November 30, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama, centre, attends a session at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (Eric Feferberg/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. President Barack Obama, centre, attends a session at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (Eric Feferberg/Pool Photo via AP)

COP21, the United Nations climate change talks, started Monday in France. With the talks, we should see even more coverage of climate change, at least for a bit. Here are a few resources if this event is suddenly part of your beat:


CBS News has a pretty good primer with definitions of terms and acronyms being used about the climate change conference. Here are a couple:

COP 21: COP stands for Conference of the Parties, referring to the countries that have signed up to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The COP in Paris is the 21st such conference.

UNFCCC: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty now signed by 195 parties, with the aim of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to rein in climate change. To sound like an insider, pronounce this U-N-F-triple-C. Or just say “the framework convention.”

The Associated Press says avoid the terms “skeptics or deniers”:

Last month, the AP’s Sally Jacobsen, Dave Minthorn and Paula Froke wrote a memo with language for covering climate change and the people who don’t recognize it as a thing:

Our guidance is to use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science and to avoid the use of skeptics or deniers.

Some background on the change: Scientists who consider themselves real skeptics – who debunk mysticism, ESP and other pseudoscience, such as those who are part of the Center for Skeptical Inquiry – complain that non-scientists who reject mainstream climate science have usurped the phrase skeptic. They say they aren’t skeptics because “proper skepticism promotes scientific inquiry, critical investigation and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims.” That group prefers the phrase “climate change deniers” for those who reject accepted global warming data and theory. But those who reject climate science say the phrase denier has the pejorative ring of Holocaust denier so The Associated Press prefers climate change doubter or someone who rejects mainstream science.

Definitions and story ideas:

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute recently launched Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation. The guide includes resources, a reporting guide and story ideas. It also includes an animated climate adaptation explainer.


Poynter’s Alexios Mantzarlis wrote Monday about climate change fact-checkers around the world and what they’ve found so far. Here are a couple out of the U.S.:

3. The Associated Press had eight scientists grade the anonymized claims of the top candidates in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries on a scale from 0 to 100. Several flunked.

4. Two of these candidates, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, were also fact-checked on climate change by the Washington Post Fact Checker earlier this year. Cruz argued that there has been “zero warming” for seventeen years; Huckabee suggested that reports of cooling in the 1970s show there is no settled science on global warming. The two earned three and four ‘Pinocchios’ respectively.

See what other folks have done:

Poynter’s News University has a free self-directed course called “Covering Climate Change.” The course includes tips, story ideas and examples of climate change coverage.

Related: How The Guardian and GEN are getting news orgs around the world to share climate change content

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

More News

Back to News