Climate change is an issue that has reached the top of the political agenda in the UK. Driven by the IPCC fourth report of 2007 and the Stern report of the same year all the main political parties now have stated 'green' policies. However, it is not just the main political parties who are talking about climate change there are a great number of stakeholders contributing to the public discourse on climate change: energy companies, supermarkets, NGOs, local authorities, to name but a few.

Following focus group work with members of the public in Bristol, UK, six types of communication stakeholders were identified according to their impact on the focus group participants. Interviews with nine stakeholders were conducted to identify what they were saying about climate change, how they were saying it, and with what intent (eg attitude change,
behaviour change).

The interviews showed there was very little coherency in the messaging around climate change in the UK. For example some stakeholders wished to influence individual behaviour to reduce personal carbon dioxide emissions; others wished to affect UK policy around sustainable development. Some stakeholders framed their communications in terms of averting a disastrous future; while others were concerned with a positive future framing. Alongside the broad range of messages used and impacts hoped for, a wide range of physical media had been used in the communication of climate change.

This wide range of media may go some way to explain why there is near universal recognition of climate change as being an issue of concern. However the mixed messages, different frames and intended impacts may also contribute to the lack of action undertaken at an individual level as it is unclear what

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Stakeholders' mixed messages on climate change

Emma Weitkamp   The University of the West of England

Helen Featherstone   The University of the West of England

Climate change is an issue that has reached the top of the political agenda in the UK. Driven by the IPCC fourth report of 2007 and the Stern report of the same year all the main political parties now have stated 'green' policies. However, it is not just the main political parties who are talking about climate change there are a great number of stakeholders contributing to the public discourse on climate change: energy companies, supermarkets, NGOs, local authorities, to name but a few.

Following focus group work with members of the public in Bristol, UK, six types of communication stakeholders were identified according to their impact on the focus group participants. Interviews with nine stakeholders were conducted to identify what they were saying about climate change, how they were saying it, and with what intent (eg attitude change,
behaviour change).

The interviews showed there was very little coherency in the messaging around climate change in the UK. For example some stakeholders wished to influence individual behaviour to reduce personal carbon dioxide emissions; others wished to affect UK policy around sustainable development. Some stakeholders framed their communications in terms of averting a disastrous future; while others were concerned with a positive future framing. Alongside the broad range of messages used and impacts hoped for, a wide range of physical media had been used in the communication of climate change.

This wide range of media may go some way to explain why there is near universal recognition of climate change as being an issue of concern. However the mixed messages, different frames and intended impacts may also contribute to the lack of action undertaken at an individual level as it is unclear what

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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