Squid Game more talked about than climate change in the run-up to COP26

A dystopian landscape where resources are limited and humans must struggle for survival. It’s not the climate crisis, but Netflix’s latest hit show that’s dominating online conversation.

Despite the postponed COP26 – dubbed the world’s ‘last best hope’ climate summit – taking place next week, we’re focused more on fictional threats than real danger. According to a new study of more than 5.2 million online data points, conducted using Brandwatch and commissioned by global renewable energy company BayWa r.e., Squid Game has received over 10 times more mentions than COP in the past 30 days.

However, the significance of COP26 in determining whether we avert or crash headlong into catastrophic climate change is far from lost on social media audiences. COP26 is the most talked about climate change conference ever, reflecting the urgency of the situation and our growing climate consciousness. The research also found that attention around the conference has been growing, with online mentions of COP26 more than double the previous total for COP25.

The research was the result of an analysis of four years of trend data across social media, news and blogging platforms, including Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr and Google.

Other findings include:

  • The UK has topped the table as the country talking most about COP26 with over 640K mentions – more than three times the mentions of the next nation on the list, the United States of America; and while conversations have increased year-on-year globally, the highest percentage increase has been from the UK
  • Executives continue to make up the largest percentage of spokespeople for the conference, when analysing professions discussing COP26 most online, followed by teachers and lecturers
  • Pressure is on world leaders to make a stand, with Boris Johnson’s name featuring heavily, with close to 400,000 online mentions linked to COP26; this is over 20 times more mentions than Greta Thunberg in relation to COP26, at just over 15,000
  • US presidents have created a lot of conversation in the past; however, this year US President Joe Biden, and former US President Donald Trump, were only mentioned 105,000 times
  • A short-term crisis will supersede a long-term one, as online mentions for the fuel crisis were six times higher than COP26-related mentions throughout September
  • Mentions in the tones of disgust and fear around climate change are three times higher during COP26 discussions, compared to COP25

Matthias Taft, CEO of BayWa r.e. comments: “It’s a natural instinct to distract ourselves from uncomfortable thoughts and scary realities, but time is rapidly running out if we are to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change – this is truly the decade that matters.

“It’s encouraging to see this increased urgency reflected in the conversations around COP26 and the large increase in online discussions this year. However, it’s crucial words become action after world leaders leave Glasgow. We must make sure governments, businesses and we as individuals carry through our climate commitments and make the changes the world desperately needs.

“An attitude shift is central to this: we need to stop seeing climate action and sustainable choices as long-term goals that could restrict our previous freedoms, but rather as urgent changes that create positive impact for our society and economy. This is a no-regrets opportunity for a secure and sustainable future for our planet.”