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Research Report

REDD+ politics in the media: A case study from Brazil

Peter H. May
Bruno Calixto
Maria Fernanda Gebara
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2011
Pages: 36
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. viii-viii)

    It is generally assumed that the mass media influence policy and political processes (Crow 2010). Whilst the media can create awareness about policy issues (Crow 2010), they can also contribute to the creation of political identity (Dittmer 2005, in Boykoff 2008). Actors in the role of policy entrepreneurs often influence policies and processes in these same ways (Kingdon 1995, in Crow 2010).

    This working paper uses a media analysis to examine how the Brazilian media has approached the topic of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+), with the aim of assessing how the media approach is influencing this policy...

  2. (pp. 1-2)

    Carbon emissions from land use change—primarily tropical deforestation and forest degradation—make up an estimated 15–20% of all global carbon emissions (IPCC 2007), which is more than that of the global transport sector. The ‘crucial role’ of forests in climate change mitigation and the need for the ‘immediate establishment’ of a REDD+ mechanism were officially endorsed in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Copenhagen Accord in December 2009 (FCCC/CP/2009/L.7).

    The basic idea of REDD+ is for developed countries to compensate forest-rich developing countries in return for preserving their forests. A REDD+ mechanism would involve placing a...

  3. (pp. 3-6)

    Following Boykoff (2008), this study explored media frames and complemented them with information from semi-structured interviews to investigate the link between media discourse and the policymaking arena in Brazil. A media frame is ‘a broad organizing theme for selecting, emphasizing, and linking the elements of a story such as the scenes, the characters, their actions, and supporting documentation’ (Bennett 1996, in Boykoff 2008:555). In practice, a frame is a conceptual lens that brings certain aspects of reality into sharper focus, emphasising a particular way of understanding an issue whilst relegating others to the background (Di Gregorio 2009).

    For this study...

  4. (pp. 7-10)

    The following discussion describes how forest and climate change policies have evolved in Brazil and how this evolution engaged key actors and interest groups during the study period. Although the analysis refers to the articles reviewed for this study, it offers more a descriptive overview of the ‘news landscape’ within which forest-related issues have been covered than an overview of the data.

    Coverage of themes such as the relationship between climate and forests began to appear frequently in the largest Brazilian newspapers in 2007, with the announcement by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that climate change was a...

  5. (pp. 11-14)

    As part of the methodology adopted for this study,⁸ we created 4 distinct categories to describe the types of frame:

    1. The ‘diagnostic’ frame identifies who or what is to blame for a problem (related to REDD+), including who dismisses the reality of the problem altogether;

    2. The ‘prognostic’ frame involves the articulation of a proposed solution to the problem, or at least a plan of attack, and the strategies that would be used to carry out the plan;

    3. The ‘symptomatic’ frame identifies why an issue is a problem, often by discussing its potential consequences; and

    4. The ‘motivational’ frame reveals moral and...

  6. (pp. 15-18)

    The last part of this analysis sought to identify which key players the newspapers choose to cite or interview for comment on issues related to REDD+, and who has a voice in the Brazilian press. We conducted a detailed identification of the main discourses used to represent ideological positions and beliefs. We then identified advocates, adversaries and their stances, qualifying their positions and interests in relation to the future of REDD+ implementation in Brazil, particularly with regard to the 3Es+.

    Actors in a policy domain are here defined as ‘an organization or/an individual that defines it/he/herself and that is perceived...

  7. (pp. 19-20)

    One of the major concerns of the advocates and adversaries identified in the media framing exercise is the effectiveness of REDD+ in reducing emissions (33%; Figure 8). REDD+ advocate Jens Stoltenberg, Norwegian government representative, exemplifies this concern in saying that ‘Reducing deforestation is the easiest, cheapest and most efficient way to reduce carbon emissions’.⁹

    Some adversaries express concerns that REDD+ may not be effective in reducing overall global GHG emissions if exploited by developed countries to compensate for their negligence in reducing their emissions. In the words of Tasso Azevedo, Brazilian Forest Service: ‘Brazil’s official position is that REDD+ is...

  8. (pp. 21-22)

    This paper has sought to paint a picture of how the political arena for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) in Brazil has been represented in media-based discourse from 2005 to 2009. For this purpose, we selected 409 articles in 4 major national Brazilian newspapers, 245 of which were analysed at all levels (descriptive, detailed and in terms of position advocacy) because they discussed REDD+ as a principal issue.

    We found that the Brazilian media has given greatest attention to policymaking concerns and economic issues involving finance and carbon markets, at the expense of specific institutional issues (such as...