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Successes and shortcomings of climate change communication: insights from a longitudinal analysis of Swedish Forest owners

This article examines the effects of participatory, science-based climate change communication on adaptation efforts of forest owners in Sweden. The communication project did not lead to climate-related actions; in fact, forest owners grew less concerned about climate change in the project’s wake. The authors interpret the findings as evidence of the need for better-tailored communication.

Gregor Vulturius, Karin André, Åsa Gerger Swartling / Published on 25 September 2019

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Vulturius, G., André, K., Gerger Swartling, Å., Brown, C. and Rounsevell, M. (2019). Successes and shortcomings of climate change communication: insights from a longitudinal analysis of Swedish Forest owners. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.

This article analyses the results of a study that assessed long-term cognitive and behavioural changes among Swedish forest owners who took part in a climate change communication project. The researches examined changes over a period of four and a half years, following a series of climate change-related focus group meetings and workshops that brought together scientists and forest owners.

The findings suggest that climate change communication had only a limited direct effect on individual engagement with adaptation. Climate change communication may have strengthened forest owners’ perceived knowledgeability and beliefs in climate change; nonetheless, participants actually became less concerned about climate change risks in the wake of the project. Moreover, they did not change how they managed their forests.

The authors argue that the results underscore the need for scientists to learn how to better tailor climate change communication to the personal experiences and decision-making needs of their target audiences. The researchers also suggest that scientists should make use of the peers and information channels already trusted by target audiences.

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SEI authors

Karin André
Karin André

Team Leader: Cities, Communities and Consumption; Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Åsa Gerger Swartling
Åsa Gerger Swartling

Head of Knowledge Management, Senior Research Fellow

Global Operations

SEI Headquarters

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Topics and subtopics
Climate : Adaptation

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