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The 2024 CCNow Journalism Awards

Congratulations to the winners, selected from more than 1,250 entries, representing outlets around the world.

Highlights

 

Covering Climate Now is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2024 CCNow Journalism Awards. Now in its fourth year, the CCNow awards program has become a recognized standard for excellence. This year’s winners hail from around the world, from outlets big and small, and, together, their work constitutes the leading edge of climate storytelling.

CCNow received more than 1,250 entries, from journalists in dozens of countries working in every medium. A judging panel of 117 distinguished journalists selected three winners in each of 14 subject-based categories — for example, solutions, justice, politics, and health. Judges additionally awarded three Journalists of the Year, three Emerging Journalists of the Year, and three entries in a category for large projects and collaborations.

“Judges were astonished not just at the volume of stories but at their consistent quality,” said Kyle Pope, CCNow co-founder and executive director of strategic initiatives. “In every category, story after story was told with passion and care, informing audiences about the most important story of our time.”

Thank you to all the entrants! And thanks to our stellar judges, whose hard work and dedication make these awards possible.


CLICK ON A CATEGORY OR SCROLL DOWN TO SEE ALL THE WINNERS

 

This special award is given to three journalists whose work has had a transformative impact on our profession. Previous winners of the award are Manka Behl, Damian Carrington, Amy Westervelt, and Justin Worland.

2024 Journalists of the Year: Tristan Ahtone, Audrey Cerdan, Rachel Ramirez


Tristan Ahtone

Editor-at-large, Grist

Tristan Ahtone, an editor-at-large for Grist, for years has been among the foremost journalists covering the intersection of Indigenous rights and climate change. In 2023, Ahtone spearheaded an incredibly ambitious investigative package that revealed how public land-grant universities in the US, founded on stolen land, benefit enormously from fossil fuel exploitation on that land, while allocating comparatively meager resources to the climate goals or Indigenous communities the universities claim to support. Nearly 25% of land-grant university trust lands are allocated for fossil fuel production and mining, Ahtone and his team showed, while less than half of one percent is apportioned for renewable energy and conservation. The investigation is a crystal-clear demonstration of how colonialism and Indigenous displacement led to the practices that, today, drive climate change. Notably, Ahtone subsequently has trained fellow journalists on how to use the massive dataset Grist made public to support follow-up reporting.

Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe. Prior to his work at Grist, he was editor-in-chief of the Texas Observer and Indigenous Affairs editor at High Country News. Among other honors and titles, Ahtone was a Nieman Fellow in 2017, and he served as president of the Native American Journalists Association (now the Indigenous Journalists Association) from 2018 to 2020.


Audrey Cerdan

Climate editor, France Télévisions

Audrey Cerdan is the climate editor at France Télévisions, that country’s national public broadcaster, where she works with colleagues across a large newsroom to help them integrate climate change into their reporting. In 2023, Cerdan prompted the network to replace its traditional evening weathercast with a new segment, Journal Météo Climat, or “weather-climate report.” In the segment, reporters still tell viewers how hot or cold, rainy or sunny it will be, but this information is provided in the context of climate change; for example, a display graphic might show how much hotter temperatures are compared to pre-Industrial levels. Editions additionally feature reported climate stories, for example, or interviews with climate scientists, answering viewer questions. This pioneering shift was a hit with audiences, giving them a more accurate understanding of the world around them — and it helped boost France Télévisions’ ratings.

Cerdan previously served in positions at Expertises Climat, a network of climate scientists focused on how journalists cover climate change, and Franceinfo, where she was editor-in-chief. Cerdan spoke about launching Journal Météo Climat at the Climate Changes Everything conference, hosted last fall by CCNow and the Solutions Journalism Network.


Rachel Ramirez

Climate reporter, CNN

Rachel Ramirez is a general assignment reporter on CNN’s climate team, where she covers climate change, science, and environmental justice. In 2023, Ramirez covered everything from Vanuatu’s campaign to hold wealthy nations responsible for climate destruction to the mounting effects of summer heat on farm workers in the western US. Throughout the year, Ramirez was seemingly everywhere: in New York, at the UN General Assembly, where she moderated a discussion between Pacific Islands heads of state and interviewed a special advisor to the UN secretary-general about how climate change drives gender inequity; in Marrakech, Morocco, at the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, where she hosted a panel of world leaders about new efforts to understand developing countries’ vulnerability to climate change; and in Boise, Idaho, at the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference, where she spoke about allyship for environmental journalists of color.

Particularly laudable are the consistent investments Ramirez makes in communities of fellow journalists. Born and raised on Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, Ramirez is the co-founder of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Pacific Islander Task Force and co-director of AAJA’s Young Professionals Network, roles in which she advocates for greater representation and support for Pacific Islander journalists. She additionally serves on the board of the Uproot Project, a nonprofit journalism network dedicated to bringing diverse voices to the forefront of environmental and climate journalism. Prior to CNN, Ramirez reported for Vox, HuffPost, the Guardian, and Grist, among other outlets.


 

Science is unequivocal that myriad solutions are urgently needed to confront the climate crisis — and audiences are hungry to learn about them. Great journalism doesn’t just explain potential solutions, it interrogates them: Do they achieve what they promise, do they measure up to what science demands, and are they just? While solutions are mentioned in many climate stories, in this category, judges considered work featuring one or more solutions as its primary subject.


Repowering the West

Los Angeles Times | MULTIMEDIA

Sammy Roth, Robert Gauthier, Jessica Q. Chen, Maggie Beidelman, Jackeline Luna & Paul Duginski

View the winning story here and the full series here.

California’s sunny Imperial Valley would seem a perfect spot for solar development: Amid heat waves that have scorched the region’s vegetable produce, farmers have the opportunity to turn a profit on their land, and, amid endemic Western drought, fewer farms means more water to go around. But where many see an elegant solution to climate-induced woes, others, including farmers still making the most of the Valley, see a threat. With transportive on-the-ground reporting and stunning visuals, Sammy Roth and fellow LA Times journalists deliver a thoughtful portrait of both change that is here already and the swirling questions about change that is still to come. The story is part of an ongoing series from the LA Times examining how big shifts — prompted by the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act — are playing out in western states, with focus on the tension between urban and rural communities, the potential environmental consequences of large-scale renewable projects, and the need for these changes to also address harm and inequities wrought by the energy status quo.


