18 Jan 2024, 13:21
Sören Amelang

Business journalism still routinely neglects climate issues – report

Clean Energy Wire

Much of today’s business reporting still ignores the dramatic impact the climate crisis has on companies, making it vulnerable to greenwashing and lagging behind institutional investors, says a report by the Otto Brenner Foundation. “Business and climate journalism are not opposites, but belong together like two sides of the same coin,” argues the science foundation. The foundation, which is part of the metalworkers’ union IG Metall, analysed the output of major German newspapers for the report. The foundation urged business journalists to not only focus on traditional financial indicators, such as sales and profits, but to routinely include climate indicators, such as a company's annual greenhouse gas emissions, without necessarily making them the focus of their reporting. Other indicators business journalists could use to evaluate a company’s sustainability performance include recycling quotas, use of renewable energies, and emission intensity –  how a company’s greenhouse gas output relates to its sales – the report suggested.

Report author Lutz Frühbrodt, a media economist at the Technical University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt, lamented that corporate reporting is often characterised by a fundamental passivity or distance from climate issues. “This means that business journalists are not only lagging behind activists and NGOs, but also large institutional investors, who have prioritised the issue for years,” Frühbrodt said. Business journalism that truly reflects climate issues – dubbed “integrated business reporting” – can easily become part of a journalist’s daily routine, Frühbrodt argued, adding that it only required a basic level of climate expertise. “However, the decisive factor is the editorial team's willingness to take greater account of sustainability aspects – in a measurable and systematic way,” said Frühbrodt. He added that this approach could also unmask greenwashing. Frühbrodt advised editorial teams to start using this integrated approach in classic reporting, for example at annual press conferences or annual general meetings. He said it could also be applied to company portraits, stock analyses, and interviews.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
« previous news next news »


Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee