Scores of News Outlets Commit to Covering Climate Crisis

A demonstration against global warming in Berlin, Germany in February. (Photo Credit: OMER MESSINGER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
August 30, 2019

Nearly 200 news outlets worldwide have pledged to increase their coverage of the ongoing climate crisis ahead of the United Nations' climate change summit next month.

Signatories to the Covering Climate Now campaign, which was organized by the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation, include major domestic outlets such as Bloomberg, CBS News, PBS NewsHour, Buzzfeed, and Teen Vogue. Cheddar has also submitted a request to join the campaign.

"This is the defining story of our time," said Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation's environment correspondent, stressing that it is time to "break the climate silence that still pervades too much of the U.S. media."

Outlets in the coalition will maintain full editorial control over their content, but all agree to run a week's worth of climate-related stories during the lead-up to the UN summit.

The campaign first came about after the UN published a devastating report in October, which predicted catastrophic climate events in the coming decade due to global warming. The report warned of historic floods, droughts, and other disasters unless major overhauls were made to the global economy in nearly every sector.

"You're not going to get those changes in the other sectors until you have the same kind of transformation in the media sector, and the public gets the kind of information they need to build public awareness and, frankly, public pressure to get governments to act," Hertsgaard said.

The campaign, Hertsgaard added, is particularly important for the U.S.; especially since the downplaying — and outright denial — of climate change continues to pervade political discourse among many powerful Republicans, including President Trump.

Major international outlets that have signed onto the campaign include El País, Agence France-Presse, The Toronto Star, BBC, and The Hindustan Times.

The United Nations Climate Action Summit is set to be held in New York on September 23 and is the latest meeting of signatories of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on world leaders to gather "with concrete, realistic plans" on combating the climate crisis, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

Trump, who has repeatedly rejected the science of climate change, withdrew the U.S. from the Paris pact in 2017. A State Department spokesperson told Cheddar that the U.S. is still "considering the nature of our participation at the UN Secretary General's Climate Summit."

Kyle Pope, Columbia Journalism Review's editor and publisher, stressed in a statement that "the need for solid climate coverage has never been greater."