Climate Change in Portuguese Media: Global Politics and the Vanishing National Reality

Friday, July 18, 2014: 6:20 PM
Room: 503
Oral Presentation
Ana HORTA , University of Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal
Anabela CARVALHO , University of Minho, Portugal
Portugal is highly exposed to risks and vulnerabilities related to climate change, such as a continuing increase of average summer temperature, more frequent and intense heat waves and a reduction of rainfall, and, as a consequence, floods, droughts, fire hazards, air pollution, erosion and changes in water quality and availability (Santos and Miranda 2006). Climate change is therefore a vital issue for the country’s future, and media debates are likely to play an important role regarding the choices that have to be made. In fact, the framing of climate change in the media guides public perceptions of reality and offers hints for thinking and acting (Entman 2004) from the individual to the policy-making level.  In line with the COMPON research protocol, newspaper articles were selected by searching for the keywords “alterações climáticas” (climate change) in all items published in three dailies (Público, Jornal de Notícias, and Diário Económico) from 2001 to 2010. A random sample of 25% of the articles published between 2007 and 2010 by each newspaper was selected, and the sample was stratified by year.  Results show that the Portuguese press tends to reproduce the global political agenda on climate change, mainly focusing on international events associated with global political decision-making processes, while typically reducing the debate to climate change mitigation. Adaptation’s low visibility may be explained by a dependency of Portuguese newspapers on the international political agenda and by the news sources used. The lack of mobilization of national leaders for adaptation may also play a part. This type of coverage tends to obscure local and national realities and responsibilities, though they are key to addressing climate change