Communicating About Climate Change with Urban Populations and Decision-Makers

Eric Chu, Todd Schenk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


Cities are important venues for climate change communication, where global rhetoric, national directives, local priorities, and media discourses interact to advance mitigation, adaptation, and resilience outcomes on the ground. Urban decision makers are often directly accountable to their electorates, responsible for the tasks most relevant to advancing concrete action on climate change, and flexible in pursuing various public engagement programs. However, many cities are designing climate policies without robust downscaled climate projections or clear capacity and support mechanisms. They are often constrained by fragmented governance arrangements, limited resources, and jurisdictional boundaries. Furthermore, policies often fall short in responding to the disparate needs of heterogeneous urban populations. Despite these constraints, cities across the global North and South are innovating with various communication tools to facilitate public awareness, political engagement, context-specific understanding, and action around climate change. These tools range from traditional popular media to innovative participatory processes that acknowledge the interests of different stakeholders, facilitate engagement across institutional boundaries, and address persistent scientific uncertainty through information coproduction and knowledge reflexivity. By selectively employing these tools, local governments and their partners are able to translate climate science into actionable mitigation, adaptation, and resilience plans; prioritize decision making while taking into account the multiscaled nature of urban infrastructures and service provisions; and design adaptable and flexible communication processes that are socially equitable and inclusive over the long term.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science
EditorsMatthew Nisbet
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages50
ISBN (Electronic)978-0190228620
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2017


  • cities
  • collaborative planning
  • climate change communication
  • urban policy
  • governance
  • urban planning
  • decision-making tools


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