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Climate Politics in Action #5 Journalism, Climate and reporting on crises with Erika Bjerström

Published Mar 22, 2023

On Wednesday March 15 Erika Bjerström, global climate correspondent at SVT, visited the Climate Action House for the fifth Climate Politics in Action event. Many different topics were discussed during the dialogue, led by student employee Samantha Arpas, and KTH students were free to join the discussion.

"My guideline is science" stated Bjerström in response to the question of how to stay objective in reporting on the climate, specifically bringing up the IPCC report as an aid in her work. She then mentioned being reported to the ethical board every time she reports on climate change. As of yet she has not been charged. She finds it odd that her colleagues can report on the economy and current events without comment while her climate reporting gets her branded as a preacher or an activist, when all she is really doing is reporting on what scientists all agree on.

Having spent 30 years reporting on the climate, Bjerström was asked how the climate debate has changed over time. Five years ago she would have said she was positive and impressed on the progress that had been made in taking the debate seriously, but lately she has been worried about countries such as the UK and Germany starting up coal mines that will operate for 30 years, and the amount of traction that science deniers have been gaining recently, both abroad and in Sweden. There has also been the issue of "news avoiders" said Bjerström, people who stop trying to keep up with current events since the reporting on war, energy crisis and the climate is so depressing. 

Bjerström had recently been accused of exercising white supremacy when asking Mia Motley about corruption in third world countries in an interview which went viral on TikTok, which Erika felt discouraged about since she motivated the asking of such questions with getting a good answer out of Motley, which Bjerström thinks she succeeded in. Discussions on the nature of such questions followed with students present at the Climate Action house.

Adding to the current debate between developed nations and developing nations on which nations should do what, Bjerström expressed annoyance with developed nations only wanting to talk about climate adaptation since climate mitigation is what would actually be of consequence to developed nations.

After the event there was an informal mingle where students stuck around and continued the discussion on these thought-provoking questions with both Erika and each other. All in all, a great event, hope to see you at the next one!