Workshop: Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning

Analyzing the global energy discourse with machine learning

Malte Toetzke · Benedict Probst · Yasin Tatar · Stefan Feuerriegel · Volker Hoffmann


To transform our economy towards net-zero emissions, industrial development of clean energy technologies (CETs) to replace fossil energy technologies (FETs) is crucial. Although the media has great power in influencing consumer behavior and decision making in business and politics, its role in the energy transformation is still underexplored. In this paper, we analyze the global energy discourse via machine learning. For this, we collect a large-scale dataset with ~5 million news articles from seven of the world’s major CO2 emitting countries, covering eight CETs and four FETs. Using machine learning, we then analyze the content of news articles on a highly granular level and along several dimensions, namely relevance (for the energy discourse), context (e.g., costs, regulation, investment), and connotations (e.g., high/increasing vs. low/decreasing costs). By linking empirical discourse patterns to investment and deployment data of CETs and FETs, this study advances the current understanding about the role of the media in the energy transformation. Thereby, it enables businesses, investors, and policy makers to respond more effectively to sensitive topics in the media discourse and leverage windows of opportunity for scaling CETs.

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