Now we are ready to implement the strategy. We know what we need to do and why, who we need to speak to and what we need to say. The next step is to actually build the roll-out plan for the strategy. If we need to get the message through to a particular person, we need a way to be heard, understood and have our message taken on board, and for the message to lead to action on their part.
There is always a temptation with campaigns to jump straight to tactics. Perhaps this is because tactics are easier to come up with than anything else. However, if the tactic fails to deliver the strategy, it is a waste time.
Most communication tactics are obvious but, in a world overloaded with information, it is often the more innovative ideas that find their target. Sometimes the best way to come up with implementation tactics is to put some clever people into a room with free drinks!
Tactics are very much about doing, so I've set out a selection of examples which can help make the point and give some food for thought for anyone trying the same, whether from industry, NGOs or government. Sometimes it is also useful to look at what works for other campaigns in a given country. If all else fails, one can go straight to the horse's mouth and find friends within the target group to ask what sort of vehicles work for them.
Here is an example of blocking out negative space. During the MRET campaign, we undertook an opinion poll that examined public support for different energy options. The results indicated 95 per cent support for renewables such as wind and solar, 50 per cent for gas and about 21 per cent for coal. The poll was sent to a huge database of politicians around the country. The message: renewable energy is popular, supporting its increased use will also be popular, harming the future of renewable energy will be unpopular and potentially politically damaging.
Levelof Support for electricity generating; options
Levelof Support for electricity generating; options
Building?; wind farms 3%^
Building;; gas-fired power plants 40%
Building a new coal-burning power plant
Source: ARG (2003)
Figure 5.7 Blocking out negative space with poll showing public support for renewables
The following is an example of an attempt to secure positive space on the issue of employment. With a new energy supply on the scene, it might be natural to assume that jobs in other sectors might be lost. To address this assumption, we commissioned a report that compared job creation in wind with job creation in coal; this proved that on a kWh basis wind farms created twice as many Australian permanent jobs and six times more manufacturing and installation jobs! This example shows how we can re-open closed space, which can be difficult because it means tackling areas for which a standard has already been set.
On the issue of cost, many lobbyists have worked very hard to attempt to show that the costs of renewables make them unviable. In fact, significant information suggests this is far from the case. So we prepared briefings and lobby tours to set the record straight based on the reputable economic modelling available.
A counter-attack from the coal and aluminium industry associations followed, which attempted to disprove the original research. Their critique was distributed widely to politicians — but interestingly not in public. So it took a long time to find out what was going on. So, once again, we had to show that their critique was unfounded and commission more work to prove our point. This illustrates how both the proponents and the opponents of the debated renewable energy legislation knew the political space on economic cost was absolutely critical for a positive decision. Here the financial resources of the anti-renewable fossil fuel/ aluminium lobby, used to pay for big brand economics reports (of questionable factual accuracy), was almost impossible to match.
It can be useful to divide the public into three groups: those who support environmental initiatives and clean energy, those who do not or who have higher priorities, and what can be perhaps the biggest group of all — those who lack an opinion on the topic. All three are important and must be engaged.
Some of the tactical elements used to engage the public in the MRET campaign might prove useful here. First, we set out a clear and intelligible target, a 10 per cent increase in new renewable energy production (above a 1997 baseline) adapted from previous targets by industry, NGOs and political parties. The target specifically for wind was bitten off at 5000MW, half the total of the proposed 10 per cent target increase. We made this target more intelligible in public and media materials by stating the target in terms of numbers of homes.
We also agreed a common platform across many allies, as it was crucial to present a unanimous front in the MRET campaign. This was achieved by a series of negotiations which led to an agreed-upon platform ultimately endorsed by more than 50 organizations, including doctors' groups, unions, business and finance groups, students, environmental groups and industry.
We the undersigned agree that:
I. Global climate change is recognised by world leaders as the greatest global challenge facing humankind in the 21st century. Climate change carries with it serious economic, social, environmental and health risks for all people and nations. In Australia, rising temperatures and extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and severe storms will increase the incidence of bush-fires, cause significant loss of agricultural production, jeopardize natural assets such as the Great Barrier Reef and increase the spread of infectious diseases. Such climate impacts are already leading to increased risks to property and an increased burden on our economy and social fabric.