If I Get Called “Resilient” One More Time…

WWNO in New Orleans & WRKF in Baton Rouge | AUDIO

Carly Berlin & Halle Parker

Listen to the story here.

In climate discussions, the word “resilient” is used to talk about everything from our houses to our power grid to ourselves — communities will get through the worst, they’re told, because they’re resilient. In a way, though, doesn’t repetition of this word risk taking the focus off what’s causing climate change and the fact that humanity urgently needs to do something about it? Louisiana public radio stations WWNO and WRKF asked listeners what they think about the word “resilient” and dedicated a full episode to the animated responses they received. Judges loved the creative callout and the prominence given here to community voices.


India’s Quest to Build the World’s Largest Solar Farms

The New Yorker | WRITING

Meera Subramanian, with Supranav Dash

Read the story here.

Amid the world’s shift to renewable energy, who do much-touted solutions serve and who do they harm? Meera Subramanian visited the world’s third largest solar park, which, in southern India, occupies an area nearly the size of Manhattan. Through deep interviews with peanut farmers, school teachers, government officials, and vulnerable Dalit women — who’ve lost access to farmland they cultivated for generations — Subramanian creates a textured examination of the tradeoffs and power imbalances that the green transition might portend. “Fascinating,” judges said, Subramanian’s work quickly hooks audiences, and her “lovely writing” keeps them reading.


 

Climate change often hits first and hardest marginalized countries and communities that have contributed the least to the problem. While justice is mentioned in many climate stories, in this category, judges considered work featuring a justice angle as its primary subject — among them: peril and hope on the frontlines of the climate crisis, unexpected intersections of climate change with other systems of injustice, and marginalized groups pioneering solutions to show the world a path forward.


First Nations on the Front Lines of Fire

Canada’s National Observer | WRITING

Matteo Cimellaro

Read the winning stories here, here, and here — and the full series here.

Wildfires in Canada have devastated communities across the country — but none more so than those of First Nations. In this ambitious series from Canada’s National Observer, journalist Matteo Cimellaro weaves together human-focused narratives, intimate photography, and thorough data work to show the harm that more than a decade of wildfires have caused Indigenous people, not least displacement from land they’ve called home for generations. Judges called the work “immediately captivating” and said it lands with a huge impact.


Climate Change and the Rich

NDR (Germany) | VIDEO

Christian Baars, Robert Holm, Oda Lambrecht & Katharina Schiele

Watch the story in German here, and watch in English here.

Living the high life using so many private jets, yachts, and cars, wealthy people are responsible for far more than their share of greenhouse gas emissions — yet everyone, especially the poor, suffers the consequences. German public broadcaster NDR digs into these excesses of the rich and explores one potential solution: a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade system for individuals. Judges commended NDR for this nuanced look at an underexplored aspect of climate inequity.


Why Local Initiatives May Be Key to Climate Change Adaptation

IndiaSpend | WRITING

Sushmita

Read the story here.

For vulnerable groups in India’s Jharkhand state — the Birjias, the Parhaiyas — climate change is a story of many difficulties. Drought and extreme heat have plagued the region for decades now. And as the land changes, many have been forced to leave in search of work. The government has promised support via climate adaptation funds, but those never seem to get to those most in need; and in 2023, the funds were discontinued. There’s evidence, though, that when these communities have taken adaptation projects upon themselves, they’ve worked. In this great story by journalist Sushmita, we learn why these local efforts might be some groups’ best hope for weathering the difficulties to come.


 

Journalism investigating the power and machinations of the fossil fuel industry remains as critical as ever. Here, judges considered work covering new fossil fuel development, greenwashing, government lobbying, dubious schemes to offset emissions, and disinformation, among other topics focused on the industry.


‎Top Consultancy Undermining Climate Change Fight: Whistleblowers

Agence France-Presse | WRITING

Marlowe Hood & Roland Lloyd Parry

Read the story here.

Leveraging leaked documents and insider sources, reporters Marlowe Hood and Roland Lloyd Parry expose how the ubiquitous consultancy group McKinsey & Company — which publicly lauds efforts to stop global warming — behind closed doors at COP28 pushed plans that would enable fossil fuel companies to sustain oil and gas production for many decades. With stand-out clarity and concision, Hood and Parry guide readers through necessary historical context and deftly explain the potential consequences of McKinsey’s actions. Judges called the work “obviously damning” and “impactful,” adding that it was a perfect example of timely service journalism.


How ‘Green’ Investments Are Financing Big Carbon

Voxeurop | WRITING

Giorgio Michalopoulos & Stefano Valentino

Read the stories here and here.

Cashing in on regulatory loopholes, European asset management companies have marketed investment funds as “green” and “sustainable,” all while the money in those funds has gone to the likes of BP, Chevron, and Shell. Journalists Giorgio Michalopoulos and Stefano Valentino hone in on the Italian firm Eurizon, in particular, to demonstrate step-by-step how companies get away with this cynical greenwashing. Judges called Michalopoulos’s and Valentino’s work here “gutsy” and “determined.” Even better, it had a clear impact: Following publication, Eurizon dropped the “sustainable” label from its fund.


Choking Kurdistan & follow-up reporting

Rudaw (Iraq), Al Jazeera & the Environmental Reporting Collective | MULTIMEDIA

Tom Brown, Christina Last, Stella Martany, Alannah Travers & Kuek Ser Kuang Keng

View the original story here and the follow-up reporting here.

At a time when the Kurdish government, in northern Iraq, claimed to be eliminating gas flaring — a climate-damaging practice that was also exposing nearby Syrian refugee camps to toxic chemicals — this high-achieving investigation revealed that flaring was continuing unabated. To pull it off, a team of reporters used everything from, in our judges’ words, “extremely impressive” satellite data analysis to good old-fashioned shoe-leather work in the refugee camps. Highly original and complete with concise, digestible writing, the team’s original investigation and follow-up reporting combine to pack a major punch. One judge said the stories gave them chills.


 

Stories in this category made clear the connection between weather disasters and human-caused climate change. Strong explanations of how climate factors into extreme weather — hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and extreme heat and cold, and more — as well as human-centered stories of disasters and their aftermath told with a climate lens, can help inform the public about the bigger picture.


