TV should weave environmental messaging into shows and drama plots, BAFTA says

Climate change should be the focus of more TV shows and drama plots to help raise awareness of the issues, according to the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA).

A new report released by Bafta found the word “cake” was mentioned 15 times more than climate change in non-news British television programming – with 46,063 mentions compared to 3,125 mentions of climate change.

Certain words such a ‘carbon offset’ or ‘hybrid car’ were only mentioned 11 times and 22 times respectively. ‘Climate change’ was the second highest tracked term with 3,125 mentions however this still lagged far behind other terms such as  ‘beer’(21,648), ‘dog’ (105,245)‘tea’ (60,060) and ‘sex’ (56,307).

The report, Subtitles to Save the World, features analysis from Deloitte of the subtitles of more than 128,000 programmes which aired on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky between September 2017 and September 2018.

As well as “climate change” researchers tracked other words relating to the environment including food waste, vegan, meat-free, carbon offsetting, green energy, eco-friendly and solar power.

When environmental terms were used, the research showed that there was a preference to talk about the issues and the problems rather than the solutions, as references to climate change and global warming far outweighed terms such as electric cars or solar power.

The research was undertaken to coincide with the launch of Planet Placement, a new guide which is designed to challenge and inspire those working in the industry to weave sustainability messages into on screen content, no matter the genre, in order to help make positive environmental behaviours mainstream.

Pippa Harris, Chair at BAFTA said: “The TV industry’s call to address climate change is clear.  Reducing our impact is a given, but our real opportunity lies in the programmes we make, and in our ability to use powerful human stories to connect audiences with the world around them. We need to understand the links between climate change and society, and act strategically to ensure we do everything in our power to avert the climate crisis. Though it may seem that our future has been taken from us, history is still being created. It is time to write a different script and share it with the world.”

In response to the report, Lynette Huntley, Chief of Staff at Channel Four said: “This fascinating piece of research will help us identify what more we can do to challenge perception and inspire change around sustainability.”

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at

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