Climate change, poverty and climate justice in South African media: The case of COP17

Authors Jill Johannessen

ISSN: 1996-2126
Affiliations: Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Norway
Source: South African Journal on Human Rights, Volume 29 Issue 1, 2013, p. 32 – 60


The historical responsibility for today’s climate crisis rests in the hands of rich industrialised countries, while developing countries in many cases face its most devastating effects. Hence, climate change also raises issues of moral responsibility and the protection of human rights. Although there is a general understanding among the world’s leaders that rich nations have to take the lead in reducing global emissions and paying for developing nations to initiate mitigation measures and adaptation, these are still core issues remaining to be solved. This article investigates how the South African media constructed representations of climate change, with a special emphasis on the interface of climate change, poverty, and justice during the African Conference of the Parties, COP17. The mass media is a central arena where the struggle to define the climate crisis plays out and through which most citizens are exposed to these issues. Can the heated moments of international climate negotiations be an arena for promoting justice issues and making them known to the public?