Months of planning and sourcing, along with stamina and hustle, gave the AP team covering the COP27 climate conference in Egypt the scoop on one of the most consequential decisions in the history of climate talks.
In the runup to COP27, it was clear that the question of “loss and damage” -- essentially paying reparations to poor countries getting slammed by climate change caused mainly by rich countries -- would be a central issue.
Extreme weather events, like the recent devastating floods in Pakistan, had given advocates momentum to make headway on an issue that had always been on the margins of discussions.
The AP’s team in Sharm el-Sheikh was first with the news that negotiators had reached a deal to create a loss-and-damage fund. The break came from Maldives Environmental Minister Aminath Shauna, interviewed by reporter Frank Jordans and video journalist Teresa de Miguel. Reporters Seth Borenstein, Wanjohi Kabukuru and Samy Magdy then worked sources with other delegations to make sure this deal had indeed been struck.
When assured that it had, Climate editors Dana Beltaji and Peter Prengaman filed the alert and urgent series while Susie Blann and Teodora Tongas published video.
The AP didn’t just beat the competition. The news cooperative was so far ahead that the news took some members of delegations by surprise.
Several simply said “no comment,” as it was clear they had not yet been briefed by their superiors. Negotiations would continue another 15 hours before the deal was officially announced.
The clean scoop on the most important issue of COP27 was only one of many instances that AP was way ahead or had exclusives. We were the only news organization to get footage and video of the first meeting between U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry and China Climate Enjoy Xie Xenhua since relations between China and the U.S. had broken down in the wake of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
AP also was the only organization to get video of Kerry and Xie standing next to each other, Xie not wearing a mask, the day before Kerry’s spokeswoman announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Video journalist Olivia Zhang was key to keeping the team abreast of China happenings, just as VJ Ahmed Hatem and Magdy did the same with the host, Egypt, Kabukuru did with African delegations and Jordans the Europeans. Photographer Peter Dejong, Nariman El-Mofty and Thomas Hartwell rushed between meeting rooms and outside protests to during the two weeks, ensuring a steady stream of photos that Climate editor Alyssa Goodman filed immediately at all hours.
Beating the competition on spot news was only one way that AP’s coverage stood out. Throughout the two weeks, AP had many smart takes off the news, like Kelvin Chan’s look at Saudi Arabia casting itself as a green energy leader, or Borenstein’s story on the negotiators who got the loss-and-damage issue on the agenda for the first time.
When the world population hit 8 billion in the middle of the summit, Climate photo editor Goodman worked with photographers around the world to produce distinctive pictures.
With news of the loss-and-damage fund, the AP was three minutes ahead of one outlet and nearly five hours ahead of another.
Major competitors with large teams on the ground, never matched the AP, instead waiting 15 hours to write the deal had been approved by the full plenary.
The first day of the summit, AP had an enterprise piece with data visualizations showing the relation between carbon dioxide and impact on economies of poor countries, then followed with an on-the-ground piece from Cuba.
One of our TwitterSpace discussions, which had more than 2,000 attendees, was dedicated to loss and damage. And at every stage, in text, photos and video, we made efforts to highlight and explain the idea along with who has traditionally advocated for and against it.
For outstanding source work and for getting the scoop with context on the most important story of the climate talks, the climate team including Nariman El-Mofty, Thomas Hartwell, Wanjohi Kabukuru, Sami Magdy, Kelvin Chan, Dana Beltaji, Seth Borenstein, Alyssa Goodman, Susie Blann, Natalia Gutierrez, Theodora Tongas, David Keaton, Theresa de Miguel, Frank Jordans, Ruochen Zhang, Ahmed Hatem and Peter Dejong earn Best of the Week – 2nd Winner.
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