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Advocacy Campaign Clinic: Bringing Citizens, Elected Officials, and Business Groups on the 100% RE Road Trip

Session leaders

  • Anna Leidreiter, Senior Programme Manager- Climate, Energy and Cities, World Future Council
  • Jodie van Horn, Director- Ready for 100, Sierra Club (Presentation

Presentations

Bringing together their respective campaign experiences, Anna Leidreiter of the World Future Council and Jodie Van Horn of the Sierra Club introduced participants to a strategic planning framework and a tool to map what communities value in energy planning. The session broadened  the definition of what it means to set a 100% renewable energy target, pushing beyond a technology conversation to one about community values, such as equity, and the policies and strategies that help uphold those values.

Leidreiter introduced the 100% RE Buildings Blocks framework developed by the Global 100% Renewable Energy Platform. The Building Blocks are designed to raise awareness, to help local governments identify actions needed to reach energy goals, set priorities, and track progress. The framework is publicly available and customizable to suit the local context, and includes energy efficiency and conservation and the social dimensions of ownership and participatory decision-making. The Building Blocks framework also helps to identify financial resources and mechanisms available to municipalities and to integrate the goal across public and private sectors.

Zooming in from the Building Blocks planning tool, which has international applicability,  to a U.S.A.-specific communications and engagement strategy, participants were introduced to the Sierra Club’s #Readyfor100 campaign. Jodie Van Horn said connecting to community values is the key to a successful energy transition and reminded participants that community is not always defined geographically, but can also be constructed through issues of mutual interest. A comprehensive engagement and outreach plan requires building strategic and inclusive relationships and gathering information about community needs and resources. Van Horn pointed out that communities bear the responsibility of maintaining progress towards energy goals, since political offices change.

By way of introduction to the Community Mapping Worksheet, Van Horn explained that engaging community in planning is an iterative process. The Community Mapping Worksheet helps with strategic campaign planning by understanding various audiences, including those outside the typical sphere of influence, and customizing the outreach using values-based messaging. “Give your audience a reason to care about your issues by appealing to their values and addressing their concerns,” said Van Horn. Citing outcomes of a poll conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of values-based statements, Van Horn pointed out that different groups may use different words to describe the same issue. Participants were asked to consider the following key questions regarding energy campaigning:

  • What resonates?
  • How many people do we really reach?
  • Does our language turn some people off unnecessarily?
  • Are we using strong moral arguments that appeal to many different audiences?
  • Who are we trying to reach without messages?
  • Are we using the right language?

Dialogue

Participants worked with the Community Mapping Worksheet and shared their results. The two primary steps in community mapping are:

  1. Identify the categories (e.g. other government bodies, youth associations, labour unions, faith groups, etc.) and the individuals and organizations within them.
  2. Identify which are your core constituencies, stakeholders, or other potential allies, as well as potential opponents.

It is evident that the results of this exercise change with respect to who is participating in the process, which highlighted the importance of collaboration. One participant noted the categories he identified changed as he worked through exercise, and another pair of people who work at the same company identified very different groups based on their perspective and knowledge level.

In the next exercise, participants explored values-based messaging, which is meant to build personal conviction and inspire individual behaviour change that leads to collective behaviour change. To communicate their visions of a new energy future, participants worked in small groups to sketch a “message box” with four quadrants: problem, solution, call-to-action, and benefit. The groups then pitched their ideas in a contest judged by the session leaders. A sample of the pitches is provided below:

Pitch 1

Target Audience: Homeowners who heat with natural gas

Problem: Burning fossil fuels is dangerous to our future

Solution: Update homes with renewable technology

Benefit: A more comfortable home

Call-to-action: Update your home and don’t do it on your own

Pitch 2 (Winning pitch!)

Target Audience: Conservative and pragmatic

Problem: We’re losing our young people

Solution: Invest in 100% Renewable City

Benefit: Young people will come to stay, live, and play

Call-to-action: Help build a vibrant, attractive community

Pitch 3

Target Audience: Utility companies

Problem: Lack infrastructure for 100% RE, demanded by customers

Solution: Diversify portfolio

Benefit: Stay relevant and profitable

Call-to-action: Regulators mandate 100% RE

Takeaways

To close the session, participants were asked to report what they would be taking away from the session. Some of the answers were:

  • Mobilizing different actors is key.
  • Including the social aspects of planning for 100% renewable energy is a more holistic approach.
  • Realization that there are not as many barriers to renewable energy as once thought.
  • The tools presented in this session will be used in the near term to develop a transportation master plan with 100% renewable energy as a guideline.

“This session showed the importance of reaching out to those not involved in day-to-day decision-making and processes.”

VIEW ALL SESSION REPORTS