• climate change;
  • consensus;
  • dissent;
  • environmental policy;
  • online discussions


Public participation in environmental policy development offers governments and private organizations opportunities to gather community views and test policy instruments and solutions. In this study, a concept mapping analysis of 1702 online comments from 344 individuals has been undertaken to determine the balance between climate change debate and policy development, and some of the major issues surrounding policy implementation. The results show that counterproductive and intolerant climate science debate, opposing political party policy alignments, and disagreement on policy implementation serve as impediments in developing workable climate change policy. The research also exposes how individuals can ‘hijack’ the online discussion forums in attempts to further their own agendas. This suggests that online forums might be better designed to integrate with the larger policy development system. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment