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Climate Unspun analyses how the media reported climate change during the vital Paris climate summit.

We've found out which outlets adopted whose language, what commercial deals there are between fossil fuel conglomerates and the media and what impact this has had on how journalists cover the biggest challenge facing humanity. Read an overview of the project, “Climate change reporting for sale?” »

→ Why is the Guardian letting Shell fill its pages with dubious spin?Adam Ramsay, 16 January 2016 – The Guardian is publishing articles in partnership with one of the world's most notorious oil companies, despite running a campaign to divest from them.

→ Who gets to decide how the media talks about climate change?Adam Ramsay and George Marshall, 12 April 2016 – If you want to get inside how the media frames and shapes our collective understanding of climate change, there’s one person who understands it best: British environmental campaigner George Marshall.

→ Gate–crashing 'the inner sanctum of the elite' at the Paris climate talksAdam Ramsay, 18 December 2015 – Walk into 'the most exclusive club in the world' in the middle of COP21, and you find the polite chit–chat with which the powerful face impending disaster.

→ The Times continues to mislead its readers about climate change denial 'science'Adam Ramsay, 19 December 2015 – Is the Times allowing a wealthy coal–baron to push them into misleading their readers about dodgy climate change denying science?

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openDemocracy climate coverage
November 2015 - April 2016

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The infographics were prepared weekly from November 16th - December 14th 2015, with data analysed by the Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power alongside openDemocracy.

Week 4 data Dec 7-14
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Week 4 data Dec 7-14
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Significant stories within climate change coverage this week included, unsurprisingly, the COP21 agreement, which received 192 articles. Arguments around carbon emissions and renewable energy also received a lot of coverage, as did the impact of climate change on rising sea levels (and the feared effect on island nations). New energy technologies – including fracking and carbon capture and storage – received modest coverage.

Week 4 data Dec 7-14
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NGOs saw a small relative increase in coverage this week, rising from 17% to 21%. This was at the expense of governmental and political voices, though they continued to dominate the debate, forming a majority of sources. In keeping with coverage over the previous three weeks, corporations and fossil fuel industry bodies made up a tiny fraction of sources in news outlets, despite a heavy presence at COP21.

Week 4 data Dec 7-14
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This week we analysed responses to Saturday’s climate agreement to compare how often the result was framed as ‘satisfactory,’ that is, that the deal was a valid and positive result offering a possible solution, and how often it was framed as ‘unsatisfactory,’ i.e. that the agreement was insufficient, invalid or unnecessary, or futile. In keeping with previous weeks, the overall balance was in favour of optimism, with broadcasters in particular more likely to cover the view that the agreement was a positive step. *NB: This data does not include MailOnline articles consisting solely of reports by wire services

Week 4 data Dec 7-14
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COP21 gave a significant apparent boost to coverage of energy and climate change, lifting the issue into second place above Foreign and Defence Policy. This rise, however, was also partly explained by around 300 articles mentioning rising oil prices, many of which made passing mention of the environment or climate change as a smaller part of financial or market-oriented coverage of stock prices and economic costs. Economic issues remained comfortably in the lead as the most-covered topic in UK media.

Week 4 data Dec 7-14
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This week we compared climate coverage in the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. Of the two titles, the print edition of the Express carried many more adverts from companies involved in carbon emissions than the Mail did. It also carried far fewer articles covering the issue of climate change – 42 to the Mail’s 127. Both titles contained broadly similar proportions of ‘Green’ vs ‘Brown’ language, their use of sources, and – in the very few articles in which a view was expressed – responses to the COP21 deal. *NB: This data does not include MailOnline articles consisting solely of reports by wire services

Week 4 data Dec 7-14
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Amongst tabloids, ‘Brown’ language - (phrases more often associated with the communication of energy companies or lobby groups) was slightly more prevalent than ‘Green’ language – phrases often used by supporters of the environmental movement. The Sun and Mirror more often used ‘Brown’ than ‘Green’ language, while in the mid-market Mail and Express there was a more even balance. *This week's analysis contains some frames included in a large number of wire copy articles published by the Daily Mail.

