Fair and balanced?

CNNA recent study concludes that CNN viewers see more fossil fuel ads than reporting on climate change.

Oil industry advertisements outstripped climate-related coverage by almost 5 to 1 in periods following major climate announcements, according to Media Matters. For example, after reporting that 2015 was the hottest year on record and that February 2016 was the most abnormally hot month on record, CNN ran 5 minutes of climate news coverage, compared to 23.5 minutes of fossil fuel ads. “That disparity does not even account for dozens of Koch Industries ads that also ran on CNN, which were not energy-focused but did serve to boost the image of the oil billionaire Koch brothers’ primary corporation,” wrote researcher Kevin Kalhoefer. This is one concrete example of the broader trend of Big Oil’s anti-climate policy influence we wrote about here a few weeks ago.

And where is the study on Fox “News”?

Getting the COP21 Word(s) Out

waiting 2Media coverage of climate change jumped in 2015.

EHN reports that since 2000, the University of Colorado, Boulder, has tracked climate coverage in news reports published by five national newspapers—The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. Their line graph tells a clear story without words: news stories reached numbers not seen since December 2009, when COP15 took place in Copenhagen.

The UNFCCC’s official attendance stats tell a similar story, with COP21 seeing growth in all categories of attendees.  Out of the total number of 30,372 blue zone credentials, 19,208 or 63% were worn by the 196 Parties; 8,314 or 27% by observers; and 2798 or 9% by the media.  The COP21 total is more than twice the total attendance of COP20, with almost three times as many country delegation attendees and about 2.5 times the number of media.  Given the COP21 agenda, it’s not surprising to see the rapid uptick in country delegates: high government officials attending only for the High Level Segment were badged along side party delegation security and administrative assistants.

But two things struck me when stepping back from the jumble of attendance details to look at larger patterns.  IMG_1166

First, the Boulder research doesn’t look back beyond COP15’s highwater mark for media interest in climate change and so misses the fact that media participants at COP3 numbered 3750, according to the UNFCCC, more than the 2800 who reported on COP21.

Second, looking at the participants listed on several country delegations at COP21 show media people badged on party credentials.  For example, China’s delegation – one of the largest – included several dozen people titled as print and television journalists.  Even Colombia, with a delegation only a quarter the size of China’s, listed a noticeable number of media.  Perhaps this is an artifact of bringing so many heads of state, government, and internal environment, foreign affairs, and energy ministries to the historic Paris meeting?  Or maybe it’s a part of a trend toward having more control over the COP words and images heading back home?  Regardless, this tilt toward party-badged media versus media-badged media raises genuine concern about the independent role of this group of COP participants.  It also likely leaves the UNFCCC Secretariat wondering if the rules that govern who may attend a specific negotiation session (e.g. Party vs. observer vs. media) need fine tuning.


Feet on the Ground: Low-Carbon Travel to Paris

“A challenge that remains is to motivate the many participants of conferences and meetings to reduce their own carbon footprint, especially from travel.”

So reads the UNFCCC secretariat’s sustainability efforts web page. Some individuals took this challenge into their own hands (or rather, feet) and are pursuing unconventional travel routes to Paris.

First, there are the walkers. Yeb Saño, former Philippine Climate Change Commissioner, falls into this category. Saño is weeks into his 60-day, 930-mile expedition on foot, from Rome to Paris. Saño leads a group known as The People’s Pilgrimage, a group of multi-faith individuals walking to COP21, “carrying with them the hopes and prayers of millions for a better future, safe from climate change.”

Next, we have the runners and cyclists. A recent Huffington Post article highlighted Pole to Paris, a group running and cycling from the Arctic to COP21. Young scientists travel this route as a public awareness campaign for COP21, seeking to “bridge the gap between science and society.”

Finally, more cyclists! Climate Journey is “a storytelling expedition from New England to Paris for COP21.” The two cyclists, who will be youth delegates at COP21, are gathering local stories about climate change en route. Bike for a Future is another public awareness campaign bicycle ride from Vietnam to France.

Meanwhile, 95 percent of the UNFCCC secretariat’s total carbon footprint comes from air travel. At COP20, the secretariat purchased Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) to offset greenhouse gas emissions from UNFCCC staff and funded participants travel to Lima. COP21’s web page says the Conference’s €187 million budget will include funding for a “limited and offset carbon footprint.” Walkers, runners, and cyclists alike have already embarked on low-carbon voyages to Paris, catalyzing momentum for the upcoming climate change negotiations.


COP15 coming to a close…

As the negotiations are coming to a close, a select number of world leaders are struggling to come to an agreement.

Here is a smattering of recent press:

World leaders come together to continue meeting

The world’s leaders have come together once again to move the climate negotiations forward, after having gathered in smaller groups during the afternoon.  At the same time the UN conference continues in the form of large meetings.  Barack Obama, Wen Jiabao, Ban Ki-moon and Fredrik Reinfeldt were among the speakers in plenary during the afternoon. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton Arrives

Clinton addressing the COP (Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix)

At a press briefing today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged that the United Stated will contribute its “fair share” of the $100 billion dollars needed for developing countries to deal with the negative effects of climate change IF the parties can come together on an agreement by the end of the COP.  This has been categorized by the prime minister of Tuvalu as dangling a carrot in front of the poorest countries in an effort to get them to agree to a less binding agreement.  Tuvalu, and many of the other low-lying island countries, still insist that they will not sign an agreement that allows for more than a 1.5 degree celsius increase.

Along with announcing a financial commitment from the United States, Secretary Clinton pressured China to agree to outside monitoring of its emissions levels.  The stand-off between the United States and China, the top two global emitters, continued into the latter portion of the day.  China has now made a few statements implying a commitment to transparency, but has yet to specify exactly what those statements mean.

Only one day left for the UNFCCC to pull off an agreement here in Copenhagen.

Negotiations Breakdown?

COP 15 President Connie Hedegaard

COP15 President Connie Hedegaard about to start 3pm meeting after suspension of the plenary re-opening the session

The morning started out with a flurry of activity.  After some discussion about the logo and how certain parties felt it represented the end of Kyoto, the COP plenary commenced with the Tuvalu delegation proposing a contact group to review its protocol, which was proposed and tabled six months ago.  As proposed, the Tuvalu protocol is a legally binding agreement meant to complement Kyoto through amendments, as well as the creation of a new protocol entitled the Copenhagen Protocol.  In no uncertain terms, Tuvalu stated it was here to “seal the deal” and wanted nothing less than a legally binding document.

In response to the request for a contact group, many of the AOSIS countries expressed great enthusiasm noting they are the states most impacted by the effects of climate change.  As Cape Verde stated, “we will be the first to diasappear…in this climate crisis.”  Other countries strongly opposed the creation of a contact group, most notably, China, India, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  The opposition was clear in expressing their feeling that the parties’ focus should not be on new texts.   The United States was unsurprisingly quiet.  Most alarmingly, however, countries within the G77 that had formerly been aligned were clearly divided.  Continue reading

Going Mobile in the Conference

So I’m experimenting with posting pics and videos on-the-fly.  If this continues to work, I’ll be bringing near-instant updates from relevant side events and happenings around the city.

If you have something you’d like covered or want more detail on please leave it in the comments and we’ll try to accommodate!

Check it out…

Dramatic November Leaves Hope for Significant U.S. Contribution at COP15

Reading a recent article highlighting Sen. James Inhofe’s now-international obstructionism on efforts to stem climate change, I was struck by how eventful and dramatic the last few months have been for folks who have been paying attention and are holding their breath for actual progress at the Copenhagen Conference of Parties.

Beginning back in mid-November many of us were shocked when national news outlets casually threw out the dour headline “So much for Hopenhagen,” effectively calling off the push for a binding international agreement while at the conference. Continue reading