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Climate Change Communication in Austria

Summary and Keywords

Research on climate change communication is a neglected field in Austria. Only slowly, scientists as well as policy makers are entering the domain of communicating climate change, especially in subprojects of larger funding initiatives by the Austrian Environment Ministry and the Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology. In the field of communication research, only sporadic studies can be found: Some of them are investigating science-policy-interfaces and communication among stakeholders; others are focusing on awareness of climate change, especially in climate sensitive areas like (winter) tourism, agriculture, and forestry, which are significant economic fields in Austria and in which major efforts have to be taken to enhance adaptive capacities. Only a few studies are dealing with media representations of climate. Therefore, this article outlines a future research program, based on the assessment of existing scholarship. More scientific efforts should be given to the following fields of research: public communication of stakeholders, studies on media representation of climate change and framing and its effects as well as comparative studies with countries sharing comparable climate scenarios, and the strong need for adapting to climate change (e.g., from Alpine regions) as well as similar political structures.

Keywords: climate change, communication, Austria, stakeholder communication, science-policy-interfaces, adaptive capacities, media representation, awareness, behavior


Austria is a country strongly affected by climate change: It “is expected to be very vulnerable to a climatic change in view of the fact that ecosystems in mountainous regions are highly sensitive” (Austrian Federal Government, 2010, p. 8). Some evidence already can be observed, such as the mean annual temperature increasing or snowfall decreasing even in higher regions. Further impacts are likely to comprise fields like agriculture, forestry, water management, tourism, protection from natural hazards, health, biodiversity, and mobility, as well as spatial planning (Austrian Federal Government, 2010).

This vulnerability is mirrored in public perceptions. Austria is among those European countries, which, according to the Eurobarometer survey, perceive climate change as one of the most serious problems facing the world today (European Commission, 2014). Nevertheless, both practical communication projects as well as research on climate change communication are scarce in the country. Only slowly, scientists as well as policy makers are entering the domain of communicating climate change, for example, in the course of the state-sponsored Austrian Climate Research Programme (ACRP) to enhance the communicative capabilities of stakeholders to adapt to climate change. The most prominent ACRP initiative was the publication of the first Austrian Climate Change Assessment Report in 2014, in which gaps in information, knowledge, and dialogue in the Austrian public and political debate as well as an urge for more research on communicating climate change are addressed (APCC, 2014; Kromp-Kolb et al., 2014). Another indicator for this negligence is the fact that although some comparative studies for the German-speaking area can be found (Metag, Schäfer, Barsuhn, Füchslin, & Kleinen-v. Koenigslöw, 2016; Rüegg, 2015), no peer-reviewed study on the representation of climate change in Austrian public and media debates exists.

To understand the background of climate research and communication activities in Austria, it is important to note that the country is characterized by a strong federal approach, governmental inflexibility, corporatist influence, a lacking systematic governance for science-policy advice as well as a media system marked by strong local media, a dominance of tabloids, a powerful public service broadcaster, and a strong influence from the German media market (Clar & Steurer, 2014; Seethaler, 2015; Trappel, 2016; Trilling & Schoenbach, 2013).

Given the high vulnerability, lack of research on climate change communication, and sociopolitical environment in Austria, the aim of this article is to review scholarship, policy papers, and stakeholder communication on climate change in Austria.

It will first describe the sociopolitical context of climate change discourse in Austria. Second, existing climate change risks and vulnerabilities in Austria will be assessed. Third, stakeholder communication from political, scientific, and economic actors as well as civil society will be presented. Fourth, scholarship on media representations, public perceptions, audience behaviors, and strategic climate change communication will be presented. Finally, the article identifies major research gaps and outlines a future research program.

