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A look back at COP26: Between politicians and the media, science balances

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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via Luciana Radut JajiAnd CY Cergy University Paris

Like other climate conferences that preceded it, COP26, which was held in Glasgow at the beginning of November 2021, will have taken on the appearance of a large gathering sometimes criticized for its demagoguery in the discrepancy between actions and speeches, and whose impact on posterity is sometimes expected (in promising to act “before it is too late”).

Exercising retrospectively here allows us to explain how two simultaneous snapshots shaped the image of this moment – on the one hand, the international political landscape, on the other hand, media coverage – and how the evocation of scientific work entered into the he-she.

torrent of data

The state of the pandemic is showing us every day: the presence or absence of science in the public arena is not trivial – disinformation, trust, or personal or public commitment are inextricably linked to it. Returning to the standing of science at COP26 allows us to draw some lessons on this most universal topic.

The political speeches given at the opening of the COP in Glasgow were very encouraging and attentive. The urgent need raised by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres; ‘Minus midnight’ by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson; The ambition and commitments of French President Emmanuel Macron. The “moral and economic duty” described by US President Joe Biden. Or, again, the desire to “rise above the politics of the moment and show true political sense,” urged on by Queen Elizabeth II. The momentum and the political spirit was there.

But if we listen to these speeches or read them as they have been presented to us, it is impossible not to notice the absence of reference to scientific work and progress.

Remember that 2021 will also be the year of the publication of a particularly worrisome report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, dealing with issues ranging from geopolitics in a Mental health. Since this summer, politicians have largely captured that in their communications.

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Compatibility and fear of controversy

Two explanations could shed light on this “absence” of science in the political declarations of COP 26. The first highlights the consensus around scientific findings and developments related to global warming; The second is the fact that decision makers present at COPs are evading the science of their rhetoric in order not to reopen the political debate over the interpretation of climate research findings.

In the penultimate hour of COP26, on November 11, 2021, 200 climate scientists will enter this international scene With an open letter : Before making policy decisions, it is necessary to return to the results of the IPCC reports in which thousands of scientists participated, they recall. Without this, no political and economic commitment can be relevant.

This open letter to politicians will be disseminated through the media.

The media is an open space for knowledge

What is the role of the media during COP26? Examining the online copies of a few major European dailies allows us to take into account the immediate information in their journalistic scenography.

The first observation is clear and unsurprising: the scientistAnd le FigaroAnd Corriere della SeraAnd RepublicAnd WatchmanAnd free belgium or the Romanians free romania And fact All COP26 covered. With a lot of “live broadcasts” like TVs and daily reports (the scientist), with custom tabs (Corriere della Sera), analyzes, interviews, informative articles…

All of these media covered the event while providing explanations or analyzes based on scientific research and findings. Watchman He went so far as to address readers directly to request a financial contribution, based on this argument: “As the whole world has its eyes set on the crucial UN climate summit, the guardian Brings you facts, negotiations, news and science. “

Away from content and devices across Europe, note the relatively lower coverage of the event in Romania compared to France, for example. During the period from 1is being Until November 13, the duration of COP26 including one day extension, the difference turns from simple to triple: the scientist Dedicate 53 articles to this event, le Figaro 81, fact 27 and free romania 19. Note the extremes in the coverage of the last two days of COP26: le Figaro She publishes 11 articles on her website while free romania Which.

The context of this country then is the context of a very large wave of Covid-19, a lack of coordination of public health actions, a very low confidence in the vaccine and medicine and science. We dare to ask ourselves whether more media coverage and interaction with scientific facts might have an impact on the population’s desire to vaccinate…

At the end of the day, who is afraid of the media? Science, because the media landscape is overwhelming and impulsive. Politicians, because the media requires their public presence. The public is more and more independent regarding the sources of information. However, as evidenced by the international media coverage provided to COP26, the level of public ownership of the flag is now stable.

Luciana Radut Jaji, HDR Lecturer in Information and Communication Sciences, CY Cergy University Paris

This article has been republished from Conversation Under a Creative Commons License. Read theoriginal article.

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