Addressing climate change is challenging because of its diverse meanings regarding the implications of science, values, risk, and governance. Climate change frames are central organizing ideas that allow us to identify why climate change is a problem of global concern, who is responsible, and the ways in which and by whom it should be governed. UN climate change conferences gather diverse actors for debating climate policy, allowing us to study the frames they represent and how they evolve. They examine the official side events at these conferences, considering the topics of all 2,214 side events from 1997 through 2011. The results show a prominence of the action and conformity frames, indicating that actors reluctant to change have not been engaged; a tendency to favor the social progress frame over the economic frame; that topical changes were not solely the result of new organizations being admitted; a rise in non-climatic issues indicating large potential for bandwagoning; and a symbiotic relationship between negotiations and side events.

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