In recent years, climate change has transformed from a subject of scientific inquiry into the most visible environmental issue in the public sphere in Canada and internationally. While the exact consequences are difficult to predict, scientists warn of droughts, sea level rise and increased extreme weather conditions. The Kyoto protocol was one attempt to deal with the issue. However, not all nations signed and/or ratified the protocol, and many of those who did sign and ratify the protocol, including Canada, have been unable to meet their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. During more recent international meetings, there has also been considerable variation in the commitments that different nations have made in dealing with GHG emissions. And so, climate change is an ongoing, much politicized and much publicized issue around the globe. The mass media plays an important role as a forum for political debate, and several researchers have analyzed media coverage of global climate change. However, little of this work has focused specifically on Canada.
The research focuses on media framing of climate change policy-making in Canada from 1997 to 2010. This work is particularly relevant given that: concerns about the potential climate impacts of Alberta's tar sands are mounting among global environmental organizations; as polar sea ice recedes, Canada is central to debates about Arctic sovereignty among the circumpolar nations; and while the Canadian population is relatively small, the country is ranked among the worst per-capita GHG emitters in the world.
This research adds to our understanding of climate change policy-making by focusing on mass media discourse related to climate change, as well as the network of actors that gain access to media coverage of climate change policy debate. This analysis examines the relative centrality of state and non-state actors (environmentalists, industry, scientific experts) as "authorized knowers" about climate change. We will also examine how climate change discourse and the composition of news source networks has shifted during the period 1997-2010.