The poorest countries will be the hardest hit by climate change and we, as science journalists, must do more to highlight their plight and support their position — this was one of the key messages to emerge from the much-anticipated climate change session at the 6th World Conference of Science Journalists this morning.
Echoing the sentiments in his SciDev.Net Opinion article published last week, IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri said the media has a crucial role in underlining the scientific rationale for action on climate change, which includes reporting on the worst impacts of climate change, many of which are expected in the developing world.
David King, former UK chief scientific advisor, similarly suggested that the media can help put pressure on governments to take action against climate change.
This means emphasising the need to “defossilise” economies over the next 40 years. Science will have a huge part to play. “There are amazing opportunities for innovators in the private sector,” said King. And the time for action is now. Change is coming, and “any country that doesn’t start defossilising now will find the transition very expensive”.
Developing countries are, in some ways, at an advantage as they can jump straight to low-carbon economies — if they are given help to do so. The willingness to help is certainly there — only last week UK prime minister Gordon Brown highlighted the need to work with African countries in the battle against climate change. He said billions of pounds need to move from North to South to help African countries manage climate change impacts.
But — and this is key — such support must not be just another hand-out. It must come with the skills, people and technology needed to support long-term sustainable development. I won’t argue with that.
Sian Lewis, SciDev.Net