Role Of The Media In Combating Climate Change

By Robert Abunaw

As 90 Heads of State and government and a total of 15,000 participants brainstormed in the 27th session of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change holding in the Egyptian Red Sea  Resort  of  Sharm  El  Sheikh, reports revealed that the planet Earth is in danger. This rather doom and gloom picture is the studied opinion of the  UN  Chief  Executive  Officer, Antonio Gutteres. In his first address at the Conference  of  Parties  (COP),  he cried out for urgent action, “humanity must  cooperate  on  cutting  carbon emissions or face a bleak future. The UN scribe warned that from the way things are going “we are on a high- way to climate hell with our feet still on the accelerator”. G20 nations still release 80% of world carbon emissions. The roll call of other declarations  at  COP  27include  German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who warned against “a renaissance of fossil fuels”, French President Macron, called on “all countries to uphold all their commitments”  and  for  Rashi  Sunka, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom “we must deliver on the legacy of Glasgow and protect the future of the planet”. At  Glassgow,  COP26  is reported to have fallen short of delivering the national commitment that will together limit warming globally, to 1.5c. Powerful declarations from equally big emitters of carbon, to include, China 30% of all global emissions, United States 13%, Russia 4% leave close range observers of what has been described as the African COP, thinking aloud as they ask the question,  “where  do  we  go  from here?” The  cue  from  Sharm  El Sheikh today like Glasgow yesterday, leads to the truism that “war against climate change is also a communicative event”. Its crystal clear, all parties after COP 27, world leaders and their ilk,  must  give  communication  a chance.   Exchanging  thought  and ideas to reduce carbon emissions to zero levels calls for total collaboration mostly as annual atmospheric carbon concentration has soared in recent decades to a record high of 416o45 parts per million in 2021. An increase of 17% compared to 1990 levels. The media of Mass Communication presents itself as a vital partner and tool, as the world braces to what can be described, as the biggest scientific battle to pre- serve planet earth and the human race. The positive outcomes of partnership in the “war” against climate change  also  goes  beyond  conferences.   Pledges   made   at   the Conference of parties to rescue the global  South,  must  be  respected. Climate dangers appear to be correlating with the travails of 25 countries deemed most vulnerable to climate change. Scientists say 8 years are left to avoid worst climate change effects, while the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cli- mate report, gives us 10years to save our  planet.  This media centric assignment is of urgent importance and attention mostly to the African Journalism  landscape.  The record show  that  Africa,  despite  its  low 3.8%contribution   to  greenhouse emissions remains the most vulnerable continent to climate change. Anti-climate change media action in most African countries this far has been “lame duck”. A study of two Nigerian major newspapers between 2009 and 2010 showed a 0.1% cli- mate change news stories published. Likewise, similar studies of two South African newspapers revealed a publication rate of 0.3%. The media systems in Africa are usually a reflection of the economic, social, political, and even geographical conditions of each country. “Truth be told,” the media of mass communication in Africa today has some capacity to animate the cli- mate change battle. A big asset is our electronic media which now provides a  development  input  that  was unavailable to rich economies in their own formative stages. Internet penetration  in Africa today stands at 43% compared to a global average of 66%. But even with the slow climb to wider internet adoption in Africa, digital social net- works  are  helping  Africa  media achieve  wider audience reach, expanding  their  zone  of  dominant influence (zdi). A compendium of media- centric approaches in the new fight against climate change,  mitigation and adaptation post COP 27 should include  basic  concepts  and  principles. An initial approach of importance can be the studying of segment-specific  and  content-specific media effect. We start by stating that the news industry in Africa today appears uncertain how to deal with these concepts  and  multi- faceted  climate change challenges. Regional climate change issues mostly related to rivers and  to  rain -forest  that  cut  across international  boundaries should  be handled with utmost care. Examples can  include;  River  Bunue,  flowing from the North of Cameroon to the middle belt of Nigeria or the Logone and Shari flowing from the North of Cameroon into Lake Chad no thanks to climate change. Good governance is an important instrument to reduce tensions within and between countries on the use of natural resources. The media must strive and contribute to building trust and confidence at all levels, as a consequence to strengthening  security  and  peace  as  we attempt climate change  mitigation and adaptation. The product of journalism is a steady function in people’s lives. It provides people with the best possible available  information to enable informed decisions about all aspects of their lives. The forest car- bon partnership facility, recently paid Mozambique $6.4million for reducing 1.28million tons of carbon emissions since  2019.It  should  serve  as  a bridge  between  people  and  the issues and problems that affect them. Consequently, the   African journalist should henceforth avoid exciting the public about climate change, its night- mares and consequences. It’s time to figure out “what we or everyone has to  contribute  to  this  fight  climate change verity”. A premier approach is for the media to put on their agenda set- ting amore. One of the important role of the mass media in society, is the setting of agenda in daily life. What is emphasized in the media has been found to have an impact not only in what people think, but the salience of the issues at every point in time. From a more  engaging perspective, there is a need for peoples-centric  media,  one  that  pro- motes a societal culture which con- siders how a people want to work and how the media can inspire them to perform their task to the best of their ability. Talking policy, African media, conscious of the negative characteristics of some national leaders and their collaborators, when it comes to the public good, should ensure cli- mate change mitigation and adaptation, does not give room for policies that put profit before people. A crack new  team  of  investigative  climate journalists, should be empowered to dive, understand and support nation- al  governments  in  climate  change national and international  governance, conferences and conventions like  COP  27.  The  media  should ensure that citizens across the board are direct beneficiaries of all kind of fallouts like those related to green financing, geared at increasing the level of financial flows from banking, microcredit,  insurance  and  investments, from public, private and not- for-profit sectors, to sustainable

By Robert Abunaw

development priorities. Africa media high profile climate investigators, should not only control for transparency at all levels but also ensure that carbon financing, a tool that places a financial value on carbon emissions and allows companies wishing to offset their own emission, buy carbon credit earned from sustainable projects is not diverted to private persons and their projects. This new climate change financial concepts are believable. Using diverse reporting, broadcasting, production genres or other multimedia approaches and technology, media professionals in Africa can go for systems change that comes to challenge a multifaceted catastrophe like climate change. Everyone in the community should be accountable. Every voice matters and can make a difference, as every minute and second counts. It’s quite difficult to get people to take action about their environment mostly with sociological set-tings like ours, but a developed skill learned from practicing how to get people to act in their own interest, leads to mobilizing communities towards a kind of people-power. This is the kind of power that stops state officials from promoting deforestation and undermining our forest biodiversity. The media must bring communities to take their own future in their hands as they learn how to protect local ecosystems guaranteeing in the process a sustainable future for themselves, their progenitude and posterity. Having benefitted from carbon financing, needy families in the Republic of Mozambique are now receiving household components to improve their livelihoods and enhance climate change mitigation by reducing kitchen charcoal burning responsible for CO2 emissions. From an absolutely national and local approach, media action must raise issues to the level of public aware-ness, sensitization, advocacy and debate. Media should focus on people, communities, as well as short and the long term impact of climate change as seen in drought, deadly floods, fatal volcanic cones propelled landslides and famine, promoting extinction of staple food crops, mostly in the Congo Basin Rain forest. It may be obnoxious to spell ground rules for climate change communication journalism, however, African journalists, reporters, broad-casters and todays astronauts on the web, just have to handle climate change with a language of hope for mother earth and mankind. YES WE CAN. Conservation and cli-mate change communication strategist

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