Building Political Support for a Clean Energy Transition — How Arguments on Solar Power Affect Public Support in Germany and the US

Building Political Support for a Clean Energy Transition — How Arguments on Solar Power Affect Public Support in Germany and the US

Apr 19, 2016 by Alexander Franke
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License: CC-BY-NC-ND

For supporters of renewable energy, particularly solar, it is becoming increasingly important to leverage an array of arguments that can galvanize further public support and diffuse current political deadlocks. Renewables have witnessed unprecedented global growth in recent years, including in Germany and the US. The growing clean energy transition and its emerging decentralized actors threaten the traditional business model of large utilities, contributing to a deadlock around laws, regulations, and political support. This article elaborates and compares a number of arguments from US and German renewable energy advocates, dividing them into the categories of environmental, economic, national security, political and transformational arguments. To build strong and broad alliances with long-lasting support for renewables, it is important to cater to the needs and convictions of diverse audiences. Used strategically, ecological arguments, job creation, self-sufficiency and community empowerment can all play a role in promoting renewables. Advocates in Germany and the US can learn from each other’s successes and setbacks in building public support and help pave the way for a “green dream” to become a non-partisan reality. 

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