Reporters attending the Climate News Network’s special workshop at the Paris COP having been learning one of the key elements of journalism: if one person has a definite view on events, there’s bound to be another who says exactly the opposite.
On day two of the workshop – ‘Understanding the COP Process’ – journalists listened to the head of communications at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the body organizing the Paris summit, deliver a generally positive message, saying a substantial agreement could well be reached here.
On day three, reporters heard Joydeep Gupta, an Indian journalist who has covered most of the COPs to date, deliver a far more downbeat message.
“Yes, there will be an accord but it’s a question of just how meaningful it will be” said Joydeep, editor of the Third Pole news service, one of the most respected and well informed websites in Asia focusing on climate and environmental matters.
“My belief is the accord will be more or less meaningless – the problems are all about money and which countries should be contributing to the developing world to help the countries concerned adapt to climate change. I see very little room for optimism.”
Zhang Yan, a reporter from China representing Caixin Media, said listening to such diverse views helped give articles balance and credibility.
“We have heard from so many people in the workshop: at first I found the different opinions confusing but now I see they can add to the substance of my articles – it shows I have talked to many people and not just accepted one version of events.”
On day three journalists also had the opportunity of listening to a leading representative of 48 lesser developed countries – the LDCs.
Bubu Jaallow, from the Gambia, has attended COPs since the early 1990s and has seen the influence of the LDC grouping grow substantially.
“At the early COPs our voice was always drowned out by the bigger, more powerful countries” said Jaallow. “But all that has changed: now we’re a force to be reckoned with and we’re listened to by the big boys.”
However, the LDCs still face substantial problems at these negotiations.
“Often we have a serious lack of capacity – we just don’t have the manpower” said Jaallow.
“I attend talks that go through the night while the France delegation next to me can change its personnel every few hours. Sometimes I just can’t stay awake and so might miss critical details in the talks.”
The three-day Climate News Network workshop was designed to help journalists understand and cope with the complexities of the climate change negotiating process.
Rina Saeed, a columnist for the Dawn newspaper in Pakistan, said that though she had covered many climate change issues, the workshop had given her greater confidence about reporting on what’s going on at the COP.
“The main thing is to make our reports clear and concise – we have to translate all this tangled language into something our audiences back home can understand.”
Rina said it was also important to meet and swap opinions and stories with journalists from other countries.
“Through gatherings like this we learn a lot from each other. It’s a very refreshing and enlightening experience.”