“Make a Change for Climate Change”. A Comparative Discourse Analysis of Online Environmental Petitions in the USA and UK

  • Maria Cristina Aiezza University of Naples L’Orientale
Keywords: online petitions, environmental discourse, climate change, popularisation, metadiscourse, corpus-assisted discourse studies


This study examines a corpus of e-petitions calling for action against climate change, published on Change.org in the USA and UK. The investigation focuses on the persuasive strategies employed in user-generated discourse, and compares the trends emerging in the two national contexts. The analysis centres on how petitioners engage with climate science, re-mediating scientific concepts by explaining global phenomena in their own words and referring to authoritative sources. The study thus explores the use of interactive metadiscourse devices typical of popular science writing. The approach is based on corpus-assisted discourse analysis. Findings indicate that climate change was perceived as a well-documented threat requiring urgent action. It was frequently addressed in conjunction with other topics, particularly, wildlife and water conservation in the USA, and land protection in the UK. All petitions contained a mediation of specialised information, encompassing general references to environmental issues and specific evidence quoted from scientific research. 

Author Biography

Maria Cristina Aiezza, University of Naples L’Orientale

Maria Cristina Aiezza is Tenure-track Researcher (RTD-B) in English Language and Translation at the University of Naples L’Orientale. She holds a PhD in English for Specific Purposes from the University of Naples Federico II, with a corpus-assisted study on the discourse of Corporate Social Responsibility reports. Her research interests encompass: digital text genres, populism in political messages, environmental discourse, digital participation on issues of collective interest through social media and e-petitions, online popularisation, institutional and corporate discourses in times of crisis.