Dogs and cats mentioned more on TV than climate change, study finds

Dogs, cats, sex and even Shakespeare are mentioned more often in British TV programmes than climate change, a study has found.

Deloitte analysed the subtitles of 128,719 programmes, excluding news, on 40 channels using data supplied by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky from September 2017 to September 2018..

The research was commissioned by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) and TV sustainability project Albert.

Climate change was mentioned 3,125 times and only narrowly beat mentions of zombies, despite being a real threat.

Other “green” terms such as clean air, electric car, carbon emissions and food waste only got a few hundred mentions each.

However, dogs got 105,245 mentions, while Brexit came up in conversations 68,816 times, tea was mentioned on 60,060 occasions and sex 56,307 times during the course of the year.

Cake was mentioned 46,043 times, cats a total of 14,454 times and picnics on 5,949 occasions, and even Shakespeare got 5,444 mentions.

The study found that terms associated with the environment were mentioned in discussions about the issues and problems, rather than solutions.

The results also revealed the terms related to climate change mentioned most often are not the ones that have the biggest impact to reducing mankind’s carbon footprint.

Words associated with energy were only mentioned 6% of the time, even though energy represents the biggest part of the average person’s carbon footprint at 24%.

Pippa Harris, chairwoman at Bafta, said: “The TV industry’s call to address climate change is clear.

“Reducing our impact is a given, but our real opportunity lies in the programmes we make, and in our ability to use powerful human stories to connect audiences with the world around them.

“We need to understand the links between climate change and society, and act strategically to ensure we do everything in our power to avert the climate crisis.”

The study was released as a new guide called Planet Placement was launched to help industry weave more environmental messaging into programmes.

Aaron Matthews, head of industry sustainability at Albert, said: “To help shape society’s response to climate change we cannot rely solely on the current affairs and natural history programmes, we must think creatively and look for other ways to bring sustainability messages to our screens that are both optimistic and inspirational.

“We are setting up free training sessions for anyone working in the industry, across all genres, so we can begin to explore what a creative response to climate change could look like.

“I look forward to revisiting this data in a year or two, to see how things have changed.”

:: Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at

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