CLEAN ENERGY IN THE TIME OF CRISES
The three Cs of how to talk about clean energy in a time of economic crises, climate crises, and energy uncertainty
Recognizing the effect the pandemic has had not just on the national and global economic system but on society and individuals and their sense of security and safety as well as the decisions they make as consumers and as members of the communities.
Furthermore being aware that due to the events in the last three years, there is much more uncertainty, which makes individuals, as well as governments more conservating in planning for their immediate future and less likely to test or adopt new solutions
Keeping in mind that in the time of economic crises, climate crisis and energy uncertainty there is a need to be very flexible in planning future consumption and strategies of living, yet those are the times when we have the least capacity for flexibility,
Knowing that fear can and is abused for generating capital (whether financial or political) as well as the impact fear has on making rational decisions,
Understanding that the values that are prioritized change in a time of crisis, immediate safety and (financial) security very quickly push long-term values such as fighting climate crisis or care for the environment aside,
Noticing that many experts are struggling with how to address the fears and uncertainties around energy usage resulting in either continuing business as usual in clean energy advocacy and lobbying or withdrawing and deciding this is not the right time to push for clean energy and environment and stopping climate change as absolute priorities,
… we are coming together as Social Impact, Sustainability, and Environmental Experts in order to start a conversation about framing and positioning the clean energy discourse at such a time.
FOR CLEAN ENERGY EXPERTS TAKING PART IN THE ENERGY CRISES DISCOURSE
As experts, we contribute to the framing of a topic, to the rules of how we will talk about a certain issue such as the energy future. With any power comes responsibility, and at this moment in time, we have to reexamine ours. Thus as experts in the field of social responsibility, we have created a short checklist for making sure that you pass on your message in a responsible and emphatic way. It is necessary to understand and accept the responsibility for short and long-term consequences of how and what we communicate
USE DATA AND CLARITY
- Say what you know (ie science and data)
- Say what you don’t know right now (science, data)
- Be clear about the difference between the two
- If you enjoy discussing various apocalyptic scenarios, make sure the timing and the audience for that are right. Hint: “now” and “general public” are not the right choices:), These discussions are great over a drink with fellow colleagues that you know well enough to know it is just an intellectual activity for them and will not cause them any sleepless nights or anxiety.
- Provide acknowledgment for the fear that people are experiencing, ignoring it or trying to negate it will only make it more acute
- Do not generalize, try to give information for those that would be qualified as being in the energy poverty category as well as those rethinking of buying a new Tesla or e-vehicle, make sure you specify who you are addressing with each point you make
- Check your privilege, and try to think about different people that will read/listen to what you are saying, what their realities, fears, hopes, etc might be. Do not say “I understand how you feel”, rather hear people and say “I hear you”
FIGHT USING FEAR TO GENERATE (FINANCIAL) CAPITAL
- Take a minute to think about what people are afraid of and how you can help them manage that fear. Toxic positivity doesn’t help, do not say “everything will be ok” be frank but be emphatic too
- Ask for approval before the release of any interview or text making sure that the title is not bombastic/clickbait or something that only adds to the anxiety, remember anxiety and fear sell and most people only read the headlines.
- Give priority to the functional goals of communication – ie what do people need to know how to make decisions? How justified are their fears? If they are justified, try and offer recommendations on how to act. If they are not that justified try and make them understand that. Talk about what is useful to them, not what is fun or interesting to you or those asking you to speak as your greatest responsibility is to those you are addressing
Last but not least, take care of yourself and if you can, take care of others..for what are we as humans if we are not there for each other?
Talking points – here are the must say, the key messages when talking about energy in the time of crises (general talking points 5-6)
Here are more elaborate messages when talking about energy in the time of crisis:
Energy Poverty and Energy Crises
Energy expenditure is x% – y% of my income
The energy uncertainty will not significantly affect me