The Guardian, third most read newspaper headline in the world, aims for carbon neutrality by 2030. Acting in the face of the climate emergency is ” of themost important fi of our time ”, justified the end of January 2020 the British daily.

After a full audit, each sector has set itself drastic decarbonization objectives. Weather reports give the CO rate2 in the air. The newspaper, funded at 40% by advertising, no longer accepts ads from oil and gas companies. Its journalists no longer speak of “warming” or “change”, but of “disruption” or “emergency” climate.

→ CASE OF CONSCIOUSNESS. Is it more environmentally friendly to get information on paper or on screen?

This global commitment has earned it an influx of donations from around 100 countries. The daily only prints 140,000 copies (- 60% since 2010) but has 150 million unique visitors per month on its site, a “rocker” which makes it a highly observed example around the world.

On a smaller scale, the French press is accelerating its digital transformation without giving up the still loyal print readership. In 2010, a study by the World Association of Newspapers and News Media Publishers (Wan-Ifra) estimated that the carbon footprints of a print and online newspaper could be equivalent depending on their use.

Eleven years later, a study by Greenspector, specialist in the digital carbon footprint, calculates that it would be necessary to consult an information site for 13.36 hours before arriving at the equivalent of CO2 rejected to produce a 50 page journal. Reading the ten most viewed French press titles over one month would be equivalent to 280.87 tonnes of CO2, or 2.3 million kilometers traveled by car, according to Greenspector.

Calculate to compare

Aware of these challenges, the Syndicate of Magazine Press Editors (SEPM) announced in spring 2021 the creation of a tool to assess the carbon impact of paper and digital versions. Greenspector, already a partner of TF1, France Télévisions or Vivendi, is currently developing this eco-simulator with Ecograf, which has designed a “carbon calculator”, used by Bayard (publisher of The cross), to compare industrial practices and bring together paper production and delivery centers.

→ READ. The media devote 1% of their stories to climate

Can a newspaper achieve carbon neutrality? ” It is complicated, answers Benoit Moreau, founder of Ecograf, because the printed press depends a lot on paper, the production of which concentrates half of the CO emissions2. But a lot of effort has been made. Almost all of the paper used by the press comes from sustainably managed forests. The last French paper maker in Golbey (whose paper is used by The cross), in the Vosges, has adapted to new requirements, in particular recycling its water.

Investments are also made to be more economical. “A regional press group like EBRA (Est Bourgogne Rhône Alpes) has been able to invest12 million euros in a new rotary press to print L’Est Républicain, Le Républicain lorrain and Vosges Matin, thereby increasing the speed and reducing rejects ”, underlines Alexandre Poplavsky, departmental director of Vosges Morning.

Regulatory injunctions

“The big difference compared to ten years ago is envy! Reducing our emissions every year is a real challenge. And the only solution is to join forces ”, believes Benoit Moreau.

The movement is underway to collectively face the new regulations. Sending of press in plastic film will be prohibited on 1er January 2022. Newspaper companies must have more than half of recycled fibers in the paper, limit the distance between production and distribution sites to 1,500 km, ban the addition of mineral oils in inks to recycle without danger to printed matter… These injunctions could be doubled by a penalty for inks, and by objectives to be taken into account for the allocation of aid to the press, conditioned since 2016 on the progress made on societal commitments (gender equality, respect for photojournalists and freelancers…).

This conditionality of aid is also being studied by the National Center for Cinema and Animated Image (CNC). This one announced in the spring a “Climate action plan for a public policy of ecological and energy transition ” in cinemas, audiovisual and moving images, bringing together professionals at the start of the school year.

→ THE FACTS. ENTR, Phoenix: young people and ecology, the new bet of the public media

“Higher gear is engaged with the CNC to work together on a methodology and tools in order to set common objectives and lead to a coherent charter”, summarizes Marie-Anne Bernard, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of France Télévisions, who in 2009 co-founded the Ecoprod collective with the TF1 group, joined two years ago by Canal +. “We talked more and more about the environment in our magazines and documentaries. To be legitimate and audible, we had to apply to ourselves what we suggested to viewers. “

Union and coherence

The Écoprod project, which is based on a carbon calculator and a charter providing tools to lower its carbon footprint (low-cost IT equipment, local productions, reusable decorations, less polluting modes of travel, etc.), has also been able to count on the strength of conviction of a pioneer: Catherine Puisieux. In 2005, she created a CSR department within the TF1 group and implemented a strategy to make teams, advertising and the public aware of climate issues, in particular by launching the Ushuaïa channel.

→ DEBATE. Should advertising be regulated in the face of the climate emergency?

This early commitment has proven to be economically beneficial. The TF1 group has “Reduced electricity consumption by 30% since 2011”, believes Chrystel Leroy, who now heads the CSR department. The studios and sets have been renovated. The Boulogne-Billancourt tower houses data centers “More efficient and less energy-consuming”. The fleet has been electrified and employees encouraged to come by bike or metro.

The group also involves its suppliers, and its advertising agency, close to advertising agencies such as Sidièse, a pioneer in responsible communication. “What has changed over the past two years, notes its chairman, Gildas Bonnel, this is the Libaert and Guibert report, on the link between advertising and ecological transition, and the discussions on the Climate and Resilience Act. This regulatory context put pressure on the different parties and changed the perception on the role of advertising and the media in changing uses and trade-offs in consumption. “

Increasingly digitized, advertising and the media must also take care to limit their carbon footprint online. We are developing our platforms, without a certain schizophrenia, and we will all have to quickly introduce the issue of digital sobriety, even if it is counter-intuitive ”, reliefMarie-Anne Bernard, from France Televisions.

Born ecological, and well classified by the ecoindex which assesses the sobriety of press sites, Reporterre, the “ecological daily” launched online in 2007, has made radical choices. “We don’t have advertising. We are hosted on a server that runs on renewable energies. Our photos are in low definition. We don’t have any ads. We especially favor the relevance of the articles to their number ”, detailed Hervé Kempf, its founder.

→ READ. “We Demain” 100% Ado, the magazine of the Greta generation

On the Journalism website. design, Gérald Holubowicz, former journalist turned entrepreneur, book of recipes for sobriety, by reducing the weight of the site’s pages or the flow of articles, in favor of “grouped information” and made more “effective”. It also reflects on “The need to think about desirable media”, by building common tools with several media to help face environmental challenges, those of diversity and the establishment of calm debates.


Journalism’s foundation on the climate emergency

“Hot in front! Climate and health emergency. Journalistic responsibilities ”, is the theme of the 14es International Journalism Conference, which takes place from September 28 to 1er October at the City of Creation and Innovation (Mame) in Tours. Organized by the Journalism & Citizenship association, the meetings are free and open to the public.

This Wednesday, September 29, two round tables focus on the possibility for the media to reach the zero carbon objective. Representatives of the editorial staff of the Guardian (United Kingdom) and Journalist (Sweden), the management of TF1 or the Ebra group, and also advertising.

The major debates, including that of this Wednesday, September 29 with Nicolas Hulot and neuroscience specialist Sébastien Bolher on journalistic responsibility in the face of the climate emergency, are broadcast live on the Assises platform. Workshops will also be broadcast the next day.


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