Hope Springs Eternal: Online Behavior Points To a Greener Tomorrow
Research Intelligence

Hope Springs Eternal: Online Behavior Points To a Greener Tomorrow

by Adelle Kehoe , Director of Content Marketing 5 Min.
October 29, 2021 | Updated June 21, 2022

The internet accounts for 2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the same as the global airline industry. Every time you Google a half-thought, play a silly cat video, or read a helpful blog (hi there), energy is used. But before you burn your router and boycott the internet, I’d ask you to finish this article first.

With COP26 approaching and climate change growing as a hot topic, people are hunting for ways to educate their mind, eliminate their waste, and engage in the conversation on the quest to go green – all on the internet! Maybe the world wide web isn’t so bad after all.

Here at Similarweb, we analyzed key data points to see exactly how the climate change conversation is heating up online.

Our internet environmental search data depicts:

  • Climate change keywords have been trending, peaking in April at 145.5K searches
  • Environmental education sites experienced the highest % growth at +89.3% YoY
  • Visits to environmental non-profits climbed 18.9% YoY
  • Interest in solar-based products on Amazon saw a 36.6% jump in search

We’ve also uncovered:

  • ‘COP26’ has been searched for more than ‘Truth Social’ in the days leading up to the conference
  • ‘Trump’ is Googled more than ‘Climate Change’
  • The UK’s Telegraph is leading the climate change conversation in the media, with the most mentions of COP26

Internet users more interested than ever in climate change

Climate change has officially surpassed trend status as internet users express more interest than ever in the global phenomenon, with climate-change-charged keywords peaking at 145.5K searches in April and web traffic to environmental sites escalating at an astonishing rate. Visits to websites classified as ‘environmental education’ have ballooned by 89% this year alone.

Monthly search volume of climate change related keywords

Similarweb Digital Marketing Intelligence shows monthly search volume has risen this year for Climate Change related keywords

Year-over-year % change in total traffic

Similarweb Digital Research Intelligence shows environmental education websites have received the biggest uplift in traffic this year.

We spoke with Charlie Clissitt, Editor of the UK’s leading Eco Comparison site, The Eco Experts:

“We have seen a 284% year-on-year increase in traffic to our blog, which of course focuses on all things climate-related. Still, even though people know issues like global warming are very real and very bad, they don’t always know the best ways to tackle it themselves.  As a climate-conscious homeowner, how do you create a zero-carbon home, for example? Fortunately, the internet has turned information into running water; people just need to turn the tap to go online and fill their cup.

Search terms: bees, Bitcoin, and the point of no return

Out of the top ten environmental-related educational sites, Yale’s School of Environment site skyrocketed +102.6% (YoY) when comparing January – September in 2020 and 2021. And people weren’t just searching for “what is climate change”. Searches demonstrated a complex, wide-ranging, and in one case, existential desire to understand it.

Most visitors found environment-review.yale.edu by searching the following terms:

  • anecdote pesticide
  • should we allow foreign investment natural resources
  • marine fungi for agriculture
  • hops good for bees
  • how does the environment affect the personality
  • bitcoin contamination issue rebuttal
  • fungus based agriculture
  • how does grocery shopping reduce carbon footprint
  • when did the world reach the point of no return

How ‘hot’ is climate change in digital trends?

Context is everything. While climate change searches are increasing, how does it stack up against other topics? Using Google Trends data for the past seven days (as of Oct. 29), the stats speak for themselves:

Climate change vs. Pepsi: Climate change wins

Climate change beats Pepsi in search trends

COP26 vs. WWE: WWE wins

WWE beats COP26 in search trends

COP26 vs. Truth Social: COP26 wins

COP26 beats truth social in search trends

Climate Change vs. Trump: Trump wins

Trump beats Climate change in search trends

Media coverage of COP26: U.K. vs. U.S.

Searches for “climate change news” have been climbing every month. And, as you’d expect, searches for COP26 have gone through the roof. But where are people getting their info? The official COP26 site and UN CCC site take the bulk of traffic, but what are our go-to news outlets saying? We analyzed Google search results for COP26 across four top online publications in both the U.K. and U.S. to see. Data was collected Sunday, October 24 (one week prior to the conference start date).

New uk publication for cop26

Results for US cop26 per publication

Solar product searches are heating up

Lastly, we live in a capitalist world, so no blog post is complete without a look at what we’re buying. And yes, we’re going greener. Similarweb Shopper Intelligence shows us Amazon.com saw a 36.6% increase in “solar” related product searches from the same time period last year. And Charlie Clissitt told us that when looking at the solar category of The Eco Experts, there’s been a 31% year-on-year increase in traffic.

Volume for solar related products on amazon.com

Insight from Similarweb Shopper Intelligence shows consumer demand for solar products is on the up.

Can the internet save us from climate change?

Our data paints a clear picture: climate change is growing in our global consciousness: educational and consumer trends both point towards a greener mindset. The go-green-do-good attitude is spilling over into other areas as well – according to Charity Navigator, traffic is up 18.9% this year across 36 top environmental nonprofits.

At Similarweb, we believe in data. Our Data for Good series shines a light on world issues and shows how online search habits, trends, and behavior play a bigger part than you may think. So, still want to break up with the internet?

Written in conjunction with Ilana Marks and Richard Krueger


This post is subject to Similarweb legal notices and disclaimers.

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