Sociopolitical Context

Austria is a federal republic with a parliamentary system and, according to Statistics Austria, had a population of 8.54 million people in 2014. Although many political issues are “explicitly assigned to the federal government” (Clar & Steurer, 2014, p. 26), responsibility in many policy fields crucial for climate change adaptation, such as spatial planning, water management, nature protection, agriculture, and tourism, lies with the powerful regions (Erk, 2004; Rhomberg & Stehr, 2010). Potentially, this has advantages for tackling environmental issues, because “regional autonomy can imply higher flexibility and improved capacities to fine-tune federal policies to local specifics” (Clar & Steurer, 2014, p. 26), which is not only true for local policy making but also for climate change communication and the implementation of adaptation strategies in local communities (Brand & Pawloff, 2014; Wirth, Prutsch, & Grothmann, 2014).

These “strong regional identities” (Trilling & Schoenbach, 2013, p. 932) are mirrored by a strong regional and local media environment (Magin & Stark, 2015; Thiele, 2009). But this plurality of outlets is not mirrored by a plurality in ownership, which is characterized by a strong concentration (Seethaler, 2015). In general, the Austrian media system is “undergoing profound changes” after a “long period of relatively stable market conditions”: (1) the dual system of public and private broadcasters, which was introduced in 2001, has led to a decline in the audience share of public service broadcaster ORF; (2) the growing market share of free daily newspapers has intensified the competition; (3) the tabloidization of the Austrian market is still underway; and (4) the use of online media is rising dramatically (Seethaler, 2015; Trappel, 2016).

Austrian public communication is closely connected to neighboring Germany, with which it shares the same language. Although readership of German newspaper and magazines in Austria is rather low, German corporations Bertelsmann (Gruner+Jahr) and Funke Mediengruppe own a large share of Austrian newspapers (Trappel, 2016). Moreover, Austrians are strongly, and increasingly, using German TV channels (Trappel, 2016). Even though no data are available, it can be assumed that the rise of digital media will further increase these interconnections.

Another important factor to understanding the Austrian sociopolitical environment is the role of civil society and especially the importance of ecological movements. According to Kleinert-Kisin, civil society plays an ambivalent role: On the one hand, “environmental preservation is a concept deeply rooted in the Austrian public conscience” (2015, p. 152). Protests against the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant in 1978 and a hydropower plant with fears of an impending destruction of the Hainburg Au flood plain in 1984 gained considerable momentum within civil society. These incidents not only had major implications on the democratic conscience of Austrians and gave rise to comprehensive policies and regulations regarding public transport, waste management, and water protection in favor of the natural environment, but they also are considered to be catalysts for the emergence of the Austrian green movement (Kleinert-Kisin, 2015). They also led to a stronger importance of civil society for political culture and economic development (More-Hollerweger et al., 2014). Nowadays, civil society and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) strongly interact with politics, with some NGOs “exert[ing] direct influence on legislation and administration” (More-Hollerweger et al., 2014, p. 15). But on the other hand, the Austrian corporatist model with strong and institutionalized interest groups also makes it difficult for newly established NGOs “operating outside these structures to define their position in society and to gain influence” (More-Hollerweger et al., 2014, p. 14).

Impacts of Climate Change in Austria

Three major sources document climate change impacts in Austria: The Austrian Assessment Report Climate Change 2014 (APCC) depicts the state of knowledge on climate change in Austria, its impact as well as mitigation, and adaptation strategies (APCC, 2014; Kromp-Kolb et al., 2014). A second major source on climate-related issues is the National State of Environment Report that is published every three years in cooperation with the European Union (Environmental Agency Austria, 2013). The 10th version was presented to the Austrian National Assembly by the Federal Environment Minister in 2013. In the same year, a third compilation focusing on Austrian adaptation efforts on climate change was published by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Kronberger-Kießwetter, Balas, & Prutsch, 2013).

