Ten tips to inform about climate change

To avoid the worst effects of climate change, the international community must achieve the central objective of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which is to keep the global average temperature rise as close as possible to 1.5 ℃. We are still on time, but this will require unprecedented efforts.

The problem of climate change is present in the media, which with their work inform and generate a debate about it.

With the aim of contributing to generate quality information, the Ecology and Development Foundation (ECODES) and the Dialectical Mediation Research Group of Social Communication (MDCS) of the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), have developed a decalogue of recommendations with the collaboration of a group of journalists and specialized communicators. The Decalogue proposes media, organizations and information professionals that commit themselves to comply with the following points:

  1. Promote the frequency and continuity of information on quality climate change.
    For this, it is necessary to establish fixed sections in the written and digital press, as well as in the radio and television programs, aimed at addressing issues related to sustainability and climate change, using the different formats and existing audiovisual narrative formulas, more Beyond the classic informative piece. In the same way, it is very interesting to develop transmedia contents that allow reaching all audiences and contribute to better explain concepts that, a priori, can be complex.
  2. Influence not only the impacts of climate change but also the causes and solutions.
    The media usually focuses on the consequences, which leads to a catastrophic nature of most news about climate change. It would be enriching if the causes and solutions are addressed in a similar proportion, complementing the alarm with the existing alternatives. Similarly, the negative emotions associated with the problem may have as a counterbalance the positive resonances resulting from presenting climate change as an engine for social change.
  3. Promote an approach to the problem from the point of view of climate justice.
    For this, it is necessary to communicate the human dimensions of the impacts, informing and favoring the debate from an ethical perspective on the impacts of climate change on health, the economy, access to water, food security and migratory flows.
  4. Connect the phenomenon of climate change with close realities in space and time to demonstrate that climate change is not future but present.
    To do this, it is necessary to link individual, local and daily actions in relation to their impact on climate change and it is necessary to do so from a positive perspective, showing the benefits of reducing emissions in everyday events such as the shopping cart or use of more sustainable forms of transport, for example, and to personalize these stories with real life stories.
  5. Disseminate initiatives undertaken or led by citizens.
    Bearing in mind that the priority framework for information on climate change is mostly political, there is a tendency to report from top to bottom, from the rulers or leaders, to the governed. It is necessary that the media make visible and favor the diffusion of initiatives undertaken or led from bottom to top.
  6. Defend a critical and independent journalism:
    Defend a journalism committed to truthfulness, away from the content paid by polluting companies that generate ‘greenwashing’.
    Give up symmetry: The overwhelming majority with which the international scientific community endorses the seriousness, causes and consequences of climate change exempts the media from the search for a false equilibrium.
    Reveal the negationism in the economic, political or advertising discourse based on the existing scientific certainty around the causes, impacts and solutions to the problem of climate change.
    Promote advertising consistent with corporate social responsibility policies of companies and promote compliance with the Code of Good Practice for the use of environmental arguments in their communications.
  7. Disseminate scientific research on climate change.
    Using different narrative formats adapted to the different media, it is proposed to communicate the scientific projects that are carried out, the discoveries and the results obtained, the scientific consensus, the robustness of the IPCC Reports, their evaluation methodologies and clearly explain the content of them. In the same way, it is necessary to disseminate the remarkable scientific research that is being generated in Spanish universities and research centers, thus motivating researchers to continue their work.
  8. Popularize the specific terminology necessary to understand the phenomenon.
  9. Specialized redactions.
    Securing rigorous and quality information on climate change requires maintaining a journalism that allows professionals to cover these issues on an ongoing basis. It is proposed to reinforce the sections of scientific and environmental journalism within the newsrooms with specialized journalists in continuous updating, as well as a transversal training of all the professionals, since climate change shows its transversal character more and more clearly. Global warming is a complex issue because it encompasses multiple disciplines and sometimes very technical issues. The best way to ensure an independent, rigorous and quality work is by guaranteeing a worthy remuneration to the information professionals in charge of developing it.

Author: Ricardo Chavez

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