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Cake mentioned 10 times more than climate change on TV, study finds

Written by on September 15, 2021

The word “cake” appeared 10 times more on British television than “climate change” in 2020 while “dog” was mentioned 22 times more, according to new analysis.

Mentions of climate change and global warming fell by 10% and 19% respectively compared with 2019, a report from BAFTA-backed sustainability initiative Albert has found.

This drop can be explained by competition for air time from global events, the Subtitles to Save The World study said, with “lockdown” and “COVID” entering the public discourse, and reruns and archive programmes replacing new TV shows.

"Cake" was mentioned 10x more often than "climate change", and "dog" 22x more. Pic: albert
Image: “Cake” was mentioned 10 times more often than “climate change”, and “dog” 22 times more. Pic: Albert

“However, the COVID story is of course a climate story,” said Albert director Carys Taylor.

“It’s a story about our relationship with the natural world, and also the story of how quickly we can adapt, innovate and improve,” she added.

The study analysed almost 400,000 hours of TV programmes – excluding the news – from the BBC, ITV, Channel
4, Channel 5, Sky and UKTV.

As society talked about a “green recovery” from the pandemic, mentions of individual action such as “recycling”, “reusing” and “veganism” all increased in 2020.

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But there were fewer words associated with the “systemic change needed to reach net zero” such as “renewables”.

Meanwhile, “beer garden” and “banana bread” cropped up far more than wind or solar.

Terms describing the problem such as "climate change" and "climate crisis" had far more mentions than those related to the addressing the problem, such as climate justice, climate action and climate solution. Pic: albert
Image: Terms describing the problem such as “climate change” and “climate crisis” had far more mentions than those related to the addressing the problem, such as climate solution. Pic: Albert

The screen industry organisation believes the UK’s “world-leading” broadcast sector has “extraordinary power” to shape culture, provide “a stage for inspiring stories” and encourage audiences to “contribute to important public conversations”.

It says the biggest such conversation of our time is how we tackle climate change.

“The scale of the challenge to achieve our net zero targets in time, fairly and effectively, is daunting but the creative opportunity for broadcasters to support the transition is immense,” said Ms Taylor.

A previous Albert study found that each hour of television produced leaves an average ¬≠carbon footprint of 9.2 tonnes, which is the equivalent of two households’ annual consumption.

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Most plans for new coal power plants have been scrapped since the Paris agreement.

Watch the Daily Climate Show at 6.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.


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