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

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Negotiating and communicating climate
Pernille Almlund

Last modified: 2010-04-16


The paper addresses the Danish political negotiations and communication about climate. The purpose of the paper is to show how the Danish politicians communicate and negotiate about climate. It may become obvious to us through the Medias that most Danish politicians agree upon the climate problem as a human made problem except from Dansk Folkeparti and a few politicians in Venstre. This superficial agreement is probably a result of the mediatisation and the hurry by which the Media operates, specific political interests, a specific political form of communication, the public feeling etc. But this is not obvious through the Medias. The purpose of this study and paper is to illuminate how the communication about climate amongst politicians in Denmark is a lot more than agreement. I will with the paper investigate what is taken for granted in the political communication and negotiations about climate and the political mediatisation of climate.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting, more popular named the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) was held December 2009 in Copenhagen. In the period up to and under COP15 we heard many politicians, researchers and media representatives state this summit as a critical step in developing a global response to the threat of climate change caused by human activities. The yearly held COP-meetings have through fifteen years been a place for international negotiation and political communication about climate change and will continue to be as the negotiations and communication is a continuous process. The COP15 goal was to agree upon a new climate protocol and replace the Kyoto Protocol adopted on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As we know COP15 did not achieve the goal and in stead of a juridical binding agreement, FN launched the

As a result of negotiation we took a COP in Denmark - even a very important one according to the politicians. This, of course has set up a very strong political and mediatised agenda of climate change, of climate meetings, of climate performance, of climate everything both at an international level and at a national level.

In the paper I will concentrate on the political agenda, the political negotiations and the political communication about climate at a Danish national level as the challenge of taking a COP has brought up special climate issues in Denmark. As an example we find very strong efforts on performing the country as a climate frontrunner both politically and amongst big enterprises. How are the politicians then performers and how are they politicians? How do they perform the country and how do they work politically to achieve a new protocol? Lots of questions can be posed and will be through my research project: Climate for negotiating, mediating and understanding. However I will in this paper try to answer the question: How is the political discussion and negotiations in Denmark up to, under and after COP-15 in December 2009

Answering the question is based on a study of the negotiations, enacted laws and established laws with regard to climate from September 2008 until now. All these data are transcriptions from the routinely transcriptions taken place in the Danish Parliament and published as "Folketingets Tidende"[1]. The purpose is to show how the political negotiations about climate take place, to show how the political system understand climate and how the political system understand the media system and the scientific system according to climate.

The answer will further be based on face-to-face and in-dept interviews with the spokesmen of climate from all the parties represented in the Danish Parliament. These interviews are carried through in February-marts 2010. Moreover the study will include an analysis of the political climate debate in six Danish newspapers in the period first of November 2009 until 28. February 2010. The newspapers are Politiken, JyllandsPosten, Berlingske Tidende, Information, Urban and MetroExpress.

 The study will be carried through by a semantic analysis and a form analysis with inspiration from Niklas Luhmann. Focus of the analysis will be the thematic concept climate communication based on the system theory of Luhmann and the praxis theory of Pierre Bourdieu. Formulated in more theoretical terms my effort with this paper is to show communication praxis about climate amongst politicians and show the dominating form of communication considering climate in the political system. With regard to the latter it is of interest to investigate if and how new semantics and maybe new codes are developed with special attention to the semantics and codes found in the media system. With respect to the communication praxis amongst politicians it is of interest to see if there is a specific political way of "talking climate", if there is such a high level of agreement as the newspapers may have indicated the last months and how ideology, knowledge, medias, voters etc. influence the semantic and understanding.

Central Litterature

Bourdieu, Pierre 1998: "Om TV - og journalistikkens magt". Tiderne Skifter.

Bourdieu, Pierre og Loïc J. D. Wacquant 1992/1996: "Refleksiv sociologi". Hans Reitzels Forlag A/S.

Bourdieu, Pierre 1972/1977: "Outline of a theory of practice". Cambridge University Press.

Luhmann, Niklas 1996/2002: "Massemediernes realitet". Hans Reitzels Forlag.

Luhmann, Niklas 1984/2000: "Sociale systemer. Grundrids til en almen teori". Hans Reitzels Forlag.

Åkerstrøm Andersen, Niels 1999: "Diskursive analysestrategier. Foucault, Koselleck, Laclau, Luhmann". Nyt fra Samfundsvidenskaberne.


1] Translated it is "Tidings of the Danish Parliament".


Climate; Political negotiations; Political Communication

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