Research by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Climate Action Against Disinformation coalition, found that although outright denials of the facts of the climate crisis were less common, opponents were now likely to focus on “delay, distraction and misinformation” to hinder the rapid action required. It shows that the climate emergency – and the measures needed to deal with it – are in some cases being conflated with divisive issues such as critical race theory, LGBTQ+ rights, abortion access and anti-vaccine campaigns.
The report looked at social media posts over the past 18 months and particularly around the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow last year. It found that the urgent need for wide-ranging mitigation and adaptation strategies were continually downplayed or condemned as unfeasible, overly expensive, disruptive or hypocritical.
“Our analysis has shown that climate disinformation has become more complex, evolving from outright denial into identifiable ‘discourses of delay’ to exploit the gap between buy-in and action,” said Jennie King, head of climate disinformation at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
It identified a number of specific “discourses of delay”, including: