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WATCH: Climate disinformation lecture addresses ‘centrist denial’

Overheated: The Fight For Information, Integrity, Climate Action and Democracy was part of the Stockholm Series of Public Lecturers on Climate Change and Democracy. And it’s streaming here. 

Delivered by Jennie King, Director of Climate Policy & Research at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue on 7th May 2024, the lecture looks at the normalisation and mainstream adoption of climate-related conspiracy theories. The exponential increase in scepticism, and an ‘explosion’ in the number of parties that stand to gain from climate inaction are also addressed. 

Rather than disinformation being largely driven by a small but powerful group of key stakeholders in the fossil fuel and automotive industries, today threats come from myriad sources. These include online extremists and conspiracy theorists, ‘for-profit disinformers’, ‘outrage merchants’ and far-right actors. 

‘The number of people who stand to be benefit from producing or amplifying mis- and disinformation on climate has exploded,’ says King. ‘Climate is an unprecedented test for democracy. To meet the scale and urgency of the challenge, we need a strong public mandate and a common understanding of the viable pathways forward – including potential trade-offs. Equally, the manner in which we achieve climate goals will reflect the strength of our political systems. 

‘The Paris Agreement hopes to ensure a liveable future for mankind, but it cannot come at the expense of rights and freedoms here and now,’ she continues. ‘This tension has been all-too acute at recent COP summits, with the Presidency held by authoritarian states or Petro-dictatorships multiple years in a row. The delegate compound is a world unto itself, but the stark reality lies just out of sight – one of political prisoners, stifled media, forced labour and the disappeared.’ 

Earlier this year, the UK Government was the subject of a scathing report into human rights abuses targeting climate and environmental campaigners. The UN Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders under the Aarhus Convention described the arrest of peaceful protestors and curbs on rights to public assembly as ‘extremely worrying.’ He also referenced judges instructing for jurors to disregard their principles and the context of climate change when coming to a verdict as a major cause for concern. 

You can watch Overheated: The Fight For Information, Integrity, Climate Action and Democracy below.


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