'Breathing tax' fiasco highlights importance of media accuracy
China's press needs to work hard to better report on climate change issues, says science journalist Li Taige.
Recently, China's online media branded Jiang Youxu — a scientist at the Chinese Academy of Forestry and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences — a villain for proposing a voluntary environmental tax to plant urban forests and offset carbon emissions.
The confusion, says Li, arose from sloppy reporting and a lack of in-depth knowledge on climate change among Chinese media.
"Shouldn't we further consider the idea of an environmental tax?… [Since] every city-dweller is putting out carbon, we could give 10 or 20 yuan to a fund," said Jiang.
Reporters interpreted this as his calling for an obligatory "breathing tax" on all citizens. Jiang is a member of the climate think tank National Climate Change Expert Committee, which, says Li, proves his innocence.
Li argues that public faith in scientists in China is falling and urges reporters to help close the gap between scientists, media and the public.