The article analyses the discursive roles of two prominent themes of the habitual media climate change imagery: “the smokestack” and “renewable energy”. Through semiotic analysis of connotation and thematic content analysis of images in The Guardian, the article argues that the constant reliance on these two themes and the particular ways of representing them sustain a definition of climate change as a technological dualism. The article argues further that this dualism of “dirty” and “clean” technologies, as the predominant way of visualising direct causes of and responses to climate change, articulates ecological modernisation discourse and its central storyline of progressing from “defiling growth” toward “sustainable development” (Hajer, 1995). The article suggests (1) further research on conventional thematic imageries as a meaningful approach to studying policy discourses and (2) the relevance of applying concepts of policy research to understanding and challenging the political bearings of prominent visualisations.
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