Environmental media: A key player in tackling climate change, raising awareness
Published: Aug 01, 2023 05:00 PM
The media plays a key role in raising awareness about issues related to climate change, increasing social awareness, and acting as a link between information, studies and scientific facts on one hand, and institutions and individuals on the other.

The concept of the "environmental media" emerged in recent years, especially with the growing public interest in addressing climate change and related efforts and initiatives, in line with global trends towards environmental conservation and the launch of programmes and conferences that deal with environmental issues.

In light of the broad interest of the media sector and the role of environmental education within its media content, the 2nd Global Media Congress, to be held from 14th to 16th November, will discuss several major topics related to the environmental media and sustainability, in line with the UAE's hosting the COP28, which will provide a unique opportunity for the media to better highlight global experiences and innovative solutions to this global challenge.

Various studies have shown a rise in media coverage of climate-related issues. According to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change coverage in 59 countries increased from 47,000 articles between 2016 and 2017 to some 87,000 articles from 2020 to 2021.

The studies also affirm the media's critical role in confronting climate issues and shaping public awareness, along with the importance of focusing on scientific facts, highlighting possible solutions, and encouraging public dialogue on addressing climate change.

One study highlights the importance of the local media to presenting climate issues that directly affect every region's inhabitants. The study, published in the Journal of Communication (JOC) in 2023, confirmed that media stories focussing on the local effects of climate change and practical solutions can promote public engagement. Stories that focus on the local impact of climate change and practical solutions can also increase public engagement.

The United Nations (UN) report identifies five ways the media and journalists can support climate action, such as emphasising that climate change extends beyond its climatic effects and impacts, as it also influences local issues, promotes climate justice, builds trust and engagement and relies on science.

Another study published in the journal, Global Environmental Change, in 2021 revealed that the mainstream media usually covers climate issues within the context of natural disasters, but it focuses more on the negative consequences of not addressing climate change rather than highlighting possible solutions and successful international experiences.

A report published on the platform, Nature Climate Change, warned against avoiding climate change news, as this directly reduces global awareness of related challenges and levels of interest in climate issues, hindering related efforts.

The media can be more effective in providing information and data about climate change and how to address it, as well as highlighting its adverse effects on communities and the environment. Conducting interviews with climate change experts and presenting the real-life stories of those affected can encourage people to take action to mitigate climate change.

Last month, the UAE announced the launch of the inaugural Climate Media Majlis (CMM) by the UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators (UICCA), recognising the media's vital role in raising awareness about climate change.

The CMM provides a prominent platform for beneficial dialogue on climate-related topics, bringing together experts and specialists to exchange knowledge and dispel mysteries surrounding climate science.

The CMM, along with other initiatives, supports the media's role in highlighting important practices and programmes that support climate action, empowering them to increase awareness, and encouraging individuals and institutions to take further action.