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Green Wedge Tracker – Monitoring climate conversations

As part of the Green Wedge Project, the Green Wedge Tracker gives you a monthly overview of the social media climate conversation in 8 European countries.

June 2021

  • EU events and funding are relevant and being discussed mainly among institutional groups instead of opening to a broader audience.
  • It is still unclear whether the EU – and national governments – will have the determination to reach its ambition on emission reduction and environmental protection. It risks lagging behind if it continues to kowtow to certain sectors or if governments don’t take a proactive approach nationally.
  • Germany’s election campaign is reaching fever-pitch: with many German parties in a race against the Greens, and tactics more divisive and polarizing than ever. Baerbock is continuing to suffer setbacks.

    Focus on European Green Deal Discussions

    Most popular hashtags

  • #ZeroPollution, the slogan of the #EUGreenWeek (first week of June), was easily the most-used hashtag again this month on the European Green Deal conversation. We also note the emergence of a new hashtag #makeitreal. This was mainly used by European institutions and national governments to maintain the momentum behind the national Recovery Funds. The aim of the funds, only partially distributed so far, is to drive a sustainable and just post-pandemic recovery in Europe.

Key Twitter Events

European Green Deal discussions have generally intensified this month, especially around key events with peaks typically higher than March and the most extreme peak doubling that of previous month.  Events driving the peaks are:

  • 31/05-4/06: EU Green Week including World Bicycle Day on 3/06 drove a lot of the momentum on sustainability issue.
  • 16/06: Two first recovery plans (Spain and Portugal) have been approved by the European Commission.

The Conversation in Numbers

  • More than 1000 tweets on the race towards the submission and approval of national Resilience and Recovery plans. The European conversation focuses on informing, congratulating, and praising the impact of the funds (#makeitreal) to create a transformation towards a just and more sustainable economy post-pandemic. Virtually none of the substance of the plans is being debated.
  • 16/06 saw a disproportionally institutional discussion with 50% of the engagement (tweet + retweet) originating from European institutions and national governments. The conversation focused on the approval of the Recovery Plan for Spain and Portugal and lacked engagement from the general public.

#ArgumentOfTheMonth

Disappointment in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform and the Farm to Fork Strategy within the EGD

In addition to Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission for the EGD, pointing out “Farm-to-Fork”’s strategy lack of ambition in protecting biodiversity and reducing emissions, the public reaction to this European strategy has also been negative given the lack of support to organic farming and its lack of protection of the soil and animal. The Farm-to-Fork strategy does not appear to align with the ambition of the EGD and the food sector could make the EU lag behind when it comes to emission reduction and environmental protection.

 


National Discussions to Watch

Germany

A whole campaign against the Greens

  • The tweet below summarizes the electoral mood in Germany

Top hashtags

  • With the election approaching, we see more focus on the Greens: a party expected to be one of the main winners of this election—but is the object of major electoral attacks. This month we see #Grueneverhindern, #Baerbockverhindern appearing on the list of top hashtags in Germany on environmental discussions. They are used mainly as a call to mobilize the vote against the Greens and its leader, Annalena Baerbock. Green supporters have also attempted to reappropriate the hashtags to gather support behind Baerbock. The month of June starts to see a ramping up of campaign polarization, reaching an unprecedented level that some have qualified as Trumpian.

“When she is silent, everybody thinks she is stupid. When she speaks, everyone is certain of it.”

 

 

 

German industry flexes its muscles… against change

  • ‘Controversial’ is the best way to describe the industry lobby’s (INSM) campaign (Baerbock as Moses). This move has been perceived as a sign that industry (mainly the automotive industry) is feeling threatened by change and trying to preserve their privileges regardless of climate issues. Complicit some newspapers have gone along with it and the campaign is seen as hugely divisive and an important symbolic step in the destruction of German consensual political culture. This led to a peak in engagement on 11/06.

    “Why do the Greens ban the promised land to us?”

 

France

Trust in institutions? Conspiracy & Glyphosate

  • After years of discussions on glyphosate and a planned ban in 2022, 4 reports from independent health agencies seem to show that its use does not increase the risk of cancer or other health concerns in humans. The choice to ban it is described as a choice between science and emotion based on unbacked arguments to raise fear among the public. The cautious approach of environmentalists against the conclusions of independent institutions is described as a conspiracy.

#LiberteRuralite

  • Hunters have targeted the regional campaign of the Greens candidate, Karima Delli, with blood. With environmentalists wanting to ban hunting, we note a developing clash between different interpretations of what it means to protect biodiversity. While hunters raise and kill animals for leisure within a set of traditions they seek to protect, they claim to support the necessary management of biodiversity; They also claim that environmentalists are hypocrites ambivalent given the negative impact of wind turbines on bird populations.

 

Italy

#WeCareAboutTheEnvironment

  • The Italian Senate has taken a historical and symbolic step to recognize the climate and environmental emergency on June 9th through the inclusion of environmental, ecosystems, biodiversity protection in the Constitution. This is all the more surprising, given interest in the environmental emergency is a recent phenomenon, reinforced partly by Draghi, and conditions placed on the use of recovery funds.

Poland

A growing awareness?

  • The traumatic floods in Poznaniu and the tornado in neighbouring Czechia have led to a growth in linking extreme weather events to climate change. Many have used these events to raise awareness on climate change and gather momentum behind climate action. Still, some voices have denied the link between the two and its negative impacts, pointing at the opportunity to grow citrus in Kujawy.

 

The monthly tracker is brought to you by our Climate & Protest Programme Director Cloé Ragot.
See you next month !

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