After the Storm, Malawi’s Farmers Face a Precarious Future

Yale Environment 360 | WRITING

Jenipher Changwanda & Freddie Clayton

Read the story here.

What happens in the weeks and months following a disaster? Here, journalists Jenipher Changwanda and Freddie Clayton poignantly document cascading tragedies that plagued a Malawi farm community after Cyclone Freddy crashed into the country in March 2023. The region’s food system collapsed, and there was the horrific uptick in sex trafficking, evidence of how climate disasters often weigh uniquely on women and children. Changwanda and Clayton round out their reporting with a smart exploration of solutions that could help mitigate this scale of harm in the future. The story “leaves a strong and lingering emotional impact,” judges said.


New Analysis Shows 740 Chemical Sites in Louisiana Are at Risk From Storms. Are They Ready?

The Times-Picayune / Nola.com | WRITING

Tristan Baurick & Jeff Adelson

Read the story here.

The Pelican State is home to scores of chemical plants which, for decades, have famously polluted surrounding communities. Now, what will happen when increasingly destructive climate disasters come for those facilities? This blockbuster investigation by Tristan Baurick and Jeff Adelson reveals that hundreds of facilities are ill-prepared, and the toxic chemicals within are likely to leak out when disasters strike; in fact, using advanced data analytic and mapping techniques, they find that fully one-quarter of Louisiana’s population lives within one mile of such facilities in high-risk zones. Baurick and Adelson don’t stop there, though. Through impressive document work, they show that, to make matters worse, the state’s government is doing little, if anything, to reduce risk, in particular for poorer and marginalized communities.


A Perfect Storm: Durban’s Floods Show How Coastal Cities Can Prepare for Resilient Futures

The Outlier (South Africa) | MULTIMEDIA

Leonie Joubert, Laura Grant, Gemma Ritchie & Gemma Gatticchi

View the story here.

In April 2022, floods and mudslides devastated the South African city of Durban, killing more than 440 people and displacing tens of thousands. With sharp and suspenseful writing and deft data work using those floods as a case study, The Outlier examines what went wrong and shares rare examples of preparation that helped some communities in the city fare better. The goal of the piece? To serve up, as climate disasters increase in severity and frequency worldwide, a blueprint for equitable resilience. How can societies prevent a replay of this tragedy? Judges were impressed at how this story incorporates Durban’s history, especially that of its marginalized communities, with compelling reporting on people impacted by the floods. “Superb,” they said.


 

In this category, judges considered work covering government action and inaction; policies that hold promise and ones that don’t promise enough; and the leaders who’ve fought to deliver solutions, as well as those who’ve thwarted them. Also pertinent to this category: elections, the global democracy crisis, and the roles of diverse government agencies.


Protecting Nature, Destroying Lives: The Chemist vs. The Dutch Farmers

Politico | WRITING

Karl Mathiesen

Read the story here.

The Dutch climate campaigner Johan Vollenbroek might be more responsible than anyone for the bold climate action his country has taken in recent years. But not everyone in the Netherlands is happy about the moves, with many economic sectors reigned in by new policies. Farmers, in particular, have been rankled at a mandate to limit their nitrogen pollution, making some farming practices effectively illegal and threatening, they say, their ability to make a living. In this smart and engaging profile of Vollenbroek, journalist Karl Mathiesen urges readers to contemplate: Is climate action that devastates livelihoods and tears at the social fabric worth it? Mathiesen offers a thorough and empathetic review of sentiments on both sides of this question, in a stellar example of storytelling about the tradeoffs green transitions worldwide will bring.


The Biggest Climate Case That Ever Was

The Europeans | AUDIO

Katz Laszlo, Katy Lee, Dominic Kraemer & Wojciech Oleksiak

Listen to the story here.

The Europeans podcast introduces listeners to 2,000 Swiss women, each over the age of 65, who last year took their government to court, alleging that inaction on climate change constituted a violation of their human rights. With rollicking style — judges called the episode “totally engaging” and “fun” — the episode digs into the landmark case and, moreover, how exactly human rights cases work. “What a great piece of explanatory reporting,” one judge said. Another judge paid The Europeans perhaps the highest compliment: They subscribed. (A news update, by the way: This April, the Swiss women won their case.)


Agribusiness and the Far Right Drive the Fake News Machine on Global Warming

Agência Pública (Brazil) | MULTIMEDIA

Giovana Girardi, Cristina Amorim, Álvaro Justen & Rafael Oliveira

View the story in Portuguese here.

Brazil’s agricultural and livestock industries are both major greenhouse gas emitters and leading perpetrators of deforestation in the country — and they’ll do just about anything to keep it that way. This impressive investigation aims to comprehensively articulate how agribusiness, aided by the political far-right, has flooded the zone in Brazil with all manner of fake news and disinformation to justify their actions and undermine climate science. This rigorously reported piece demonstrates how entrenched corporate interests can be in our political systems, as well as why bad information can be so difficult to root out of public discourse. Judges called the work “groundbreaking” and praised the Agência Pública team responsible for their “important public service.”


 

Activists are newsmakers, as much as the politicians and corporate leaders that journalists tend to cover more often. Here, judges considered work on every facet of climate activism and movements, from well-known groups and individuals to small local groups and leaders making change in their communities. We looked for coverage that engages with the substance and efficacy of activists’ agendas, examining people power in all its complexity.


Stories from the Territories

Periodismo de lo Posible, a project of Quinto Elemento Lab, La Sandia Digital, Ojo de Agua, Redes AC & Escenario Tlaxcala (Mexico) | AUDIO

Paola Chavely Torres Nahuatlato, Jaromil Loyola Ramirez, Gabriela Meneses Hernández, Eloisa Diez, Marcela Turati, Aranzazú Ayala & Mayela Sánchez

Listen to the winning episode in Spanish here and the full series here.