All three documents show that Austria is strongly affected by climate change and faces large risks for the environment, economy, and society in general. Since 1880, the overall annual temperature has risen by nearly 2°C, compared with a global increase of 0.85°C. A further temperature rise is expected. While precipitation in Western Austria increased over the last 150 years, a decrease was observed in the southeast. During the 21st century an increase of precipitation in winter and a decrease in summer is expected. The duration of snow cover has reduced in recent years, especially in mid-altitude elevations. But also in higher regions, glaciers have clearly lost surface area and volume. All these depictions suggest some major impacts and measures for social, economic, and ecological policies (APCC, 2014; Environmental Agency Austria, 2013; Kromp-Kolb et al., 2014; Kronberger-Kießwetter et al., 2013). Potential economic impacts will be mainly determined by extreme events and weather periods. Climate change will “have economic ramifications, such as shifts in potential yields in agriculture, in the energy sector, or in snow-reliability in ski areas with corresponding impacts on winter tourism” (Kromp-Kolb et al., 2014, p. 16). In mountainous regions, significant increases in extreme events (landslides, mudflows, rock falls, and forest fires) will occur. Without taking adaptative measures and “increased efforts to adapt to climate change, Austria's vulnerability will increase” (APCC, 2014, p. 7), in particular in agriculture, forestry, and winter tourism.

The APCC urges for a stronger involvement of civil society and science in decision-making processes but also concludes that some progress has been made: “There is a willingness to change. Pioneers (individuals, businesses, municipalities, regions) are implementing their ideas already, for example, in the field of energy service, or climate-friendly mobility and local supply. Such initiatives can be strengthened through policies that create a supportive environment” (2014, p. 10).

Stakeholder Communication and Science-Policy-Interfaces

Notwithstanding this assessment, both research on as well as actual climate change communication are neglected in Austria. The ACPR under the Head of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund of the Austrian federal government comprises research on communication activities to enhance adaptive capabilities of stakeholders. It was launched in 2007 by the Austrian Environment Ministry and the Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, and its most prominent initiative was the publication of the APCC in 2014. It was modeled after the Assessment Reports of the UNFCCC’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, put together by more than 200 scientists and included an executive summary negotiated with scientists and policy makers. The APCC is an influential tool to publicly communicate climate change risks and strategies to adapt to it. It is also a symbol for the communication efforts and forms of communication between science and policy as well as other stakeholders.

In general, it is remarkable that stakeholder communication and science-policy-interactions are the main modes of climate change communication in Austria. Hermann and colleagues (2012) state that research programs and scientific services are the strongest nodes between science and policy. These programs are designed more and more interactively between administrative bodies and research institutes, and aim to identify the most important institutions, actors, and processes in climate policy. According to the Austrian corporatist model, advising institutions are based inside the ministerial bureaucracy and in special units of corporatist interest groups: for example, the Austrian Economic Chambers, the Federation of Austrian Industries, and the Austrian Trade Union Federation. The Austrian Environment Ministry and the Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology are especially influential in defining climate policies and serve as hubs for communicating with scientific and NGO stakeholders as well as interest groups. Several university departments and research institutes have influence on climate policies, too, although some of the Austrian universities chose to stick to fundamental research and neglect being part of advisory boards (Hermann et al., 2012). In particular, research institutes that don’t belong to universities are highly influential: for example, the state-funded Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt) as well as the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (Wirtschaftsforschungsinstitut). Civil society is mostly represented by environmental NGOs like Global 2000 and Greenpeace Austria (Hermann et al., 2012; Jandl, 2008). Minor stakes in the debate are, in line with other European countries like Germany (Rhomberg & Kaiser, 2015), attributed to politicians and the media. The Austrian political parties are often seen as hindering active climate policies (Hermann et al., 2012).

But although climate communication research is quite interested in these kinds of science-policy-interactions, scientific advisory boards and other forms of cooperation do play a minor role in Austria. The same applies to scientist-stakeholder workshops for specific climate-related issues like flood protection (Löschner, Nordbeck, Scherhaufer, & Seher, 2016), consensus conferences (Seifert, 2006), and cooperative procedures for climate sensitivity in planning processes (Jiricka et al., 2016).

