13 May 2020

Is the corona pandemic supporting or crowding out the attention towards green transition?

New grant

Researchers from Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science (SODAS) will investigate how the corona crisis affects the climate change debate on three major social media platforms in Scandinavia. This is done with a new grant from the VELUX FUND.

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Photo: Pexels/Omkar Patyane

Does the corona pandemic remove the attention of governments, the business world, NGOs and the general public towards green transition and climate change, or will the pandemic, on the contrary, give new energy to the overall response to climate change?

With a grant of DKK 282,619 from the VELUX FOUNDATION, researchers at the interdisciplinary Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science (SODAS) will now investigate this question through a comprehensive survey and analysis of social media posts in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

By systematically harvesting and analysing posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram regarding the corona crisis and climate issues, the project will provide an overall picture of how frequently and how the posts refer to and connect the two challenges on social media. The researchers will use both quantitative and qualitative methods.

At the same time, the wide range of data allows to identify different attitudes and attempts to set agendas across the three Scandinavian countries and social media platforms.

It is precisely the broad perspective of the project that can provide entirely new research insights, says Associate Professor Anders Blok, Department of Sociology and SODAS, who together with Morten Axel Pedersen, professor at the Department of Anthropology and Deputy Director at SODAS, is at the forefront of the research group under SODAS.

“Social media increasingly act as central arenas for the public and political struggle to set the agenda and gain attention to global risks like corona and climate. But this happens differently in different countries and across different platforms. Our project will likely yield new insights into key mechanisms, which might turn out to be decisive for how our societies develop,” says Anders Blok.

The project will collect data from 1 February 2020 and will run until 1 July 2020, when the first analyses are expected to be ready. Later, the ambition is to find funds for a phase two, which will enable supplementary data to be collected and to go into deeper method development and analysis.

Part of a larger grant

In total, the VELUX FUND has supported 13 humanities and social sciences data collection projects with a total grant of DKK 5.5 million DKK, which will help create new knowledge about how the Covid-19 crisis affects our lives and society.

“It has been found that it is through the behavior and attitudes of the population, political decisions and social reactions that the disease has been temporarily combated and lives have been saved. Therefore, it is important that the unique data on the crisis can be collected for future research, which can shed light on both the current crisis and thus also reactions to future challenges, for example in relation to the climate crisis and digitalisation," says Henrik Tronier, Head of Programme for VELUX FONDEN’s humanities research area, in a press release.

At the same time, in order to create the best possible synergy, the supported projects have been encouraged to share knowledge.

Read more about the awarded projects at VELUX FONDEN here.