COP-20: The world is watching

Image: Imelda Abano

Image: Imelda Abano

During the last two weeks, news outlets around the world have been busy reporting on the CIA torture report, the falling oil prices, and typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines. Yet the media interest in the UN climate change summit now drawing to a close in Peru has been rather limited – much like in the past few years.

The outcomes of the climate negotiations in Lima, and next year in Paris, will likely chart the course for humanity – from Russia, to Belgium to Tuvalu – for decades and possibly centuries to come. This is why we believe that local news reporting on the climate talks is so crucial.

What do domestic media outlets say about the international negotiations and their local relevance? How do they evaluate the risks of climate change on a local, regional level?

Read our compilation of the coverage in different countries around the globe.


Renewable energies, carbon caps and the outcome of negotiations have dominated Costa Rican media coverage of COP-20. The country’s long-discussed goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021 now looks shaky due to insufficient funding and a lack of legal framework to support it, according to La Nación. In the international negotiations, the newspaper reports, Costa Rica is backing an initiative to introduce a worldwide 2-ton CO2 per capita cap.

Meanwhile, a proposed Chinese-backed oil refinery in Costa Rica was at the heart of an interview with the country’s Environment and Energy Minister in the weekly Semanario Universidad. At the same time,  while the international climate negotiations are still proceeding at glacial pace, the newspaper reminded its readers, what’s at stake are more droughts, faster sea level rise and loss of biodiversity.

As the Lima climate summit started, business weekly El Financiero stepped up the cost narrative, recalling scientists’ warning that with every passing year, coping with adaptation is becoming increasingly more expensive. Like other Costa Rican news outlets, the newspaper also wrote about the shift toward renewable energies.

And La Nación didn’t miss the chance to devote a color story to UNFCCC chief Cristiana Figueres, herself a Costa Rican national, and her work leading the international climate negotiations.

Diego Arguedas Ortiz


In his meeting in Lima yesterday (Dec 10) with the EU Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete and Italy’s Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon praised the EU’s leadership in addressing climate change, citing its new emissions reductions target, agreed in late October.

Italy, currently holding the rotating EU Presidency, has been ranked 17th in the Climate Change Performance Index released Monday by Germanwatch, going one place up from last year’s index. Italian environmental NGO Legambiente stressed, however, that under the report’s “national climate policy” evaluation, Italy in fact ranks 58th.

Silvia Giannelli


„Do we have to say goodbye to skiing?“

asked a TV talk show on Tuesday (Dec 9) on BR Bayern 2, discussing the effects of climate change on snowfall in the Alps and winter sports. The skiing season starts in two weeks, but there hasn’t been enough snowfall yet. The topic gained quite some attention in other local media as well – the prospect of not being able to ski anymore seems to be a quite concerning topic for editors.

But Germany is not sitting idle. Right before the COP-20 summit kicked off, Germany announced a new ambitious climate action plan aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020 [Spiegel Online]. The EU target, agreed in late October, foresees a similar emissions cut a decade later.

Yet, despite its image of a green leader, Germany’s emissions have in fact risen recently. The Climate Change Performance Index, released by Germanwatch in Lima on Monday (Dec 8), ranks Germany’s actions only as mediocre, reports Die Welt.

A key reason has been the growing use of coal, and the government’s new plans to cut emissions, especially in the coal sector, have stirred a debate in German media with some citing concerns of companies and consumers that prices for energy might rise [ARD TV] .

Anja Krieger


Despite the national emissions cuts plan approved by the government in 2010, the lagging deployment of renewable energies Israel is unlikely to meet its commitments to the international response to climate change.

“If we’re optimistic about installing renewables, Israel could reduce about 11-12 million tons of CO2 by 2020 under the business-as-usual scenario, instead of the 22 million tons it committed to cut [in Copenhagen in 2009],”

writes Prof Ofira Ayalon, Head of Environmental Projects at the Samuel Neaman Institute, in an op-ed published [The Marker] Monday (Dec 8).

Israeli policymakers, Ayalon concluded, have to draw up a clear energy efficiency and renewable energy policy. She voiced her concerns over the potential impact of both recent OPEC decisions on oil export and Israel’s natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean on the country’s energy future.

Meanwhile, a major oil spill in a remote desert nature reserve has taken center stage in the Israeli media over the past week, after a breached oil conveyance pipeline stretching from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean released nearly five million litres of crude oil, causing one of Israel’s largest ever ecological disasters.

The Environmental Ministry’s General Director, who has been in Lima for the climate talks, said in an interview [Channel 2 TV] that he had been to the oil spill site before departing to the climate summit and that

“perhaps I should not have gone [to Lima] … I accept the criticism. But with all respect to me and to my position this is not the main thing.”

Israel, as an OECD country, he said, cannot afford not attending the UN climate conference, because it has its own issues.

Ido Liven


At the COP 20 negotiations in Lima observers say Canada keeps a low profile with the exception of “consistently blocked progress from other states.”

‘Crazy talk’ is how Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper characterized putting regulations on the country’s huge oil and gas sector that are a major source of carbon emissions. Harper, who largely ignores environmental issues, told Parliament Tuesday (Dec 9)  it would be “crazy economic policy” [CBC] to regulate emissions from the oil and gas industry despite promising to do so since 2007.

It was the very same day an international report ranked Canada as one of the worst countries for taking action on climate.

Even with the collapse of oil prices it means Canada cannot meet [The Globe & Mail] its weak Copenhagen 2020 emission reduction targets. Instead, Canada’s carbon emissions are on pace to soar 38% by 2030 mainly due to expanding tar sands projects, according to the government’s own projections. In sharp contrast, Europe has pledged to reduce emissions by at least least 40% by 2030.

Canada has become an “outcast amongst its negotiating peers ” at recent UN climate summits, Liz Gallagher head of the Climate Diplomacy Programme at E3G, a UK-based NGO, said last January.

“It’s a travesty that a prosperous country with such a rich history of international cooperation is now turning its back on the world,”

she said.

Stephen Leahy

This is a developing post, so make sure to come again later, and follow us on Twitter (@climatemosaic), to see the latest insights on the climate summit from around the world.

* If you’re a journalist, you’re more than welcome to join and add a piece from your country to this global puzzle. Contact us at climatemosaic<at>zoho<dot>com

* If you’re an editor, all our original material is Creative Commons-licensed (CC-BY-NC-4.0), so please feel free to re-publish this blog post. We’d obviously be happy if you can let us know you use our content.


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