Good morning from Glasgow: Daniele Pernigotti at the COP26 – The COP failed! Or not, there is a deal! The immaturity of (some) Italian press

On Monday and Tuesday, general mourning for a completely unsuccessful COP. On Wednesday, spectacular headlines on the first draft of a deal to give up coal and fossil fuels. Two slips in a short time, probably marked by the need for a striking article.

It occurs to me an episode that happened in Bali in 2007 that I recounted in the book Con l’acqua alla gola(literally, “with water to our necks”). The negotiation, back then, was at a very complicated standstill. The US were against supporting the Bali Action Plan, at the basis of a negotiating process to reach a deal in Copenhagen, 2009. China accuses Yvo de Boer, then Executive Secretary, not to being impartial. The tension was so high that de Boer burst into tears during an endless plenary. A stalemate that leads Italian journalists not to write articles, knowing that newspapers only wanted to see the outcome of the works.

In that situation, I found myself with three of the best Italian climate change journalists reading the foreign press. At once, our eyes fall on an article from an important international newspaper. We stare at each other with a look between envy and admiration. We gaze at that title: “The negotiation is stalling”. No striking news, no scoop, just accurate information on the front page.

This aspect may seem trivial, but the choice to make reliable information, and not the frantic search to attract readers, starts from competent journalists able to understand in depth what is happening at the COP and continues through sensitive editors, capable of truly understanding that this is a complex process. A subtle difference between feeling the responsibility of the news and being too focused on hooking readers.

This long introduction only points out that the draft deal quoted by Repubblica doesn’t involve any giving up on carbon or fossil fuels but recalls the Parties to accelerate the phase-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels. It may seem small, but it is a crucial difference to describe the development of the negotiation.

And, intending to update you on the works at the COP, it is very important to report last night’s joint press conference between the US and China delegation. After beating each other up for ten days, as heavyweights on the ring, the two heads of delegation, John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua, came together like two old friends, regardless of the patches on their faces, evidence of the recent fights. They pledged before the world to work together to cut emissions towards the 1,5 °C target.

It is truly great news, and it represents a step forward in respect to the pale commitment that came out from the Italian G20. Probably, the signal we needed the most while waiting for these last days of negotiations.

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