The Climate Policy Crisis: Governing Disinformation in the Digital Age

Digital Policy Hub Working Paper

February 29, 2024

Climate change is the quintessential global challenge, while also perhaps the issue that has experienced the most polarization in recent years. Therefore, understanding the way broader global politics manifest through tools such as social media and consequently impact policy making, becomes integral to effectively fighting the climate crisis. While climate change must be countered through effective mitigation and adaptation approaches at the local, national and global levels, implementing effective policies to do so can only be accomplished through buy-in by a critical mass of citizens. Disinformation campaigns have, however, increasingly been targeted at issues that fall along partisan lines and climate change has been a particularly polarizing issue. Research presented in this paper demonstrates ways in which efforts to misinform and disinform the public are becoming both increasingly prevalent as well as effective. The polarization that is being stoked by misinformation campaigns on social media is the most serious threat to fighting climate change. New policies and approaches for policy development and implementation will be required to match the alacrity of the proliferating online flows of misinformation and disinformation.

About the Author

Andrew Heffernan is a part-time professor of international relations and comparative politics at the University of Ottawa where he also holds a Ph.D. in political science. He is a post-doctoral fellow at the Digital Policy Hub where his research will examine climate governance and mis- and disinformation around climate change.