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date: 22 May 2017

Climate Change Communication in New Zealand

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Please check back later for the full article.

Climate change communication in Aotearoa New Zealand occurs through multiple channels. This includes public communication by experts; formal and informal science-policy dialogues; and publication of popular books, documentaries, and media reports. There are, in addition, a wide array of climate change communication activities that are less well documented, such as those that utilize the educational system, social media, art, community events, and festivals, and co-production processes related to adaptation and mitigation choices.

Although research into the communication of climate change is in its infancy in the country, there is a wealth of data on public attitudes towards climate change over the past decade. Much of this information indicates that most New Zealanders currently believe climate change is occurring, is anthropogenic, and is a serious concern. This is mirrored by research into media coverage on climate change, which shows that mainstream news reports are largely consistent with the scientific consensus and reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and do not give much coverage to “climate skeptic” viewpoints. This latter perspective is, however, represented in other media such as opinion pieces in newspapers, blogs, popular books, and public lectures.

Climate change communication in Aotearoa New Zealand is shaped, to some degree, by the country’s small population. This leads both to opportunities, such as the relative ease of access to political decision makers, and to barriers, mostly related to limited resources for both New Zealand-specific research on climate change impacts and implications, and for national communication and public engagement on the topic.