In 2019, residents of the mountain communities in Tlaxcala, Mexico, noticed that centuries-old trees in the forest around them — a forest critical to Central Mexico’s ecological health — were dying, due to a poison cocktail of bureaucracy, deforestation, and climate change. With the authorities nowhere to be found, residents banded together to save the forest, creating the Colectivo de Saneamiento y Restauración de la Malintzi Tlalcuapana. It was a dramatic effort, and here it is captured beautifully by the Periodismo de lo Posible journalism collective. Highly immersive and exquisitely produced, judges said, this piece spotlights voices seldom heard in Mexico’s mainstream media. It was distributed via more than 50 Mexican radio channels, and an in-person listening event was attended by some 1,200 people; meanwhile, the piece empowered the Tlaxcala community in question to alert others to their struggle.


They Spoke Out About Fossil Fuels. Then Came the Backlash.

CBC’s What On Earth (Canada) | AUDIO

Molly Segal 

Listen to the story here.

Three Canadian women — a family physician, an Indigenous community leader, and a well-known climate campaigner — go to war against powerful and well-funded fossil fuel interests. Then, in the form of racist slurs, death threats, and relentless smear campaigns, they each pay a horrific price. For CBC Radio, producer Molly Segal investigates the backlash against these women, demonstrating the disproportionate, and underreported, burdens that women in the climate movement face. Judges complemented Segal’s “rich” storytelling and the piece’s carefully-crafted production, which helps the audience empathize all the more with its subjects.


How Scientists Are Helping Flooding Communities

ABC’s The Science Show (Australia) | AUDIO

Carl Smith

Listen to the story here.

In two communities — one in the US state of Georgia and one in Scotland — marginalized communities that have been neglected by their governments are taking matters into their own hands to defend against flooding. While they’re at it, these grassroots movements, partnering with local scientists, are also experimenting with ways to restore the environment. This informative piece by Carl Smith serves up an inspiring look at the power and agency of community activists, while remaining clear-eyed about the challenges they face in the absence of systemic support. Judges called Smith’s work “refreshing” and imminently listenable.


 

In the race towards a clean energy economy, what businesses are thriving and which are faltering? What policies and banks are helping spur the transition, and who’s doubling down on fossil fuels? And critically, amid such rapid change, who’s gaining work and who’s losing it? This category was for all things related to business and economics, from the financial burden of climate disasters to the opportunities of climate action.


Uninsured: As Climate Risks Mount, the Insurance Safety Net Is Collapsing.

Grist & the Economic Hardship Reporting Project | WRITING

Lois Parshley

Read the winning story here and the full series here.

With climate disasters leaving ever more destruction in their wake, the global insurance industry is collapsing in real time. The result of a year-long investigation, this work by reporter Lois Parshley expertly unpacks how climate change is upending the insurance industry — and how this fact is colliding with a housing supply crisis, to make matters worse for the people and communities who can least afford to be suddenly unprotected. With strong characters and fascinating history, the story is “filled with ‘wow’ moments,” judges said. It even caught the attention of US senators, who brought Parshley in front of the Senate Budget Committee to share her reporting.


The Promise and Risks of Deep-Sea Mining

Reuters | GRAPHICS

Daisy Chung, Ernest Scheyder & Clare Trainor

View the story here.

The ocean floor is lined with rare minerals which are used in solar panels and EV batteries. With charming and memorable cartoons, illustrator Daisy Chung depicts a glowing ship floating on waves.It deploys a squat robot, which swings to and fro, past so many jellyfish, as it sinks and sinks to the seabed. Along the robot’s journey, crisp writing from Ernest Scheyder and stand-out data graphics from Clare Trainor guide the audience through arguments in favor of extracting whatever humans can to support the green transition and the many potential ecological consequences. Comprehensive and beautiful, the work “ignites the imagination,” judges said, adding that few pieces take a technically complex idea and make it as accessible as Reuters does here.


The Fight Over California’s Ancient Water

The Atlantic | WRITING

Brett Simpson

Read the story here.

For possibly tens of thousands of years, water has lay deep beneath the Mojave Desert. Now, with climate change plunging California ever deeper into drought, a company wants to mine this so-called “fossil water” and sell it to wealthy residents of the state. It’s legal. But is it right? That’s the question reporter Brett Simpson encourages readers to ask, as she weighs the arguments of industry, ethicists, and the local ​​Chemehuevi tribe. The piece is balanced, deeply reported, and often touching. It’s “one of those stories that sticks with you,” judges said.


 

In this category, judges considered work on a range of subjects related to the 2023 UN climate summit, including the ongoing debate over “loss and damage” (what wealthy countries owe developing ones bearing the brunt of the climate crisis); the role in the climate fight of various international bodies, like the G7, ASEAN, and the African Union; and how climate factors in relations between countries like the US and China. How is climate change pushing countries apart or bringing them closer together? And what stands in the way of countries making good on global climate commitments?


‘I Wasn’t the Obvious Choice’: Meet the Oil Man Tasked With Saving the Planet

The Guardian | WRITING

Fiona Harvey

Read the story here.

Leave it to an oil magnate to chart the world’s course on climate action? In this riveting profile, Guardian climate reporter Fiona Harvey introduced readers to Sultan Al Jaber, both the United Arab Emirates’ chief oil executive and, unlikely though it might seem, president of last year’s annual UN climate summit. Harvey’s reporting is bold and confrontational but never unfair. Engaging prose, with all the right context in all the right places, made her work an indispensable companion to COP28. Of special note, immediately following the December summit, Harvey secured a second interview with Jaber, wherein, despite the summit’s sunny promises, he vowed to move ahead with his country’s fossil fuel expansion.


COP28: African Nations Resist Fossil Fuel Phaseout, Citing Economic Realities

The World | AUDIO

Ridwan Karim Dini-Osman

Listen to the story here.

“This is a rare example of street reporting that successfully links the lives of common citizens to what happens at the seemingly far-removed COP summit,” judges said of this excellent report from Ridwan Karim Dini-Osman, on the frustrations many Africans feel at being asked to forego development that would depend on fossil fuels. Reporting on the ground in Ghana in particular, Dini-Osman reminds audiences of the human experiences and inequities that have always been at the heart of global climate negotiations. Judges said the work stands out for its depth, originality, and ethical exploration of African perspectives.


COP28 President Secretly Used Climate Summit Role to Push Oil Trade With Foreign Government Officials

The Centre for Climate Reporting (UK), with BBC News | WRITING

Ben Stockton

Read the story here.

