Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

35% of climate segments on corporate broadcast TV news in 2022 featured climate solutions

While this figure is better than in 2021 and 2020, there is still room for improvement

As the climate crisis worsens, it is vital for corporate broadcast TV networks ABC, CBS, and NBC to cover the issue with the urgency and attention that it deserves. As part of this coverage, these networks should also be communicating climate solutions to their viewers. More and more people are becoming aware of the climate issue and what causes it, but how to address or solve it is also an important part of the story

Over the years, these networks have been getting better at covering climate change. In fact, 2022 was their best-performing year ever in terms of quantity of coverage: Morning news shows, nightly news shows, and Sunday morning political shows aired a record of nearly 23 hours of climate coverage. (This coverage, however, represented just 1.3% of the approximately 107,000 minutes of overall broadcast news programming in 2022.)

Solutions coverage has been slowly improving as well. In 2020, climate solutions were mentioned in just 29% of these networks’ climate coverage. This figure jumped to 31% in 2021. In 2022, these networks covered climate solutions in 35% of their overall climate coverage.


  • Key findings

    • 2022 was the best-performing year by corporate broadcast TV networks in terms of discussing climate solutions. Morning news, nightly news, and Sunday morning political programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, discussed climate solutions in 195 out of 554 total climate segments in 2022 (35%).
      • The majority of solutions coverage in 2022 (62%) came on morning news programs.
      • 20% of all solutions segments came in April (39 segments). 19% of solutions segments came in July (37 segments), and 16% came in August (32 segments).
    • CBS was the best-performing network in terms of covering climate solutions. CBS’ morning news, nightly news, and Sunday morning political program covered climate solutions in 39% of their combined climate coverage. ABC and NBC each covered solutions in 33% of their climate coverage.
    • Electric transportation was the main driver of solutions segments. Renewable energy, the Inflation Reduction Act, and land-based conservation solutions were also key drivers of solutions coverage.
    • PBS’ NewsHour once again led its nightly news counterparts in terms of quantity of solutions coverage. NewsHour discussed climate solutions in 50 of its 147 climate segments (34%). CBS’ Evening News and Weekend News discussed solutions in 26 of their 69 climate segments (38%). NBC Nightly News discussed solutions in 15 of its 62 climate segments (24%), and ABC’s World News Tonight discussed solutions in 14 of its 64 climate segments (22%).
  • Each network improved upon its quantity of solutions coverage compared to the previous two years

  • Similar to its overall climate coverage in 2022, CBS was the best-performing network in terms of covering climate solutions as well.

    Morning news programs, nightly news programs, and the Sunday morning political show on CBS aired a combined 73 segments that featured climate solutions in 2022, which constitutes 39% of their overall climate coverage (189 combined climate segments). In 2021, 37% of these programs’ climate coverage featured climate solutions, and in 2020, just 27% of them did. It is worth noting that CBS’ news programs aired a combined 81 climate solutions segments in 2021. This is still the highest number of solutions segments aired by a single corporate broadcast TV network since Media Matters began conducting this analysis in 2017.

    CBS’ morning programs CBS Mornings and CBS Saturday Morning aired 43 combined solutions segments in 2022, outpacing their counterparts on ABC and NBC. Their evening programs CBS Evening News and CBS Weekend News (26 solutions segments) also beat their competition. Face the Nation aired 4 solutions segments in 2022.

    News programs on ABC featured climate solutions in 61 of their 187 total climate segments (33%). In 2021, 28% of their overall climate coverage featured solutions, while in 2020 just 26% of their climate coverage featured solutions. 

    ABC’s This Week was the best-performing Sunday political show in terms of climate solutions in 2022 — the program aired 6 climate solutions segments. Good Morning America aired 41 climate segments, which trailed only CBS’ morning news programs. ABC’s World News Tonight aired 14 solutions segments.

    Similar to ABC, news programs on NBC featured climate solutions in 55 of their 169 climate segments (33%). In 2021, 28% of their climate coverage featured solutions, while in 2020, 29% of their climate coverage featured solutions. NBC Nightly News aired 15 solutions segments in 2022, which trailed only CBS’ nightly news programs. NBC’s Today and Sunday Today aired 37 solutions segments in 2022, while its Sunday political program Meet the Press aired just 3.

    Increased solutions coverage on the morning news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC was a big factor in the increase in overall climate solutions coverage from 2021 to 2022. 121 out of 322 total morning news climate segments (38%) featured climate solutions. Overall, 62% of all corporate broadcast TV coverage of climate solutions in 2022 — 121 of 195 segments — came on morning news programs. In 2021, just 29% of morning news programs’ combined climate coverage featured solutions. In 2020, it was 28%.

