Skip to main content

Mapping Topics in International Climate Negotiations: A Computer-Assisted Semantic Network Approach

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Innovative Methods in Media and Communication Research


Baya-Laffite and Cointet map the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations topic structure and evolution over 20 years using a digital corpus from the most renowned internal journal of the negotiations available online, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB). The authors’ methodological strategy combines text mining, network analysis and data visualization tools. The chapter shows how this mixed-method strategy applied to a digital corpus drawn from the ENB website, makes it possible to map climate change negotiations. Mixing traditional research methods and computer-assisted techniques, as well as manual and automated operations results in a series of unique new visual syntheses of the UNFCCC process. Narrating the visualizations allows distant readings of topics’ semantic structure and topic trajectories and thereby to test the robustness of the maps as well as the tools and methods used to produce them.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

USD 16.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 16.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Anderegg, W., Prall, J., Harold, J., et al. (2010) Expert Credibility in Climate Change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(27): 12107–9.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baya-Laffite, N. and Cointet, J.-P. (2015) Cartographier la trajectoire de l’adaptation dans l’espace des négociations sur le climat. Réseaux 188(6): 159–98.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bjurström, A. and Polk, M. (2011) Physical and Economic Bias in Climate Change Research: A Scientometric Sstudy of IPCC Third Assessment Report. Climatic Change 108(1–2): 1–22.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blondel, V., Guillame, J.-P., Lambiotte, R., et al. (2008) Fast Unfolding of Communities in Large Networks. Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment 2008(10): 10008.

    Google Scholar 

  • Callon, M., Courtial, J. and Laville, F. (1991) Co-word Analysis as a Tool for Describing the Network of Interactions Between Basic and Technological Research: The Case of Polymer Chemsitry. Scientometrics 22(1): 155–205.

    Google Scholar 

  • Collins, H. (1992) Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferrer i Cancho, R. and Solé, R. (2001) The Small World of Human Language. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 268(1482): 2261–5.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jacomy, M., Venturini, T., Heymann, S., et al. (2014) ForceAtlas2, a Continuous Graph Layout Algorithm for Handy Network Visualization Designed for the Gephi Software. PLoS ONE 9(6): e98679.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khan, M. and Roberts, J. (2013) Adaptation and International Climate Policy. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 4(3): 171–89.

    Google Scholar 

  • Latour, B. (1995) The ‘Pédofil’ of Boa Vista. Common Knowledge 4(1): 144–87.

    Google Scholar 

  • Latour, B. (1986) Visualisation and Cognition: Drawing Things Together. In H. Kuklick (Ed.), Knowledge and Society Studies in the Sociology of Culture Past and Present (Greenwich, CT: Jai Press), pp. 1–40.

    Google Scholar 

  • Li, J., Wang, M.-H. and Ho, Y.-S. (2011) Trends in Research on Global Climate Change: A Science Citation Index Expanded-based analysis. Global and Planetary Change 77(1–2): 13–20.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marres, N. (2015) Why Map Issues? On Controversy Analysis as a Digital Method. Science, Technology & Human Values 40(5): 655–86.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mohr, J., Wagner-Pacifici, R., Breiger, R., et al. (2013) Graphing the Grammar of Motives in National Security Strategies: Cultural Interpretation, Automated Text Analysis and the Drama of Global Politics. Poetics 41(6): 670–700.

    Google Scholar 

  • Niederer, S. (2013) ‘Global Warming is Not a Crisis!’ Studying Climate Change Skepticism on the Web. NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies 2(1): 83–112.

    Google Scholar 

  • Omodei, E., Guo, Y., Cointet, J.-P., et al. (2014) Social and Semantic Diversity: Socio-semantic Representation of a Scientific Corpus. Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Language Technology for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, and Humanities (LaTeCH), pp. 71–9.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rogers, R. and Marres, N. (2000) Landscaping Climate Change: A Mapping Technique for Understanding Science and Technology Debates on the World Wide Web. Public Understanding of Science 9(2): 141–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rule, A., Cointet, J.-P. and Bearman, P. (2015) Lexical Shifts, Substantive Changes, and Continuity in State of the Union Discourse, 1790–2014. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112(35): 10837–44.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schipper, E. (2006) Conceptual History of Adaptation in the UNFCCC Process. Review of European Community & International Environmental Law 15(1): 82–92.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stanhill, G. (2001) The Growth of Climate Change Science: A Scientometric Study. Climatic Change 48(2–3): 515–24.

    Google Scholar 

  • Venturini, T., Baya-Lafitte, N., Cointet, J.-P., et al. (2014) Three Maps and Three Misunderstandings: A Digital Mapping of Climate Diplomacy. Big Data & Society 1(2).

    Google Scholar 

  • Weeds, J. and Weir, D. (2005) Co-occurrence Retrieval: A Flexible Framework for Lexical Distributional Similarity. Computational Linguistics 31(4): 439–75.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yamin, F. (2005) The European Union and Future Climate Policy: Is Mainstreaming Adaptation a Distraction or Part of the Solution? Climate Policy 5(3): 349–61.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nicolas Baya-Laffite .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Baya-Laffite, N., Cointet, JP. (2016). Mapping Topics in International Climate Negotiations: A Computer-Assisted Semantic Network Approach. In: Kubitschko, S., Kaun, A. (eds) Innovative Methods in Media and Communication Research. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics