Diego is currently a reporter with Ojo al Clima – Semanario Universidad, Inter Press Service, and Freelancer.
We asked him 10 questions relevant to his role now as a Climate Tracker and here are his answers:
I’m not sure if I would describe myself as an environmentalist. Maybe humanist can work better. Thing is, I’ve always felt a really strong connection between communication and science/environment. One of my childhood dreams was being a Nat Geo reporter. It’s safe to say it was storytelling that drove me to nature: while others were lured by personal or familiar experiences, it was my readings that drove me to this field. Later on, working as a general beat journalist, I spend several months on the Science section of Costa Rica’s La Nación, an experience that proved to be crucial.
The single most important element for me is review, hopefully on an ambitious 5year basis. I don’t believe we’ll reach 2°C in Paris, but we can lay the foundations to reach them in 50 years, or faster, but on time to ensure our planet’s future. I hope the Paris agreement reaches 2°C, but if not, we need a mechanism to step up ambition.
I would like to have more urban integration in the INDC. It feels a bit “all over the place”. It’s in line with the best available science and the 2°C goal and more crucially, it puts adaptation and mitigation at the same level, something unseen until now in Costa Rica.
I’m not indispensable, but I have a certain skillset to offer, which I believe is where your question is heading. Something that sets me apart from others in the team is that I came to climate activism through the exercise of my profession, which is neither better nor worse, only different. Being a fulltime journalist covering COP and climate change gave me a different view on the climate movement allowed me to advise other trackers on how to approach media, what a good angle looks like and how to write for an audience. That’s something where I’m still useful, while there are many areas (like policy, climate science or community-based work) where I learn tons from other trackers.
It’s hard, since we know climate skeptics have a bias towards data, accurate or not, that supports their views. I would advise them to read and watch videos and try to understand better the concept. This is an issue for which I have no answer at the moment.
Something particularly challenging has been finding a meeting point between being a professional journalist and a climate activist. Usually, reporters are asked to be “objective”, something that I personally feel is obsolete but that is usually expected. That internal and external negotiation has been challenging.
Last year we did a very good coverage of gender in COP20. It was a topic I’ve covered on different issues, but never related to climate change, which is obviously a very relevant link yet still one I hadn’t explored. After realizing it was on a bad spot after a negotiating session, we approached several delegations including Costa Rica’s and they, along with others, supported the inclusion of better language in the text. It was definitely not my direct accomplishment, but it’s something I was part of.
Public perception. We are aware of the dangers of drunk driving, for instance, which feels like a very tangible risk, yet climate change still seems something distant, avoidable and meant for others. When the world manages to agree on the urge to act, which I believe is only achieved through awareness, the momentum will be unstoppable.
That’s a very interesting question. I believe one would be Isaac Asimov, the Russian American writer and humanist, who has tons of knowledge and seems like someone who can endlessly entertain a conversation. The guy wrote like HUNDREDS of books, surely he can spare some stuff for me. As eventually we would like to leave the island, I’d pick Serbian-American Nikola Tesla to join us, as he’d definitely find a way to build something that allows us to fly/sail/whatever. And finally I’d choose Joaquín Gutiérrez, a Costa Rican writer and maybe my absolute favorite. He loved a good chat and playing chess, which are fantastic ways to use your time on a deserted island.
I’m an avid collector: I collect coins, banknotes, bar coasters, bottlecaps, old National Geographics and stuff that I can’t fit anymore in my room.
He has written many articles in the Inter Press Service as well as other media outlets: