Global Freedom of Expression

IPI Report: Climate and Environmental Journalism Under Fire, by Barbara Trionfi and Léopold Salzenstein

Key Details

  • Region
  • Themes
    Access to Public Information, Content Regulation / Censorship, Press Freedom, SLAPPs, Violence Against Speakers / Impunity

Trionfi B. and Salzenstein L., Climate and Environmental Journalism Under Fire: Threats to Free and Independent Coverage of Climate Change and Environmental Degradation, International Press Institute (IPI), Vienna, 2024

The International Press Institute (IPI) published a new report on threats to journalists who cover environmental and climate issues. The findings are alarming. They outline the threats that undermine both press freedom and attempts to bring climate justice, as private and state actors resort to silencing strategies.  Climate and environmental journalists face arrests, physical violence, legal harassment, online abuse, restrictions of movement and information access, and self-censorship. “[The report] reveals the systematic and wanton ways used to silence [journalists] and prevent the exposure of environmental crimes and other activities that are fueling the climate crisis,” Frane Maroević, IPI Executive Director, commented. “This is a call to action to all of us who care about independent journalism, press freedom and the global climate and environmental crisis.”

The report’s lead author, Barbara Trionfi, discussed environmental journalism at the CGFoE and UNESCO Conference on April 25, 2024, during the second panel on Critical Legal Frontiers: Global Challenges to Freedom of Expression. The recording is available on our YouTube channel.


from the Introduction on Page 7

In the 2023 IPI report “The change we need: Strategies to support climate and environmental journalism”, we analyzed the struggle that newsrooms face to mobilize the necessary resources to cover climate and environmental stories as well as develop new strategies to make sure those stories reach audiences. But the availability of resources only tells part of the story. Around the world, journalists covering climate and environmental topics face another set of challenges: serious physical, digital, and legal attacks aimed at silencing their work. This report focuses on exposing the scope of these attacks and the threat they pose to press freedom and the public’s right to information on one of the most pressing crises of our times.

This study is based on in-depth interviews with nearly 40 freelance and staff journalists who have been covering environmental and climate stories across 21 countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and who represent a range of types of news outlets, including print, broadcast, and online media as well as local news outlets, mainstream outlets, international media, and smaller specialized outlets. Interviewees included both journalists who investigate environmental degradation and those who cover climate change more specifically. The majority of journalists interviewed said that they had been targets of physical or legal attacks aimed at limiting their coverage of certain stories.


Barbara Trionfi

Lead Author
Press Freedom and Journalism Expert

Léopold Salzenstein

Contributing Author
Data and Investigative Journalist