York U researcher part of international collaboration on climate change communication

This article originally appeared in yfile.

Climate change is one of this century’s defining challenges. Scientific investigations on climate change and global warming are at the forefront of research agendas with increasing numbers of such inquiries undertaken each year.

Approaches investigating the transforming conditions of the Earth’s planetary environments have also grown in depth and variety. However, news media and reporting on these crucial scientific findings has not kept pace with this growth or followed an inclusive path in covering the various stakeholders involved.

Matthew Tegelberg, an assistant professor of social science in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and a researcher at York University and has been addressing this lack of public communication of climate science through his contributions to the MediaClimate website. Developed by an international network of scholars based in Finland and Norway, contributors to MediaClimate have included collaborators from more than 20 countries representing both the Global North and South. (The network’s website provides a roster of its members that showcases the global reach.) The international collaboration includes submissions from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda and the United States. The goal of the website’s contributors is to enhance understanding of climate change communication.

Above: From left, Stockholm University Professor Anna Roosvall with York University Professor Matthew Tegelberg

To date, MediaClimate has assembled 10 years’ worth of empirical data. The precept framing this span of data collection is the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) global meetings; the term refers to all the countries that signed on to the 1992 United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change. Statistics were gathered beginning during COP13 in Bali (2007), included the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (2014) and continued until the COP21 assembly in Paris (2015).

Within this wider area of focus, one of Tegelberg’s particular interests has been in the limited representation of Indigenous peoples and their experiences of climate change globally. A forthcoming book titled Media and transnational climate justice: Indigenous activism and climate politics, co-authored with Professor Anna Roosvall from Stockholm University, critically examines this topic.

“Our book explores the roles and situations of Indigenous peoples who do not have full representation at UN climate summits despite being among those most exposed to injustices pertaining to climate change,” said Tegelberg. “We do so by combining interviews with Indigenous activists and participant observation at UN climate summits with extensive empirical research conducted on media coverage of climate change and indigenous peoples since 2009.”

Above: Matthew Tegelberg and Anna Roosvall interview Indigenous activists about climate change and its impact on their communities

Tegelberg and Roosvall’s careful scrutiny of how Indigenous peoples’ relationships to climate change and their calls for climate justice are broadcast to the outside world will appeal to scholars working in a range of fields including Indigenous studies, political science, communication studies, international relations and environmental studies.

Tegelberg hopes that the MediaClimate network’s collaborative approach to research will create opportunities for future collaborations.

The publications listed on the website, with the exception of the latest work by Tegelberg and Roosvall, are available from the York University Libraries system. When the book Media and transnational climate justice: Indigenous activism and climate politics becomes available, it will be added to the University Libraries’ holdings.

For more information, visit the MediaClimate website, or mtegel@yorku.ca.

By Peter Duerr, York University Libraries