Blog post

Communicating climate change internationally

Feb 16, 2012 by | 6 Comments

A great deal of the English language research and analysis of climate change communication focuses on the US/Canada and the UK. This is not surprising – as wealthy, industrialised nations, they have the financial resources to sponsor this kind of research.

But look further afield, and there are lots of examples of climate change communication resources that have a more international feel.

A major research programme funded by the BBC World Trust studied attitudes to climate change in ten African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda. As well as producing some of the first Afro-centric data on public perceptions of climate change, it made some recommendations for communicating climate change more effectively – critical for shaping adaptation strategies across the continent.

Focussing specifically on Uganda, the Panos Eastern Africa study ‘Hidden Heat‘ reported the results of a wide range of interviews with key climate change communicators in the country, including journalists, policy-makers, campaigners and academics. One of the more surprising findings was that it tended to be newspaper Editors – rather than journalists working on climate change stories – who were acting as a barrier to effective communication. While knowledge and capacity among environmental journalists has increased in Uganda in recent years, at the Editorial level, climate change is still not treated as a major concern.

The improvement in standards of environmental journalism in Uganda, other African countries, and indeed across the world is at least partly to do with the work of the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED). In its role coordinating the Climate Change Media Partnership, it has awarded dozens of journalists from developing countries fellowships and training to develop their capacity to report on environmental issues, and especially climate change.

And through publications written by Mike Shanahan such as ‘Why the media matters in a warming world: A guide for policy makers in the Global South‘, and ‘Time to adapt? Media coverage of climate change in non-industrialised countries‘, the IIED is continuing to promote effective climate change communication in countries where the capacity to conduct research or train journalists effectively is often minimal.

From an Asian perspective, the China Dialogue website has often acted as a hub for people interested in communicating climate change more effectively in China and the East. Sam Geall’s report on climate change journalism in China – based on interviews with Chinese journalists – is especially relevant, and makes the case for increased cooperation between Chinese and Western media houses and development agencies in promoting effective and accurate climate change journalism.

There are also some interesting examples of communication work being developed for more specialist areas. is an international network that seeks to champion the rights of the global south in the debate about REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) which is supposed to allow developing countries with critical resources like rainforests to receive payment from polluting nations in order to keep those forests intact, or to embark on programmes of tree planting to help absorb some of the world’s excess carbon. Because it is such a knowledge-intensive and complex field, initiatives like are invaluable.

And the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CGIAR) research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture has recently produced a brief on how to communicate the concepts behind carbon trading and “carbon finance” to farmers, following a conference in Nairobi.

Is there an internationally-oriented resource that you know about that should be included on Talking Climate? If there is, then let us know, and we’ll add it to our list of resources.

6 Comments + Add Comment

  • Nice post Adam. Readers might be interested in this selection of tips for climate change journalists, based on training presentations to journalists from around the world, and especially the global South, that I have given in recent years.

    It includes some of the wisdom of journalists Tim Radford (Guardian) and Alex Kirby (BBC).

  • Hello again, I should add that the Climate Change Media Partnership, which you mention above is coordinated not only by the International Institute for Environment and Development but also by Panos and Internews, in the alliance we set up in 2007.

  • Thanks for this compliation on communicating climate change in international settings. As well as the report on the Communicating Carbon workshop you site there is also a related Policy Brief from the World Agroforestry Centre:

  • Another Asia-focused website is, which looks at what’s happening to the entire Himalayan range and downstream areas as a result of climate change. Since these downstream areas are huge, it effectively covers all of South Asia and China, plus parts of South East Asia and Central Asia.
    A good source to check how well the media in India is (or isn’t) covering climate change is the Centre for Media Studies in New Delhi, which has done at least a couple of reports tracking the coverage.
    BBC Media Action (that’s the new name for its World Service Trust) has started a much-expanded version of Africa Talks Climate, and they’re calling it Climate Asia – it’s spread over seven countries.
    There are many journalists in countries like Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, The Philippines, Australia etc who cover climate change very well indeed. You can get a flavour from the websites of the Climate Change Media Partnership and UNFCCC

  • The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has carried out some interesting research, led by James Painter, on media coverage of climate change across a range of countries:

  • For government class!

    Climate change has been a growing issue over the past 50 years. The global community has been taking more notice and it has become a responsibility
    that everyone is accountable for. The climate change is the result of
    greenhouse gas emissions. While every country adds to this greenhouse gas,
    the United States is accountable for an astonishing 15%. This is an issue
    that affects everybody because it is a global issue.

    The global community so far as created The Department for International Development (DFID) that helps to reduce carbon emissions abroad and attempt
    to deal with the affects of the changes in the Earth’s climate. The United States has also helped with this issue by giving financial support to third world counties to help them produce and sell solar powered technology to
    help reduce the affects of climate change. The Council of Foreign Relations
    of the United States has also established an Independent Task Force to
    inspect the climate change strategy. They support international cooperation
    and seek for a United Nations climate change agreement.

    There are multiple ways that countries could start addressing this issue.
    In addition to giving just financial support to countries we could be
    educating adults and children around the world on everyday choices they can
    make in their life. These choices include commuting, housing, electricity,
    and recycling. All easy steps everyone around the world can take to help
    solve this problem. Gasoline is a major contributor to the green house gas. About three-quarters of human-made carbon dioxide emissions are from
    burning fossil fuels. A different solution to this problem would be to
    start making all cars hybrids or even only start making cars that have a
    large mpg. This would not only help climate change but also with gas
    prices. Lastly we would need to start using wind, water, and solar energy
    for homes and companies. Cutting back on these fossils fuels would account
    for getting rid of 75% of the green house gas emissions.

    Here in our community small things such as planting seeds in the ground, to produce trees, can help the climate change by a lot. A single tree can
    absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Or just by adjusting
    our thermostat by 2 degrees cooler or warmer can save 2,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide a year. By just checking and making sure they are properly inflated means good gas mileage. For each gallon gas saved, 20 lbs. of carbon
    dioxide are never produced. Just small things like this may help our
    community by a lot. It’s just the process of taking the time to do these little things that matter.

    In conclusion this is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. Greenhouse gases can stay in the atmosphere for 100 years or more. A
    sizable chunk of what we emit today will still be around, even if we were
    to stop all emissions today, the world would continue to grow warmer from
    the gases we’ve already added to the atmosphere. Adding even more could
    push some ecological systems beyond the point of recovery. Scientists have
    been studying technological fixes, such as shading the planet from incoming sunlight. But it’s not clear whether those technologies would work. Even if
    they did, they would cause environmental havoc, such as damaging the ozone
    layer or leaving some parts of the world with too little sunlight or not
    enough rainfall. Without decreasing our greenhouse gas production all the countries are putting their people and homes in danger.

Make a comment

Creative Commons 2011 - 2016, Talking Climate
A project by COIN & PIRC.
This website has moved and is now part of Climate Outreach



This website, a project of Climate Outreach (COIN), has been integrated into the new Climate Outreach website. Any updates since 21 October 2015 have been made to the new website only, not here, and this website will soon be deleted. Please bookmark our new website – we look forward to continuing to share the latest in climate communication research with you. We are now tweeting from @climateoutreach so please follow us there.