Week 4 data Dec 7-14
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On the balance of framing (the proportion of articles containing the view that the COP21 deal was satisfactory vs those arguing that the deal will not work, will not solve the problem, or is unnecessary), the Guardian again published the most views – 16 in total – of which ‘satisfactory’ frames outweighed ‘unsatisfactory’ by a ratio of 5:3. The BBC contained solely ‘satisfactory’ frames, while the FT was the opposite, with all four featured frames corresponding to the ‘unsatisfactory’ view. *NB: This data does not include MailOnline articles consisting solely of reports by wire services

Week 4 data Dec 7-14
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Saturday saw both a deal being reached at COP21 and the 2015 X Factor final. Looking at coverage on Saturday and Sunday, the UK’s national media devoted more articles to the TV show than to the worldwide agreement. *X factor final vs COP21 deal data restricted to Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th December. All other data from 7th – 13th Dec.

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This week a Greenpeace sting operation exposed how two prominent climate sceptics were willing to secretly take money from fossil fuel companies. One of those exposed, Professor William Happer, sits on the advisory council of the UK's Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). It was also revealed that GWPF and its adviser Matt Ridley claimed that climate research they promoted had gone through the academic peer review process when it hadn't. So how seriously has the UK press taken GWPF 'research'? From 16th November, core members of the GWPF (which doesn't disclose its funding) were either quoted or bylined 15 times in the UK press – most notably by the Times and the Spectator.

Week 3 data Nov 30-6
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Week 3 data Nov 30-6
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Concerns over rising sea levels received a large amount of attention this week, featuring in 170 articles. The worldwide climate marches of the previous week were covered extensively (although as last week’s Climate Unspun showed, much of this coverage focused on violence and celebrities). Extreme weather featured in 63 articles (not including articles covering Storms Desmond and Clodagh, unless a specific link to climate change was included).

Week 3 data Nov 30-6
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There was a further week-on-week decrease in the proportion of NGO sources – 17%, down from 19% in Week 2 and 28% in Week 1. A large proportional increase in governmental sources can be explained by the arrival of governments at COP21, while corporations and industry bodies continue to receive low levels of coverage despite a strong presence at the conference.

Week 3 data Nov 30-6
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This week we analysed how the economic costs of tackling climate change were described. The most common frame was optimistic: claiming that solutions to the problem make economic sense. This frame appeared in 46 articles. In 25 articles, solutions to climate change were deemed expensive and involving economic difficulties, but necessary. 19 articles contained the view that the solutions would be prohibitively expensive.
* NB: This data does not include MailOnline articles consisting solely of reports by wire services

Week 3 data Nov 30-6
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Coverage of the environment and energy continues to be the third most-covered policy area in national news coverage, behind defence/foreign policy and the economy. This week has seen an increase in the amount of environment coverage as COP21 opens, though this was outstripped by the rise in defence/foreign coverage in the wake of the parliamentary decision to bomb Syria. Economic issues remain way out in front.

Week 3 data Nov 30-6
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Among broadcasters’ websites and digital news providers, there was often a balance between 'green' language (ie. terms used by those who support climate action) vs 'brown' language (language favoured by the fossil fuel industry and climate sceptics). On Huffington Post UK, the BBC News site, and Buzzfeed, there were equal instances of ‘green’ and ‘brown’ language.

Week 3 data Nov 30-6
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On the balance of framing (the proportion of articles containing the view that solving climate change make economic sense versus those arguing that it will cause economic difficulties), the Guardian again published the largest number of articles containing a view (33 in total), though the Huffington Post UK contained the greatest proportion of ‘Cost-effective’ frames. The Daily Mail published just four articles with one or more of these frames. All four contained the claim that the proposed solutions to climate change are not worth the expense.

Week 3 data Nov 30-6
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This week we compared coverage in the Times/Sunday Times and the Guardian. Both titles carried a similar proportion of adverts from car manufacturers/aviation companies/energy suppliers. The Guardian published considerably more articles on the issue of climate change, and both used more ‘green’ than ‘brown’ language. The Times/ST favoured ‘brown’ sources (representatives of energy companies, fuel/energy industry bodies, and climate sceptic individuals), in contrast with the Guardian.

