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Climate Change
and Sustainable Futures
The importance of
Climate Change Communication
Peter Cox
CCSF : Motivation
Interdisciplinary research to inform active
management of the climate system:
 Improving predictions of climate change and its effects
on ecosystems and human health;
 Developing technology for mitigation and adaptation;
 Investigating public attitudes and government policy in
relation to the environment;
 Understanding the dynamics of the coupled humanenvironment system.
CCSF theme: Closing the Climate Loop
Predictions of
Climate Change
Informing Active
Management of the
Climate System
Impacts of
Climate Change
Technology for
Adaptation &
Human Responses
to Climate Change
CCSF : Successes
 Recruitment of world-class academics across a
broad range of disciplines.
CCSF Recruitment
Dan Charman : Geography,Responses of Ecosystems to Climate Change
Mat Collins:
Mathematics,Climate Systems
Suraje Dessai: Geography, Climate Decision Making
Michael Finus: Business, Economics of Climate Change  Bath Uni.
Pierre Friedlingstein: Mathematics,Climate Systems
Iain Hartley:
Geography,Carbon Cycle
Jim Haywood: Joint Met Office Prof,Atmospheric Science
Tim Kurz:
Psychology,Public Responses to Climate Change
Hugo Lambert: Mathematics, Large Scale Climate Change Processes
Duncan Russel: Politics,Politics of Climate Change
Clive Sabel:
Geography,Geography of Health
Frank van Veen: Biology,Climate Change Biology
Patrick Devine-Wright: Geography,Public Engagement with Environmental
+ Stephen Sitch, Tim Lenton, Lina Mercado under RKT funding
+ Neil Adger, Richard Betts...
CCSF : Successes
 Recruitment of world-class academics across a
broad range of disciplines.
 Raising the profile of climate change research at
Exeter (e.g. through high-impact papers and
extensive engagement in the IPCC – more leadauthors than any other UK university ).
“Climate” and “Sustainability”
Publications and Citations (2000-2011)
Note: CCSF investment began in 2007
Significant Increase in
High-Profile Publications
CCSF & Communication
 Exeter is making contributions to the broad understanding of
environmental science issues though the work of its
Involvement in National and International Assessments (e.g. IPCC,
UK Ecosystem Assessment)
Representation on advisory groups of government departments (e.g.
DECC SAG, Defra Social Science Expert Group).
Links to the Met Office.
Engagement with the media (e.g. press-releases, contributions and
advice for TV programmes, Youtube videos).
Outreach events (e.g. talks in schools and to local groups, TEDx-type
 However, CCSF does not have an overall strategy for
communication – so this workshop is very welcome!
Some thoughts on interaction
with the media
 CCSF research is motivated by providing useful information on
environmental change, its causes, and ways to deal with it.
 It makes no sense to generate such information but not share it, just as it
makes no sense to generate information without finding-out what is “useful”
– so two communication is vital.
 Communication through mass the media (e.g. national newspapers, TV)
often reaches thousands times more people than even the highest-impact
academic paper!
 The flipside of having a broad reach is that scientific information is often
less precisely expressed (i.e. “precision versus reach” trade-off).
 However, wholehearted (and timely) engagement with respected
journalists can minimise the impact of inaccuracies.
(I’ve never met a journalist that wouldn’t prefer to get facts right, but I also
haven’t met one who wouldn’t like an easier life..;-).
Some thoughts on interaction
with the media
 The nature of interaction with the UK media has changed
markedly through the last ten years, as a result of the
changing attitudes of the media and public:
o Late 1990s-early 2000s : a period of interest in climate science in the
UK, that provided opportunities for climate researchers to communicate
through the newspapers and especially TV.
o Early 2000s – mid 2000s: parts of the UK media (e.g. some
environmental journalists) and some climate researchers started to
wander into “campaign-mode”, using the platform to give personal
opinions and value-judgements. (8 mins. onwards)
o Mid 2000s – late 2000s: UK media mainly interested in the “bun-fight”
between climate scientists and “sceptics”, culminating in the UEA email
leak. (9 mins. onwards)
o Late 2000s onwards: climate change less of a hot topic, giving a
opportunity to return to a more knowledge-based, less polarised, more
objective assessment of the options for the future?
Questions on
Climate Change Communication
 Do we need a written strategy for climate change
communication, or is the support for activities by individual
academics sufficient?
 Given the changing opportunities for mass communication
(e.g. less TV interest but more electronic communication),
what are the best media for communication now?
 Which groups should we be communicating with?
 How do we turn “exposure” into “impact” ?