Grants: Call for cross-border journalism on company climate claims

We are inviting: International journalists
08 Sep - 20 Oct 2022
Import into your calendar

Companies around the world increasingly make bold claims about their products being environmentally friendly, having good ESG scores, and achieving net-zero targets. Given the many examples of greenwashing, it is easy to be sceptical – but, if in fact truthful, should these efforts not be considered a serious game changer for a deep decarbonisation of global economies? As most corporates operate on an international playing field it is important to look at these issues through a cross-border lens. This is why Clean Energy Wire is calling on journalists to collaborate across borders on stories about company climate claims. The deadline to enter pitches is 20 October.

Cartoon by Mwelwa Musonko, 2022

Sustainable flights, CO2-neutral shampoo and energy companies with net-zero targets: Based on product labels and company reports alone, it seems that we are well on our way with ambitious corporate climate action. But at the same time, companies' proclamations that they are part of the solution can easily be overshadowed by the many notorious examples of greenwashing. Recent examples include a lawsuit filed against KLM for misleading advertising – the first greenwashing lawsuit alleging the airline industry; a police raid at the offices of asset manager company DWS and its majority owner Deutsche Bank for misleading investors about its use of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in its investment portfolio; German supermarket chain REWE stated that it will stop using a contentious “climate neutral” claim for its own-brand products and Amazon biasedly counting its carbon emissions, making its carbon footprint much smaller by only counting Amazon-branded products.

Companies undoubtedly play a crucial role on the road to climate neutrality, and company climate claims create a multitude of important stories that journalists can track down and dig into. Do the claims remain consistent across supply chains? What influence do carbon offsets have in these figures? Can a product ever be climate neutral? Have ESG-focused funds actually encouraged companies to make more conscious climate decisions? How do companies calculate and communicate their non-financial performance? What influence do consumers have?  Is the formulation of climate claims bound by scientific or regulatory standards? What measures are transnational organisations taking to improve corporate transparency?

Currently, our Clean Energy Wire team is looking into company climate claims as part of its CLEW focus project. As a cross-border non-profit network committed to quality journalism focusing on the global energy transition and climate neutrality, we want to get your input as well. We are asking teams of journalists from at least two different countries to send their story pitches and three winning teams will each be rewarded with €5,000.

We encourage diversity within the teams.

Clean Energy Wire is honoured to have the support of three highly distinguished judges who will help select the most promising cross-border stories on company climate claims.

Please make sure to read the FAQs carefully before you enter your pitch and to enter by October 20th. If you have questions, you can get in touch via   


Ugochi Anyaka-Oluigbo is an environment and conservation journalist. She is the creator of Green Angle TV show, an award-winning environmental Nigerian TV show. Ugochi has visited rugged terrains to share underreported environmental stories, from erosions, flooding and desertification in Nigeria to frozen Lapland, Finland. She has produced and presented podcasts on the impacts of climate change for the BBC World Service, Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and Impacthub Basel. Ugochi guest lectured at the University of Parma, teaching environmental reporting and international broadcast journalism. She has won several local and international journalism awards, including the 2022 Covering Climate Now Awards.

Catherine Boudreau is senior sustainability reporter at Insider.  She previously spent six years at POLITICO, first covering food and agriculture policy and then helping launch the company's first sustainability beat focused on corporate accountability on environmental and social issues. She started her journalism career at Bloomberg BNA. Her reporting has also been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek and on WAMU's 1A and WBUR's On Point.

Kwangyin Liu is CLEW Network Ambassador for Northeast Asia. She is a correspondent at CommonWealth Magazine 天下雜誌  and is the editor of CommonWealth Magazine's English website. She covers energy, heavy industry, renewables, climate issues and adaptation. Kwangyin was an IJP Asia Fellow in 2017 and again in 2022 and became an ambassador of CLEW Journalism Network because she believes in the power of truth and journalism.


 The application deadline is 20 October 2022.


What qualifies as a cross-border team?

We consider a cross-border team one in which journalists from different countries and, crucially, different media outlets in different countries pitch a story together. For example, two journalists from Germany, one planning to publish in Huffington Post in the U.S. and the other in the Huffington Post in Germany, would not be eligible.

What do journalists need to consider when working on this story?

