After 12 days of negotiations for COP 21, nearly 200 nations have adopted an agreement to fight climate change.
Throughout the conference, we’ve been monitoring #COP21 on Twitter because we’re interested in how the Arctic fits into international discussions of climate change. This is what we’ve learned.
This is an update to our earlier post. All findings presented here are preliminary, but we wanted to share them in near “real time.”
Over three million #COP21 tweets were sent during the conference
From November 30 to December 11 we recorded 3,073,710 tweets sent with the hashtag #COP21. The most popular hashtags used in conjunction with #COP21 were #climatechange (8.7% of tweets), #climate (4.0%), and #paris (2.1%). The most frequently mentioned users were @cop21, the official French-language account for the conference, US President Barack Obama, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
The top #COP21 retweet was an image posted by astronaut Scott Kelly showing the coast of Argentina and Uruguay from the International Space Station.
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) November 30, 2015
The most #COP21 tweets sent in a single day happened on the first day of the conference
On November 30, there were over 600,000 tweets sent using the hashtag #COP21–the most we ever saw in one day during the monitoring period. Nowhere near that many #COP21 tweets were sent in a day until the Paris Agreement was announced at the close of the conference on December 12. About 457,000 tweets with the hashtag #COP21 were sent that day.
Less than one-third of a percent of #COP21 tweets mentioned the Arctic
Of the 3,000,000+ #COP21 tweets sent during the conference, only 9,972 mentioned the Arctic*, 0.32% of the total.
*Note: Thanks to real time feedback on Twitter, we used the following keywords to search for mentions of the Arctic: Arctic, Arctique, Arktis, А́рктика, Arcticpoli SavetheArctic, ArcticParis, polar, Yukon, ykpoli, ytpoli, “Northwest Territories,” NWTpoli, Nunavut, Nunavutpoli, Alaska, Greenland, Inuit, Saami.
Twitter chatter of the Paris Agreement featured very few mentions of the Arctic
After the Paris Agreement was announced on the morning of December 12, over 141,000 tweets were sent that day mentioning it. Of those, only 66 mentioned the Arctic.
COP 21 had little impact on discussion of the Arctic on Twitter
The week before COP 21, a daily average of ~32,000 tweets mentioning the Arctic were made per day. During the conference, that daily average fell to around ~27,000 tweets per day. There was a significant spike in Arctic tweets on the second day of the conference, but much of this is attributable to Greg Fisk, the mayor of Juneau, Alaska, being found dead mysteriously in his home. Nearly 12,000 of the Arctic tweets recorded on December 1 concerned the death of Greg Fisk. Only around 3% of Arctic tweets used the hashtag #COP21.
Note: In our earlier Twitter analysis we reported an average of ~6,700 Arctic tweets per day, a significantly smaller number than is reported here. We had also reported that an average of ~11% of tweets used the hashtag #COP21 where here we report that only ~3% did. These discrepancies are due to a methodological error with the way we configured our social media analysis software. This gave us an incomplete data set. We have since fixed the error and refined our data collection methods.
#COP21 tweets that mention the Arctic amount to ~830 per day
During COP 21, a daily average of about 830 #COP21 tweets concern the Arctic. We found considerable variability in day-to-day volume, ranging from 208 to 1497 tweets.
These tweets tended to concern events and demonstrations. For example, around 15% of #COP21 tweets that mention the Arctic are about “Ice Watch,” the 12 blocks of Arctic ice melting in front of the Place du Parthenon in central Paris. Another popular topic is a demonstration put on by Greenpeace featuring a giant mechanical polar bear, held on December 9. On December 10, NASA hosted a live stream on how “Arctic changes impact us all,” generating another burst of Twitter buzz.
The Arctic was not a central topic of COP 21 Twitter chatter
The Arctic was not a hot topic for the COP21 discussion on Twitter. The miniscule proportion of #COP21 tweets that mentioned the Arctic may or may not indicate how the Arctic fits into discussions of climate change in general. Perhaps the Arctic’s moment just hasn’t come yet, or it just hasn’t happened on Twitter.