Over the past ten years, vocabulary moved from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’ to ‘climate crisis.’
On March 1, BayWa r.e. launched its new “Decade That Matters” report, a deep dive into online climate discussions over the past 10 years and what these may tell us about where we are heading over the next 10 years. The report highlights how attitudes to the environment have shifted, how discourse was becoming more urgent and how Covid-19 has affected the global online climate conversation.
Report authors curated and analyzed 10-years of data across social media, news and blogging platforms, including Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr and Google, drawing on 1.3 trillion public documents. To get a clearer view of the recent rapidity of change, the report includes a more specific investigation into the conversations from 2018 to 2020.
The overall volume of conversations around the topic of ‘climate change’ grew by 110% in 2019 when compared to 2018. But the report also shows a decade-long international shift in public awareness and an evolution in vocabulary as our discussions have moved from ‘global warming’, to ‘climate change’ and, most recently, the use of more urgent language and the beginnings of a further shift towards the more immediate ‘climate crisis’.
Carbon-related conversations (zero, neutral, etc.) are also growing – up 133% year on year in 2019 compared to 2018, and up a further 26% in 2020. Similarly, mentions of ‘clean energy’ and ‘renewable energy’ have grown from under one million per month in 2010, to as many as six million per month in 2019.
Covid-19 takes over
Not surprisingly, the climate discussion was stunted when Covid-19 hit in 2020. In the face of the pandemic, the volume of discussions around both the climate and renewable energy solutions decreased. Looking at all online platforms as a whole, mention volumes of climate topics fell more than a million per month from a peak in January 2020, falling 41% on Twitter and 24% across news publications.
With offices shutting down globally due to the virus, ‘Working from Home’-related conversations in 2020 were five times higher over the course of March, April and May, than they were in January and February, while searches for the term jumped by several orders of magnitude.
Shifting workplaces shows the adaptability of humans
This ability to adapt to change provides a source of inspiration, said BayWa.r.e. Indeed, through the conversations that have taken place, we see the pandemic has proved our ability to respond and react to threats on a global scale – through societal reengineering, governmental adaptability and industry-wide reorganisation.
We are also seeing unimaginable sums of money diverted to address the short-term impacts and longer-term recovery. And it is here that we may find hope. It is this kind of systemic transformation that BayWa r.e. is hoping can be replicated for the good of the environment.
Matthias Taft, BayWa r.e. CEO commented: “Ten years ago, when BayWa r.e. was founded, we were all already keenly aware that the world had entered a state of profound change. Now, ten years on, we are at a unique point in time. Covid-19 has shown us that when we listen and act on what the science tells us, we have the capacity to pull together and achieve incredible things. We must now see that same sense of urgency applied to addressing the climate crisis.
“This report aims to separate the signal from the noise. The decade of debate, supposition and speculation has ended: for us at BayWa r.e., the ‘Decade That Matters’ is the decade in which we must finally make actions speak louder than words. Where those conversations go next – and what we as business leaders, governments and society decide to do next – will determine our direction of travel for the rest of this decade.”
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