It’s November and that means it’s time for seasonal talks on climate change. The ministers, UN functionaries and NGOS have all turned up on cue in Warsaw. However, unlike other November institutions, the talks are being ignored by most of the world’s media which is quite extraordinary given that’s the most powerful storm ever may just have killed 10,000 Filipinos.
The UK’s reliably-left leaning Channel 4 News covered the start of the Warsaw talks with a rambling piece of exhortation by an environmental lawyer while its science editor justified his ignoring the talks with a piece (recorded in London) on how climate change was probably not to blame for Typhoon Haiyan. It might be responsible science but it’s odd journalism, especially for a network that caters to the progressive chattering classes.
At the Washington Post, it was down to Lenny Bernstein (no, no relation) to write a round-up piece based on wire copy and the archives. It was relegated to the Health & Science section and appears to have got one bit.ly click — ever. Sadly, no-one bothered to sub-edit Lenny’s piece as this horror show of a sentence demonstrates, “The talks in Poland take place amid increasingly dire warnings that time is running out to meet the long-term goal of limiting the increase in maximum global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, as the parties agreed in Copenhagen in 2009.” At least the Post still has an environment beat with a reporter — unlike the New York Times.
The highest profile coverage was in China’s official Xinhua news agency and in India’s grand old left-leaning newspaper, The Hindu. Unusually for a well-resourced paper, the piece was fairly incoherent and essentially said that the Brazil – China – India – South Africa axis was holding in the face of European pressure (I wouldn’t be quite so sure especially as the South Africans have dissented in public but, that would require more than re-writing a ministry release). In fairness to The Hindu, it has run four remarkably similar stories in the last five days so it may have assumed that readers wouldn’t actually bother reading this one. Earlier this week, The Hindu ran a fuming editorial on the Prime Minister’s duplicity in giving in to American demands on HCFC emissions (remember the ozone hole and the Montreal Protocol) — clearly based on a leak from the rather miffed Environment Ministry. The background to this story gives an insight into why India’s intelligentsia have little sympathy for the European position on climate change.
It’s good to see that all of those well-funded green advocacy groups are having such an impact.