Panel: 3. Policy, finance and governance

Has the energy crisis polarized citizens views on energy efficiency policy? – An analysis on the German discourse on X/Twitter

The energy crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted an acceleration of policy efforts to encourage energy savings. Numerous policy interventions were proposed and implemented as a reaction to the energy crisis in the countries affected by the interrupted supply of Russian gas. With public acceptance being a key success factor for the implementation of policies addressing energy savings, our paper analyses the discourse on energy conservation policies during the crisis in Germany, using X data (formerly Twitter).

The analysis aims to quantify whether the energy crisis has polarized the discourse on energy efficiency policy. The results of the quantitative analysis are to be backed up by a qualitative manual analysis of a sample of tweets, which could also provide insights into the users' argumentation. By analysing a set of 136,837 Tweets related to energy and gas saving posted between January 2022 and May 2023, we show a heightened public focus on energy efficiency policy during the crisis and elicit the stance in the reactions to statements of policy makers and to proposed and implemented policy interventions.

Our findings show the dynamics of both the positive as well as the negative discourse and indicate that the crisis has contributed to a polarization of attitudes towards policies addressing energy savings. The enhanced understanding of citizens attitudes towards policy measures in times of crisis can inform future policies aiming to encourage energy savings.