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Taming the climate?: corpus analysis of politicians' speech on climate change

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Politics
Issue number2
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)212-231
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date12/01/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The politics of climate change is much discussed, but there has been little investigation into how politicians themselves understand or articulate the issue. Corpus analysis, a method developed within linguistics, is used to investigate how UK politicians talk about climate change, using the example of the 2008 Climate Change Bill. Corpus techniques, including keyword analysis, collocation and semantic tagging, are used, alongside critical reading of the text. The analysis shows that politicians frame climate change as an economic and technical issue, and neglect discussion of the human and social dimensions. They are selective in their use of scientific evidence, with little mention of abrupt or irreversible change. In doing so, they attempt to ‘tame’ climate change, rather than confronting difficult realities. While this strategy has the benefit of political acceptability, it does not allow for discussion of the full political and social implications of climate change, and precludes more radical responses.