    Solutions coverage in 2022 was heavily concentrated across 3 months. There were 39 climate solutions segments in April, which made up 20% of all solutions coverage. Many of these segments revolved around Earth Day (April 22), with networks discussing solutions a week prior to April 22. For example, there was at least one solutions segment that aired on either ABC, CBS, or NBC over a 10-day period between April 15 and April 24. There were 37 climate solutions segments in July, which made up 19% of all solutions coverage. Finally, there were 32 climate solutions segments in August, which made up 16% of all solutions coverage. Many of the segments in August discussed the climate and clean energy provisions of the IRA.

    In total, 55% of all climate solutions segments in 2022 (108 out of 195 segments) aired in either April, July, or August.

    Previous iterations of this study focused solely on nightly news and Sunday political show solutions coverage; Media Matters did not begin including morning news programs in its broadcast TV climate analysis until 2020. In 2022, nightly news and Sunday political programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, featured solutions in 74 of their 232 combined climate segments (32%). This figure is slightly lower than in 2021, when climate solutions coverage on these programs constituted 34% of overall climate coverage. It’s also lower than the peak of 2019, when climate solutions constituted 37% of overall climate coverage.

  • Key drivers of climate solutions coverage in 2022

  • Solutions coverage has evolved on corporate broadcast TV networks over time. For example, solutions segments in 2019 (when we analyzed just nightly news and Sunday political programs) were largely driven by youth climate activism, the Democratic presidential candidates’ policy platforms, and the Green New Deal. In 2020, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s $2 trillion plan to combat climate change was a key driver of coverage. In 2021, clean energy job creation and electrifying transportation were key drivers of coverage.

    In 2022, electrifying transportation was again a key driver of coverage. There were, however, smaller drivers of coverage that showcase the evolving breadth and scope of broadcast TV climate coverage.


    Various forms of electric transportation were mentioned in 49 climate segments in 2022, roughly 9% of all climate segments. Transportation segments more than doubled from 2021, when electric transportation was mentioned in 20 segments. In 2022, CBS mentioned electric transportation in 19 segments; ABC in 15 segments; and NBC in 14 segments. Fox News Sunday mentioned electric transportation in 1 segment.

    17 segments featuring electric transportation came in August, including 5 segments on August 8 alone. These 5 segments also discussed the Inflation Reduction Act. 12 segments on electric transportation came in April. ABC, CBS, and NBC each aired a segment on electric transportation on Earth Day (April 2022). 

    Notable transportation segment topics included ABC’s Ginger Zee taking an electric roadtrip across the country in order to both highlight the benefits of EV’s and push back on some of their reported downsides (which are frequently touted by opponents to clean energy). This trip was featured in multiple segments in the run-up to Earth Day. Additionally, GM CEO Mary Barra was interviewed about GM’s electric vehicle expansion on the January 29 edition of CBS Weekend News, while a discussion combating some myths around the idea that electric vehicles are for only elites occurred on the April 23 edition of NBC Nightly News.

    Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S., making up roughly 38% of the country’s energy-related emissions in 2021. Electric cars and trucks can thus play a huge role in lowering emissions. In addition to growing in popularity, EVs are coming down in price as well. The New York Times noted in February that EVs could begin to match gas-powered cars in terms of price starting in 2023.

    Renewable energy

    Various forms of renewable energy were mentioned in 37 segments in 2022, or roughly 7% of all climate segments. CBS mentioned renewable energy in 15 segments, NBC in 9 segments, and ABC in just 8 segments. Fox News Sunday mentioned it in 5 segments.

    Notable examples include the April 16 edition of CBS Saturday Morning, which spent nearly 6 minutes discussing the booming solar power industry in California. The March 10 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America focused on how a ski resort in Vermont is turning to renewable energy for its power. The July 24 edition of NBC’s Sunday Today discussed global extreme heat, Biden's climate actions, and how renewable energy like offshore wind can help combat the climate crisis.

    Renewable energy makes up roughly 21% of the U.S.’ electricity generation. Additionally, the International Energy Agency projects that renewables will make up more than a third of the world’s electricity generation by 2025. As renewables continue to become cost-competitive with fossil fuels, it will be incumbent on broadcast TV networks to highlight these crucial technologies that help lower carbon emissions.

    Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

    The IRA, announced on July 27, the biggest federal investment in climate change in history, was mentioned as a climate solution in 37 climate segments in 2022, or roughly 7% of overall climate coverage. ABC discussed the climate solution components of the IRA in 15 segments, CBS in 11 segments, NBC in 5 segments, and Fox News Sunday in 3 segments.

