SINGAPORE - Starting Monday (Sept 16), more than 250 media outlets around the world, including The Straits Times, will be participating in a collaborative effort to boost reporting on climate change and raise awareness of one of the key stories of our time.
The week-long Covering Climate Now initiative, co-founded by the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) and The Nation in the United States, brings together newspapers, wire agencies, TV and radio stations and online publications, with Britain's The Guardian as the lead media partner.
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. World leaders will be attending the summit, one of the most important climate gatherings since the UN Paris Climate Agreement was clinched in December 2015.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told nations attending the summit to bring details of how they will significantly enhance national actions by 2020 to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for heating up the planet.
The plans, the UN, says, should be in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050. Failure to do so will condemn the world to more extreme droughts, wildfires and storms and falling crop yields, destroy many coral reefs and accelerate sea level rise.
Now, more than ever, the UN says, nations need to shift away from dirty energy such as coal and switch to renewables, green transport, more energy-efficient buildings, cut food waste and halt the destruction of rainforests in the Amazon, South-east Asia and Africa.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who recently outlined the life-and-death threat from climate change to Singapore, is among the leaders attending the summit.
Covering Climate Now is one of the most ambitious efforts ever to organise the world's media around climate change, the organisers say. And a key feature is that all members can share content for free during the Sept 16-23 week. Participants already have a large, and growing, list of multimedia stories for sharing.
Globally, participants include Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse, CBS News, the Asahi Shimbun, The Hindustan Times, El Pais, La Repubblica and Getty Images, as well as scholarly journals such as Nature and Science.
All of the news outlets participating will decide for themselves how many climate stories to run during the week of coverage, and what those stories say. The only requirement is that the participating outlets make a good faith effort to run as much high-quality climate coverage as they can.
"The need for solid climate coverage has never been greater," said Mr Kyle Pope, CJR's editor and publisher. "We're proud that so many organisations from around the world have joined with Covering Climate Now to do our duty as journalists - to report this hugely important story."