Taking the role of frames into account may significantly add to the tools that have been developed for communication and learning on complex risks and benefits. As part of a larger multidisciplinary study into climate-related forms of sense-making this paper explores which frames are used by the citizens of Western European countries and, in particular, the Netherlands. Three recent multi-national public opinion surveys were analysed to examine beliefs about climate change in the context of beliefs about energy technology and concerns about other environmental issues, such as natural disasters. It appeared that many citizens had only vague ideas about the energy situation and that these do not constitute an unequivocal frame for climate issues. In contrast, the results suggest that the long-lasting rainfall and severe floods in Central Europe have had a significant impact. Climate change was often framed in a way that articulates its associations with rain- and river-based problems. This result is extremely important for risk communication, because especially in the Netherlands with its vulnerable coastal zones climate change may produce many more consequences than rain- and river-based problems only. © IWA Publishing 2007.