II. Solutions to climate change are available now. One fundamental solution is the move to clean renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and sustainable biomass. Renewable energy resources are proven, low cost and are one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. Australia is blessed with an abundance of renewable energy and is well positioned to be a major renewable technology manufacturing and export centre, creating thousands of high-quality local jobs. Many nations have already adopted policy measures to accelerate the introduction of renewable energy.
III. The Federal Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) review is an opportunity to accelerate the necessary move to clean, renewable energy sources. A 10per cent MRET in 2010 would be consistent with European and US targets. It would start Australia on the necessary trajectory for significant greenhouse gas reductions. It would also create over 14,000jobs and establish Australia as an Asia-Pacific hub for clean energy products and services. In the interests of current and future generations, we call on the Australian government to seize this opportunity and increase the MRET to 10per cent.
Finally we made a call to arms. If you alert people to a battle, you had better have something for them to do when they decide to join in! In this case our request was that people actually prepare official submissions to the MRET review process via a joint campaign website prepared on behalf of all the signatory 10x10 coalition organizations.
While there were 120 substantive submissions to the review process, this figure ballooned out to over 5000 when contributions from the public campaigns were counted. Indeed, the secretariat was obliged to take on more staff to deal with the large number of submissions.
It is very important to cover all bases before embarking on any type of public campaign — a sort of risk management strategy. In the case of the wind industry, there is a need to address issues around birds, noise, landscape, tourism and property prices.
The critical aspect here was to break a cycle of claim and counter-claim by referencing as much information as was available on an issue, creating fact sheets, and updating these fact sheets on a regular basis. The aim was to create a definitive source of information which was as unbiased as possible despite the authorship.
The tourism issue is highly subjective and socially driven, and was thus far harder to close off than other wind farm issues. To learn how to address these issues we sought discussions with a nature and heritage conservation group, the National Trust, as previously described in Box 3.5. At the time the National Trust branch in the Australian state of Victoria was pushing for a moratorium on wind power, and this made engaging them more difficult. Nevertheless, any conservation group must be aware of climate change impacts and we found sufficient overlap in our respective missions to engage. This led to an initiative to investigate environmental protection through wind power without compromising landscape protection. The joint project to investigate issues was funded by the federal government.
Ending speculation and misinformation on particular issues may require more depth than a simple briefing. We dealt with this challenge during the first year of the 10x10 campaign by producing reports on topics such as the cost of increasing the MRET, jobs, cost convergence of wind and coal, climate impacts, grid and electricity system issues. They were developed for target audiences including those concerned with employment creation, inward investment and risks to that investment, and for farmers and farming communities. Reports like these can fill critical information gaps; in this particular campaign, the reports used became the basis of revised government agency pricing of wind power and were even cited in a Pentagon-commissioned study.
If renewable energy opponents are vocal and are prominent in the media, it may be necessary to test their claims and assert any counter-claims. In Australia, as has been the case in the UK and the US, a small but very vocal group of anti-wind organizers were capturing media attention and appearing to speak of behalf of entire communities. How widespread were the views they put forth? Addressing the type of issue is critical to maintaining political support in the face of sustained criticism. To this end, we commissioned a 1000-person poll into attitudes on various energy issues surrounding renewable energy. The results were unequivocal, showing 95 per cent support for the installation of wind farms as a way to meet future energy needs.
Direct communication to get around media constraints
An ongoing challenge in any campaign is getting the information to the right people. In fact the use of mainstream print media is a very blunt tool. A more sophisticated tool now available is of course email — although it should not be abused. Obtaining the email address of a person you want to send information to, such as a politician or a union official, is usually straightforward. To use this direct communication tool in the MRET campaign, we created a monthly campaign newsletter, or ezine, extolling the virtues of a renewable energy industry and letting critical people know the levels of activity underway.
An example of how effective this tool became was the size of the online list which reached almost 2000 (including almost every state and federal politician in the country) and the attention paid to the newsletters. In one issue we released a map of Australia showing wind investment in each electorate. Over 400 were downloaded in the first hour.
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Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.