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The European Media Portrayal of Climate Change: Implications for the Social Mobilization towards Climate Action

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Centre for Social Studies, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra, 3030-790 Coimbra, Portugal
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Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Colégio de S. Jerónimo, Apartado 3087, 3000–995 Coimbra, Portugal
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Bioscience Research Institute, Athlone Institute of Technology, Dublin Road, Athlone, Co. N37 HD68 Westmeath, Ireland
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Association Climatologique de la Moyenne Garonne, Aérodrome Garenne, 47310 Estillac, France
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Department Riego. Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC), Campus Universitario de Espinardo, PO Box 164, CP 30100 Murcia, Spain
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Westcountry Rivers Trust, Rain-Charm House, Kyl Cober Parc, Stoke Climsland, Cornwall PL17 8PY, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8300; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208300
Received: 26 August 2020 / Revised: 26 September 2020 / Accepted: 30 September 2020 / Published: 9 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Air, Climate Change and Sustainability)
Beyond other social actors, such as policymakers and scholars, common citizens are also expected to actively engage with climate change, by adopting sustainable actions and supporting environmental policies. However, and despite the actual growing of environment-related social movements, a kind of inertia still prevails in the social climate of our society. The media should play a key role in promoting, among common individuals, the adoption of new and more sustainable practices. However, it is argued that the media seems to be failing to effectively address the climate crisis. As such, this study aims to identify the main weaknesses of climate change media communication to further discuss possible opportunities of communication improvements. For that, 1609 news articles published between 2017 and 2018 in five European countries were analyzed in-depth, through quantitative content analysis. The news’ general characteristics, specifically reported themes, and the specificities of actors’ discourses were taken into account for the analysis. It was verified that the European media tends to report climate change by using distant (e.g., future-focused) and outcome (e.g., threatening messages) framings, based on non-resilient, scientific, and political narratives, whilst overlooking the role of civil society on adapting to climate change. These results demonstrate that instead of promoting society’s climate action, the media may be contributing to a widespread social apathy about the climate and the disengagement of individuals regarding environment-related matters. Evidence-based forms of improving the media’s communication on climate change will be further discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; media; communication; social inertia; climate action climate change; media; communication; social inertia; climate action
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MDPI and ACS Style

Tavares, A.O.; Areia, N.P.; Mellett, S.; James, J.; Intrigliolo, D.S.; Couldrick, L.B.; Berthoumieu, J.-F. The European Media Portrayal of Climate Change: Implications for the Social Mobilization towards Climate Action. Sustainability 2020, 12, 8300. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208300

AMA Style

Tavares AO, Areia NP, Mellett S, James J, Intrigliolo DS, Couldrick LB, Berthoumieu J-F. The European Media Portrayal of Climate Change: Implications for the Social Mobilization towards Climate Action. Sustainability. 2020; 12(20):8300. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208300

Chicago/Turabian Style

Tavares, Alexandre O., Neide P. Areia, Sinead Mellett, Julia James, Diego S. Intrigliolo, Laurence B. Couldrick, and Jean-François Berthoumieu. 2020. "The European Media Portrayal of Climate Change: Implications for the Social Mobilization towards Climate Action" Sustainability 12, no. 20: 8300. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208300

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