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RISJ contributes to cross-party committee report on communicating climate science

RISJ Admin

Contributing Author

Evidence from RISJ head of journalism programme and researcher James Painter features strongly in a new report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on communicating climate science.In a new report published today, the cross-party Committee concludes that the 'Government is failing to clearly and effectively communicate climate science to the public, according to a report by the Science and Technology Committee.'
The eleven MPs who form the Committee found little evidence of co-ordination amongst Government, government agencies and public bodies on communicating climate science, despite various policies at national and regional level to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
James Painter gave written and oral evidence to the Committee, which is mentioned several times in the 55-page report.  It quotes his research on climate scepticism found in the RISJ publication Poles Apart, and on media treatments of risk and uncertainty in the RISJ 2013 book Climate Change in the Media.
For example it quotes his conclusion from Poles Apart which suggests that ‘the presence of politicians espousing some variation of climate scepticism, the existence of organised interests that feed sceptical coverage and partisan media receptive to this message, all play a particularly significant role in explaining the greater prevalence of sceptical voices in the print media of the USA and the UK’.
The Committee’s report also strongly criticises BBC News teams for continuing ‘to make mistakes in their coverage of climate science by giving opinions and scientific fact the same weight’. The report recommends that ‘the BBC should be clear on the role of its interviewees and should not treat lobbying groups as disinterested experts’.
James Painter has also given evidence this year to the Energy and Climate Change select committee on the reporting of the first Working Group report on climate change in September 2013 by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  
He is leading a new RISJ research project on how television channels in six countries (Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India and the UK) are reporting the three main IPCC reports in 2013/4.
Read more about the Report