Solutions-Focused U.N. Climate Report Received Least Media Coverage
Media coverage of the third U.N. climate report, which focused on solutions, was the lowest among the U.N.’s three climate reports released over the last eight months, according to a new Media Matters analysis. The third report received only about a quarter of the coverage of the first report, which focused on scientific evidence.
The fact that Americans likely heard more about the problem of climate change than solutions over the past eight months has alarming consequences for climate engagement. Research indicates that fear-inducing news about climate change, when not paired with solutions, can act as a barrier to engagement. And another study showed that focusing exclusively on “dire messages” can increase skepticism and denial.
Especially on Earth Day, climate communicators and the media alike need to take care to consistently embed solutions into their messaging to facilitate engagement, rather than denial and skepticism, on climate change. In fact, it may even better from a psychological perspective to forget the problem, and sell solutions instead.
Denise Robbins, Contributor to Media Matters
The final installment of the U.N.’s top climate report, which calls for prompt, extensive action to avoid calamitous impacts from climate change, garnered relatively little attention from the major print, cable and broadcast media outlets compared to the first installment. However, coverage of the third report rightfully gave far less space to those who cast doubt on the science.
U.N. Climate Report Outlining Solutions Received Relatively Little Coverage
United Nations Report Calls For Immediate Action To Stave Off Worst Of Climate Change. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final installment of its fifth assessment report on the state of scientific knowledge on climate change on April 13. The third assessment from Working Group 3 (WG3), titled “Mitigation of Climate Change,” stated that carbon emissions need to be drastically reduced in order to prevent global temperatures from rising over two degrees Celsius — the threshold to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of manmade global warming. [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 4/13/14]
Graphic credit: Media Matters