The Observatory’s approach to analysing energy and climate change debates on internet platforms has been piloted in two studies on carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which is increasingly perceived as necessary for achieving net zero emissions targets. Both studies mapped debate and engagement with the following CDR approaches: bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and afforestation.

The first study used web-querying to generate “coarse signs” of actor engagement with CDR debates. This findings were then situated and qualified through a qualitative analysis of grey literatures. In the first step, we used search engines to locate actors using the web to engage with BECCS and afforestation and keyword queries to map their alignments in relation to ‘natural’ and ‘engineered’ framings of CDR. In a second step, grey literatures were analysed for devices deployed by UK-based actors to evidence and contest the feasibility of BECCS and afforestation. Our findings highlighted that actors appearing on opposing sides of the CDR debate nonetheless deploy very similar problem-framings and analytical techniques to evidence the feasibility of future CDR projections. The article is titled “Searching for a Public in Controversies over Carbon Dioxide Removal: An Issue Mapping Study on BECCS and Afforestation” is freely available at:

The second study centred on a participation experiment in which we involved an interdisciplinary group of researchers in mapping issues relating to BECCS and afforestation. The study documents the responses of individual researchers when presented with visualisations aggregated from posts about BECCS and afforestation on the platform Twitter. We then compared the researchers’ responses with a qualitative analysis of a subset of the Twitter data. The analysis highlights challenges the researchers experienced in identifying issues and relating these visualisations to their own research on afforestation and BECCS. The study argues that the visibility of assessment-related controversies on platforms like Twitter is not only shaped by platform and algorithmic design but is inseparably also a matter of the ways in which assessment processes imagine and engage with publics. The article is titled: “Climate change assessments, publics and digital traces of controversy: An experiment in mapping issues with carbon dioxide removal researchers” and is freely available at: