Narratives for the Green Deal in times of populism

What do 1,300 energy experts think about policy progress in their countries? The new Energy Efficiency Survey Report has some answers! One key result is the need to get better at spreading positive narratives for the Green Deal. Download the full report!

The EEW Survey collected opinions from over 1,370 energy efficiency experts about the progress of energy efficiency policies in the EU27 Member States in the last 3 years.

The ups and downs of policy progress

The first part of the survey was dedicated to gathering views on energy efficiency policy progress in the last 3 years. In order to compare the progress across countries and policy fields, a “progress indicator” was calculated. Results are shown in the table below (for details, see the full survey report).

Compared to previous surveys, new countries appeared among those with most progress. Some countries maintained their policy ambition over the years, especially where the understanding of the positive economic, environmental and social impacts of energy efficiency has allowed it to become relatively independent of political changes. In most other countries, where significant fluctuations could be observed, this understanding needs to be further developed based on effective narratives.

Agile Green Deal narratives

For narratives to be successful, it is critical that they are linked to subjects of general importance in the public debate. The 2023 survey showed the cost of living and housing as the most important topic. This is a significant change compared to the 2020 survey, where it was ranked number 4. The issue of jobs, which was the most important topic in 2020, was moved to rank 4 in 2023.

Since effective narratives need a wider support from important stakeholder groups, the survey looked at influential actor groups and their current position regarding the Green Deal. Compared to 2020, the most significant changes were observed in the industry and farming communities. While the position of the farmers associations towards the Green Deal changed for the negative in practically all Member States, the attitude of large industry associations improved somewhat across the EU, and even very significantly in some countries (including Germany and NL).

The survey showed that the positive societal impacts of the Green Deal (“transforming the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy”) are very insufficiently reflected in the public debate – an issue that needs to be addressed with some urgency.

The large majority of experts believe that the energy crisis will speed up the achievement of the climate neutrality target.