by Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza
You may say that 100% renewable energy by 2050 is not a new or original goal to you, your company or your industry association members. But if that’s the case, then we’ve unfortunately all done a really poor job of sharing that very clear and simple goal with our respective industries, customers, voters, and especially our national leaders.
Sure, there have been recent academic debates about whether 100% renewables is even possible. There are even organizations like the Solutions Project dedicated to that same 100% purpose. And did you know that Democratic members of the Congress and Senate just introduced a 100 by ‘50 Act with nearly zero media attention? It doesn’t matter that this Democratically sponsored legislation has little chance of getting a hearing, let alone a vote. More important is that most if not all of our clean energy leaders, orgs and companies should publicly state that we support a 100% by 2050 goal and share that support with our stakeholders, customers, families and friends. If we don’t state this clearly, who will? If Congress will not lead, then it’s up to us to make this an aspirational issue in the court of public opinion.
With that in mind, I’d like to offer a step-by-step communications strategy for individuals, companies, and clean energy trade and environmental advocacy organizations to bring attention to the 100% renewable energy goal. The idea here is for renewable companies and advocates to be motivating voters as well as our local and national elected officials to make 100% a top priority for the 2018 election cycle and beyond.
Some may think this is a waste of time, but consider this: Congress is looking for a significant win after the healthcare loss, and there is bipartisan support for a grand infrastructure bill. If there’s any chance of 100% renewables language getting passed in this current Congress, it will probably need to be attached to that legislation with grid upgrade and clean energy independence messaging. If nothing else, we can at least begin to make this goal public and hopefully transform it into a key voter issue. Here’s the plan:
100% by 2050 for individuals:
- State on your social media channels that you support 100% renewable energy by 2050. Lord knows we don’t need another campaign hashtag, so just include the Solutions Project’s #100IsNow hashtag in your post. Be sure to ask people to share that post and include the same #100IsNow hashtag.
- Look up your congressman’s and senator’s email or phone, and contact them. Take five minutes to tell them in your own words that you are a registered voter in their district/state who will be voting in 2018, and that you want a 100% renewable energy goal to be a part of any infrastructure legislation. Individual emails are much better than a prewritten email. All you need is a sentence or two.
100% by 2050 for solar, wind, energy storage, and other renewable energy companies:
- Share this post with all of your employees and ask them to do the individual step above and pass it along to their friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.
- Write a blog post or press statement stating your commitment to helping the U.S. (and the world) get to 100% renewables by 2050. You may have your own reasons for this, so I don’t need to make any suggestions. If you haven’t already, pledge some kind of action by a certain date that helps move the needle toward this goal.
- Send the above blog or press statement to all of your customers and suppliers. Ask them to also look up their congressman or senator and include the above suggested individual voter actions, use the same hashtag, and share the message on their own social media.
- Join and support advocacy and renewables lobbying organizations that have specifically made this 100% renewables by 2050 commitment. If you can’t find a specific statement on their website, then even if they do support it, it’s like the tree falling in the forest and no one hearing it. Focus on those who’ve publicly made that commitment—and for those that haven’t, urge them to do the same.
100% by 2050 for renewable energy trade and advocacy organizations:
First, please take these communication suggestions in the spirit of renewable energy advocacy. I know you work hard to support clean energy, but my point here is that in addition to our specific concerns and efforts, we all need to publicly unite around this one simple 100% goal that individuals and lawmakers can understand. We may not get 100% renewable energy attached to a new infrastructure bill, but we may at least start a public debate that leads to a plan in the near future. With that in mind:
- Repeat the actions suggested for companies above. State them in your “About Us” page, write a post or media release, and share your 100% commitment with employees and stakeholders. Ask for your members to do the same.
- To address 100% renewables skeptics, create white papers and peer-reviewed research that provide solutions for the U.S. getting to 100% by 2050, and publish and publicize these findings.
- If a lobbying organization, lobby and craft legislation for this specific goal and introduce the campaign to legislators. You all know that a vast majority of Americans want more clean energy. What’s missing is political will in the face of fossil fuel lobbyists and their campaign dollars, not public support.
Finally, I’d like to suggest that the advocacy organizations reading this post set a date in late 2017 or early 2018 to gather for a small high-level conference about how to jointly work together to bring more voter awareness to the 100% goal and to our local and national legislators. If interested, please contact me via LinkedIn to help facilitate.
Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza is senior strategy adviser for Kiterocket’s renewable energy practice and a communications consultant for other solar and renewables brands.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.