Can climate communication overcome the bad news problem?

Join us for an interactive hybrid event on 24 September.

Climate change is real, and is widely perceived as the most serious threat to the world’s future. Climate change needs to be reported, made visible and discussed to drive and inspire us to taking action. But how can we talk about such an alarming subject, that seems to be growing steadily worse, without the “bad news syndrome” – people walking away because the news is simply too depressing – kicking in? Can we address the severity of the crisis while remaining hopeful about the future?  Can we increase the public’s interest and appetite for climate news, while overcoming misinformation?

We’re bringing together media, scientists, NGOs, and representatives from politics and business to share and discuss their insights into these issues. We’ll do that in the political heart of Europe: Brussels, where climate policies are drafted that affect us all.

Join us for a special interactive hybrid event that will be broadcast from Brussels’ historical Bibliothèque Solvay on Tuesday 24 September 2024.

Ice formations

Join the event

Confirmed speakers:

mark-lee-hunter--175x175.pngDr Mark Lee Hunter: Founding member of The Global Investigative Journalism Network, the principal author of Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists (UNESCO 2009) and the recipient of many awards for his reporting. He is the founding academic director of the Future Media Management Programme at Stockholm School of Economics Riga. He has lectured in 40 countries on five continents and pioneered collaborative investigations with NGOs, notably Greenpeace. Mark will moderate the event.

ulrik-haagerup_175x175.pngUlrik Haagerup: Founder and CEO of Constructive Institute, which embraces solutions, nuance and dialogue with the intent to reinstall trust in the idea that shared facts, shared knowledge and shared discussions are the pillars on which our communities balance. Ulrik is an international public speaker on leadership, media, democracy, innovation and strategy. For 10 years he was the Executive Director of News at Denmark's public service broadcaster DR. He was previously Editor-in-Chief at Nordjyske Media and before that national daily Jyllands-Posten, after working as an investigative reporter.

lagipoiva-cherelle-jackson_175x175.pngDr. Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson: Award winning Pacific island journalist and scholar. For over 20 years she has reported from the frontlines of the climate crisis in her home islands of Samoa. Her work has been featured in The Guardian, AFP, AP, Al Jazeera, Washington Post and others. She is the host of 'An Impossible Choice' a podcast series by The Guardian on the existential nature of the climate crisis for Pacific island countries. A Chieftess from the island of Savai'i, she has facilitated numerous climate journalism trainings with various organisations to strengthen climate coverage globally.

kris-de-meyer-red_175x175.pngKris De Meyer: Director of the UCL Climate Action Unit (CAU) and is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences at UCL. He is a neuroscientist, science communicator and science-policy co-production expert; bringing insights from neuroscience and psychology to the domain of climate change. At the CAU, Kris is responsible for the neuroscientific underpinning of the programme of interventions provided. Kris works closely with clients providing unique expertise on how the human brain responds to climate change.

tom-brookes_175x175.pngTom Brookes: CEO of the Meliore Foundation, a leading organisation for philanthropy focused on funding fact-based strategic communications around climate and related issues. In 2012, he founded the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC), building on his work as Executive Director of Strategic Communications at the European Climate Foundation. The Meliore Foundation works with global philanthropic funding partners to support programmes which educate and encourage fact-based discourse at community, societal, commercial and policy-making levels. Tom previously led government relations for Apple in Europe and was a senior advisor to Microsoft and other companies in their interactions with EU competition regulation.

alexandra-borchardt_175x175.pngAlexandra Borchardt: Senior journalist, media researcher, independent advisor, and university teacher. She is the lead author of the 2023 and 2024 EBU News Reports “Climate Journalism That Works: Between Knowledge and Impact” and “Trusted Journalism in the Age of Generative AI”. She works as co-director of the Climate Explorer Fellowship Program at the Constructive Institute and as a coach for the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) in their Table Stakes Europe Programme on the digital transformation of newsrooms. As a honorary professor at TUM School of Management Alexandra teaches “Leadership and Strategy in the 21st Century”. She is also affiliated with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford as a Senior Research Associate after having served as their Director of Leadership Programmes until 2019. Prior to this she was managing editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), Germany’s leading quality daily.

