Reporting on carbon markets in the MENA region

The Innovate4Climate Journalists Workshop took place on 23 May 2022 within the framework of the Innovate4Climate Conference – the World Bank Group’s flagship climate action event. The four-hour online workshop brought together journalists, media professionals and technical experts to learn about carbon markets and carbon pricing, with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Chantal Menard, environmental communications expert in the Mediterranean, opening the workshop.

What are carbon markets and carbon pricing? What impact do they have on citizens,and how can they help countries to decarbonize? How can journalists report on this topic, and tell a compelling story that leaves an impact? These were some of the questions that the Innovate4Climate Journalists Workshop aimed to answer. The session was moderated by Chantal Menard – an expert in environmental communications in the Mediterranean – and included a variety of stakeholders to fully represent the region’s context.

Harikumar Gadde – Senior Carbon Finance Specialist from the World Bank – provided an overview of the status of carbon markets in the region, and presented a snapshot of the climate targets and commitments of the different countries in the MENA region.

Harikumar Gadde presenting an overview of the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) in the MENA region.

During his presentation, Gadde dove into the different types of carbon pricing instruments: carbon tax, cap-and-trade, and the crediting mechanism. Gadde also talked about international carbon markets, stating that “one of the potential benefits of the international carbon markets is that they can mobilize resources for climate action, and therefore help nations achieve the global targets set out in the Paris Agreement.”

Gadde highlighted some relevant data and key environmental projects that several countries in the region have planned, emphasizing the potential for upscaling carbon markets in the MENA. “Many projects will begin, in relation to renewable energy and energy storage, as MENA countries aim to generate 16-50% of electricity using renewable energy by 2030”, affirmed Gadde. The World Bank expert also defined carbon pricing, and explained why it is required to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and reinforced the idea that carbon pricing mechanisms are considered amongst the most cost-effective methods for reducing GHG emissions.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for experts and media to communicate about carbon markets.  The panellists were Khaled Diab (Communications Director of Carbon Market Watch), Andrea Bonzanni (International Policy Director of IETA -International Emissions Trading Association), Princess Mashael bint Saud al-Shalan (Founding Partner at Aeon Strategy), Mathew Carr (freelance journalist), and Emmanuel Bompan (Editor-in-Chief at Renewable Matter | Materia Rinnovabile).

The panelists discussed the situation in the MENA region, sharing insights from each of their distinct professional experiences. They also shed light on why carbon markets and carbon pricing are under-reported, and how that can be changed.

 In the second half of the session, panellists discussed why carbon pricing is under-reported.

The second half of the session was focused on carbon markets reporting, and was a dialogue amongst journalists to talk about the practicalities and challenges of reporting about these issues in the MENA region. The session was led by Carr and Bompan, who shared their perspectives on how to find and understand technical information, reliable data, key facts and sources, and how to make the story relatable for the public. At the end of the session, they analyzed several published stories together with participants, identifying what makes a successful story on this topic. Throughout the workshop, attendees asked questions to the speakers, thus creating a continuous enriching open discussion.

The Innovate4Climate Journalists Workshop brought journalists closer to the subject of carbon markets and carbon pricing, helping them to establish a solid background. With a focus on the Middle East and North Africa, the event aligned with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), that will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) in November 2022. The objective of the COP27 is to accelerate global climate action through emissions reduction, scaled-up adaptation efforts, and enhanced flows of appropriate finance. To achieve the transition towards more sustainable development, media plays an important role. That is why the workshop – co-organized by REVOLVE and the I4C team – trained journalists to write well-informed articles, in preparation for the upcoming COP27.