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

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Debnath, R 
Bardhan, R 
Shah, DU 
Mohaddes, K 
Ramage, MH 


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.


Funder: Laudes Foundation

Funder: Keynes Fund

Funder: Quadrature Climate Foundation

Funder: UK Space Agency; doi:

Funder: Resnick Sustainability Institute for Science, Energy and Sustainability, California Institute of Technology; doi:


Humans, Social Media, Climate, Carbon Dioxide, Policy, Communication

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Scientific Reports

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Alan Turing Institute (G116750)
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP1144)
Cambridge Judge Business School (SG20-09)
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).