In August 2023, HIT Strategies partnered with We Make the Future, ASO Communications, and Lake Research Partners to answer three research questions using quantitative and qualitative research:
- How do we mobilize people to demand energy that’s not just clean, but in their hands, controlled democratically by a public board, committee, and/or community?
- How do we build support for solutions that benefit people of color among others most impacted by the climate crisis?
- What forms of advocacy are people most interested in taking after a climate disaster? (focus groups only)
We found the concept of publicly owned utilities was popular with most Americans as we re-imagine how energy is created and shared in the country. Elements of publicly owned utilities that were most favorable with respondents centered on consumer cost-savings, making access more reliable, and empowering communities.
We also found it was critical to frame the issues and impacts of the climate crisis in terms of lived experience and creation of good as opposed to removal of something bad or abstract ideas. This means using active voice statements (i.e., say “wealthy corporations are destroying communities,” not “communities are destroyed by pollution being dumped in their areas”) and naming clear culprits responsible for the climate crisis. Corporate CEOs, fossil fuel corporations, and wealthy individuals were found to be effective culprits as seen in previous research.
Importantly, the research concluded that we need to lead with the experience and solutions that communities of color bring to addressing climate change rather than the harms that disproportionately impact them.