Why Obama’s Messaging About the Clean Power Plan Resonates With Americans
The key to good climate communication is to understand what’s important to people, and show how climate change affects those things. In President Obama’s recent remarks announcing the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan, he did just that.
Our research has shown that Americans put their families first, and are still firmly committed to the American Dream. As this Wired article points out, Obama has made health – particularly children’s health – a major focus of his climate policy. In his August 3 speech, he again made the connection between climate impacts and public health. The fact sheet that accompanied the Clean Power Plan offered statistics showing how it will help prevent premature deaths and other health issues. The sheet also explained how the plan will boost our economy, saving consumers $155 billion from 2020-2030 and creating tens of thousands of jobs.
Voters have responded very favorably to the plan – and it may well be because Obama’s message linked climate solutions to the American dream of prosperity and creating a better future for our families. That kind of framing resonates more strongly than a picture of a polar bear ever could.
By Nick Stockton, contributor to Wired
Barack Obama has a way with words — for which he’s been both vilified (all talk!) and adored (so inspiring!). Hate or love, nobody can deny he’s good at communicating. Case in point: On Monday, he delivered the country’s first climate change-specific regulations — by talking about health, economics, and security.
The Clean Power Plan is a new EPA rule that aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. That’s pretty historic, especially for something as divisive as a new, tough environmental policy. Dealing with climate change has always been problematic from a political perspective, because it’s caused by carbon dioxide, which is created by burning fossil fuels, which make transportation possible and generate electricity, which power the US economy. So pitting the industrial might of the nation against some polar bears is typically a non-starter.
So what might work? Pointing out that climate change poses a threat to the American way of life.
Image credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images