Journalists are challenged to provide relevant information for necessary social change. Environmental reporting is essential.
By María García de la Fuente*

Renewable Energies, 4 May 2024 – We are living through a triple planetary crisis: the climate crisis, the loss of biodiversity, and pollution. In the face of this serious situation, environmental journalism is essential to provide rigorous information and, as in emergencies, to save lives.

This year, the United Nations (UN) is dedicating World Press Freedom Day to freedom of expression in the context of the current global environmental crisis.

The choice could not be timelier. In a context where hoaxes, manipulations, misinformation, and lies about climate change are published daily on social media, the role of journalists has become the guarantor of truthful, verified, and rigorous information.
Science continues to do its work and needs to be known by society, and journalists play a fundamental role in ensuring that these scientific discoveries and verified data reach the public.

We journalists have become verifiers and in addition to verifying our information, as we have always done, we must also verify what is being spread on social networks. Lies and hoaxes spread quickly and caused a lot of damage, even endangering people’s lives. If we continue to give a voice to climate change deniers and climate change hacks, we will contribute to an increase in the mortality rate of the population.
Data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the European Commission, and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are clear: heat-related mortality in Europe has increased by 30% over the last two decades. To join the voices denying the evidence of climate change is to put citizens’ lives at risk.

Climate change is directly linked to public health, and the fight against misinformation is vital because thousands of lives are at stake. The UN said in its statement: “Access to reliable information and the importance of strengthening independent environmental and scientific journalism are more important than ever.

It warns that “disinformation campaigns and misinformation challenge scientific knowledge and research methods. Attacks on the validity of science pose a serious threat to pluralistic and informed public debate.
Thirty years have passed since the first commemoration of World Press Freedom Day in 1994, and thirty years since the creation of the Association of Environmental Information Journalists (APIA), which has worked over these three decades to gain recognition for a journalistic specialism that is now essential. Environmental journalism is present in all newsrooms and great demand by society.
Environmental reporting covers everything that affects our daily lives, from the moment we get up in the morning and turn on the lights (what energy we consume), eat breakfast (where our food comes from), get dressed (what materials our clothes are made of) and go to school or work (what means of transport we use).

Journalists need to be able to report accurately, rigorously, and comprehensively on environmental problems, their consequences, and possible solutions. Not only about the threats but also about how to deal with them. Adaptation and mitigation projects that citizens need to know about to better cope with climate change. It is the journalism of solutions. Publicizing projects that work, that are replicable, and that improve people’s lives.

On this World Press Freedom Day, we also want to pay tribute to colleagues who cover environmental issues and face a wide range of threats and forms of violence because of the nature of their reporting. From physical violence, surveillance, pressure and intimidation to content filtering and moderation to restrict access to information. All have the same goal: to prevent the public from having information and to limit people’s ability to make better decisions for their communities and their well-being.

The United Nations calls on the international community to make the protection of journalists and communicators in general, and environmental journalists in particular, a priority. As part of this task, it is important to empower the media to report more effectively on climate and the environment to protect the planet and to inform the public so that they have a better understanding of these issues.
Journalists have the challenge of providing relevant information for the necessary social change. Environmental information is essential.

– María García de la Fuente is president of the Association of Environmental Information Journalists (APIA).
— Source: Renewable Energy: