Scientific reports indicate that climate change may well be the greatest challenge that humanity faces in this century. According to Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) over the past century mean global temperatures have risen by approximately 0.740C while atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide increased from a pre-industrial value of 278 parts per million to 379 parts per million in 2005. Estimates show that the Earth could warm by 3° C by 2100. Climate change affect resources that are critical to sustainable development (IPCC, 2013). For instance, the frequent droughts change rainfall patterns that are usually accompanied with other effects such as food insecurity and malnutrition among others. Climate action through mitigation and adaptation initiatives is thus fundamental.
For real development, individuals and groups need to be empowered to gain control over their lives through active participation in their own development. The media in developing content and channelling to the public are key players in transforming individuals and communities towards climate action. It is said that peoples’ response to an environmental challenge depends on the environmental information they receive (Karembu & Kiai, 1999). Through reporting the media is capable of fostering a clear awareness to the public of the challenge of climate change and cause the masses to change their patterns of behaviour to embrace climate action initiatives. Climate change and climate action related news are however said to be hard to ‘sell’ as expressed by some journalists.
Therefore the media has a huge role in advocating for Climate Action. The media has a role in providing voice to affected communities, educating communities so that they are cushioned against the impacts of climate change. Similarly, the media can link citizens with policy makers and promote informed and meaningful discussion about climate change mitigation and adaptation (Anderson, 2009). Effective climate action needs improved knowledge base of the public about climate change and equipping them with skills for climate action; something which the media can help achieve. In the day to day to activities of reporting, journalist can tailor content to build capacity of local communities to help them adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change as well as take opportunities such as those offered in clean development mechanisms. Media involvement in climate reporting is a basis for humankind given that people need to be constantly informed. Media creates awareness and builds capacity on mitigation and adaptation options and its coverage of climate change remains, a significant factor in shaping public perceptions, opinions and attitudes toward the issue. Lastly, the media mediates the scientific opinion on climate change for instance that the global instrumental temperature record shows increase in recent decades and that the trend is caused mainly by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases (UNEP, 2006)
Anderson, A. (2009). Media, Politics and Climate Change: Towards a New Research Agenda. Sociology compass, 3(2), 166-182.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC). (2013). Climate Change 2013: The Physical
Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Cambridge,
United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1
Kiai,W. and Karembu, M. (1999). Understanding Environmental Communication in Kenya. Nairobi: African Council for Communication Education.
UNEP (2006), Environmental Reporting for African Journalists