paolo-caridi_175x175.pngPaolo Caridi: Head of Unit Communication, DG Climate Action, with a history of working on climate topics for the European Commission, being responsible for the coordination of the international negotiation task force on climate change. Paolo is taking a stand to fight climate disinformation.

syed-nazakat_175x175.pngSyed Nazakat: Award-winning journalist, media entrepreneur, founder and CEO of DataLEADS, a tech & digital media company that promotes open data and democratisation of information at scale. Syed has spearheaded one of the world’s biggest fact-checking, data journalism, open climate change reporting initiatives and media literacy training networks which has resulted in the launch of many fact-checking initiatives, in multiple languages, and has benefited hundreds of institutions and organisations across Asia. He is a founder of Asian Dispatch and a board member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

angelika-pullen-175x175.pngAngelika Pullen: A communications professional and campaigner, Angelika has spent the last 15 years advocating for more ambitious EU and international climate and nature conservation policies, since 2016 as Communications and Campaigns Director at the WWF European Policy Office in Brussels. Prior to this, she worked for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Global Wind Energy Council, where she led a campaign on the climate mitigation potential of wind power ahead of the 2015 UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen. She started her career as a journalist reporting on environment and energy policy in Brussels, and holds a Master's degree on European Studies from the London School of Economics (LSE).

sven-egenter_175x175.pngSven Egenter: Founder and editor in chief of Clean Energy Wire | CLEW. The non-profit energy and climate journalism hub covers the relevant stories of Europe's move to climate neutrality, offers trainings for journalists and runs a network of nearly 500 engaged journalists from 82 countries. As Executive Director, Sven is also in charge of multi-award-winning German language climate communication platform Klimafakten. Before launching CLEW, he covered the German, Swiss and British economies during his 12 years at Reuters. He also taught journalism at Kingston University and worked as a media trainer.

asa-jamal_175x175_.pngÅsa Jamal: Senior Vice President and Head of Group Communications at Vattenfall, with an extensive background in communication and media (SVP and Head of Group Communications at Telia Company, SVP and Head of Communication and HR at Bonnier Broadcasting/TV4).  Åsa will open the event in Brussels.


09.30–09.45: Introduction by Åsa Jamal, Vattenfall

09.45–11.15: Session 1 – Can we be balanced about climate change?
Various research findings confirm that how we discuss climate change matters. The words we choose in reporting the issues and in climate change policies themselves can make a significant difference. Meanwhile, navigating between neutrality and activism is becoming difficult for mainstream media. Will climate change alter the industry’s operating assumptions?

11.30–13.00: Session 2 – Can we grow the publics for climate change news?
Over the past years, traditional media have been hit hard. Overall trust and viewership for news is continuing its downward trend. Up to 40 percent of the audiences that have left say they tend to avoid news, because they find it too depressing. Who and where are the audiences for climate change news?

14.00–15.30: Session 3 – Whose facts matter in the climate change story?
‘Facts’ are now more disputed than ever. Whose facts are legitimate and to whom has become a matter of faith. In practical terms: what constitutes "proof" for the publics of climate change communication?

15.30–16.00: Collective session & wrap-up

Why is Vattenfall organising this?

  • Vattenfall is ‘living’ the energy transition. Our work affects the daily lives of our customers, our employees and the world around us. To ensure the energy transition succeeds, we need to understand and engage with a wide range of stakeholders. How will they be informed about the issues, and by whom?
  • Vattenfall has researched the impact of climate change communication extensively, and we believe that how climate change is discussed can help shift the balance from feelings of despair to taking action.  We do not believe that there is only one valid or viable approach, and we see that numerous actors are developing their own.
  • Climate action (or inaction) affects all of us: the general public, politicians, scientists, NGOs, media and corporations.
  • At this event we want to facilitate and host a discussion about climate change news and communication, focused on finding a way to drive and inspire us into taking action.


Vattenfall’s Head of Media Relations Anouk IJfs explains why an energy company is hosting a conference on climate communication.

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