We often write on this blog about how we've covered something - after we've done it. I thought for a change it would be worth letting you know how we're preparing for a story - namely the Bali climate talks this week and next.
It's a high-level meeting, organised by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is trying to deliver a new global agreement on how to cut rising greenhouse gas emissions.
We've sent three environment correspondents - Roger Harrabin, Matt McGrath, David Shukman - and on the website we've already published a "set-up piece" on the talks, outlining what they are about and how they fit into the ongoing global political negotiations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Our correspondents at the talks are going to have their work cut out filing for all BBC outlets, and on occasions like this the website newsdesk in London usually writes some of the stories here, drawing on the reporting from our correspondents at the event.
On this occasion Richard Black, the website environment correspondent is not, for once, going to the talks himself, but he's helped us prepare for them with a few tips and things to watch for in this complex story. Specialist briefings like this ahead of a major story are extremely useful for the newsdesk. Here's what he sent us.
By Richard Black.
- There are some issues that we sometimes do not get completely right in reporting the anoraky end of climate change, and which are pertinent to the UN climate talks in Bali that run this week and next.
- 1. The Kyoto Protocol does not expire in 2012. What does expire in 2012 is the first set of targets that the Protocol contains for emissions reductions.
- 2. The Protocol covers a group of six greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide. As they are the six major ones involved in modern-day warming, it is acceptable shorthand to say "greenhouse gases".
- 3. The conference contains two major "tracks", one relating to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, and the other to the Kyoto Protocol. The US is involved in the first, but not the second. Some of the news coming out over the next couple of weeks will relate to one, and some to the other.
- 4. Australia has not just signed the Kyoto Protocol - it did so in 1998 - it has just ratified it. The US has also signed the protocol, but has not ratified. Both have signed and ratified the UNFCCC.
- 5. The Protocol does include developing nations - but it does not set them targets for reducing emissions.
- 6. The key difference between the EU and the US positions is whether targets should be global and mandatory, or whether they should be national and voluntary. Sometimes we say the US approach is based on technology - that isn't entirely correct - everyone wants clean technology, it is a question of a) what approach you use to stimulate its development, and b) whether you rely on technology alone with no implied lifestyle changes.
- 7. The Kyoto Protocol is about far more than emissions targets - it includes measures to spread technology to developing countries, for carbon offsetting, and funds to help developing countries "climate-proof" their economies and societies. This is a key difference between the UN process and the kind of voluntary approach proposed by the US.
- 8. The subject of Indonesia's own emissions will inevitably come up during the Bali meeting, and we will see the country labelled as the world's third-biggest emitter. Whether that is true or not depends on how you measure it; my feeling is we should not as a short-hand call Indonesia the third-biggest emitter, but just one of the world's major emitters.