Week 3 data Nov 30-6
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Despite the opening of COP21, coverage of Kim Kardashian and Star Wars overwhelmingly outnumbered that of the conference

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Week 2 data Nov 23-29
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Week 2 data Nov 23-29
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Renewable energy received a large amount of coverage within reporting on climate change this week (211 articles). Certain consequences of climate change also appeared often (Sea Levels, 57 articles; Deforestation, 39 articles), as did the series of climate marches worldwide.

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Week 2 data Nov 23-29
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Governments - including political figures and supranational bodies - continue to be the most mentioned or quoted sources. Compared with last week there was a substantial drop in NGO voices, from 28% to 19%. Despite a strong presence on the ground at COP21, corporations and industry bodies account for under 10% of mentions and quotes

Week 2 data Nov 23-29
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Overall, news outlets were slightly more likely to contain views outlining concrete solutions on climate change than they were to focus on impending crises caused by climate change. Individual outlets varied, however, with the Daily Mail running many more articles that include only the 'crisis' view, and the Guardian most often containing the 'solution' view. * NB: This data does not include MailOnline articles consisting solely of reports by wire services

Week 2 data Nov 23-29
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As with last week, climate change and the environment was the third most covered policy area. The ongoing Syria crisis and the Chancellor's autumn spending review contributed large numbers of articles to the economy and foreign/defence policy.

Week 2 data Nov 23-29
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Among tabloids - including the mid-market Daily Mail and Express, 'Brown' language - ie. phrases favoured by fossil fuel companies, industry lobby groups, and climate sceptics was, in almost all cases, favoured more than 'Green' language.

Week 2 data Nov 23-29
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On the balance of framing (the proportion of articles containing only 'solution' frames versus those containing only 'crisis' frames), the Guardian stands out as favouring the 'solution' frame much more than other titles, as well as publishing by some margin the most articles containing any frames. *NB: This data does not include MailOnline articles consisting solely of reports by wire services

Week 2 data Nov 23-29
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This week we compared coverage in the FT and the Independent. The FT published nearly twice as many articles on the topic than the Independent, carried more advertising from heavy polluting industries, and was relatively more likely to use 'Brown' language and sources compared with 'Green' statements. On this week's framing, both titles saw a relatively balanced use of 'solution' vs 'crisis' frames.

Week 2 data Nov 23-29
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It's the hottest year on record; it's #COP21. But Kim Kardashian gets more coverage.

Week 1 data Nov 16-22
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Week 1 data Nov 16-22
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The Paris Summit was the most frequently referenced topic within climate coverage last week (appearing in 212 articles), and the issue mentioned by most outlets. References to renewable energy and fossil fuels were also common, while the cancellation of the Paris Global March for Climate was referenced less often.

Week 1 data Nov 16-22
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Governments - including political figures and supranational bodies - were most discussed in media coverage; NGOs were the second most commonly discussed group, while corporations were least discussed.

Week 1 data Nov 16-22
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Where news outlets included views about whether or not the climate summit would be a success in achieving its aims, slightly more optimistic views were expressed than pessimistic views. * This week's analysis contains some frames included in a large number of wire copy articles published by the Daily Mail. In future weeks these will be removed for the purposes of this graph

Week 1 data Nov 16-22
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Climate change and the environment was the third most commonly covered policy area, after the economy and - unsurprisingly, given the terrorist attacks in Paris - 'Defence/Foreign Policy' (which includes international terrorism). The majority of articles about the environment include some reference to issues relevant to climate change.

Week 1 data Nov 16-22
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This week we compared climate coverage in the Guardian and the Telegraph. Both received a similar proportion of print advertising from car manufacturers, aviation companies and energy firms, and both tended to include more 'Green' language than 'Brown' language. The Guardian published many more articles - over twice as many as the Telegraph - on climate change.

Week 1 data Nov 16-22
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Amongst broadsheet newspapers, 'Green' language - as defined by our dictionary of phrases often used by supporters of the environmental movement - was used more often than 'Brown' language (phrases more often associated with the communication of energy companies or lobby groups).


Week 1 data Nov 16-22
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Coverage of specific climate issues was eclipsed by celebrity and entertainment news.

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