A study reveals an increase in media interest in climate change measures


The pivotal role of communication in the fight against climate change has become increasingly evident in recent years. The challenges facing society at large are gaining prominence in the mainstream media, as well as publications that specialise in science and the environment.

These were the conclusions of the LIFE Shara project, which analyses how the Spanish press addresses climate change. The report, ‘Adaptation to climate change in the Spanish press. Analysis of media coverage of adaptation to climate change in Spain (2012-2019)’, conducted by researcher Rogelio Fernández Reyes and coordinated by the Autonomous National Parks Agency (OAPN) through the National Centre for Environmental Education (CENEAM), analysed 508 articles by journalists in four Spanish newspapers with the largest circulation: El País, El Mundo, La Vanguardia and Expansión, between 2012 and 2019.

He searched for the words “adaptation” and “climate change”, “global warming” and “climate crisis” in all the articles. Among his main findings were that in just a few years, “the prominence of adaptation as a response to climate change has multiplied almost sevenfold in the newspapers analysed (by about 20 in El Mundo, by five in El País, by four in La Vanguardia and by six in Expansión)”, according to the report.

The report also states that “adaptation is still a largely unexplored subject, that coverage is good, but not enough to raise the news status of adaptation.” As for the approach, it has been shown that “it appears first in political sources, followed by scientific and economic ones.” The most frequent news subjects are: water, biodiversity and agriculture, while others included in the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change, such as forests, health or tourism, are still largely ignored.

The report also includes several suggestions for improving social communication on adaptation to climate change. Particularly outstanding are those that “emphasise the importance of training and practices which we would call “bad adaptation” and which “further explore different types of adaptation, to focus on local affairs and take a look from the bottom up,” said Fernández Reyes.

The director of the  Autonomous National Parks Agency (OAPN) of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, María Jesús Rodríguez de Sancho, presented the results of the report on 12 May during the sixth information breakfast of the LIFE SHARA project, underlining that “this study will give us more in-depth information on adaptation to climate change, until we achieve appropriate social recognition for this essential tool for responding to climate challenges”.

The briefing was attended by the author of the report and by two journalists specialised in the environment and climate change: Raúl Rejón from eldiario.es and Antonio Cerrillo, from La Vanguardia who, according to the study, authored the largest number of news stories analysed.

This initiative is part of LIFE SHARA’s series of measures aimed at “improving media coverage of climate change adaptation” to gather useful information on the social representation of adaptation as an essential line of response to the climate change phenomenon, through media presence.