Storylines of Geoengineering in the Australian Media: An Analysis of Online Coverage 2006-2018

Anna Burnard, Rebecca Colvin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    In the light of inadequate global emissions mitigation, geoengineering - solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal - is increasingly being positioned and problematized by some researchers, policymakers, and advocates as a partial solution for avoiding catastrophic levels of warming. However, there are concerns that geoengineering may serve as a rhetorical tactic for delaying emissions reduction. As the news media field is an important space in which storylines surrounding geoengineering are created and circulated, the manner in which media actors discuss these topics is an important factor that can legitimate some policy pathways and close off others. In this paper, we analyze patterns in news media coverage of geoengineering in Australia to identify four dominant storylines: “a symptom of systems failure”, “silver buckshot”, “the Faustian bargain”, and “time for plan B”. We consider the implication of these storylines for the role that geoengineering may play in the Australian climate policy regime. We identify a risk geoengineering may be positioned as a rhetorical tactic for delaying emissions reduction. However, we note that the storylines in the public sphere provide a basis for public debate that engages critically with geoengineering, engaging with risks and differentiating solar radiation management from carbon dioxide removal.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)977-992
    JournalEnvironmental Communication
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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