Open Conference Systems, RUC Sunrise Triple C Conference: Climate – Change – Communication

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The communication of climate change in the Belgian french press
Antigoni Vokou

Last modified: 2010-04-16


Media are considered by the Belgians as their main source of information regarding science, in that context the Belgian media played an essential role in raising public's awareness about the  scientific, environmental, political, economic and social stakes of climate change and brought ahead questions regarding our consumption habits.

This paper shows how a Belgian french weekly magazine (Le Vif/L'Express), two quality newspapers (Le Soir and La Libre Belgique) and a popular one (La Dernière Heure) covered and communicated climate change between 1997, year of the Kyoto Protocol agreement, and 2009, after the Copenhagen Conference, and what were the discursive processes used in that communication. Both media's discourse and media's reported discourse of politicians, scientists, lobbies and NGO's, in over 1400 news articles, was analyzed with lexicometric tools. Results indicate that climate change is represented according to two axes: the Kyoto Protocol axis, which is limited to a political or economic approach of the problem, and the climate change Risks axis which has an important scientific content, emphasize the human responsibility and focuses on the causes and consequences of this process.

Katrina, Rita and the rise of floods or heatwaves all over Europe lead those media to a change after 2005, articles didn't just inform about climate change but counseled their readers on how to diminish their ecological footprint and become "green-friendly" in order to adapt and invited them to act individually to mitigate global warming by repeating verbs as make, act, need and expressions as our future, our planet, our survival.

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