Six Days To Go!


When we publish an editorial about our fundraising campaign, we immediately see a spike in donations. As we wearily approach the end of our fundraising campaign, we’re going to be editorialising everyday to keep you up to date with our progress. 

The silly season is in full swing. Julian Assange has cheekily upstaged Oprah who has done her bit to upstage the various Labor politicians who seem so keen to inhabit the front pages of our press. So far, there’s no word on what Oprah makes of Assange. Would the imprimatur of the big O be enough to redeem Assange in the eyes of the State Department?

What we’re not seeing much of in the news media is coverage of the UN Climate Talks underway in Cancun, aka COP16. This time last year, COP15 dominated the news. For world leaders, all roads led to Copenhagen and climate negotiations led the news bulletins. We set up a special group blog called COP This! on the site so that delegates in Copenhagen and commentators worldwide could post updates on the negotiations. Had we been running full steam this year, we would have done something similar for Cancun.

At New Matilda, we have kept climate issues firmly within view. Wikileaks may well change the media — not to mention the remarks diplomats consign to cables — but it’s unclear as yet how this will influence world leaders to make better decisions. Scientific or data-driven journalism sounds great — but will it lead to evidence-based policy, especially on climate?

It’s probably a bit tough to impugn big media outlets for failures to cover every issue raised by the diplomatic cables — even if there does, as James O’Neill wrote in NM yesterday, appear to be a focus on gossip rather than substance.

Nevertheless, as negotiators in Cancun work to establish a framework for a new climate accord, the limited attention given the leaks on climate negotation, COP15 and COP16 is startling. See this wrap of the climate leaks in the Guardian. 

These leaks reveal climate negotiations, which are arguably the most important long term project for world leaders, to be highly fraught affairs. This shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, as Damian Carrington writes, "Negotiating a climate treaty is a high-stakes game, not just because of the danger warming poses to civilisation but also because re-engineering the global economy to a low-carbon model will see the flow of billions of dollars redirected."

Still, it’s been odd to see so many commentators so deeply unsurprised by the cables. In a very short time, declarations that the Wikileaks are entirely unsurprising have become set pieces. Such responses effectively dampen any impact these cable might have. And when it comes to climate, nodding that we all knew all along that the big players were pulling strings doesn’t help anyone. China has just committed to a binding emissions target and negotiators in Cancun are staying up late. If Wikileaks only makes us cynical about such processes, nothing is gained.

If we hit our fundraising target, we’ll be setting our own news agenda in 2011 — and we’re determined to give climate politics the coverage it warrants. If you haven’t yet donated to NM, please do so now. Time is running out! Our campaign ceases at midday on 15 December. You’ve got just 6 days!

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Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.