Climate discourses and related political and social change were the topics of my PhD thesis
Words shaping the politics and politics shaping the words: discourses and climate change
In 10 seconds? We know that the politicians produce words that affect us, for example, in the form of laws and regulations, but the words produced by other players, in their turn, shape politics through the politicians, and sometimes these migrating words ultimately have negative economic or environmental impacts.
How can we understand this process? To formalise the interactions between the words and social change, researchers deal with the words, phrases and conversations under the name of discourses or narratives. To analyse them, researchers apply formal methods which can be both quantitative - such as counting number of themes or keywords in the text - and qualitative - such as critical discourse analysis. These methods can be applied to virtually any text or verbal communication, political speeches or everyday talks, and may help to unveil the migration of discourses and their impact on different spheres of life.
So, how do these discourses migrate? For example, in carbon-intensive or fossil fuel export-dependant nations such as Australia, USA and Russia there are very influential forces which oppose compulsory greenhouse gas emission reductions. They include fuel industry and coal producers. These players often do not openly oppose climate actions, but instead use the discourses of 'clean coal', 'voluntary climate actions' and 'foremost importance of economic development'. Then the politicians adopt these discourses in their speeches and documents and use for political bargaining during the negotiations of international climate agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement to get generous carbon reduction quotas or delay entry into force of the treaties.
Is this particular situation good for economic development and environment? Probably not. Delaying climate action gives further rise to average Earth temperatures and hinders the development of new technologies.
What can we do about it? Discourses, narratives and the corresponding connotations change, and it is crucial to see what kind of interested parties stand behind the words. Next time do not be fooled with beautiful discourses of ‘clean coal’ and ‘voluntary climate actions’.
by Anna Firsova
Abstract: Climate negotiation outcomes are difficult to evaluate objectively because there are no clear reference scenarios. Subjective assessments from those directly involved in the negotiations are particularly important, as this may influence strategy and future negotiation participation. Here we analyse the perceived success of the climate negotiations in a sample of 656 experts involved in international climate policy. Respondents were pessimistic when asked for specific assessments of the current approach centred on voluntary pledges, but were more optimistic when asked for general assessments of the outcomes and usefulness of the climate negotiations. Individuals who were more involved in the negotiation process tended to be more optimistic, especially in terms of general assessments. Our results indicate that two reinforcing effects are at work: a high degree of involvement changes individuals’ perceptions and more optimistic individuals are more inclined to remain involved in the negotiations.
Pub.: 08 May '17, Pinned: 03 Jul '17
Abstract: This study examines the websites of two religious organizations representing opposing sides of the religious response toward environmentalism and climate change. This research seeks to understand how each side communicates with followers. Using rhetorical framing analysis, it is shown the religious right advocates a dominion stance and uses a romance genre filled with stories, contrast, spin, appeals to logic, and rhetoric of hope and fear. The religious left advocates a stewardship stance and uses a romance genre filled with stories, appeals to logic, and rhetoric of hope. Cultural cognition theory of risk perception reveals each side subscribes to opposing cultural worldviews of an ideal society. The hermeneutical analysis suggests that the debate is not a conflict over the science of climate change but instead is a conflict over cultural worldviews of an ideal society. This manuscript offers suggestions for macromarketing in confronting the conflicting views exhibited in this study.
Pub.: 07 Nov '16, Pinned: 12 May '17
Abstract: This paper explores the past, present and future role of broadcasting, above all via the medium of television, in shaping how societies talk, think about and act on climate change and sustainability issues. The paper explores these broad themes via a focus on the important but relatively neglected issue of material demand and opportunities for its reduction. It takes the outputs and decision-making of one of the world's most influential broadcasters, the BBC, as its primary focus. The paper considers these themes in terms of stories, touching on some of the broader societal frames of understanding into which they can be grouped. Media decision-makers and producers from a range of genres frequently return to the centrality of 'story' in the development, commissioning and production of an idea. With reference to specific examples of programming, and drawing on interviews with media practitioners, the paper considers the challenges of generating broadcast stories that can inspire engagement in issues around climate change, and specifically material demand. The concluding section proposes actions and approaches that might help to establish material demand reduction as a prominent way of thinking about climate change and environmental issues more widely.This article is part of the themed issue 'Material demand reduction'.
Pub.: 04 May '17, Pinned: 08 May '17
Abstract: Content analysis of mass media publications has become a major scientific method used to analyze public discourse on climate change. We propose a computer-assisted content analysis method to extract prevalent themes and analyze discourse changes over an extended period in an objective and quantifiable manner. The method includes the following: (1) sample selection; (2) preparation of the text segments for computer processing; (3) identifying themes in the texts using exploratory factor analysis; (4) combining identified themes into higher order themes using confirmatory factor analysis; (5) using factor scores to interpret themes obtained from public discourse; and (6) tracking the main themes of public discourse through time. We apply the proposed methodology to the analysis of the articles published in the New York Times on climate change during the period from 1995 to 2010. We found a gradual decline in the volume of material within the “Science” topic and an expansion of themes classified under the “Politics” topic.
Pub.: 27 Mar '12, Pinned: 22 Apr '17
Abstract: Previous research has sought to explain public perception of climate change science in terms of individuals' "prior commitment" to such ideological stances as just-world belief, system justification, and liberalism/conservatism. One type of prior commitment that has received little formal attention in the literature is narratives of the moral trajectory of society. A theory of climate science uptake based on beliefs in societal progress or decline is more easily portable to non-Western settings; in a case study of global warming attitudes in the Marshall Islands, trajectory narratives indeed account for public belief, concern, blame, and response more aptly than existing theories, and accord well with qualitative analysis of Marshallese climate change discourse. In Western settings, progress/decline narratives may explain much of the variation in climate change attitudes previously accounted for by other ideological variables, promising a more penetrating explanation for the divergence of climate change attitudes within and between societies.
