Aarhus Universitets segl

Social media enables people-centric climate action in the hard-to-decarbonise building sector

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  • Ramit Debnath, University of Cambridge, California Institute of Technology
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  • Ronita Bardhan, University of Cambridge
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  • Darshil U. Shah, University of Cambridge
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  • Kamiar Mohaddes, University of Cambridge
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  • Michael H. Ramage, University of Cambridge
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  • R. Michael Alvarez, California Institute of Technology
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  • Benjamin K. Sovacool

The building and construction sector accounts for around 39% of global carbon dioxide emissions and remains a hard-to-abate sector. We use a data-driven analysis of global high-level climate action on emissions reduction in the building sector using 256,717 English-language tweets across a 13-year time frame (2009–2021). Using natural language processing and network analysis, we show that public sentiments and emotions on social media are reactive to these climate policy actions. Between 2009–2012, discussions around green building-led emission reduction efforts were highly influential in shaping the online public perceptions of climate action. From 2013 to 2016, communication around low-carbon construction and energy efficiency significantly influenced the online narrative. More significant interactions on net-zero transition, climate tech, circular economy, mass timber housing and climate justice in 2017–2021 shaped the online climate action discourse. We find positive sentiments are more prominent and recurrent and comprise a larger share of the social media conversation. However, we also see a rise in negative sentiment by 30–40% following popular policy events like the IPCC report launches, the Paris Agreement and the EU Green Deal. With greater online engagement and information diffusion, social and environmental justice topics emerge in the online discourse. Continuing such shifts in online climate discourse is pivotal to a more just and people-centric transition in such hard-to-decarbonise sectors.

TidsskriftScientific Reports
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2022

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