Arab Media Forum: Journalists, editors must increase coverage of climate change, says AFP chief

With COP 27 taking place in Egypt this year and COP 28 happening in Dubai next year, conversations about renewable energy must take centre stage



by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Wed 5 Oct 2022, 5:15 PM

Last updated: Wed 5 Oct 2022, 5:28 PM

The world has less than three years to curb carbon emissions to prevent further damage — and it is up to the media to take the lead. That is according to Sophie Huet-Trupheme, global editor-in-chief of Agence France-Presse (AFP), who spoke at the Arab Media Forum on Wednesday.

"The media must hold decision-makers accountable to make a lasting change," Huet-Trupheme said.

Those in the Middle East and North Africa, in particular, should be committed to highlighting the issue, since these regions will be the first to run out of water, she warned.

Huet-Trupheme also turned the spotlight on how the region has contributed to the global carbon footprint. “In the last decade, the Middle East has overtaken Europe in its emissions of CO2 gases,” she said. “It is time to address the problem.”

Weather changes

According to Huet-Trupheme, temperatures in the Middle East can rise by up to 5 degrees by the end of this century which is much more than what humans can adapt to. Sands in the region are becoming drier, leading to more sandstorms. With global warming and sea levels rising, agriculture is at risk and this could threaten food security.

“It will be critical to see if we can move towards renewable sources of energy,” she said. “With the COP 27 taking place in Egypt this year and COP 28 scheduled to take place in Dubai next year, these conversations about renewable energy must take centre stage.”

Rearranging the newsroom

Huet-Trupheme placed the onus on editors in newsrooms to increase the media coverage of climate change. She highlighted how AFP switched to a hybrid model of reporting regarding climate issues in 2020.

“We have a hub of 20 climate and economic specialists,” she said. With their resources, AFP has done several special reports about environmental issues including the drying up of the Tigris river in Iraq and how Gazans are turning to solar power.

“This hub is improving the conversation about environment between journalists,” said Huet-Trupheme. “That is what is important to make sure that emphasis is being placed where it is needed.”

She also stressed the importance of training journalists in environmental reporting. “It is a field that is very visually driven,” she said. “Reporters need to know to choose the right words and the right background. Training them must be supported by top management, too.”

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