Adherence to internationally applicable professional journalistic standards is a must. By submitting your application, you agree to follow the code of professional conduct for journalists developed by the International Federation of Journalists. You are also welcome to consult the principles of quality journalism and transparency that Clean Energy Wire additionally subscribes to.

I am no longer a journalist but I’d like to publish the story on a blog. Am I eligible?

All applicants must be able to publish the final story in a professional media outlet. If the blog is considered a media outlet, you may be eligible. If in doubt about this, contact us in advance via  

Do we require you to publish the exact same story in different media outlets?

No, you don’t. Your team will have to publish stories in at least two media outlets from two different countries but which stories to publish is up to you. The collaborative approach means your team will work together on aspects of the story that make sense to collaborate on according to language skills, data access, familiarity with local experts, or knowledge of different story-telling formats. As for the stories resulting from your joint research, we think the journalists know best which story would most interest their readers. Frequently, you will want to write your own story on the basis of your collaborative work.

Is there a minimum number of stories you require us to produce if we are selected?

Each team member will publish at least one story in their respective publications. Of course, if you find a way to publish articles on interim findings connected to your work for the cross-border grant, even better, we encourage you to do so.

What languages can we publish the stories in?

The language you usually publish in! Applications for the grant must be submitted in English. As the stories are intended to reach international audiences, there is no specific language requirement for publication.

I have a great cross-border story pitch – but I don’t know a journalist in the other affected country/countries.

Go and have a look at the member list of the CLEW Journalism Network. You’ll hopefully find journalists who A.) cover topics within the realm that you’re looking for in the region of interest, and B.) are happy to be in contact with international colleagues. Join the network for access to the full list of members and their email contacts.

Can one journalist apply with more than one team?

One team member may be part of two different pitching teams. All the same members of one team should, however, decide which single pitch they want to submit.

I already applied for former CLEW grants. Am I allowed to apply again?

Yes, you are.

What types of stories and formats are eligible?

This round’s focus is on just transition from a cross-border perspective. Make sure that your pitch is centred on this general topic. All types of formats are encouraged, including features, investigative journalism and comparative reporting. Submissions from print, online, TV or radio journalism are all welcome.

Which criteria should the story meet?

The story should meet the following criteria:

  •  Is it new, does it make sense? Is it relevant?
  • Is an editor’s letter of publication intent included?
  • What specific story is your team proposing?
  • Collaboration: Does the proposal include a plan outlining how the collaboration will take place? Specifically: 1.) What role will each journalist have in the team? 2.) Does the pitch give an idea that there is a story to tell in all countries specified?
Should the pitch include a budget plan?

Yes, it should. Please make sure that you answer these questions:

  • Is the budget plausible for the story suggested?
  • Does it cover all proposed stages of the research plan?
  • Does it include any additional sources of funding the journalists’ receive or specify that resources are lacking?
What is the deadline to publish the stories?

The stories must be published at latest by 10 April 2024.

Submitting the application

Shall we submit one application per team or per team member individually?

Make sure to coordinate in advance which team member will gather all the details from the other journalists, as you will only submit one application form per team.

I get an error message saying I’m over the character limit, but I don’t think this is correct.

The character limit is specified in the boxes. Note that it includes paragraph breaks. If you have removed all paragraph breaks and are otherwise 100% certain that you are below the limit specified, try using a different Internet browser. For example, if you have previously tried submitting unsuccessfully via Google Chrome, try Mozilla Firefox.

I have submitted our team’s application but have not received a confirmation of receipt.

Please check your spam folder for the automatically generated email with the subject "CLEW Grant Application”, which asks you to confirm that you/your lead team member indeed submitted an application.

You will then hear from CLEW regarding the outcome of your application by mid-January 2024.

Do we have to specify one contact person as the contact person for the whole team?

Yes, please specify one person as the contact person for your team.

After the deadline

How are finalists selected?

The Clean Energy Wire will review all project proposals. Those that meet the submission criteria will be anonymised and submitted to the jury. The judges will independently select three finalist teams.

All teams will be notified of the outcome of their application no later than 10 January 2024.

If your team is among the finalists

When will you receive the grant money?

The selected grantees and CLEW will sign agreement forms for the allocation of the award. Immediately thereafter, 50 percent of each grant will be allocated, with the remaining 50 percent paid out upon publication of the final story.

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee