Climate refugees or migrants? Contesting media frames on climate change justice in the Pacific
Climate justice is rarely encountered in Australian media coverage of issues around climate change. The rare coverage of climate justice issues often focuses on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as Kiribati and commonly makes use of four main media frames: SIDS as “proof” of climate change, SIDS as “victims” of climate change, SIDS communities as climate “refugees,” and SIDS as travel destinations. Yet these frames undermine the desire of SIDS communities to be seen as proactive, self-determining, and active agents of change. This paper explores the way in which Pacific Islanders view the existing media coverage of their concerns over climate change and how they would prefer the media to tell their stories. Through an action research collaboration with a climate change non-governmental organization working in Kiribati and Australia, participants proposed alternative frames for climate justice media, including frames of human rights, active change agents, and migration with dignity.