Editorial and Opinion Writers Respond Positively to COP21 Outcome


From November 22 to December 17, Climate Nexus tracked domestic op-eds and editorials reacting to COP21 in Paris. Editorial boards were largely supportive of the outcome and process of the summit, with over four times more positive than negative editorials. Similarly, for op-eds, the positive outweighed the negative by a factor of three (methodology below).

Editorial Op-Ed
Positive 69 38
Negative 16 13
Total 85 51


Almost all of the coverage, even the negative coverage, stayed away from rehashing the “debate” over climate science, and focused instead on the effects and  geopolitical ramifications of the negotiations. Even the coverage around the Republican pushback on the climate talks frequently mentioned that the party’s views were far outside the global mainstream. Much of the positive coverage also elaborated upon the political, scientific, and diplomatic differences between the Paris talks and those in Copenhagen, with President Obama’s bilateral negotiations with China and India receiving frequent praise.

Negative opinion coverage generally focused on climate finance, questions over China and India’s will for climate action, and the issue of whether the deal is strong enough to actually make a difference in global fossil fuel use. Interestingly, some of the negative opinion pieces and quoted voices argued simultaneously that a deal was unnecessary and that even so, this one was too weak.


For opinion pieces, Climate Nexus rated the editorials and op-eds based on whether the author viewed the climate action taking place in Paris as positive or negative. Stories appearing in multiple outlets were counted only once.

Opinion pieces were pulled from Google searches and RSS feeds, and are not presented as an entirely comprehensive set of coverage of COP21, but rather a major set of opinions generally representative of the overall reaction.