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Climate Activists Take to Social Media but Who are They Reaching? And why it matters.


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In December 2015, representatives of 195 nations meeting in Paris for the Conference of the Parties (COP21) set an ambitious goal to reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the mid-century. During the talks climate activists took to social media to get out their message on climate justice. Before the official summit kicked off, activists held more than 2,300 events in over 175 countries in a Global Climate March, rallying around the shared goal, “Keep fossil fuels in the ground and finance a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.” Global activism was impressive in scale, but did activists reach people on social media who are not already supporters of action on climate change? My analysis of social media during the climate summit shows little interaction between climate activists and the industry most closely associated with carbon emissions: oil and gas. In this talk I’ll explore what this might mean for future climate action and our collective ability to live up to the goals set at COP21.

The fossil fuel divestment part of this research project is in conjunction with my colleague Luis Hestres, of the University of Texas at San Antonio (

Published in: Environment
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Climate Activists Take to Social Media but Who are They Reaching? And why it matters.

  1. 1. Jill  Hopke   @jillhopke       Dimensions  of  Communica6on   January  28,  2016   Climate  Ac+vists  Take  to  Social  Media     but  Who  are  They  Reaching?   And  why  it  maCers.  
  2. 2.        NASA  [NASA].  (2016,  Jan.  20).  Earth's  2015  surface  temps  were  the  warmest  since  modern  record  keeping  began  in  1880:  [Tweet].  Retrieved  from  hWps://        
  3. 3.        Amstutz,  B.  (2015,  Jun.  4).  California  drought  2015:  Way  below  TuWletown  Campground  at  New  Melones  Lake,  California    [Photograph].  Retrieved  from  hWps://  
  4. 4.        Unsplash.  (2015,  Feb.  8).  [Person  walking  pipeline]  [Photograph].  Retrieved  from      hWps://­‐walking-­‐pipeline-­‐tube-­‐steel-­‐731319/  
  5. 5.        McKibben,  B.  (2012,  July  19).  Global  warming's  terrifying  new  math.  Rolling  Stone.  Retrieved  from      hWp://­‐warmings-­‐terrifying-­‐new-­‐math-­‐20120719  
  6. 6.        The  Guardian.  (n.d.).  Keep  it  in  the  ground  campaign.  Retrieved  from      hWp://­‐it-­‐in-­‐the-­‐ground      
  7. 7.        1Heart1Tree  [1Heart1Tree].  (2015,  Dec.  12).  THANK  YOU  again  #Paris  for  this  first  edi+on  of  #1heart1tree!!   💚      #COP21  #ClimateChange  #Cop21Paris  #LoveEarth  RT    [Tweet].  Retrieved  from  hWps://    
  8. 8.        United  Na+ons  [UN].  (2015,  Nov.  29).  Ban  Ki-­‐moon  donated  his  shoes  to  stand  in  solidarity  w/  people  of  Paris  unable  to  join      a  #climatemarch  today.  #COP21  [Tweet].  Retrieved  from  hWps://  
  9. 9.     Climate  ac6vists  are  taking  to  social   media  but  who  are  they  reaching?  
  10. 10.        COP21  overall  post  volume,  Nov.  21  to  Dec.  21,  2015  
  11. 11.       Slide  Title  Here            Share  of  voice  comparison,  Nov.  21  to  Dec.  21,  2015    
  12. 12.                COP21  social  conversa+on  clusters  
  13. 13.                COP21  top  10  hashtags  
  14. 14.                Most  retweeted  COP21  TwiWer  post  
  15. 15.                Top  divestment  movement  posts  
  16. 16.                Oil  and  gas  industry  top  10  hashtags  
  17. 17.                Oil  and  gas  industry  conversa+on  clusters  
  18. 18. So  what?  
  19. 19.      
  20. 20. Extra  text/sources  here    Greenpeace.  (n.d.).  Keep  it  in  the  Ground.  Retrieved  from  hWp://­‐warming/keep-­‐it-­‐in-­‐the-­‐ground/      
  21. 21. Ques6ons?     Jill  Hopke