Climate Campaigns vs. Climate Reality

Recent elections in Mexico and the EU remind us that both before ballots are cast and after new politicians are sworn in, journalists must practice strong accountability journalism.

Residents of Strasbourg, France cast their vote at a polling station for the 2024 European Parliamentary elections (Photo by European Union 2024 / European Parliament).

Over the weekend, results of the EU’s parliamentary elections showed a move further to the right — an ominous sign for global climate action. But as Mexico’s recent election demonstrates, voters choosing a seemingly climate-friendly candidate doesn’t necessarily mean sound climate policies will follow.

This month’s elections in both Mexico and the EU are a reminder of the role journalism plays not only to inform voters before they vote, but also to hold elected officials accountable after they assume office.

In the EU, the far-right’s new gains follow a wave of support for pro-environmental policies in the bloc’s last elections in 2019. As Inside Climate News reported last week, environmental advocates say that a wave of climate misinformation, linked to anti-climate think tanks, flooded right-wing European social media in the weeks leading up to the vote. A stronger far-right bloc could mean “a rollback, or at least a stalling, of European climate policy,” J. Timmons Roberts, executive director of the Climate Social Science Network, told Inside Climate News.

In contrast, many climate advocates are hopeful that Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo’s win in this month’s Mexican presidential election will translate to climate progress. Judging from her background — both as a climate scientist and as the mayor of Mexico City, which has suffered a long-running water crisis made worse by climate change — it’s a safe guess that Sheinbaum is grounded in what the science says needs to be done on climate.

But her scientific knowledge will now square off with existing political realities when she enters office. Mexico has a deep allegiance to oil and gas production, expressed most significantly in the country’s state-owned oil and gas company, Pemex. Despite her background — and Pemex’s deep debts — Sheinbaum has said she will maintain the oil and gas giant’s current output levels and keep the state supporting the company. That spells disaster for the climate. Journalists must highlight this contradiction in Sheinbaum’s administration.

Voters elected Sheinbaum at a time when the climate stakes have never been higher — now her administration needs to turn that knowledge into science-informed policies. Good coverage of this year’s elections and their outcomes will hold both candidates and elected officials like Sheinbaum and Europe’s newly elected far-right politicians accountable for whether and how their policies take climate action as science and justice demand.

From Us

Announcing Locally Sourced! We’re excited to announce that we’re launching Locally Sourced, a biweekly newsletter to help journalists make the global issue of climate change resonate with local audiences, this coming Tuesday, June 18. Sign up. 

Climate Change Reporting 101. Our latest CCNow guide is designed to help journalists across beats get up to speed on climate change and integrate it into their reporting. Check it out and share it with your newsroom or journalist friends.

Disinformation webinar. Journalists are invited to join us on Tuesday, June 18 for a webinar, co-sponsored by Covering Climate Now and Climate Action Against Disinformation, on how journalists can strengthen their reporting about climate disinformation against claims of censorship. The panelists are: Kendra Pierre-Louis of Bloomberg, Marco Silva of BBC News, and Wudan Yan, freelance journalist, fact-checker, and entrepreneur. Amy Westervelt, executive editor of Drilled, will moderate. RSVP.

Noteworthy Stories

Europe swings right. Far-right parties increased their number of seats in the European Parliament in elections that wrapped up last Sunday. Policy experts weigh in on what the election results could mean for European climate action. Read it at Carbon Brief…

Toll of war. Rebuilding the estimated 200,000 buildings, schools, and more that were destroyed or damaged by Israel in the first four months of the war on Gaza will generate carbon emissions equivalent to that of Portugal, according to new research. This is in addition to the massive emissions from air and ground attacks, which have killed over 36,500 Palestinians. By Nina Lakhani for the Guardian…

Big Oil suit delayed. The US Supreme Court has asked the Biden administration’s opinion on two cases brought by the city of Honolulu against large oil and gas companies alleging they misled the public on fossil fuel dangers. This move by the Supreme Court will delay the cases from going to trial, representing a short-term win for Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, and more. By Charisma Madarang at Rolling Stone…

Trump 2.0. Trump “can do damage that will last, in human terms, forever — damage that will be visible in the geologic record for eons to come. His actions can literally help melt the poles and raise the oceans — and in the pages of Project 2025’s Mandate for Leadership, his conservative legions have made it abundantly clear that they will,” writes Bill McKibben for The Nation…

City prep. To prepare for more flooding and a hotter future, the Brazilian city of São Paulo is planting hundreds of rain gardens, areas that act as sponges to absorb excess water and cool the air. By Andrew Rosati and Laura Millan at Bloomberg…

Ask David: CCNow’s Resident Meteorologist Unpacks La Niña and Hurricane Season 

David Dickson, meteorologist and CCNow’s television engagement coordinator, explains how the shift from El Niño to La Niña could impact the Atlantic hurricane season, which scientists predict will bring above normal hurricane activity. Watch:

Have a climate question for David? Email us at local[at]coveringclimatenow[dot]org.

Industry News

Extreme heat reporting. US corporate broadcast and cable news shows by-and-large failed to connect recent extreme heat in the southwestern US to climate change, according to Media Matters.

But one strong segment stood out: the June 6 episode of MSNBC’s Chris Jansing Reports. The segment delved into climate change’s impact on vulnerable people, the National Weather Service’s summer heat warning, rising weather-related power outages, a lack of political urgency, and more. Watch:

DIY climate solutions. The Guardian’s new series, “My DIY Climate Hack,” covers “everyday people’s creative solutions to the climate crisis.” The goal is to offer “hope,” because climate change “can feel overwhelming.” The Guardian engages audiences by inviting people to send in their uncovered solutions. Check out the stories — including a wedding without waste, a peddled-powered office, a 1,500-tool library — and consider a similar project for your newsroom.

Resources & Events

Heat and kids. Climate Central has a new fact sheet, “Extreme Heat Risks for Children,” including background information, story angles, and experts to contact.

AI rules. News organizations require policies for AI uses. Poynter created a template for newsroom generative AI policy, available as a Google Doc.

Climate disclosure. The Sabin Center and the Initiative on Climate Risk and Resilience Law are hosting a webinar, “What’s Next for Corporate Climate Disclosure,” on June 17. RSVP.

Behind the scenes. Investigative Journalism for Europe is holding a discussion series taking audiences behind the scenes of ambitious cross-border investigations in the public interest. Starts June 21.

Stats 101. Sciline is offering an online webinar, “Stats essentials for math-averse reporters” on June 25. RSVP.

Jobs, Etc.

Jobs. CBS News is hiring a chief meteorologist (New York, N.Y.). Solutions Journalism Network is hiring a European fellowship manager (Europe, remote). The Washington Post is recruiting an Instagram editor, climate (Washington, D.C.).

Fellowships. Applications are open for a new fellowship program available from the 2024-2025 Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. The fellow will report on the intersection of mental health and climate change among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations outside the US. Apply by June 28.