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Abstract

The study of climate change communication has become an important research field. As stakeholders such as scientists, politicians, corporations, or NGOs increasingly turn to the Internet and social media for providing information and mobilizing support, and as an increasing number of people use these media, online communication on climate change and climate politics has become a relevant topic. This article reviews the available scholarly literature on the role of online and social media in climate communication. It analyzes how stakeholders use online communication strategically, showing, for example, that climate scientists and scientific institutions do not seem to be major players in online debates about climate change and climate politics. Furthermore, it highlights the characteristics of online climate communication, outlining, for example, that although (or because) many stakeholders participate online, this does not lead to robust scientific information or better debates. Eventually, the review assesses what is known about the uses and effects of online climate communication, showing that impacts on the broader public seem to be limited so far. Research desiderata are identified in the end, and directions for further studies are shown. WIREs Clim Change 2012, 3:527–543. doi: 10.1002/wcc.191

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