Sustainability Blog

Charter to Cover Climate Crisis Comprehensively!

By Apurva Gosalia - Sep 21, 2022

Today is September 21 and the annual Zero Emissions Day has come round again. This time last year, I explained the meaning and importance of this date in a blog. But what has happened since? The consequences of the climate crisis continue to be manifold and the interrelationships highly complex. Yet the media doesn’t always do the portrayal of the climate crisis justice. In its newest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reminded the global media of its crucial role in shaping public perception, understanding and willingness to act through their reporting.

The lack of information on these issues relevant to the future is preventing citizens from making informed decisions. It is also delaying action at a time when we need to mobilize societies more than ever to contain the climate crisis or adapt in time to its worst impacts, the IPCC report warns. As greenwashing, misleading lobbying and misinformation have flourished, the responsibility of journalists has also become enormous, it said.

France’s media professionals took the wake-up call to heart. On the France Info website, a group of journalists and scientists called for better climate reporting. They feel that tendentious reporting that fails to name the true connections damages the democratic debate. The also think that the causes and perpetrators must be mentioned. For example, when forest fires ripped through Europe this year, destroying property and wildlife, as well as extreme heat deaths, direct connections with the climate crisis were seldom named concretely.

According to a 2021 survey by Viavoice in 2021, 53% of French people believe that the media doesn’t give enough space to environmental and climate issues. More than half of citizens interested in the media would like to see more constructive and solution-oriented reporting.

In the declaration Charte pour un journalisme à la hauteur d’urgence écologique (“charter for journalism commensurate with the ecological emergency”), more than 500 French journalists have pledged not to treat manmade climate change as a single issue. Instead, they will try to take its effects more into account in their overall reporting and better research and explain interrelationships and overarching issues. 

To emphasise the situation’s gravity and not trivialize it, the charter to cover the climate crisis urges avoiding photos of children in a pool to illustrate heat waves. Around 30 editorial offices, including foreign broadcasters such as France 24 and some journalism schools, also support the charter.

According to the signatories, reporting should not only focus on the effects of the climate crisis, but also highlight strategies for more climate protection. In the charter, the journalists commit themselves to indepth research and further training on the topic in order to convey the findings of science in an understandable way and to train their critical eye. They also need to focus more on the responsibility of the economy, politics and society as a whole, and more honestly examine the structural interrelationships and dependencies.

Climate protection should also be integrated into the company’s working environment. Editorial teams want to reduce CO2 emissions in their work by using environmentally friendly transport and avoiding unnecessary travel.

The media is depends on advertising revenue and thus transport-targeted content to a large extent. So efforts must also be made here to set the course in the direction of climate protection. Products that are harmful to the climate should be avoided wherever possible. A big, but probably also the most difficult adjustment screw. Editorial teams are therefore also demanding more journalistic independence from their owners. Let’s see where this charter to cover the climate crisis leads.


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