Group Editorial on Climate Change

paper250.pngAt least one Canadian paper followed the Guardian's lead this morning in publishing a front-page group editorial, endorsed and printed by 56 newspapers around the world. Today, is, of course, the first day of the Copenhagen negotiations, and this unprecedented group editorial is one answer to it. It emphasized a spirit of cooperation over confrontation:

Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.
This spirit was clearly evident in assembling the editorial itself. The Guardian's interest in this effort is partly symbolic: if newspapers from around the world can put aside ideological differences to take a stand on this very important issue, it offers a demonstration that political leaders from around the world may be able to do the same. Although it may be some time before the complete story of how this editorial was put together will be told, some of the details have already been written up. The discussion text clearly absorbed critique from many quarters before a common text was agreed upon:
After a series of discussions with scientists and other experts, we circulated a skeleton argument to the group of papers who had signed up early, and the comments that came pouring back quickly offered a taste of what the real Copenhagen negotiations must be like: our Polish colleagues wanted an acknowledgment that poorer new EU countries should not have to bear as much of the coming burden as 'Old Europe'; our Indian partner suggested that the argument reflected a "lopsided" developed world perspective and needed to say more about what the rich world must do; a Chinese editor wanted to flag the importance of addressing "exported" emissions – those created by the rich world increasingly consuming goods manufactured in developing countries.
The leader writers at the Guardian, Tom Clark and Julian Glover, attempted to resolve the tensions between the various positions. Three drafts were necessary to produce a common text that all participating papers were willing to sign on to. Even people who don't agree with the text of the editorial in its entirety may find that this is a fascinating model for aggregating views from a diverse range of perspectives, and then publicizing that consensus view for global consideration and comment.

The pictures of many of the front pages from the various participating newspapers, of which you see a miniaturized selection above, can be found here.

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