Pulitzer Prizes Validate Strong Climate Journalism

May newsrooms everywhere emulate the climate stories this year’s Pulitzers celebrate.

Sign up to receive the weekly Climate Beat newsletter in your inbox.

Climate journalism  had a tremendous showing at the Pulitzer Prizes on Monday! Our hearty congratulations to The Washington Post, which was awarded the prize for Explanatory Reporting for its series outlining the dangerous effects a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise will have on the planet. The award citation called the Post series “groundbreaking” and complimented its “scientific clarity.” (In December, we called the Post series “a reminder of what talented journalists can do when they’re turned loose on a subject of vital public importance with sufficient financial backing.”)

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, was recognized as a finalist in the Explanatory Reporting  category for its deeply reported, interactive piece on the challenges sea level rise will pose for the California coast (and solutions for coping). The Boston Globe was a finalist in the Feature Writing category for a look at how climate change is reshaping life on Cape Cod. And The Wall Street Journal was a finalist in  National Reporting for its story on PG&E, the California public utility whose equipment neglect, combined with climate change, caused the wildfires that swept the state in 2019.

The Climate Beat also applauds the Pulitzer judges for validating the need for strong climate journalism as an essential public service. The above stories exhibit many of the qualities that Covering Climate Now has been encouraging, as well: respect the science, focus on local angles, build narratives around actual people, don’t neglect solutions, and trust audiences to care about a story that is, after all, about the very future they will inhabit. Now, as more and more people around the world are eager to understand the climate crisis and what to do about it, may newsrooms everywhere emulate the climate stories this year’s Pulitzers celebrate.

Now, here’s your weekly sampling of the latest in climate news, from across the Covering Climate Now collaboration.

  • The Guardian reports that $50 million in taxpayer money meant to support struggling small businesses during the coronavirus shutdown has gone to fossil fuel companies with ties to the Trump administration. And that bailout is relatively small, compared to the estimated $20 billion in annual subsidies the fossil fuel industry gets from US taxpayers.  This story is available for republication* by CCNow partners.
  • Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, climate activism groups including the Sunrise Movement, Fridays for Future, and more, are hosting online courses in movement building, Yes! Magazine reports. Students of all ages are piling into the online courses, and activists hope the numbers might encourage a just, climate-centric economic recovery program as lockdowns lift. Also from Yes!, a graphical look at the extent of emissions reductions since the lockdown began, which might offer opportunities for renewable energy sources. Both stories are available for republication* by CCNow partners.
  • On that note, investment firms controlling trillions of dollars in assets globally have joined the International Monetary Fund in calling on the world’s top economies to commit to green COVID-19 recovery plans, Reuters reports.
  • Under mounting pressure from activists, JPMorgan Chase removed Lee Raymond, former Exxon Mobil CEO and longtime climate denier, from his leadership position on the bank’s board, Common Dreams reports. The ouster of Raymond, known in activist circles as the “Darth Vader” of climate change, was a key goal for the “Stop the Money Pipeline” coalition and was called “”a tremendous victory for shareholders and for the planet” by the New York City Comptroller.
  • South Korea’s government won global acclaim for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak—daily new infections have dropped to single digits—and is now turning its attention to the climate crisis, writes HuffPost. President Moon Jae-in’s popular government has vowed to make South Korea the first East Asian nation to reach net zero emissions and has implemented a Green New Deal to reject coal, invest in solar and wind energy, and retrain workers for jobs in those industries. But critics warn Moon’s plan does not go far enough. This story is available for republication* by CCNow partners.
  • In a Colorado community, seniors sheltering in place have reported “chemical smells and symptoms like headaches, burning eyes, and nosebleeds,” as fracking has continued—it was deemed an essential business—even as life otherwise has stopped, Grist reports in a stirring feature. This story is available for republication* by CCNow partners.
  • Russia, on the heels of its hottest winter ever, is on fire. Earther details the 5 million-some acres in Siberia that are currently ablaze, made worse by difficulties associated with the COVID-19 lockdown. Sadly, the fires in Siberia might be just a preview of what’s to come this year elsewhere in the world.
  • Climate change might soon bring springs in Japan when cherry blossom trees do not bloom, especially in the country’s warm southern prefectures, according to The Asahi Shimbun. Now, some scientists in Japan are setting out to develop climate-resistant strains of the national icon. This story is available for republication* by CCNow partners.

* When republishing any of the stories identified above as available, CCNow outlets must include the following tagline: “This story originally appeared in [insert name of original news outlet, with a link to the outlet’s homepage] and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.” Our complete Sharing Library, including further guidelines for content sharing, can be found here. Please note the special instructions for Guardian and HuffPost stories.

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!