Ebbs & Flows


A social listening study of attention dynamics in climate discourse





Maximise the impact of strategic communications and
learn how climate discourse evolves around key calendar moments


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Climate change is among the greatest challenges facing humankind today. Recognising the threat posed by a warming planet, an ever-growing number of stakeholders supported by the general public are calling for urgent climate action – which they demand from governments, big business, and society as a whole.


Unsurprisingly, given the high stakes, climate change has become one of the hottest topics in public debate. But climate change discourse ebbs and flows over time, posing a challenge to communicators and researchers who have an interest in building momentum and sustaining attention in today’s noisy information landscape. Join us as we:

  • Unpack the hypothesis that popular attention peaks and quickly dissipates around key calendar moments

  • Identify the patterns and anomalies in people's attention to climate change

  • Draw key learnings and recommendations for communicators, researchers, and policymakers

Diving deep into public debate


Benefit from recommendations for future interactions to improve strategic communication surrounding all climate topics.



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In this study, UNICEPTA explores how public discourse on climate topics evolves around key events by analysing more than 46m global social media conversations published between 1 July 2022 to 31 May 2023.


Our research enables communicators, researchers and policymakers to make better and well-informed decisions. The extensive 'Ebbs and Flows' study fully commits to better understand the dynamics and timings of social debates. Learn how to activate and engage your audiences for meaningful interaction over time.




Key factors that drive or dissipate attention in the public discourse




Findings in four thematic areas: policy, scientific research, international awareness days (IAD), and climate disasters




Insights on the discourse around two key climate action strategies: mitigation and adaptation




Recommendations on how to identify and leverage the narrow window of opportunity for messaging

Key findings

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  • After a key calendar event, social media conversations are not sustained for longer than around two to three days – regardless of the level of anticipation prior to the event.


  • Citizens’ attention to the subject of climate change is most sustained in the aftermath of climate disasters when exposure and vulnerabilities to climate risks are revealed.


  • Due to a perceived lack of trust in policymakers’ willingness and ability to deliver on climate targets, citizens’ attention is better sustained when climate action (or lack thereof) is directly experienced or seen.


  • The language used to discuss climate action is a key factor contributing to holding the public’s attention.


  • Vague and top-line narratives not only inhibit citizens’ attention during a particular key moment but also increase the likelihood of citizens’ disengagement in the future.