Tweets on climate change become a political tool

An international study published in the journal Nature Climate Change found that social platforms have been used since 2019 to counter the actions of pro-climactic political leaders through denialist tweets

A new international study published in the journal Nature Climate Change analysed tweets exchanged from 2014 to 2021 at the Conference of Parties (COP), the annual meeting of the signatory countries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The article is one of the results of the team coordinated by Walter Quattrociocchi of the Department of Computer Science at Sapienza University of Rome, within the IRIS research coalition, the research group comprising some of the world's leading academic institutions and funded by the British G7 government to study the phenomenon of infodemics.

The main finding, which emerged from the study analysis, was the increasing polarisation of ideas on climate, especially as of 2019, with a major increase during the 2021 Cop26 hosted in Glasgow, Scotland.

In particular, it was observed that the posts of climate change opponents were shared 16 times more at Cop 26 than at Cop 21, four times more than that of pro-climate groups. At the same time, 'denialist' views were spread by an increasing number of accounts that were not specifically concerned with climate and the environment.

One point that the two opposing camps of users of the social platform have in common is the criticism of elitist hypocrisy, particularly concerning the issue of private jets, which has triggered intense controversy from both pro- and anti-climate groups.

Accusations of hypocrisy are used as a weapon by groups opposed to climate action to discredit leadership and political action. In particular, polarisation occurred when increased activity by personalities from a particular political area was also observed to counteract opponents by slowing down pro-environmental initiatives.



Falkenberg et al., “Growing polarisation around climate change on social media”. Nature Climate Change (2022). 

Further Information

Walter Quattrociocchi

Department of Computer Science

Friday, 25 November 2022

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