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IRA turns one. A year later, what have we learned?

On the one year anniversary of the passage of the IRA, we thought it was worth reflecting on what we have learned on how to engage Americans on the transition to clean energy.

We are energized by the major success the US forged for climate, while equally humbled about what it takes to get Americans to both know about the bill and take advantage of its benefits. Since it passed last year, we have surveyed over 40,000 Americans on what they think about clean energy, carried out 22 focus groups, and measured the impact of 150 million ads about heat pumps and electric school buses. We created and tested over 30 creative concepts in the search to find the message that would capture America’s attention. What have we learned?

  1. Climate matters. Our leading message to increase support for the Inflation Reduction Act and clean energy is one we call “Landmark Climate Achievement.” We believe that with every year that goes by, the big reason – climate change – becomes a stronger and stronger argument for switching to clean energy.

     

  2. Community action is much easier to stoke than individual behavior change. The argument that new savings are available didn’t yet move masses of people, but the argument that we can now have cleaner schools and cleaner communities resonated highly. This individual behavior will indeed change as we move up the adoption curve, but let’s lean into the community wins now.

     

  3. Opposition to clean energy is sometimes fierce, but very narrow. Yes, there is some growing opposition to clean energy in some communities, and yes, there has been a growing conservative backlash – an expected consequence of a political win. But, as the data below shows, this is intense but narrow. The great majority of the opposition sits with only 13% of people. Everyone else wants clean energy.

     

Clean-Energy-Support

  1. “My town” and “my state” matter more than “my country.” Our original enthusiasm around patriotism-centric ideas like “We Will Never Run out of America” and “America Powers America” was blunted by the hard truth that people can see many Americas. On the other hand, they are highly united on what Philadelphia means to them, or Michigan, or Wisconsin. Local pride wins the day, and that’s where the action on clean energy is.

The IRA is one of our greatest opportunities to advance clean energy, but its success depends on local adoption and citizen enthusiasm. Communication that celebrates a safe future, mobilizes community action, builds on majority support, and localizes clean energy benefits can help us maximize the potential of this landmark legislation.

Happy Birthday, IRA,

John and Jessica