A Caltech Library Service

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

Debnath, Ramit and Bardhan, Ronita and Shah, Darshil U. and Mohaddes, Kamiar and Ramage, Michael H. and Alvarez, R. Michael and Sovacool, Benjamin K. (2022) Social media enables people-centric climate action in the hard-to-decarbonise building sector. Scientific Reports, 12 . Art. No. 19017. ISSN 2045-2322. PMCID PMC9671910. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-23624-9.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Debnath, Ramit0000-0003-0727-5683
Bardhan, Ronita0000-0001-5336-4084
Mohaddes, Kamiar0000-0002-2501-2062
Ramage, Michael H.0000-0003-2967-7683
Alvarez, R. Michael0000-0002-8113-4451
Sovacool, Benjamin K.0000-0002-4794-9403
Additional Information:RD acknowledges support from the Cambridge Zero and Quadrature Climate Foundation, Laudes Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [OPP1144], Cambridge Judge Business School Small Grant (2020–21), the Keynes Fund 2021–22 [JHVH] and the Alan Turing Institute’s Postdoctoral Enrichment Award [G116750]. Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute supports RMA’s work. RB’s work is supported by the UK Space Agency NSIP Award (2021–22). We would also like to thank Twitter for providing access to their APIs. A working paper version of this study can be found at Cambridge Working Paper in Economics 2202. Data availability. The datasets analysed during the current study are available in the Open Science Framework repository The user identifiers are anonymized as per Twitter’s developers policy and GDPR rules here. Ethics approval. This research was reviewed by the Institutional Review Board at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge (20-064) and at the California Institute of Technology (21-1169). Twitter was informed about this research during the v2API request.
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Quadrature Climate FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Laudes FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Bill and Melinda Gates FoundationOPP1144
University of CambridgeUNSPECIFIED
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Alan Turing InstituteG116750
United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA)UNSPECIFIED
PubMed Central ID:PMC9671910
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20221205-666301600.8
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:118235
Deposited By: Research Services Depository
Deposited On:06 Jan 2023 17:31
Last Modified:06 Jan 2023 17:38

Repository Staff Only: item control page