Today more than 50 newspapers around the world are running exactly the same editorial. The text will be reproduced in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian. It was drafted by a team from UK broadsheet The Guardian after more than a month of consultations with editors from more than 20 of those papers. Papers such as Le Monde, The Toronto Star, The Hindu and El Pais.

No Australian paper has run the editorial. New Matilda just did.

There’s been much hand wringing from the newspapers involved over the idea —  The Guardian is reporting that The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald “pulled out at a late stage after the election of climate change sceptic Tony Abbott as leader of the opposition Liberal party recast the country’s debate on green issues.”

That’s The Guardian’s slant, but those papers weren’t alone. Japan’s Asahi Shimbun didn’t carry a shared leader as that would “breach their editorial protocols” but they are carrying a news report about the initiative — an acknowledgment that there’s something not quite right about newspapers speaking in one voice, no matter the issue.

We’re siding with the Japanese on this one — we don’t need anyone to write our editorial for us. But there’s something to be said for cut-through.

This morning new opposition leader Tony Abbott held a presser to promise “a clear, effective and economically responsible climate policy” — by February. As Abbott continued to label the government’s proposed CPRS a “great big fat tax”, Malcolm Turnbull had already fired a shot across the bow with his “bullsh-t” blog post, and Kevin Rudd was pouring scorn on “former boxer” Abbott’s town hall debate challenge.

As Copenhagen kicks off today, Crikey will be arguing over the politics and the approach on climate change. But there’s no arguing with the fact that climate change presents an unprecedented challenge to every single nation on earth.

And we find nothing to argue with the editorial conclusion that’s currently echoing across the world’s front pages:

The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history’s judgement on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey