Climate Change Challenge - tackling climate change and fuel poverty Follow uk8020org on Twitter

Domain for sale -

tomorrow's  challenge  today

Patron  Madonna                 not for profit organisation, please support this site


Resource Centre

News Centre

Save Energy


The Green Shop

Support Us



Climate Change News

Media must act against climate change - 11 May 10  

Back to News Home

Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the world today. In Africa, a continent which is and still remains vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the effects cannot be over-emphasized.


The dire consequences of this catastrophe are already being felt by citizens across the continent, yet too often their voices are absent from national and international climate debate. When policies are being drafted by the developed countries, rarely do they consider that poor farmer languishing in the highlands of Ethiopia. When rich countries fail to agree on the reduction of carbon emissions, rarely do they remember that they are risking the lives of the poor in Africa.

The impact of the media vis-à-vis reporting on climate change should not be underestimated. Media messages do not simply 'report' facts. They also have a direct bearing and influence on the way people think and act. Noting that climate change is a national disaster in many African countries, journalists continue to play a pivotal role in bridging the information gap by educating the public on the cross cutting issues like global warming. And given the illiteracy levels of many poor people who cannot understand the words 'climate change', the media comes in handy to break the jargon.

The disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen conference that continues to irk many Africans has necessitated an overwhelming media approach on climate change issues. Journalists continue to question what went wrong and why Africa got a raw deal from the talks. Be it the print media, broadcast journalists, online publications and even bloggers, the Fourth Estate in Africa continue to demand answers of why Africa remains at the receiving end of failed global talks.

Germany's international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle is hosting its third Global Media Forum which will focus on the role of the media in mitigating the effects of climate change. As is the norm, the conference will bring together a unique mix of participants which include scientists, politicians, media users and producers, energy industry experts, policy makers as well as representatives from international, grassroots and non-governmental organizations to discuss how to harmonize individual and collective action in order to steer the world away from a foreboding future and instead toward genuine sustainability.

Key issues will include minimizing the effects of unusual and extreme weather events such as heat waves, wind storms, floods and droughts. The forum will also address issues on reducing the causes of climate change and global warming (designing energy policy, advancing renewable energies, eliminating the use of fossil fuels) in a bid to transform the world into a post-fossil fuel, sustainable, low carbon society.

The forum 2010 will address and assess the pivotal issues that have consigned the world to such a precarious state and seek a viable way out by looking at the role of the media on an international, national and local level.

The media must act

Combating global warming and its potential dangers is no longer a choice but a prerequisite and thus requires various forms of action. Besides informing the public, the media MUST seek to address a fundamental change in attitude, behavior and lifestyle of all those involved, be it in the economic and political realms. The media needs to help in shaping the consciousness and awareness of individuals in their understanding of climate change issues. Many people, including the elite, do not understand the meaning of global warming, carbon emissions, green house gases among other environmental jargon and this is where the media must play a critical role in educating the public.

According to Prof. Manfred Fischedick, Vice President, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, the media must play a crucial role by raising awareness and addressing ‘what must and can be done.’

“The gap between what we know and what we do must be closed - this is by no means an interesting social experiment; it is an urgent need,” notes the Professor.

Case example: Ethiopia

A recent report released by Oxfam International shows that small-scale farmers and pastoralists in Ethiopia are likely to bear the brunt of the negative impacts of climate change in the region, which will include increased poverty, water scarcity, and food insecurity. Farmers, who form the majority of the Ethiopian population, continue to cry foul over inconsistent weather.

While Ethiopia has always suffered from great climatic variability, including droughts that have contributed to hunger and even famine in the past, the report details how climate change is set to make the lives of the poorest even harder.

During the recent Earth Day celebrations, journalists came face to face with disgruntled farmers who decried the negligence of the international community in mitigating the effects of climate change. Many Ethiopian publications and notably weblogs have highlighted grim stories of disillusioned farmers whose lives are at stake, as a result of global warming. Farmers and pastoralists around the country have shared with journalists the toll that climate change is having on their communities, from ruined crops to dying cattle.

In an interview with Africa News, Hailu Tedesse, a farmer from the Oroma region said that he is torn between a rock and a hard place. “I have been forced to sell livestock in order to educate my children or worse still, remove children from school.” This, he said is not the solution but a survival mechanism to cope with the increasing effects of climate change. He can no longer keep livestock because there is no grass to feed them.

The Oxfam report also quotes another farmer, Sefya Funge saying, “The rain doesn't come on time anymore. After we plant, the rain stops just as our crops start to grow. And it begins to rain after the crops have already been ruined. Because of a lack of feed and water, most of my cattle have died. The few that survived had to be sold so that we could buy food to live on. As I no longer have the means to support my family, only three of my eight kids are still with me. Losing our assets was bad, but the fact that our family is separated is devastating."
These two cases represent the many more that continue to be highlighted by the media. Ethiopian journalists believe that rich countries have the answer to the climate change problem.

And according to Oxfam, developed countries have the responsibility to not only reduce emissions that cause climate change, but also help Ethiopia adapt to climate change impacts that will still affect the poorest, no matter how fast we reduce emissions.

Climate change is impacting the poorest first, despite the fact that they didn't contribute to the crisis. As global climate change negotiations continue, world leaders must not forget the fact that poor people are dealing with the negative impacts of a changing climate every day.


Back to News Home

Source: Africa News