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17th May 2019

The Guardian issues staff-wide changes to language in climate change reporting

'Climate crisis' will now be used instead of climate change

Oli Dugmore

The Guardian has changed its house style for reporting on climate change

‘Climate crisis’ will now be used instead of climate change

The Guardian’s editor changed the paper’s house style for environmental reporting today.

From now on “climate emergency,” “crisis” or “breakdown” will be used instead of climate change and “global heating” will replace “global warming.”

These adjustments are intended to more “accurately” describe the climate crisis facing the planet but use of the other terms is not banned.

“We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change,’ for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”

“Increasingly, climate scientists and organisations from the UN to the Met Office are changing their terminology, and using stronger language to describe the situation we’re in,” she said.

Additional changes include the use of “wildlife” rather than “biodiversity,” “fish populations” instead of “fish stocks” and “climate science denier” rather than “climate sceptic.”

Announcing the change in house style follows The Guardian’s daily inclusion of global CO2 levels in its weather report. “Of Which Viner said, in April: “Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have risen so dramatically – including a measure of that in our daily weather report is symbolic of what human activity is doing to our climate. People need reminding that the climate crisis is no longer a future problem – we need to tackle it now, and every day matters.”