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Media leaders and experts discuss role of media in addressing climate change in China Daily dialogue

Co-organized by China Daily, University of International Business and Economics, Shanghai International Studies University and Asia News Network, researchers and journalists discussed the way forward on climate action for the Asian region.

The threats of climate change have no boundaries and require multiple countries and policies to work together to address the challenges effectively. Without multilaterlal cooperation on adaptation and mitigation policies, Asian societies and economies will be increasingly vulnerable to climate risks, say experts at the Asia Leadership Roundtable dialogue held last Friday.

Climate and media experts emphasised the need for greater trust between nations in battling this crisis that “no country can avoid”. The event, organised by China Daily, examined how the media can play a leading role in communicating the threats of climate change to the public, policymakers and businesses.

Mr. Zhou Shuchun, Standing Committee Member of the CPPCC National Committee, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of China Daily, noted in his welcoming remarks that “Planet Earth is our only home and addressing climate change has a direct bearing on the future of humanity”.

“The future of global climate governance is drawing greater attention and no country can avoid the crisis. There must be global action, global response and global cooperation,” he said. He also highlighted that the efforts of Asia News Network members have fostered favorable public opinion in the international community on climate action, which further enables Asian nations to make bold policies.

Dr. Joy Jacqueline Pereira, Vice-Chair, Working Group II, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that since preindustrial times, human activities have caused approximately 1°C of global warming and at the current rate, 1.5°C of global warming would be reached between 2030 and 2052.

However, she stressed that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is not impossible, but political and societal will to accelerate transitions is the key.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. 

Dr. Gao Xiang, Professor and Division Director of International Policy Research, National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, stressed that China is actively participating in global climate governance, is a staunch supporter of multilateralism and is willing to help other developing countries enhance their capacity to cope with climate change.

Gao highlighted that carbon peaking and neutrality is one of the eight key areas for 2021 set by the Economic Work Conference of China. 

At a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Pana Janviroj, Executive Director, Asia News Network and Dr. DJ Clark, Multimedia Director, China Daily Asia Pacific, speakers discussed how the media can better play a
leading role in communicating the threats of climate change to the stakeholders.

The researchers and journalists who spoke were: Ms. Zofeen Ebrahim, Pakistan Editor, The Third Pole; Ms. Krixia Subingsubing, Reporter, Philippine Daily Inquirer; Mr. Jonathan Lynn, Head of Communications and Media Relations, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Ms. Jessica Cheam, Founder and Managing Director, Eco-Business; and Mr. Hou Liqiang, Reporter, China Daily.

Dr Pereira observed that on rising sea level solutions, “what we have seen in the Southeast Asian region is that Singapore has taken a lot of action in terms of adapting to sea level rise…they have very limited land so they have to take a very strong infrastructure type of protection. In contrast, Indonesia has a great mix of both the natural land-based solutions and also infrastructure. So there are good examples that come from the region that can be emulated. Of course, we can also learn from East Asia, the way that China is handling it as a way forward.”

Gao added that developing countries can enhance the cooperation on climate change. “Especially with the concept of green recovery, we need to enhance this kind of mechanism and cooperation to implement this concept into practice,” he said.

Ebrahim said one of the biggest challenges that Pakistan is facing is that it is completely unprepared. “We don’t even have a plan for how to decarbonize ourselves when the world around us is continuously and rapidly doing that,” she noted.

Subingsubing said many people in the Philippines accept and are aware of the connection between climate change and the extreme weather events that we experience, because “they they feel it every day”.

“Our fatalities rise with every new disaster that is coming to our country. Typhoon is a very intricate part of Filipinos’ lives, but the problem is how to get them involved in the topic, even if it is not a typhoon season or even if the climate crisis is not a seasonal topic. Climate change is really a communications battle, not just to combat climate change deniers, but also about how to get people who are indifferent to the topic to be interested in the science behind climate change,” she said.

From IPCC’s perspective, Lynn advocated for “solutions journalism”, observing that people tend to relate to positive stories — which proposes solutions — better.

“I think it’s very important to look for those positive examples, which can then be referred back to. This actually then addresses another problem in writing about climate change, which is that it is a very complicated and abstract subject…to come to grips with that can be quite hard for non-specialists. I think linking the story to people and showing a positive solution or outcome are very important,” he said.

Hou observed that one positive trend of recent years is that the Chinese government is attaching greater importance to international cooperation for policies to tackle climate change.

At the dialogue, Cheam emphasised said that the role of government is crucial in coping with climate change.

“The world has made tremendous progress in tackling climate change. The US’ rejoining the Paris Agreement is very timely. The Singapore government has made a net-zero pledge, though with no time frame yet. We have seen that Japan, South Korea, and China are making these very important pledges. I think that the road to net zero is fraught with many challenges. The devil is in the details as to how these countries will actually achieve net zero. Carbon offsets also vary in standards greatly and we need more transparency in the market.

“Ultimately, multilateralism and trust are needed to deal with the challenges,” she said.

Click here to view video highlights from the dialogue.

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