Pouring through hundreds of pages from leaked documents and emails from the United Arab Emirates’ COP28 team, Ben Stockton for the UK-based Centre for Climate Reporting revealed how Sultan Al Jaber overtly leveraged his privileged COP position as president of that summit to lobby for oil and gas. The bombshell was picked up by top outlets worldwide, and, amid instant calls to resign, it forced Al Jaber to hold an emergency press conference. World leaders, from US senators to UN secretary-general António Guterres, remarked on Stockton’s work, and much commentary suggested the negative reporting — which reportedly dominated early working discussions in Dubai — might have influenced the UAE to adopt more climate-friendly positions in COP28’s final text. One judge said this piece “might have been the most impactful story of 2023.”


 

From Gaza to Russia’s war in Ukraine, conflict dominated headlines in 2023. Thoughtful journalism helped audiences explore the climate implications of these and other conflicts — current and past. In this category, judges considered work that shines a light on the intersections of climate change and violent conflict, including militaries’ carbon footprints, wartime damage to ecosystems, and the potential of climate change to fuel future conflict by driving instability.


How Does War Affect the Climate?

BBC’s The Climate Question | AUDIO

Sophie Eastaugh, Dan Gordon, Matt Toulson & Alex Lewis

Listen to the story here.

Beyond incalculable human tragedies, the carbon footprint of war could haunt the world for decades. There’s the emissions from munitions themselves. Then, there’s the fires that burn in their wake. And finally, when conflict wanes, there’s the carbon and energy it takes to rebuild. That’s all not to mention the enormous emissions from militaries worldwide, which, you might be surprised, nations don’t account for at all in their climate reports to the UN. The BBC World Service unpacks all this and draws much-needed connections at a time when war dominates headlines. Examining conflicts in Ukraine and Ethiopia’s Tigray region, in particular, reporter Sophie Eastaugh humanizes and localizes these issues, cementing this work as a must-listen for audiences everywhere.


On the Afghanistan-Iran Border, Climate Change Fuels a Fight Over Water

Science | WRITING

Ruchi Kumar

Read the story here.

In war-ravaged Afghanistan, climate change is part of a vicious circle. Extreme heat and drought, for example, exacerbate conflict in the country; then, conflict makes it virtually impossible to monitor these climate impacts, much less do anything about them. Never mind the ruling Taliban, which has isolated the country from an international community lurching finally towards climate action. Reporter Ruchi Kumar jam-packs her story with data, historical context, and strong interviews, including with farmers in the country’s remote agrarian communities. Judges said this is short-form reporting at its best.


Military Forces Training in Arctic Face New Foe: Warmer Weather

Bloomberg | WRITING

Danielle Bochove & Natalia Drozdiak

Read the stories here and here.

In the fastest changing region on Earth, the Arctic, amid thinning ice, powerful nations are finding new strategic relevance, and competition, raising concerns that conflict could follow. But, even warming, the ice presents myriad challenges to militaries who in recent decades have been more accustomed to sweltering deserts. For Bloomberg, reporters Danielle Bochove and Natalia Drozdiak join NATO troops learning to fight in environs that jam their weapons and muck up aircraft systems. With Russian militarism looming on the horizon, their reports serve up resonant warnings of the future conflicts that climate change threatens.


 

As the climate emergency intensifies, harrowing flights for safety and shelter are increasingly common, especially in the regions most vulnerable to climate impacts. This category was for work that thoughtfully examines internal displacement and cross-border migration driven or made more likely by climate change, as well as government efforts to cope. We also considered work exploring the intersection of climate change with the complex web of other factors that prompt displacement, including poverty, violence, resource scarcity, and more.


Facing Extinction: Tuvalu’s Climate Dilemma

The Guardian | MULTIMEDIA

Kalolaine Fainu & Jonathan Watts

View the stories here, here, and here.

Tuvalu knows the existential threat of climate change better than most countries. It’s losing land area fast to rising seas, and if nothing changes the island nation could all but disappear by the end of this century. Three stories, by Kalolaine Fainu and Jonathan Watts, paint a stirring portrait of a community that might be on the brink but, nevertheless, is determined to survive — even if that means creating a “digital nation,” to keep the people of Tuvalu together if encroaching Pacific waves force them to flee. The pieces excel on all fronts, judges said, from their fresh angles to their thorough research and reporting and striking multimedia work.


Climate Displacement: The Invisible Migration

N+Focus (Mexico) | MULTIMEDIA

Saúl Sánchez Lemus, Alberto Pradilla, Isaac Arroyo, Omar T. Bobadilla, Enrique de la Mora, Williams Castañeda, Rafael López, Jorge Ulloa, Cecilia Guadarrama, Miryam Blancas, Omar T. Bobadilla & Aziyadé Sabines

View the stories here and here.

In this wide-ranging investigation from Mexico’s N+Focus (also called N-Más Focus),  journalists detail the enormous toll climate change is already taking on the country. Precipitation is down 20%; temperatures are up by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial averages in some regions; and, in just 20 years, drought has gone from plaguing 16% of the country to 77%. The combined result? Thousands of families have been displaced. Complete with text, video, and meticulous data graphics, this is top-notch journalism that “serves as a poignant reminder of the human cost of environmental degradation,” judges said. “The work not only does a great job of informing the audience but has the potential to drive meaningful discourse and action.”


Mongolia Is Responsible for Less Than 1% of Global Emissions. Climate Change Is Tearing It Apart Anyway.

HuffPost | WRITING

Alexander C. Kaufman

Read the story here.

In Mongolia, swaths of once-lush steppe aren’t providing like they used to. Grasslands are disappearing. Livestock are dying. Nomadic herders, long integral to Mongolia’s way of life, are traveling farther and farther in search of viable pastures; many are simply giving up, prompting a mass migration to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, where improvised tent villages now dominate the city’s outskirts. For HuffPost, reporter Alexander C. Kaufman traveled across the East Asian country to see firsthand how climate change is threatening “cultural tragedy” and upending lives and families. Judges called this work “powerful,” “well crafted,” and a model of ethical reporting, careful as Kaufman is to humanize his sources, without sentimentalizing or stereotyping them. Stories from remote regions like this are critical to the world’s understanding of climate change yet too seldom told in global media; here, Kaufman shows us how it’s done.


 

Preserving and restoring the natural world is fundamental to the world’s climate future. From whole ecosystems — at-risk forests, warming seas, melting ice — to crises facing individual plant and animal species, this category was for work that explores nature’s many roles in the climate story, as well as threats to nature and efforts to protect it.


Of Moths and Marsupials

BioGraphic | MULTIMEDIA

Kate Evans & Alex Pike

View the story here.

High in the Australian Alps lives a tiny species of possum and a fatty, migrating species of moth that comprises huge portions of the possums’ and other critters’ diets. The link between the two species is ancient, but amid so many droughts and floods and wildfires, it’s fraying — unless devoted scientists and Aboriginal communities, which have long tracked and studied these species, can help. This story, written in an effortless style that is at once thorough and concise, shows the narrative benefits of zooming way in on climate change’s smaller victims. Throughout the story, which judges said often reads “pitch perfect,” reporter Kate Evans’s curiosity is contagious. And exceptional visuals, by Evans and Alex Pike, ensure audiences feel up close and personal with the creatures in question.


Glaciers: A World without ice?

N+Media (Mexico) | VIDEO

Iván Carrillo, Ivo Gaytán, Octavio Aburto, Ricardo Rodríguez, Oswaldo Villalvazo, Euridice Casasola, Sergio Soza, Edgard Fernández, Andrea Obaid, Lorena Mollenhauer, Santiago Barreiro, Santiago Luccini & Sandra García Velten

Watch the story at N+ in Spanish here (Mexico only) — and watch it at ViX, along with extended coverage, here (all regions).

Melting glaciers portend more than just rising seas. This short documentary surveys all the cascading effects of thinning ice, from damaged marine ecosystems to water scarcity in major cities, like Santiago de Chile. What makes this work so special — our judges called it “a model documentary” — is the care that reporter and host Iván Carrillo takes to make the impacts of climate change relevant and accessible to audiences; while glaciers might be out of sight and out of mind for most, patient narration makes the case, convincingly, that viewers everywhere should not only care but do something about the impacts they aren’t seeing. “At a time when many people’s understanding of climate change is still limited, we need more well-crafted explanatory journalism like this,” judges said. Pristine production values further elevate the work.


Climate Change Threatens Connecticut. Coastal Communities Are in the Crosshairs

Connecticut Public | VIDEO

Ryan Caron King

Watch the story here.

Connecticut’s coast is changing fast, and in this spectacular documentary from Connecticut Public we learn what that’s meant for many of the state’s ecosystems and communities. Beyond this work’s consistently strong visuals and warm portraits of its sources, what impressed judges especially about this work was that it manages to be both comprehensive — over the course of nearly an hour, reporter Ryan Caron King logs plenty of miles and hears from all walks of life — and cohesive. King clearly has his finger on the pulse of Connecticut, and the result is nothing less than a paragon of local climate storytelling. Judges called it a “must-watch,” adding that there are lessons in King’s work for journalists of all stripes.


 

The health implications of climate change and extreme weather — including their effects on mental health — are staggering. In this category, we looked for work sitting at this critical intersection. What health conditions have been made worse by climate change? Who is affected uniquely or disproportionately? And are healthcare systems adapting to meet new challenges?


‎In Vidarbha: Agrarian Distress, Playing on the Mind

People’s Archive of Rural India | WRITING

Parth MN

Read the story here.

In rural India, nearly 11,000 farmers committed suicide in 2021, due in large part to financial losses associated with extreme weather. In complex and moving stories, journalist Parth MN and the People’s Archive of Rural India dive into these tragedies, calling on previously unpublished rural mental health data. The stories deftly document both the impacts of climate change on Indian agriculture and how inadequate mental health services have failed to keep up with a mounting crisis — while not forgetting to show how the right help at the right time can turn things around for farmers. Judges said they were lured in from the first sentences and, in the end, found these stories “incredible.”


Danger in the Dirt

CBC News (Canada) | MULTIMEDIA

Lauren Pelley

View the story here.

In recent years, a dangerous fungal infection typical to deserts well south of Canada’s border has been making its way north, thanks in large part to climate change. To learn about Valley Fever, which makes thousands in the US sick every year, CBC News’s Lauren Pelley traveled to Arizona to meet with experts and victims alike. Pelley’s goal was to raise the alarm for the Canadian public and clinicians about climate change’s contributions to unexpected and invisible threats — and with strong writing throughout this piece, our judges were certain she succeeded. “A fascinating read, while also being scary all the way through,” one said.


Climate Change Puts More Women at Risk for Domestic Violence

The Fuller Project, with The Washington Post & Nation (Kenya) | MULTIMEDIA

Geoffrey Ondieki, Disha Shetty & Aie Balagtas See

Read the story here.

From Kenya, India, and a remote island in the Philippines, the Fuller Project demonstrates vividly how extreme weather — floods, droughts, soaring temperatures — combine with poverty and act as a force multiplier to pressures making women vulnerable to domestic abuse. In addition to their strong and sensitive reporting, judges appreciated the care the journalists involved took not to overstate the correlation between climate disasters and an increase in domestic violence as causal, even though the connection is grimly clear. “The women in this story are trapped by flooding, both literally and figuratively,” one judge said. “I found myself feeling claustrophobic at the descriptions of being trapped by floodwaters in a home with an abusive husband.”


 

Climate change is taking a harsh toll on the world’s food systems. And across the world, communities are changing their food production and consumption habits — think: regenerative agriculture, meat alternatives, and the tried-and-tested agricultural practices of Indigenous peoples — to both reduce their carbon output and improve their health and quality of life. This category was for work on those subjects and more, from Big Ag to small meals whipped up at home.


How Crop Insurance Prevents Some Farmers From Adapting to Climate Change

Civil Eats | WRITING

Grey Moran

Read the story here.

The multi-billion-dollar Federal Crop Insurance Program, a program of the US Department of Agriculture, is designed to stabilize America’s food systems. In this stellar investigation, however, journalist Grey Moran shows how the program often, ironically, fails to benefit — and can even penalize — farmers adopting climate-friendly practices endorsed by the very same USDA. Following publication, the department said it would reexamine practices dictated by the crop insurance program and better align them with the agency’s climate goals. Stories about niche government policy often struggle to engage audiences, but this one is imminently accessible. One judge put Moran’s accomplishment succinctly: “A compelling, readable, sharable story about crop insurance? Amazing.”


