Embracing sustainability in the 21st century entails developing environmental identity, so that attitudes towards energy sustainability result from the core values of one’s individual and social identity. This study aims to explore the shift in the formation of environmental identity and attitudes towards energy sustainability throughout the course of the two-year study period (2018–2020). A dataset of 8,677,961 tweets, Facebook posts and comments and 325,228 news articles was collected to carry out quantitative analysis of the distribution of the posts, likes, and comments. A correlation with media coverage of energy and green topics was sought to establish the impact of the media on public debate. A qualitative analysis of posts and tweets was carried out to establish dominant themes. The findings of the study reveal that both positive attitudes towards energy sustainability and environmental identity have been consolidated throughout the two-year study period. Social media users are not only increasingly interested in green issues but also produce more reactions towards posts related to sustainability topics. The results also suggest that sustainable values and green behavior are independent from the media coverage of current events and the perceived threat to one’s health from COVID-19. Social networking sites provide a context in which users not only reinforce their beliefs and values, but also mimic the behavior of other users, which leads to the formation of a social media identity bubble that reinforces shared identity—in this case, environmental identity. This study offers a multidisciplinary perspective on sustainable development that will be able to drive equitable energy security and environmental security.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.