Understanding global sustainability communication on YouTube

Grantham Scholar Jake Allcock’s project seeks to encourage scientists/researchers to use of YouTube in order to engage users in a dialogue about climate change

The project

With internet access growing across the globe social media platforms are an increasingly prominent source of education, offering an alternative for those who may lack access to other educational resources. Videos on climate change have amassed millions of views on YouTube and act as vital sources for raising awareness on both the impacts of climate change and a range of political and policy measures for carbon reduction and adaptation.

Effective dialogue through this platform therefore becomes critical to achieving the desired outcomes for many of the SDGs, as communicating to global publics about the importance of pursuing these sustainable measures and gaining their support requires effective dialogue.

By fusing innovative digital methods to map the ‘climate change space’ on YouTube my research project will investigate the impacts of the platforms personalisation in order to discover how climate change is being presented across different YouTube videos in different countries. I will explore how content creators from across the globe use YouTube for communicating multiple aspects of climate change such as the consequences of rising temperatures to how solutions are presented to tackle the climate crisis.

The results of my project would seek to encourage scientists/researchers to take up the use of YouTube as a device to engage with users in a dialogue about climate change. Revealing how to use the algorithms on the site to create successful videos to reach millions of people, and learning from existing creators on the platform in how they use visuals and audio content to deliver engaging climate change content. By highlighting YouTube’s influential role in informing climate change views across the globe, policymakers and political decision makers can be empowered by the outcome of this project. It will hopefully assist them in making informed decisions to hasten the development and progress of sustainability measures that will resonate and be accepted by citizens, and in turn lead them to tackle climate change through the creation of more sustainable measures.


Dr Warren Pearce

Department of Sociological Studies


Dr Ros Williams

Department of Sociological Studies