Collagen Craze Drives Deforestation and Rights Abuses

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, with The Guardian, ITV (UK) & O Joio e o Trigo (Brazil) | MULTIMEDIA

Elisângela Mendonça, Andrew Wasley, Fábio Zuker, Grace Murray & Martin Stew

View stories here at TBIJ, here at the Guardian, here at ITV, and here at O Joio e o Trigo. 

Who would suspect their morning supplement is both a driver of deforestation and catalyst for the displacement of Indigenous peoples? This groundbreaking work, led by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, leverages satellite data, cattle movement records, and shipping receipts, among other resources, to illustrate a collagen supply chain that zig zags from the Brazilian Amazon all the way to expensive, celebrity-backed wellness products in the Global North. “This is an engaging investigation that you want to read and share,” one judge wrote. Not only that, following the stories’ publication, Nestlé-owned Vital Proteins sent a letter to retailers saying it would immediately cease sourcing collagen from the Amazon, and European parliamentarians said they would consider including collagen in a law banning imported commodities linked to forest destruction.


SOS: Climate Change Threatens Our Traditional Foods

Historias Sin Fronteras, a project of InquireFirst | MULTIMEDIA

Johanna Osorio Herrera, María Clara Valencia Mosquera, Ruth Vargas & Sonia Tejada, with Iván Carrillo, Lynne Walker, Miguel Ángel Garnica, Jessica Valenzuela, Jerusa Rodrigues, Mónica María Hernández, Ruben Azogue, Jonathan Álvarez & Valeria Pedicini

View the stories here.

Arepas, pabéllon, bandeja paisa, and even rice itself: Many of Latin America’s staple foods, dishes that have defined culture for generations, are at risk due to extreme weather and declining crop yields. For Historias Sin Fronteras, journalists from across the region tell three interconnected stories that ask readers to contemplate climate change from the vantage points of their kitchen tables. Serving up intimate human stories with ample helpings of data and mouth-watering food photography, the stories impressively encapsulate many of the complex ties between climate change and agriculture and food. “If more food writing dovetailed with climate reporting like this, we would all be better informed eaters,” one judge said.


 

Given the enormity of the climate crisis, there are intersections with virtually every subject journalists cover. This category was for work that creatively connects climate change to subjects less commonly associated with it: sports, arts, culture, gender, and education, to name just a few examples.


‎Climate Change Is a Societal Issue. Why Is Teaching It Limited to Memorizing Science?

Philstar.com (Philippines) | WRITING

Gaea Katreena Cabico & Cristina Chi

Read the stories here and here.

The Philippines is at greater risk of climate disasters than most countries, yet in schools there, climate change is taught predominantly as a matter of rote science, not as a phenomenon that, in reality, is already shaping and defining students’ lives. In this two-part series, Journalists Gaea Katreena Cabico and Christina Chi explore the limitations of current teaching models and the lack of resources for educators to better integrate climate change into their curricula. Judges called this work “nuts-and-bolts service journalism at its best,” praising the reporters for powerfully centering the perspectives of young students. The stories are rooted in the Philippines, but judges emphasized that they should inspire journalists everywhere to pursue similar themes.


Making Music in a Warming World

Atmos | MULTIMEDIA

Whitney Bauck & Sackitey Tesa Mate-Kodjo

View the story here.

With beautiful writing and arresting visuals, this story contemplates both the climate impact of the music industry — the perhaps-surprising carbon footprint of concert tours and streaming — and the power of music to shape public understanding of climate change. The challenge, we learn, is that music today is more environmentally taxing than at any other time in history, but at its best, the art form can also help lead humanity out of the climate crisis and imagine a more just world. Judges called the work “unexpected” and “thought-provoking,” adding that it will quickly appeal to music lovers everywhere.


Abused and Displaced: Women Farmers at the Centre of Herders’ Crisis

Nigerian Tribune | WRITING

Nchetachi Chukwuajah

Read the story here.

This is how you draw the connection between a seemingly disparate social issue and climate change. With drought and desertification on the rise in much of Nigeria, itinerant cattle herders have been sent hunting for what few green pastures remain. The result has been a spate of violence between herders and Nigeria’s farmers — and for farmers who are women, this all too often led to instances of physical and sexual assault. Journalist Nchetachi Chukwuajah’s interviews with survivors spell out in harrowing detail how the impacts of climate change are often just the beginning of complex cause-and-effect chains that governments and societies are both unlikely to notice and ill-equipped to help. Chukwuajah’s story is “shocking,” judges said, and it performs an important service by shedding light on this double threat of the climate crisis and violence against women.


 

This special award is given to three early-career journalists, individuals with five or fewer years of professional journalism experience, whose work on climate change shows exceptional promise. Previous winners of the award are Alejandro de la Garza, Rahma Diaa, Sanket Jain, and Shannon Osaka.

2024 Journalists of the Year: Tristan Ahtone, Audrey Cerdan, Rachel Ramirez


Ethan Brown

Founder & host, The Sweaty Penguin

Find some of Brown’s winning work here, here, and here; and visit The Sweaty Penguin here.

Ethan Brown is the founder and host of The Sweaty Penguin, a PBS-affiliated podcast which, despite billing itself as “Antarctica’s hottest podcast,” aims to lower the temperature of climate discourse; the goal, in the program’s own words, is “to make environmental issues more fun and less politicized so people of any political ideology or interest level can learn, engage, and find common ground.” Brown’s work succeeds with aplomb, pulling off an unlikely blend of humor, explanatory reporting, and scientific expertise that our judges called “exceptionally creative” and “simply remarkable.” In 2023, Brown and the Sweaty Penguin were selected as a Solutions Journalism Network Climate Beacon newsroom and, in turn, leaned into their solutions coverage, with stories on electric vehicle innovations, for example, and the speedy climate results humanity can achieve if we stop emitting greenhouse gasses (preeminent climate scientist Michael Mann made a guest appearance). Brown additionally spearheaded the development of resources to bring climate into college classrooms across the US, after a professor at the University of Kansas class threw out a course textbook, which had failed to engage students, and replaced it with content from The Sweaty Penguin. It’s a testament, judges said, to Brown’s “lively and accessible” approach and his commitment to meeting audiences wherever they may be.


Adam Mahoney

National Climate Reporter, Capital B News

Read some of Mahoney’s winning work here, here, and here; and find all his work for Capital B News here.

At Capital B News, Adam Mahoney covers how climate change disproportionately affects Black communities across the US, especially in the South. Much of his work focuses in particular on the intersection of climate change with other issues weighing on those communities, such as housing, employment access, criminal justice, and mental health. In 2023, Mahoney was on the road and on-the-ground in a dozen states. He was first to a story in rural Alabama about the overlapping harms of flooding and new oil and gas infrastructure projects, which many larger news outlets subsequently followed. And, in a yearlong series, he was first to explore the ongoing “New Great Migration” — the large-scale movement of Black Americans to Southern states — through the lens of climate change. Judges were impressed by Mahoney’s human-centered storytelling, remarking that his pieces were consistently marked by “nuance and eloquence.” One said, “His dedication to impactful journalism about underrepresented communities blew me away.”


Eman Mounir

Freelancer (Egypt)

Find some of Mounir’s winning work here, here, and here; and find all her work here.

Eman Mounir, a freelance investigative and data journalist from Egypt, focuses on environmental issues throughout the Middle East and North Africa region. Her work — published with Manakh, Muwatin, the Earth Journalism Network, and Scientific American, among other outlets — tackles unique stories, at routinely impressive scale. Investigations packed with data, yet always accessible, have revealed the effects of sea-level rise on the Nile Delta, the impact of climate change on fishermen and marine life, and the intersection of some climate solutions and women’s health. In 2023, Mounir co-founded a journalism network, called the ECJ Network in MENA, aimed at equipping fellow journalists with more climate knowledge and resources, to support reporting on all aspects of the climate story throughout the region. Judges commended Mounir for her “highly original story angles” and called her work “a testament to data journalism … that demonstrates a commitment to, and talent for, gathering diverse data in support of critical environmental storytelling.”


 

Big stories call for ambitious and innovative coverage. This category was for work constituting a major, dedicated undertaking for the newsrooms and journalists involved — work executed at a scale well beyond work that judges considered in other categories.


Carbon Pirates: Why Offsets Aren’t Working

The Guardian, Die Zeit (Germany) & SourceMaterial (UK)

Patrick Greenfield, Hannah Knuth, Tin Fischer, Luke Barratt, Alex Lawson & Angela Ponce

Read the Guardian stories here, here, here, and here; the Die Zeit story here; SourceMaterial’s story here; and listen to a Guardian podcast about the investigation here.

All too often, the tools big businesses use to support claims that they’re acting on climate don’t do what they promise, making them, effectively, tools for greenwashing instead. This impressive investigation into rainforest carbon credits approved by Verra, the world’s leading offset certifier, revealed that as many as 94% of the offsets — purchased by companies like Disney, Samsung, Netflix, and Ben & Jerry’s — are mostly worthless in combating climate change. Worse, some projects related to those dubious offsets have come at significant costs in terms of human rights, with Indigenous communities in the Amazon, for example, being forced out of their homes.

The exposé — a joint effort by the Guardian, Germany’s Der Zeit, and UK-based SourceMaterial — had fast impacts. Shortly after publication, Verra’s CEO resigned. The market for many of the offsets in question, meanwhile, tanked. The work caught the attention of major world leaders and informed a spate of regulatory crackdowns aiming to bring the broader offsets market into line. “This is first rate work,” judges said. “Frightening, dreadful, and hugely important.”


‘Shifting Seasons’ Community Story Exhibition: Unpredictable Rains Disrupt Ugandan Pastoralist Communities

InfoNile, a project of Water Journalists Africa

Stuart Tibaweswa, Lucie Mouillaud & Shemei Agabo

Find Tibaweswa’s InfoNile photo essay here, Mouillaud’s radio reporting here, and Agabo’s InfoNile documentary here; a video from the InfoNile exhibition is here.

Beginning in 2021, three journalists working with InfoNile traveled across Karamoja, a historically underdeveloped region of northeastern Uganda, to investigate how climate impacts are changing everything for the region’s last remaining pastoralist communities. Embedding with the pastoralists, the journalists found that erratic rainfall and encroaching drought have yielded food insecurity and are making the communities’ traditional cattle-keeping lifestyle increasingly untenable. These findings were published throughout 2022 and 2023, in many media formats, in major outlets in Africa and Europe.

The InfoNile team subsequently — our judges loved this — brought their reporting back to Karamoja, putting on a four-day public story exhibition aimed at raising awareness of climate change and the challenges pastoralists face. Among the attendees were various government officials and members of the pastoralist communities featured in the reporting. Judges called this work “intelligent,” “accessible,” and “exceptionally engaging.”


The Bruno and Dom Project

Forbidden Stories, with partners (see below)

Find the complete project, including partner stories, here.

The Amazon rainforest, home to more than one-tenth of the world’s species, plays a critical role in the world’s climate outlook. But covering it is often dangerous, even life-threatening, due to rampant illegal industry and organized crime in the region. Following the deaths, in June 2022, of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous activist Bruno Pereira, the Paris-based network Forbidden Stories organized a consortium of 16 outlets from around the world to continue Phillips’s and Pereria’s work, exposing the ongoing and often unseen destruction of the Amazon. The groundbreaking investigations — which cut across genres and were published in three languages — dig into the pressing forces behind illegal fishing, mining, and ranching, as well as potential links between those industries and drug trafficking. “This project trumps it all,” one judge said. “Absolutely captivating.”

Partners of Forbidden Stories included: Abraji, Amazônia Real, Folha de S. Paulo, Globoplay, Repórter Brasil, and TV Globo in Brazil; Ojo Publico in Peru; The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Expresso, The Guardian, Le Monde, NRC, Paper Trail Media, Der Standard, and Tamedia in Europe; Daraj in the Middle East; and the international Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project



CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN TO THE WINNERS, AND THANK YOU TO ALL ENTRANTS.

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