    Unfortunately, most IRA segments that discussed climate solutions were poor from a quality standpoint, with networks often just briefly discussing the climate components of the legislation along with some of its other components, like reducing prescription drug prices.

    Land-based conservation initiatives

    Land-based conservation initiatives related to things like protecting trees, forests, national parks, and peatlands were mentioned in 21 climate segments in 2022. The majority of these initiatives (13) focused on tree and forest protection. These segments included attempts to stop deforestation as well. NBC mentioned land conservation solutions in 8 segments, CBS in 7 segments, and ABC in 6 segments.

    2 of NBC Today’s segments on April 13 featured NBC weather anchor Al Roker interviewing former President Barack Obama on, in part, the importance of preserving U.S. national parks and how these parks are impacted by climate change. The April 18 edition of NBC Nightly News included an interview with the only female climate scientist of color featured in a broadcast TV news climate segment in 2022, Monica Franco, and her efforts to help protect coastal mangrove forests in Mexico. The November 13 edition of CBS Weekend News featured a segment on how scientists are trying to protect redwood and sequoia trees in California, which are being threatened by worsening drought and wildfires. Finally, the October 26 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America featured a segment on the importance of preserving peatlands in combating climate change.

    Preserving and enhancing forests and trees are important nature-based climate solutions, as these natural resources help sequester carbon. Land conservation is also important in helping to protect and expand biodiversity. Land conservation efforts can also be an important tool in general climate mitigation efforts as well. But these efforts, alone, are ineffective at addressing climate change. They should be paired with actions that limit fossil fuels and increase renewable energy.

  • Other notable drivers included food and water specific climate solutions

  • In addition to the key drivers of climate solutions coverage, there were three other notable categories of solutions that were featured in a dozen segments each.

    Agriculture and food

    Climate solutions related to agricultural practices or sustainable food were featured in 12 segments. CBS aired 7 such segments, ABC aired 3, and NBC aired 2. These segments were generally varied in the topics that they discussed. For example, there were 4 segments on sustainable food production and how to eat more sustainably, 2 segments on regenerative farming, and 2 segments on CBS that dealt with natural gas and electric or induction cooking stoves. As roughly one-third of all carbon emissions are linked to food, it’s important to showcase climate solutions related to food and agriculture.

    Earthshot Prize

    There were 12 climate segments in 2022 that discussed The Royal Foundation’s Earthshot Prize. The foundation, which supports the work of the Prince and Princess of Wales, describes the Earthshot Prize as “simple but ambitious goals for our planet which if achieved by 2030 will improve life for us all, for generations to come.” 10 of these 12 segments aired in a week-and-a-half period between November 30 and December 10. CBS aired 6 segments, ABC aired 4, and NBC aired 2. 5 of these segments featured the CEO of LanzaTech, Jennifer Holmgren, and her work on carbon recycling.

    Water and ocean-based solutions

    Climate solutions related to water or the ocean were featured in 12 climate segments. CBS aired 7 such segments, NBC aired 3, and ABC aired 2. 4 of these segments dealt specifically with conservation initiatives related to water or the ocean, including 2 ABC segments on glacier conservation. 5 segments focused on helping protect water-based animals that are essential to helping fight or study climate change. The other segments dealt with seaweed, artificial coral, and efforts to preserve the ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

  • Coverage was sprinkled with fringe and false climate solutions

  • Continuing a years-long trend in climate coverage, both fringe and false climate solutions were highlighted in 2022 by morning news, nightly news, and Sunday morning political shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC. Fringe solutions can best be defined as those that use either unproven or prohibitively expensive technologies to combat climate change. False solutions can best be defined as actions or strategies that will not help in reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

    CBS and NBC each aired 8 segments that could be defined as highlighting fringe or false climate solutions. ABC aired just 2.

    There were 5 segments on fusion power that aired between December 12 and December 14; these segments discussed a scientific fusion breakthrough that occurred at the U.S. National Ignition Facility in California, where for the first time scientists achieved ignition gain (creating more energy than was pumped in) in fusion testing — a process where more energy was released than was used by the lab’s lasers. (We labeled fusion power as fringe because the technology would be decades away before it helped make a meaningful dent in combating climate change. Overall, the story was newsworthy, and news coverage within these 5 segments generally stressed that fusion power has a long way to go before becoming scalable.)

    There were 3 segments that discussed carbon capture, all of which aired on CBS’ morning news programs. Two of these, on July 28 and July 30, discussed Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $54 billion climate plan that included money for technologies to suck carbon out of the air. While recent IPCC reports discuss the technology as “critical,”the unproven technology has many critics. For one, it is extremely expensive, and current projects rarely (if ever) hit their CO2 capture targets. Additionally, it is often used to justify expanding current oil and gas production.

