Climate Change Communication in the United Kingdom
- Alison AndersonAlison AndersonPlymouth University
There is a comparably lengthy history of climate change communication research in the United Kingdom that can be traced back to the late 1980s. As is the case for media research in general, most attention has historically focused on print media and elite newspapers in particular. The British public appears to have a rather ambivalent response to climate change, and most people do not view it as a pressing threat. While surveys suggest that most citizens believe that climate change is occurring and is at least partly caused by human activity, skeptic views have received greater prominence in the mainstream media than in many other comparable countries. Climate deniers have received considerable space on the opinion pages of some right-leaning British newspapers. This is no doubt linked to vigorous denial campaigns mounted by climate-skeptic think tanks in the United Kingdom. The left-of-center Guardian newspaper (and its counterpart Sunday edition, The Observer) has led the way on climate change reporting, far exceeding the amount of space devoted to the topic by other print news outlets—yet it has one of the lowest readerships. While traditional media remain important agenda setters, online and social media are increasingly significant sources of news—especially for younger individuals. Future climate communication scholarship should play a vital role in informing stakeholder strategies and better understanding the complex linkages between media framing, political agendas, and public perceptions.