Climate Beat Climate Beat Newsletter December 9, 2020

Georgia Senate Debates Show Again That Climate Has Become Top-tier Issue for American Journalists

Also this week, journalist resources for the Paris Agreement 5th anniversary, tools to cover climate equitably, and the latest climate news.

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In another sign that climate change has finally become a top-tier issue among American journalists, the fate of the planet featured prominently in last Sunday’s debates in the Georgia run-off elections that will determine control of the US Senate. After decades of the climate issue being ignored in candidate debates, this year it was discussed in each of the presidential and vice-presidential debates, and now also in the critical debates in Georgia.

Kudos to Greg Bluestein, political reporter for the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, who asked Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff how he would pay for his proposed “new investments in clean energy to address climate change.” Ossoff replied, “Georgia is already suffering from the effects of climate change—Hurricane Michael, which wiped out our orchards, coastal cities that are having to pay huge sums to prepare themselves for worsening tropical storms…. Congress must make massive investments in clean energy as part of the overall infrastructure and jobs program necessary to recover from this current financial crisis.” Separately, Ossoff also argued that “the power of the fossil fuel industry [to exploit] our corrupt campaign finance system” is what makes it so hard to tackle the climate crisis.

In his debate with Republican senator Kelly Loeffler, Democrat Rafael Warnock said, “I think it’s time for us to start thinking about an infrastructure program here in this country that will repair our roads and our bridges, begin to build green energy and green energy jobs.” Loeffler, for her part, repeatedly attempted to tie Warnock to the Green New Deal as evidence of a radical agenda that she said would “crush jobs.”

New from CCNow

Talking Shop recap. Last Wednesday, we hosted an excellent talking shop on what the incoming Biden administration means for the future of climate reporting, featuring panelists Justin Worland of TIME magazine, Neela Banerjee of NPR, and Matthew Green of Reuters. On our website, we have a brief round up of the event, in addition to a recording of the full hour-long discussion. Check them out…

Save the date. Our next Talking Shop is set for January 13 at 12pm US Eastern time. We’ll discuss how journalists on the climate beat and beyond can deal with emotional fatigue and burnout during these extraordinary times. Further details will be announced closer to the date, but for now you can mark your calendars and RSVP. Sign up here…

Paris Agreement 5 year anniversary.  Multiple stories from CCNow’s exclusive interview with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres — from CBS News, The Nation, The Times of India, and El Pais (in both English and Spanish) — are available for republication and should remain relevant through at least December 12, the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement’s signing. You can find all of the text and relevant assets in this folder, as well as transcripts and a 15-minute edit of the CBS interview. CCNow partners may also publish their own stories, using clips, quotes, and excerpts from the materials in the folder.

That was THIS year?! On our website, courtesy of Climate Nexus’s Climate Signals project, we have a round up of all the extraordinary climate news from 2020, from the devastating bushfires in Australia to a record-setting hurricane season in the Atlantic. The review should be of use to outlets planning climate-themed end-of-year look backs; reactions from top scientists, all of whom are available for interview, are also included. Check it out…

Essential Climate News

Stay on top of major developments in the climate story

  • On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and international scientists released the 2020 Arctic Report Card. Their diagnosis was predictably grim, confirming that the Arctic is continuing its transformation, at an alarming rate, to a warmer and less-frozen region, a fact with enormous consequences for the rest of the planet. From (the newly redesigned!) Inside Climate News
  • Republicans and right-wing media outlets are exceptionally skilled and disciplined in using social media to demonize ideas from their liberal opponents. Their claims might be misleading or even outright false, but by employing simple messages and flooding the zone on Facebook and other platforms, they have driven down support for  the “Green New Deal,” even though a large majority of Americans support the specific, climate-friendly policies included in a Green New Deal. From Columbia Journalism Review & The Nation
  • Soil is the source of all nutrients for our food and, because it stores as much carbon as plants, is also critical in facing the climate emergency. Yet intensive farming, forest destruction, pollution, and global heating are hastening soil degradation — meaning that urgent plans to protect the earth’s soils are needed, according to scientists. From The Guardian
  • Consistently and across the globe, the voices of women are underrepresented in climate policy discussions. In one recent study, focused on climate migration planning in São Paulo State, Brazil, a series of events that were expressly designed to hear from women and LGBTQ citizens, a large majority of participants represented one or both of these groups, but fully half of the speakers represented neither. From the American Geophysical Union’s Eos magazine…
  • For Joe Biden to make good on his climate promises, it will take more than just reinstating regulations slashed during the Trump administration; every government agency must make climate a priority. CCNow partner Earther spoke with dozens of experts and advocates about what exactly a whole-of-government approach to the climate fight could look like. A lengthy and comprehensive feature, from Earther
  • Last week, 42 corporations signed a public letter calling on the Biden administration to work with Congress to enact aggressive climate policies. But according to journalists Emily Atkin and Judd Legum at least six of those companies — Microsoft, Bank of America, General Motors,Goldman Sachs, Ford, and Dominion Energy — have made sizable donations to the Republican candidates in the Georgia senate runoffs, whose victories would imperil hopes for meaningful climate legislation. From Atkin’s excellent newsletter, Heated

Events, Resources and More

Covering climate equitably. The Solutions Project is out with a new guide that is “designed to help journalists source, report and write climate and clean energy stories that include an equity lens.” The guide was created with the help of professional journalists at top publications and includes tips on everything from how to convince editors an equity lens is essential to case studies of how journalists were able to achieve better-informed and more respectful storytelling. Check out the guide here…

And a webinar! The Solutions Project will further host a webinar discussing equitable climate coverage on December 10, from 1 to 2:15 pm US Eastern time, featuring Errin Haines, cofounder of The 19th; Justin Worland of Time; and freelancer Katie Pyzck, who supported the creation of the guide. Register for the event here…

Lancet’s 2020 report on health and climate change. The Lancet Countdown is out with its landmark annual report on the “converging crises” of health and climate change. The article is accessible free of charge on its website, with translations available in Chinese, French, German, and Spanish. Check it out…

Midnight Watch Project. The State Impact Center at New York University is tracking all last-minute actions by the outgoing Trump administration on climate, the environment, and energy policy. A log of these actions is available here…