COLLABORATION

Universities answer media call to action on climate crisis

SOURCE: Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP
An iceberg as it floats along the eastern cost of Greenland near Kulusuk, August 15, 2019.

More than 170 organisations and news outlets from around the world have signed up for the environmental initiative “Covering Climate Now”, one of the most ambitious efforts ever to organise the world’s media around a single coverage topic.

Among their ranks, the movement now includes big names like The Guardian, Bloomberg, Vice, Asahi Shimbun, La Repubblica, The Times of India, and Teen Vogue.

But littered amongst the world’s largest news publishers are a handful of university papers that want to be a part of the conversation.

The Eyeopener from Ryerson University in Canada is one such paper. Others include The Queen’s Journal from Queen’s University and The Varsity from the University of Toronto, both also from Canada.

Climate Action Summit
Demonstrators take part in a march in Hendaye, south-west France on August 24, 2019, to protest against the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world’s seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. Source: Georges Gobet / AFP

As well as student papers, universities themselves are also getting involved. Boston University; the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University; Climate Central and Climate Matters at George Mason University’s Center for Climate Communications; Journalist’s Resource at The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, at Harvard University; Mount Royal University’s Journalism and Broadcast Media Studies programmes; and the University of Manchester have all committed to help the movement.

Scholarly journals such as Nature, Science, and the Harvard Business Review are also doing their bit.

All outlets have committed to running a week’s worth of climate coverage in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept 23. At that meeting, the world’s governments will submit plans to meet the Paris Agreement’s pledge to keep global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

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While it is not agreed exactly how much coverage each organisation has to provide, they have all entered into a good faith agreement to cover as much quality climate stories as possible in the lead up to the Climate Action Summit.

The aim is to get the message out to the public and UN representatives just how dire the situation is in regard to the climate emergency.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given governments 12 years to act on climate change before the Earth enters “catastrophic” consequences. To keep warming below the 2 degrees Celsius – the point of no return – would require “rapid and far-reaching” changes across all sectors of society.

Climate Action Summit
Horses looking for grass to graze in a dry land near Bastelicaccia on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, on July 27, 2019. Source: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca / AFP

The initiative was founded by Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) along with The Nation. The Guardian signed on at the initiative’s lead media partner.

“The need for solid climate coverage has never been greater,” said CJR’s editor and publisher, Kyle Pope.

“We’re proud that so many organisations from across the US and around the world have joined with Covering Climate Now to do our duty as journalists—to report this hugely important story.”