Pub.: 05 Jul '13, Pinned: 22 Apr '17
Abstract: Decarbonising housing is a key UK government policy to mitigate climate change. Using discourse analysis, we assess how low carbon housing is portrayed within British broadsheet media. Three distinct storylines were identified. Dominating the discourse, Zero carbon housing promotes new-build, low carbon houses as offering high technology solutions to the climate problem. Retrofitting homes emphasises the need to reduce emissions within existing housing, tackling both climate change and rising fuel prices. A more marginal discourse, Sustainable living, frames low carbon houses as related to individual identities and 'off-grid' or greener lifestyles. Our analysis demonstrates that technical and economic paradigms dominate media discourse on low carbon housing, marginalising social and behavioural aspects.
Pub.: 18 Dec '13, Pinned: 22 Apr '17
Abstract: ‘Stories’ used to communicate climate change knowledge shape opinions and preferences, and analyzing such narratives can help explain how they are constructed and how they influence us on personal and societal scales. The narrative perspective makes it possible to identify the presence or absence of typical components in a ‘story,’ such as initial situation, complication, reaction(s), resolution, and final situation, and to identify different actors or narrative characters (heroes, villains, victims). This article reviews the notions of narratives and frames, describes narrative analysis generally and more specifically how a text linguistic perspective can benefit from and contribute to the Narrative Policy Framework in narrative analysis. It illustrates how different approaches can be applied as analytical tools to explore the effects of conflicting narratives (frames) on public opinion of and attitudes towards climate change. Applied to various text genres, the analysis identifies different components of the ‘stories,’ at overarching levels of the text as a whole and at microlevels such as sentences. This may have rhetorical implications, as controversial points of view can be hidden from critical assessment through the condensation of narrative components into short expressions. When exposed to conflicting ‘stories,’ people get a diverse picture of climate change, a diversity which may, however, also lead to confusion about how to react. Concerning the narrative characters, recent research indicates that a clear hero role has a large persuasive impact. More experiments testing how people interpret various narratives should be undertaken in an interdisciplinary perspective, combining social science, and linguistic approaches.For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
Pub.: 01 Aug '16, Pinned: 22 Apr '17
Abstract: This paper discusses how economic impacts of extreme weather events in the USA could, and are, leading to the creation of an ‘extreme weather public’ whose discourse has the opportunity to break the deadlock currently surrounding issues of State and Federal adaptation strategies. By taking an interdisciplinary perspective and combining literature on the formation of publics, the political and economic impacts of extreme weather, and popular discourse in the US climate debate, this paper demonstrates how extreme weather events can gather politically powerful and influential actors and how those actors might use their status to interact with current forms of climate change discourse. Special emphasis is paid to the ways in which a focus on the economic impacts of weather extremes could avoid many of the current ‘framing traps’ laid by climate ‘sceptics’ and move the debate towards more proactive adaptive action in the USA’ most vulnerable regions.
Pub.: 28 May '13, Pinned: 22 Apr '17
Abstract: Authors: Barbara Miller Gaither ; T. Kenn Gaither Article URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15205436.2016.1203953?ai=yb&mi=3h6twu&af=R Citation: Mass Communication and Society Publication Date: 2016-07-15T04:45:54Z Journal: Mass Communication & Society
Pub.: 15 Jul '16, Pinned: 21 Apr '17
Abstract: Russia’s role in ‘animation’ of the Kyoto Protocol was crucial. Its initial vacillation on ratification was predominantly due to political bargaining with the EU. Domestic economic rationales [i.e. impacts of emission trading and Joint Implementation (JI) projects] were important to a much lesser extent and environmental motives did not seem to play any role in the decision. Since the Protocol entered into force, there have been significant delays in complete establishment of policy implementation frameworks, which are necessary for Russia to start benefiting from JI and emission trading. Only recently, in 2007, have GHG inventories and a national registry been established and the responsibilities for implementation of the Protocol and JI among the government departments have been distributed only to a certain extent. Some constraints hindering JI projects, such as vague legislation, an unfavourable economic climate, lack of commitment to JI projects, corruption, xenophobia, state and agency ‘capture’ still remain.
Pub.: 24 Oct '08, Pinned: 21 Apr '17
Abstract: This article investigates the approaches of the various discourses operating in the water sector and how they address the issues of scarcity and equitable access under projected climate change impacts. Little synergy exists between the different approaches dealing with these issues. Whilst being a sustainable development and water resources management issue, a holistic view of access, scarcity and the projected impacts of climate change is not prevalent in these discourses. The climate change discourse too does not adequately bridge the gap between these issues. The projected impacts of climate change are likely to exacerbate the problems of scarcity and equitable access unless appropriate adaptation strategies are adopted and resilience is built. The successful delivery of accessible water services under projected climate change impacts therefore lies with an extension of the adaptive water management approach to include equitable access as a key driver.
Pub.: 03 Apr '10, Pinned: 21 Apr '17
Abstract: This paper examines Sweden’s role as a pioneer in mitigating climate change. Critical discourse analysis of climate and energy policy unveils Sweden’s ambition to ‘lead-by-example’, by virtue of a win–win combination of economy and environment via stringent regulations and an early-mover strategy on eco-innovations. The extent of the unilateral approach is constrained by concerns for the competitiveness of energy-intensive industries and a persistent debate on the fate of Swedish nuclear power. Whilst Sweden has made significant demonstrative progress in reducing emissions and introducing renewable energy sources, these issues may limit her role as a pioneer in years to come.
Pub.: 13 Aug '09, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
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