Climate of Hope: Dispatches from COP21 in Paris


LE BOURGET, France — In December 2015, 195 countries made climate history, adopting an ambitious and unprecedented international plan to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and avert the most extreme environmental consequences.

The Paris Agreement to tackle climate change was finalized over two weeks at the United Nations Climate Conference, or COP21, as it was called, before thousands of country delegates, advocates, scientific experts and industry leaders.

A GroundTruth team of six fellows and three editors was there for the duration of the negotiations in Paris, reporting on the progress towards the deal — as well as the challenges that even the best possible agreement would face. Our talented reporting fellows came to Paris from as far as Nairobi, Kenya and Washington, DC and many places in between — not only to document this unprecedented gathering but to tell those stories that might not make it to the front page for other media organizations privileged enough to attend. Our fellows produced more than 40 articles from COP21, many through our editorial partners, PRI’s The World, Huffington Post and WGBH News, and they also navigated the historic conference through our live blog.

As core members of a generation that stands to feel the greatest burden of a warming planet, our fellows made real a pronouncement President Barack Obama delivered at the outset of COP21.

“What should give us hope that this is a turning point, that this is the moment we finally determined we would save our planet, is the fact that our nations share a sense of urgency about this challenge and a growing realization that it is within our power to do something about it,” Obama said. “And let there be no doubt, the new generation is watching what we do.”

The GroundTruth Project watched what the world did in Paris closely. Our work, “A Climate of Hope,” is only beginning, and our fellowship will expand in 2016 to report on the impacts of climate change around the world, and how the Paris Agreement stands to the change things for the better.

– Marissa Miley, Health & Environment Editor