Communicating climate change risk: A content analysis of ipcc's summary for policymakers

Marijn Poortvliet*, Meredith T. Niles, Jeroen A. Veraart, Saskia E. Werners, Fiona C. Korporaal, Bob C. Mulder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the effectiveness of climate change risk communication in terms of its theoretical potential to stimulate recipients' awareness and behavioral change. We selected the summary for policy makers (SPM) of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in order to conduct a content analysis; the extended parallel process model and construal level theory served as conceptual lenses to perform the analysis. Specifically, we evaluated to what extent the SPM included informational elements of threat, efficacy and psychological distance related to climate change. The results showed that threat information was prominently present, but efficacy information was less frequently included, and when it was, more often in the latter parts of the SPM. With respect to construal level it was found that in the IPCC report concrete representations were used only sparingly. Theoretical relevance and implications for climate change risk communication with key audiences are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4861
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020


  • Climate change
  • Content analysis
  • Efficacy
  • Global warming
  • Psychological distance
  • Risk communication
  • Threat appraisal


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