Analysis of Tweets during COP26

Social media analysis

The 2021 edition of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, was held in Glasgow from October 31st to November 12th. The two-week event brought together more than 200 countries from all around the world to discuss and negotiate on how to tackle the emergent threat of climate change. The international conference attracted a lot of the public's interest and in this article, we investigate the impact that COP26 had on a global scale. For this purpose, we analyze a collection of relevant tweets that were posted five days prior, during and five days after the conference.

1. Introduction

 This analysis evaluates the COP26 impact using a variety of descriptive measures such as the number of tweets, retweets, likes, as well as the sentiment of the content within the tweets using NLP techniques. From such an analysis, one can better understand the social media perception of the COP26 conference and climate change. This article is ultimately a demonstration of how advanced data analytics techniques can be used to extract informative insights around  

2.1 COP26 Twitter activity in numbers

The total number of tweets that were posted in reference to the COP26 conference was 16.73K from 9.3K unique users. The dataset includes tweets posted during and 5 days before and after the conference was held. One way to measure the Twitter engagement following these tweets is to look at the number of likes, retweets, replies and quotes. In total, there have been 126K likes, 35K retweets, 7.9K replies and 4K quotes.

2.2 Daily Twitter Activity

It is interesting to investigate how these tweets are distributed on a daily basis. The Twitter activity is highest during the first week of the COP26 conference right after the negotiations began. The most discussed topics that triggered the most engagement were Energy and Finance, corresponding to the forth and fifth day of the event. Moreover, the total engagement before and after the conference seems to be without any major fluctuations. A significantly lower activity is observed during weekends as compared to weekdays, which also corresponds to rest days taken during the conference. The aforementioned results are also confirmed by the heatmap.

2.3 Hourly Twitter Activity

The Twitter engagement across time is higher from 7AM to 7PM, corresponding to working hours and when most of the negotiations occurred.

2.4 Content of the Tweets

Based on all tweets, we created a word cloud to show the frequency of all words to give a more vivid expression on what people were discussing. The more frequently a word is used, the size of it in cloud is larger. Therefore, we can easily find some frequently used words/phrases among tweets, such as energy transition, climate change, fuel, etc.

2.5 Main themes

During COP26, several goals were proposed to achieve, including secure global net zero (mitigation), adapt to protect communities and natural habitats (adaptation) and mobilise finance (finance). We checked these three goals’ mentioned trends in tweets from 26th October to 17th November. As in visual, all goals were brought up more frequently during two weeks of COP26. Especially during the first week of COP26, goals regarding mitigation and finance raised more public awareness than other periods of time, all thanks to presidency programme focusing on finance and energy on 3rd and 4th November. This awareness booster effect led finance to draw more attention than adaptation compared to other three periods.

Another interesting finding on topic trend from tweet is to check if people would discuss more on renewable energy or traditional energy during COP26. For renewable energy, the public pays more close attention to it due to the energy topic discussed on 4th November. In contrast, traditional energy topic raised more awareness after COP26, due to the most influential meeting point regarding oil, gas and energy being held in Dubai from 15th November to 18th November

2.6 Sentiment analysis

It is of interest to check the sentiment change of tweet across the whole time. In general, the public held a positive attitude on energy transition, especially during COP26, when two peaks showed. However, on 14th November, a more negative sentiment was expressed by the public.

The significantly negative sentiment polarity reflected public concerns on some discussed issues at the end of COP26. People were worried about the progress of energy transition, especially during COP26 some representatives showed disappointment in finding fossil fuel subsidies for some developing countries. Besides, there is a voice that criticized COP26 neglected global south countries —abandoned to the climate crisis with no money for the energy transition, adaptation, or loss and damage.

2.7 Most mentioned entities

We also check the entities mentioned from tweets. An entity can be any word or series of words that consistently refers to the same thing. Entity recognition helps us easily identify the key elements from context. In this analysis, entities which draw our attention include country, person, organization, hashtag and tag.
Among all tweets, we count the occurrence of countries in context. US (United States) and UK (United Kingdom) mostly appeared. We also check the sentiment of tweets which mention these countries. The public showed a highly positive attitude on South Africa since agreement was established to help South Africa on energy transition from EU (European Union) and partners during COP26.

There are five most mentioned people among tweets, Joe Biden, Larry Fink (chairman and CEO of BlackRock), Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission), Claudio Descalzi (CEO of Eni) and Bernard Looney (CEO of BP).

There are also some organizations that appear inside tweets' context. People focused mostly on Shell, not only its effort on energy transition considering its most profit from fossil fuels, but also its moving action (from Netherlands to UK) effect on energy transition. Among the top five appeared companies, IBM and Deloitte are different from other energy companies. Both are not directly involved with energy transition but provide related services to help others to achieve their sustainability goals.

Among all tweets, the top five most hashtags are #energytransition, #COP26, #energy, #netzero and #renewableenergy. We also check the top five tag accounts: COP26, IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), IEA (International Energy Agency), ADIPECOffical (Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference), SEforALLorg (Sustainable Energy for All).

3. Closure

In general, the public showed more concern about energy transition during COP26. People also actively followed the daily topic of the conference, especially on energy and finance. Besides, COP26 raised awareness of renewable vs traditional energy. However, people were still worried about the progress of energy transition. There is still a lot of work to do to achieve the goals proposed by COP26.

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