries delivering their national commitments on emissions reductions – I’m absolutely astonished that this number has been achieved.”

Jonathan Lynn, head of communications at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, briefed journalists on the IPCC’s workings.

“A lot of people are under the impression we are one of the organisers of the COP”, says Lynn.

“In fact we are a body of thousands of scientists around the world who produce the science of climate change in our reports.

“Our task is to rigorously evaluate the science and to present it to policy makers: we don’t give targets or recommendations.”

Clare Nullis, spokesperson at the World Meteorological Organisation, told reporters that 2015 will prove to be the hottest year on record.

“We’re seeing the strongest El Nino ever seen”, says Nullis.

“We don’t know if this will be partly as a result of climate change but the oceans were already vey hot before this began.”

Zhang Yan, a participant at the workshop representing Caixin Media in China, says she’s learned a lot from discussions and presentations so far.

“It’s my first COP and I was scared coming here and overwhelmed by all the information: the workshop has made the topics much clearer – I now feel much more confident about reporting what is going on.”

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