    In addition to carbon capture, there were 2 segments that mentioned carbon offsets, which involve a person or entity reducing carbon emissions in one place in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. Offsets, like carbon capture, are often used to justify more pollution. Some projects allow more CO2 to be added into the atmosphere, while others are essentially worthless. There were also 2 segments that discussed wood pellets as a potential climate solution. While the biomass industry has described burning wood pellets as renewable, in reality burning wood pellets actually increases emissions more in the short term. (It must be noted that CBS correspondent Jonathan Viglitotti did an excellent job of highlighting the drawbacks of wood pallets as a climate solution in the April 22 edition of CBS Mornings). 

    Additionally, there were multiple segments on recycling, which many environmentalists say is inappropriately labeled as a climate solution, because it encourages more unnecessary consumption and additional waste. There were also segments on biofuels, human-induced rain, and a gas tax holiday rounded out the fringe segments.

  • While PBS NewsHour’s coverage of climate solutions fell from 2021, the program still outperformed its nightly news counterparts on ABC, CBS, and NBC

  • 50 of PBS’ 147 climate segments in 2022 (34%) featured discussion of climate solutions. This is a pretty notable drop when compared to 2021, when 64 of its 151 climate segments (42%) discussed solutions. And while NewsHour in 2022 aired more solutions segments than compared to 2020 (27), 2022 had a lower percentage of solutions segments out of overall climate segments (34% compared to 47%).

    Despite the drop, the program’s coverage still bests its nightly news counterparts on ABC, CBS, and NBC. CBS’ nightly news programs (Evening News and Weekend News) were the next best-performing programs in terms of quantity of climate solutions segments aired (26). In total, nightly news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC aired a combined 55 climate solutions segments.

    Part of the reason NewsHour aired more solutions coverage is that the show is longer: It airs for an hour, while the nightly news programs on ABC, CBS’, and NBC run for only 30 minutes. 

    In general, NewsHour’s climate solutions topics mirrored those of nightly news counterparts on ABC, CBS, and NBC. Clean or renewable energy like wind and solar power was discussed in 12 segments, while electric transportation was discussed in 11 segments. 

    NewsHour also mentioned less-discussed solutions that may generally not appear on corporate broadcast nightly news programs, such as fuel cells and the concept of international climate financing, which involves richer, higher-carbon emitting countries funding poorer countries to help pay for their exorbitant costs of climate change. 

    A good example of NewsHour’s quality comes from the April 4 edition of the program. While nightly news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC barely covered the new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NewsHour spent nearly 8 minutes on it and correctly mentioned that it called for “the need for dramatic cuts in greenhouse gasses to head off the worst impacts of climate change.” The segment featured an interview with climate journalist Dave Roberts, who discussed key takeaways from the report, the key technologies needed in order to quickly decarbonize the economy, and why it’s so important for the U.S. to implement federal climate legislation in order to help tackle the climate problem.

    This segment from NewsHour is a good example of why it’s important for TV news programs to cover climate solutions, and it shows how easy it can be to just interview an expert on climate solutions. As Covering Climate Now notes: “It’s not our job to be cheerleaders or activists. But we are uniquely positioned to help the public and policymakers alike make better-informed decisions about what to do now.” As the warming crisis will only get worse if we don’t make rapid cuts in carbon emissions, TV news programs should be heeding this advice. 


    Media Matters searched transcripts in the Nexis database for ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and This Week; CBS’ Mornings, Saturday Morning, Evening News, Weekend News, and Face the Nation; NBC’s Today, Nightly News, and Meet the Press; Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday; and PBS’ NewsHour for any of the terms and any derivations of the terms “climate,” “global warming,” “global heating,” “global temperatures,” “warmer planet,” “warming planet,” “planet warms,” “warmer globe,” “warming globe,” “globe warms,” “rising temperatures,” “hotter temperatures,” “green new deal,” “emissions,” “greenhouse gases,” or “net zero” from January 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022.

    We included segments, which we defined as instances when climate change was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of climate change. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed climate change with one another.

    We also included headline reports, which we defined as instances when a paragraph or more of a news transcript or a block of uninterrupted speech by a host, anchor, or correspondent discussed climate change, and weather reports, which we defined as instances when a meteorologist in front of a green screen mentioned climate change during their report.

    We then reviewed the identified climate segments, headline reports, and weather reports for whether they included discussion or statements about actions, policies, regulations, or technologies intended to mitigate the effects of climate change, reduce carbon emissions, or create the political or economic environment necessary to transition away from fossil fuels.