(In)Action? Climate change discourse of the European “dirty” industries

  • Mirja Kemppi-Pfleger (Redner*in)

Aktivität: VortragWissenschaftlicher Vortrag (Science-to-Science)


The purpose of this study, which is a part of a larger dissertation project, is to identify how
large European companies discursively construct climate action. Previous research on
corporate climate change discourse has mainly focused on the oil and gas industry, and so far no comparative studies between different industries have been conducted. To address this research gap, the climate change discourse of oil and gas companies is compared with that of the automotive industry.
For this corpus-assisted critical discourse study, a special corpus was compiled using
the sustainability reports of the five largest companies of both industries in the European
single market from the fiscal years 2014, 2016 and 2018. Sketch Engine was used to identify
action word collocates of climate change in the corpus. Subsequently, the concordances of
these collocates were analysed using the CDA tools developed by Van Leeuwen (2008) with a focus on the discursive strategies for representing social actors and action.
Although several action words are among the strongest collocates of climate change,
the concordance analysis revealed that companies are rarely the grammatical subject of these actions. Instead, various discursive strategies are applied to distance the companies from direct action. The quantitative and qualitative analysis shows how companies discursively construct climate action and their role in it. The diachronic set-up illustrates how the discourse changed over the five-year-period in question. By critically analysing the language of corporate climate change discourse, this study sheds light to the degree of the companies’ commitment to climate action and, more generally, to the various discursive strategies used to communicate such a difficult topic as climate change.

Van Leeuwen, Theo. 2008. Discourse and Practice: New tools for critical discourse analysis.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Zeitraum13 Juli 202116 Juli 2021
EreignistitelCL2021 Internation Conference of Corpus Linguistics
VeranstaltungstypKeine Angaben