Research on Media Representations, Public Perceptions, Audience Behavior, and Strategic Communication

While the role of stakeholders in climate communication is well assessed in Austria, the APCC (2014) urges more research on climate change communication. By assessing some findings on media representation of climate change in Austria, we need to rely on graduate students’ masters theses.

These studies show, firstly, that climate change has become a relevant media issue in Austria, particularly since the mid-2000s. In a content analysis on the media presence of environmental problems in Austria from 2010–2014 in six daily newspapers, Kathrein (2014) assessed that climate change is more prominent than other environmental problems in the media. But she also concludes that even though climate change is important, it could displace other environmental issues from the public and political agenda. Similarly, Holzner (2008), in a content analysis of three newspapers from 2001–2007, demonstrated that articles on climate change considerably increased after 2006 (in line with international trends; see Schmidt et al., 2013).

Content analyses, secondly, show that Austrian media focus on the problematic aspects of climate change and potential—mostly political solutions. Holzner (2008) shows that they primarily discuss climate change impacts and possible protection measures. Moreover, the author concluded that climate change is seen as a problem in Austrian media discourse, but instead of providing facts, journalists tend to present it in a dramatic and metaphorical fashion. Similarly, Pikl (2012) found in his thesis on climate change coverage in Austrian quality and tabloid papers from 2002 to 2011 that tabloids are dealing with climate change in an alarmist tone, while quality papers focus more on climate politics. He also shows different representations of scientists in Austrian media: the factual analyzing scientists, the critical questioning scientists, and the alerting scientists. Correspondingly, only small amounts of climate change skepticism can be found in the German-language mass media or online world (Brunnengräber, 2013; Kaiser & Rhomberg, 2015; Lörcher & Taddicken, 2015; Schmid-Petri, forthcoming; see also Climate Change Communication in Switzerland and Climate Change Communication in Germany).

This focus on the problematic aspects of climate change also seems to hold true for visual communication: By highlighting the visual components of media representation on climate change in Austria, Rüegg (2015) found in a comparative study in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria that newspaper imagery focuses mostly on “personalization” and “impact.” Therefore, climate change is presented as an issue with serious natural consequences that is mainly dealt with by politicians. In a subsequent, cross-national experimental study, Metag and colleagues (2016) showed that such impacts imagery is perceived as underlining the importance of global warming: “Aerial views of floods and the desert seem to be particularly impressive, attracting people’s attention and creating fear” (Metag et al., 2016, p. 216). At the same time, these pictures make climate change appear as “an overwhelming, forceful natural development, and participants think that they, as individuals, are helpless and cannot do anything to stop it” (Metag et al., 2016).

Literature on perception of climate change among the general population, thirdly, is scarce and often focuses on Alpine regions. One exception is the Eurobarometer study from 2014 on climate change awareness in Europe, which found that the perceptions of climate change in Austria as the single most serious problem has increased from 2011 by 5 points to 24% (European Commission, 2014): Austrians seem to be more concerned about climate change than people in most other European countries. The member states with the highest proportion of respondents mentioning climate change as one of the most serious problems facing the world are Sweden (81%), Denmark (73%), Germany and Austria (70% each).

In line with these findings, climate change skepticism—which is widespread in countries like the United States and Australia—is scarcer in Austria. Studies indicate that such skepticism is dependent on the popularity of conservative politics and Green Parties: In countries with popular conservative parties, climate skepticism is high, while in countries with a strong Green party it is weak (Beeson & McDonald, 2013; Boykoff, 2011; Engels et al., 2013). Climate change skepticism in Austria is not very strong (Brunnengräber, 2013; Engels et al., 2013). The research project CONTRA on the role of skepticism in the public debate and the influence of skeptical actors on the policy-making process came to the conclusion that skepticism among the Austrian public is mainly focused on the success of emission reduction policies to limit global warming, that is, on the measurements to fight climate change and not on the existence of the phenomenon as such: Austrian reduction policies would be ineffective if they were not coordinated on a European or global level. Moreover, without a joint global approach, the Austrian economy would lose its competitive position (Brand & Pawloff, 2014).

In addition, a number of studies have focused on the climate change-related perceptions of specific segments of the Austrian population. Some scholars focused on the concerns about climate change among young people, which are especially pronounced in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Young people in Germany and Austria show relatively high levels of knowledge about the causes and effects of climate change, in particular its socioeconomic factors (Böcker, 2009; Littich, 2012). In a survey on climate behavior of young people and their willingness to support certain policy actions in Austria, Bangladesh, Finland, Germany, Norway, and the United States, Bostrom and colleagues (2012) found that support of actions varies significantly by the type of policy. Students in all countries, including Austria, are more supportive of general green policy actions (funding research on renewable energy solutions, planting trees, and reducing air pollution from toxic chemical) than for carbon reduction strategies or engineering solutions.

Awareness of climate change, risk perceptions of its possible effects, and adaptive capacities of decision makers, are particularly important for tourism, a major economic sector in Austria (Meixner, 2006). Tourism management literature, therefore, has tackled climate change communication. It found a discrepancy between scientific assessments on climate risks and the public evaluation of these risks. In general, this might be explained by climate change’s pervasive and time-delayed impacts (Lorenzoni & Pidgeon, 2006). Studies for the Austrian skiing and tourism industry show that climate change in general is not perceived as a substantial risk, and is considered to have only minor impacts on the return of investment (Damm, Köberl, & Prettenthaler, 2014; Landauer, Pröbstl, & Haider, 2012; Steiger, 2012; Strobl, Steiger, Peters, & Weiermair, 2011; Trawöger, 2014; Wolfsegger, Gössling, & Scott, 2008). Trawöger (2014, p. 344) points out that although tourism managers have encountered the issue in their everyday work, “they are mainly involved with calming the debate on the issue in communications with the banking industry and—in mild winters, with little snowfall—also with their markets and the media.” She also revealed that climate change is not perceived “as a real and immediate threat to ski tourism in its present form” (Trawöger, 2014, p. 344). Instead, managers are associating climate change with media panic, threat scenarios, and pessimism. Analyses for Switzerland, where winter tourism also plays a major role, indicate that climate change awareness among tourism managers increases after warm winters (Abegg, Kolb, Sprengel, & Hoffmann, 2008; Luthe, 2009), but no comparable findings are available for Austria. Other studies from the field of tourism industry research even highlight the advantages of climate change for Austrian summer tourism (Becken, 2013; Pröbstl-Haider, Haider, Wirth, & Beardmore, 2015).

While current research indicates that the tourism industry is still underestimating the issue of climate change in its risk behavior and communication efforts, Austrian studies focusing on sustainable spatial and urban planning suggest that these fields are dealing with strategies to cope with climate change. Although strategies and communication approaches to integrate stakeholders in the process on the local and regional level are still being interfered with on the level of mitigation efforts by the federalist Austrian system (Clar & Steurer, 2014), adaptation strategies have made some progress, also in comparison with other European countries (Heidrich et al., 2016). Capacity-building strategies, especially, among Austrian stakeholders in urban environments have been successful (Carter et al., 2015). Moreover, current research from the fields of agriculture and forestry reveal improvement in communicating adaptation strategies and in preparing consumers for climatic changes in the field of biodiversity (Kirchner et al., 2015; Kleinhückelkotten et al., 2006; Mitter, Heumesser, & Schmid, 2015; Seidl & Lexer, 2013) as well as in the Austrian energy sector (Hecher, Vilsmaier, Akhavan, & Binder, 2016).

While international research on behavioral effects toward climate change is broadly recognized, little empirical evidence for Austrians’ attitudes toward climate change, their willingness for behavioral change, as well as individual and collective action can be detected. In a cross-national study, Hadler and Wohlkoenig (2012) found that values are more important in Austrian public discourse while primarily sociodemographic factors impede private behavior concerning the environment. By comparing environmental behaviors in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria, their findings reveal that values are more important for public behavior, and sociodemographics are more important for private behavior on climate change.

In an experimental study comparing Austria and Germany, Bamberg and colleagues (2015) also revealed that apart from individual behavioral change, collective action is required to address the challenges posed by climate change. They also found that social identity, perceived behavioral control, and participative efficacy beliefs are motives to engage in environmental protection. Other studies are focusing on critical discourse events in the Austrian ecological movement to analyze ecological behavior. For example, Wirnsberger and Haller (2015) are highlighting the fact that environmental action in Austria is still correlated with successful protests against the nuclear power plant in Zwentendorf in 1979. Like many other countries, Austria experienced an economic boom in the 1960s and 1970s, “that was accompanied by little emphasis on environmental protection” (Hadler & Wohlkoenig, 2012, p. 673). Environmental issues became more relevant at the end of the 1970s and mounted in the 1979 public vote against the new nuclear power plant in Zwentendorf and the 1984 protests against a hydropower plant near Vienna. These events are considered to be “pivotal events” (Hadler & Wohlkoenig, 2012, p. 673) that gave rise to the environmental movement and the formation of the Green Party. These events are still mirrored in a broad opposition of Austrian youth on nuclear energy (Bostrom et al., 2012).

Finally, a portion of the literature on climate change communication aims to lay out potentially successful strategies to communicate on the issue. For example, scholarly activities aiming to enhance adaptive capacities in Austria have received significant support in recent years by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund as well as by the Austrian Federal Environment Agency. In particular, transfer projects were supported. A project by the Federal Environment Agency has worked on practical guidelines to strategically communicate climate change adaptation (Prutsch et al., 2014; Prutsch & Stickler, 2014; Wirth et al., 2014). Based on a literature review and a consultation process with climate and communication experts from science and practice, a list of success factors for communicating adaptation in Austria was compiled with regard to content, target groups, adaptation motivation, and communication evaluation: for example, to translate climate change and adaptation into everyday life; explain concepts and terms in a comprehensible way; and frame the issue according to the audience, suggesting possible solutions—to use pictures and visualizations as well as to use accepted and trusted messengers within the audience (Wirth et al., 2014).

Another project led by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna dealing with raising climate behavior among young people came to fairly similar conclusions. Corner and colleagues (2015) also identified four core determinants of effective climate change communication: (1) the role of values and worldviews in determining climate change views, (2) the efficacy of information-based interventions, (3) the psychological distance of climate change and message framing, and (4) the role of trusted communicators.

Additionally, some scholarly (Prutsch et al., 2014; Prutsch & Stickler, 2014; Wirth et al., 2014) and media articles (Altenburger, 2011) can be found that claim a lack of storytelling techniques and narratives in Austrian climate change communication: “Narratives, in essence, may represent a method of packaging phenomena into human scale: providing a possible remedy for the problems of communicating a meaningful sense of distant science topics” (Dahlstrom, 2014, p. 13618). The absence of these approaches in the Austrian context is not surprising because research on this topic is also scarce in an international context (Rhomberg, 2016).

Gaps in Austrian Climate Communication Research

Although stakeholder communication on climate change has intensified in recent years, as well as research on adaptive capacities, in particular, in the tourism industry, there is still a notable gap in climate change communication in Austria. Despite a rise of comparative studies of climate change communication over the last decade (Schäfer & Schlichting, 2014), there are only a few studies on media representations of climate change; public perceptions; online debates; climate journalism; or the role of scientists, politicians, and other stakeholders in the respective public debates.

Against this backdrop, I will now outline potentially fruitful areas for future research, focusing on the following streams: (1) public communication of stakeholders; (2) adaptation communication; (3) media representation of climate change (newspaper, TV, as well as online media); and (4) comparative studies with a focus on Germany, Switzerland, and other European countries with similar climate scenarios and a strong need for adapting to climate change (e.g., from Alpine regions) and with similar political structures and strong regional diversities.

  1. (1) The first stream of future research should focus on the public communication of stakeholders. While the role of stakeholders in informal settings is quite well documented for the Austrian case, their public communication via mass or online media has not been investigated. Following Anderson (2009, p. 166), the existence of climate change and its possible impacts are “deeply contested [with] considerable competition among (and between) scientists, industry, policymakers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), each of whom is likely to be actively seeking to establish their particular perspectives on the issues.” To communicate climate change is especially difficult because of its complexity; the uncertainties of possible impacts on individuals and society, as well as the involvement of innumerable groups of actors from politics, science, economy, and civil society, and their often contradictory statements (Boykoff & Roberts, 2007; Capstick, Whitmarsh, Poortinga, Pidgeon, & Upham, 2015; Moser, 2010; Nisbet & Scheufele, 2009). To contribute to a comprehensive understanding of climate change communication on an international scale, more research on the Austrian case is needed. On this basis, it could be especially helpful to investigate agenda-, frame-, and coalition-building attempts of these actors against the background of the quite inflexible corporatist political system in Austria, which differs from other Western countries. Moreover, it could be rewarding to compare different regions in terms of frame usage because they differ largely with regard to their strong regional identities, the diversified media system, and local conditions of climate sensibilities and possible impacts. These points could be integrated with the appraisals of the APCC (2014) report, which suggests more transdisciplinary work on issues like stakeholder deliberation on climate policies, its underlying interests, media and power structures, and the design of science-policy-interfaces as well as political strategies to enhance public and private adaptation capacities.

  2. (2) Quite similar to the findings for stakeholder communication, this article could also identify a valuable number of reports and papers on strategically communicating the issue of adaptation. But as Wirth and colleagues (2014) point out, there is hardly any research actually evaluating the success of such campaigns and other communication formats. Scientific monitoring and evaluation of adaptation communication and campaigns is also politically relevant and will strengthen the advising role of climate communication science.

  3. (3) As a third stream of future research on Austria, it is recommended to contribute to the comprehensive knowledge on the media representation of climate change in a multitude of different countries in Europe and the world (Schäfer & Schlichtling, 2014; Schmidt, Ivanova, & Schäfer, 2013). The literature search for this article provided only a few out-of-date articles focusing on the representation of climate change in Austrian print media. It would be productive to examine how influential Austrian media are dealing with the issue of climate change and how media attention has developed over the years. Research should also analyze to what extent media attention for climate change is bound to certain political events like the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference weather extremes on a global (e.g., Hurricane Katrina) or regional level, for example, floods or extreme heat waves in Austria ( Boykoff, 2012; Liu, Lindquist, & Vedlitz, 2011; Rhomberg & Kaiser, 2015; Sampei & Aoyagi-Usui, 2009).

    Adding to that, it will be also valuable to analyze which media frames Austrian journalists use to portray climate change, for example, in terms of existence; skepticism; or national political, economic, and social impacts, with regard to international dimensions of emission trade or in terms of humanitarian or security policies (Grundmann, 2007; Kaiser & Rhomberg, 2015; Painter & Ashe, 2012; Schäfer, Scheffran, & Penniket, 2015).

  4. (4) Finally, as a fourth stream of future research on climate change communication in Austria, studies are needed to compare findings from Germany with Austrian data, because we know that—especially in the TV market—German programs are often used by Austrians. This leads to another gap in Austrian climate communication research. While research has evolved a precise picture of the links between media usage and climate awareness around the globe, there is no indication on media usage and effects of coverage for agenda setting on climate change issues as well as awareness or attitudes toward climate change for Austria (Olausson, 2011; Sampei & Aoyagi-Usui, 2009). It would be quite interesting to evaluate how Austrians perceive media as reliable sources for climate information and compare these data with other European countries. This could be on the one side rewarding for international scholars, because of the specifics of the Austrian media system with a strong influence of tabloids and a powerful public broadcasting service; and on the other side it could lead the way for internationally broader attention for climate communication research in Austria.


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