Perhaps you’ve noticed. There’s a new rule among the media: If you can’t say something bad about somebody or something, don’t say anything at all. Among print and broadcast journalists, the need to be skeptical, cynical or downright negative is the new obsession.
Take the COP26 climate talks, which concluded in Glasgow, Scotland, last Saturday. Diplomats from almost 200 countries gathered for two weeks to figure out how they could work together to fight climate change and help especially vulnerable nations deal with it. In the end, they unanimously agreed on the boldest blueprint ever adopted for dealing with the crisis.
Yet the mighty New York Times chose to sum up the achievements of COP26 with 11 damning words. Page one. First sentence of the second paragraph on the Glasgow agreement: “The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming.”
What? Especially for The New York Times, that’s crappy journalism. Of course, the Glasgow agreement will not “solve” global warming. Nobody expected it to. Nobody said it would. Brown v. Board of Education didn’t “solve” the problem of racism in this country, either, but it was still worth doing. And so was Glasgow.
So, at the risk of parting company with my “gloom-and-doom” fellow journalists, let me point out three reasons why we should be celebrating, not lamenting, what happened in Glasgow over the last two weeks.
First, after four years of running away from the problem, the United States is back where we belong: the leader of global efforts to combat climate change. President BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE joined world leaders in Glasgow, along with John KerryJohn KerryEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Storms a growing danger for East Coast Israel, Jordan, UAE sign pivotal deal to swap solar energy, desalinated water GOP seeks oversight hearing with Kerry on climate diplomacy MORE, Biden’s special envoy for climate change, and five members of the president’s Cabinet. So did Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous MORE (D-Calif.) and 43 Democratic and Republican members of Congress. So did mayors, governors, and top officials from 18 states. Together, they sent the world a clear message: Forget former President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE. When it comes to climate change, the United States takes it seriously and is leading the way, both in word and deed. During the summit, in fact, the United States and China, the world’s two biggest polluters, announced a joint agreement to do more to cut emissions over the next decade.
Second, while Glasgow didn’t go as far as many climate activists had hoped, it’s still hugely significant that leaders of almost 200 countries agreed all nations need to do more, and faster, to fight climate change. Every country signed that pledge and promised to meet again next year in Egypt with even stronger plans.
Meanwhile, wealthy nations promised to double funding for poorer countries that suffer most from the effects of climate change.
Third, several significant goals were adopted in Glasgow. Participating nations agreed to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. That means slashing carbon dioxide emissions nearly in half by 2030 and curbing emissions of methane. Leaders of more than 100 countries pledged to end deforestation by 2030. And, for the first time, nations agreed to “phase down” reliance on coal and fossil fuels. Only at the last minute did India succeed in replacing “phase out” with “phase down.” Yet, in a major breakthrough, India also pledged that half of its energy would come from sources other than fossil fuels by 2030.
Add it all up. The final Glasgow accord’s not perfect, but it’s still the most significant step nations have ever collectively taken to tackle the most serious issue facing the planet. Too bad The New York Times doesn’t get it.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”