The Broadcasting Sustainability Network (BSN) partnered with Dublin City University’s Centre for Climate and Society to launch a training programme on climate literacy for Irish broadcasters. The programme aimed to equip broadcasters with the knowledge and skills they need to accurately and effectively communicate on climate change and related issues.


Given the urgency of the climate crisis, it is vitally important that the public are made aware of the risks associated with climate change, of the governments’ plan to transition Ireland to a low carbon economy, and of the actions they as citizens can take to support positive climate action. People need to be armed with accurate information to inform their choices – everything from their voting decisions, to using their purchasing power for good, to demanding more from the companies they interact with.


However, communicating on climate change presents particular challenges for broadcasters and the media at large. These include the complexities of climate science, the different terminology and language around climate change (e.g. the concept of ‘net-zero carbon’), and the onslaught of deliberate misinformation.

As climate change is increasingly woven into all aspects of the public conversation it is important for everyone working in the broadcasting industry – particularly those involved in creating content/programming – to have a good foundational knowledge of climate science, climate policy etc. Without this knowledge, broadcasters will not be able to accurately inform the public discourse on climate change and shine a light on this critical topic.


Given the media’s ability to influence public conversation and consciousness on climate change, the BAI and the Broadcasting Sustainability Network initiated the creation of a Climate Literacy training programme to educate and upskill broadcasters. They approached Dublin City University’s (DCU) Centre for Climate & Society to develop the content and deliver the training. Lecturers from the Centre for Climate & Society created a 5-module training programme, which was delivered virtually, over five consecutive 1-hour weekly sessions.

The programme aimed to give people working in the broadcasting sector (TV/screen, radio, and relevant suppliers) a strong grounding in climate change – the science, the policy, and the essential role of communications. The 5 modules were:

  • Module 1 – A layperson’s guide to climate science by Dr Darren Clarke
  • Module 2 – Communicating the climate by Dr Declan Fahy
  • Module 3 – Climate communications for media organisations Dr Dave Robbins
  • Module 4 – Climate change in popular culture by Prof Pat Brereton
  • Module 5 – Climate change politics, policy and governance by Sadhbh O’Neill

An in-person follow-up session was hosted on 9th March 2023 in Dublin. This gave participants the opportunity to ask questions of the DCU lecturers and discuss the themes covered in the training programme.

Results and Benefits

Participants reported an increased understanding of the complex scientific, social and economic aspects of climate change and an increased awareness of the importance of accurate and responsible reporting on the issue. Attendance from across the sector was high, with around 100 people tuning in for each module.

Feedback was extremely positive with 100% of participants saying they would recommend the course to colleagues. “Great content and lots of different perspectives to think about.” “I absolutely loved it, it was so informative.” Top learnings for participants included:

  1. ‘A better understanding of the reality of the climate crisis.’
  2. ‘The need to inform listeners of the vital role each individual can, and must play, to lessen the effects of climate change.’
  3. ‘That the organisation I work for has to become more pro-active in highlighting environmental issues and become a strong voice for positive action.’
  4. ‘Ensuring everyone across the board has some basic climate literacy.’
  5. ‘Telling local stories about how communities are responding to climate change.’
  6. ‘Trying to provide a platform for discussion and debate on this critical issue.’

The Broadcasting Sustainability Network plans to run the programme again taking on board the learnings from the first cohort to further refine the course content and structure.

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned from the BSN climate literacy training for broadcasters are:

Climate literacy is essential for effective communication: Broadcasting professionals need to have a good understanding of climate science, policy, and communication to accurately and effectively communicate climate change information to the public.

Collaboration is crucial: The success of the training program was due to the partnership between the Broadcasting Sustainability Network and DCU’s Centre for Climate and Society. Collaborations between experts in climate science, policy, and communication can help to deliver comprehensive training programs for those in broadcasting/the media.

Need for proactive action: Broadcasting organisations need to become more proactive in highlighting environmental issues and becoming a strong voice for positive action on climate change.

Encouraging engagement with the issue: The training program helped participants become more engaged with the issue of climate change, and broadcasters should aim to provide more platforms/opportunities for discussion and debate to encourage public engagement in the climate conversation.

Local stories matter: Broadcasting professionals have a role to play in telling local stories of climate action, which can help to personalise the impacts of climate change and make them more relatable.

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