THE SMALL CHANGES: How to Talk About Climate Change Without Talking About Climate Change

Wednesday 13 April
6.00 – 7.30pm

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Law School Foyer Level 2
Sydney Law School , University of Sydney


There is a lot more to the history of climate change in Australia than you think …

Changing the frames of climate change…

For the past decade, Australian policy makers and the media have been altering the public narrative and framing of ‘climate change’ despite the science remaining consistent. Among those, local councils have been developing Climate Change Adaptation Plans (CCAP) to educate the community despite many being pressured to avoid using the term ‘climate change’. Analysing the language utilised within those narratives paints a picture of how people have comprehended environmental issues.

Inspired by the book, ‘Global Warming and Climate Change: What Australia knew and buried… then framed a new reality for the public’, this talk looks at the vast research undertaken by award-winning journalist Maria Taylor into climate change communication on Australian public record over the years and recognising how that communication has changed from a will to take action to confusion and vice versa.

In this event, Maria joins Lisette Collins, PhD candidate in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, to uncover how the public’s perceptions of ‘climate change’ have been affected by the reframing of the public narrative by policymakers and other stakeholders.


Lisette Collins is a PhD candidate in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, specialising in climate change adaptation policy at the local government level across Australia.  Her PhD research focuses on the prioritisation of sociopolitical concepts (education, vulnerable groups and mental health) in adaptation planning. The research involves the development of a unique database of adaptation plans from across the country which has been sought out by local government employees in New South Wales, Western Australia, and Victoria. She is also part of a research team, which considers the relationship between vulnerability prioritisation and community consultation in local government adaptation planning.

Maria Taylor is an award-winning journalist and former documentary film-maker whose work over more than three decades in both Australia and the United States has focused on sustainable resource management and environmental issues.

Her book – What Australia knew and buried… then framed a new reality for the public – was developed from PhD research at the National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science of The Australian National University. The book is written for both a general audience and interested scholars.

Taylor’s multi-disciplinary investigation of the public record and the input of science, politics, economics, journalism and contemporary mass media has revealed for the first time how and why Australia buried a once good understanding of global warming and climate change to arrive after 25 years at the confusion and stalemate we are still in today.

She is currently working on a new book that also examines the interplay of science, culture and values. Taylor lives and works in regional NSW near the national capital, where she publishes a monthly community newspaper The District Bulletin.