This past summer, wildfires raged in Greece, Spain and Italy. Travelers, my parents included, hid in air-conditioned hotel rooms as Italian temperatures hit 45 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit). As the heat wave continued, people turned to Search trying to find out what had happened to the weather. The search term “eco-anxiety” reached an all-time high across Europe and Italian searches for ‘cambiamenti climatici cause e soluzioni’ (climate change causes and solutions) grew by 800%, showing us that people want — and need — answers.
Today I joined climate journalists, researchers and journalism students at the News Impact Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, hosted by the European Journalism Centre and the Google News Initiative. We heard from the European Space Agency, we heard about the dangers of climate change from Forbidden Stories, and we heard AFP’s take on tackling climate misinformation. I held a workshop on how to use Google Earth Engine, a tool which combines satellite imagery from a range of public datasets including NASA and the European Space Agency, and allows users to tell the story of Earth's changing surface.
The event marks the culmination of a year of work supporting journalists to cover climate change across Europe. This included Google supporting AFP in the creation of a training course, “Verifying Climate Claims,” which aims to give journalists tools to assess climate misinformation. Our partners Fathm hosted an in-person workshop for 20 journalists from across Europe on new tools and techniques to advance climate reporting.
We also announced a new partnership with the non-profit Fundacion Luca de Tena to provide training to 100 journalists and journalism students in Portugal by the end of June 2024. This builds on our years of support for the local news industry in Portugal.
Another reason we gathered together is to announce the winners of the Climate Journalism Award. The award is one way we can share innovative approaches to addressing the climate crisis — one of the most challenging and important topics of our time. There were 181 submissions from journalists based in 46 countries across the European continent. Recipients of the award represented a wide range of news organizations including the BBC, The Guardian, Unbias The News, Die Zeit, elDiario.es & DATADISTA, La Libre, Forbidden Stories and Tages-Anzeiger (SUI).
Bernardo Correia, Google Portugal Country Manager, with representatives from the European Journalism Centre, Lisbon-based online magazine Mensagem, the Google News Initiative, and News Impact Summit event participants.
From the impact of the beauty industry on the environment, to the disappearance of investigative journalists and the demise of Switzerland’s ice caps, the projects recognise the incredible stories environmental reporters are covering. You can dive into the complete list of projects on the European Journalism Centre website.
Image from the BBC Future Early warning project, recipient of the 2023 Climate Journalism Award
What is happening to our planet is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity. Journalists, such as those gathered here in Lisbon, have a key role to play in helping everyone understand our changing environment. As these awards show, the work is well underway. I am hopeful that with more focus and coverage we can all collaborate to tackle the climate crisis.