The ambition of sustainable energy policies often fluctuates with changes in political leadership, such as following elections. Within the Energy Efficiency Watch (EEW) project, we analysed exceptions from such developments and found that policy ambition remains more stable in countries and regions where a society-wide acceptance is reached on ‘why’ they want the energy transition to take place.
These ‘whys’ – the so-called narratives – are messages, embedded in a wider framework, that impact our understanding of reality. They allow us to put topics into a context and provide meaning that resonates with people and helps achieve buy-in from larger societal groups.
As energy agencies, we have an important role to play in our regions in building strong, positive narratives for the energy transition. The extensive EEW4 survey of 1,270 experts in all EU countries offers valuable insight for improving our messaging and the actor groups we work with. It clearly shows the importance of jobs, competitiveness and investments in the public debate.
Using energy savings and climate protection as main arguments for the energy transition has often brought good results. However, there are many individuals and groups that do not consider these sufficient for changing their behaviour or investment patterns.
How can we speed things up? We know that the energy transition has many benefits both for individuals and society. But do we talk about them enough? Is our messaging clear enough about the positive impacts on jobs, competitiveness and investments – in short, the wider economic benefits? Equipping ourselves with a greater portfolio of positive arguments, facts and figures can be an important element in boosting the acceptance of the energy transition.
Together, we have shown time and again that energy agencies are agile and pro-active in driving the implementation of new technologies and ambitious policies. Let’s also innovate by broadening our narratives and partnerships!
If we, as energy agencies, get this right – if we succeed in creating strong, multifaceted narratives for the energy transition – we can help achieve more stable ambition for energy policies in our regions and countries despite future political changes.
Let’s dare to step out of our comfort zone, review and improve our messaging and find ways to work with a larger range of actor groups, so that we can help every person find their ‘why’ for the energy transition.
In this context, I invite you to reflect on how we might reach out to a broader range of stakeholders in our regions, especially from business and industry. Do we have the data, skills, and programme framework to work with them? Can we find champions for the energy transition there?
by Christiane Egger