Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Earth journalism

Congratulations are surely due to Gerard Wynn and Sunandra Creagh at Reuters for their triumph at the Earth Journalism Awards. At the start of the week, the awards described how Reuters had single-handedly "exposed sharp practice at the office of climate change in Papua New Guinea" and how the head of the office of climate change was "suspended within weeks of the story being published", and how questions have even been asked in Parliament.

The overview of this piece is now in at least its fourth version, having been altered to avoid one libel, and (I suspect) one repetition of a claim that is almost certainly known not to be true. What is more important to someone who has been reporting on this story since the beginning, and for the last six months, is that the most recent changes on the awards site now offer a small acknowledgment of my work in The Economist.

Thank you to everyone who supported this.

At this point, I think it is also important to recognise, Ilya Gridneff of AAP Port Moresby who has also written up a storm on this subject over this year. Ilya has recently won an award from the Asia Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists for excellence in science journalism for all his work.

As for the Earth Journalism Awards, you can vote for your choice of overall winner of these awards here and/or leave comments on the entries. The current overview of the winner of the forest award follows:

Forest Carbon Market Already Shows Cracks
Wynn, Gerard & Creagh, Sunanda (2009-06-04)

This article exposed sharp practice at the office of climate change in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the use of funds to protect rainforests. UN climate talks and a prospective U.S. climate bill have laid the foundations for a scheme whereby rich countries pay tropical countries to protect their rainforests and in return earn carbon offsets to help them meet their greenhouse gas emissions targets. But development and environment groups have warned that multi-million carbon deals already taking place in advance of such a deal threaten to stoke corruption and land grabs.Reuters in May ran an exclusive report using leaked 2008 papers which showed that the director of the office of climate change had endorsed a $10 million donation to the office from Australia-based carbon brokers. In return, that deal would have given the brokers exclusive rights to sell the carbon stored in vast swathes of the country's forests even though these are owned by the thousands of people that live in them. Reuters obtained a face-to-face interview in Bali with the director of the office of climate change who confirmed the authenticity of the papers. The report raised concerns of questionable practice in emerging forest carbon markets in Papua New Guinea. Shortly afterwards further news of misdeeds at the Office of Climate Change emerged in The Economist. Both these stories resulted in the Head of this office being suspended. The Reuters story was published as negotiations progressed to include a rainforest carbon market in a global deal to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.