Advertising campaign promotes new law’s climate provisions to voters

A series of $10 million ads by the League of Conservation Voters and others shed light on the new inflation-cutting law

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(Bloomberg) — “The storms are stronger. The fires are bigger. We are facing a climate emergency,” a voice intones as images of the disaster flash across the screen.

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But then a reprieve: “And after decades of inaction, a president is finally doing something to fight it.”

So begins a 30-second ad, part of a $10 million national campaign rolling out this week. Consider it an opening salvo in what will no doubt be a battle to define how Americans understand the climate provisions of the recently passed Cut Inflation Act, which provides historic funding to reduce carbon emissions. carbon and the transition to clean energy.

The ads are funded by the League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power, two national environmental advocacy organizations, along with Future Forward USA Action, a nonprofit dedicated to helping rebuild America’s middle class. Pete Maysmith, the League’s senior vice president of campaigns, said most Americans aren’t even aware of the legislation yet and the coalition wants to shape its introduction. The midterm elections for Congress, of course, will take place in November.

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Maysmith said the groups hoped to avoid an outcome like the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act’s passage in 2010, when Republicans unseated the House of Representatives in part because of negative perceptions of the law. “We can’t let that happen,” he said. “We need to tell the real story of the bill.”

There are many reasons why shaping perceptions will be important, says Anthony Leiserowitz, founder and director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. There’s the upcoming election, but also, for the law to have its full impact, many Americans need to take action to take advantage of tax credits and do things like install heat pumps or buy their first electric car. “There is certainly a need to let the general public know that these new opportunities exist,” he said.

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Political advertising on climate change is an emerging field. President Joe Biden himself took out climate ads in the final days of the 2020 election. The League and Climate Power spent $50 million on TV and digital ads in the 18 months before the law passed. ‘IRA to give impetus to legislation. And Maysmith said his group also spent $2 million right after the bill passed to thank 120 members of Congress who voted yes. Still, Democrats are widely expected to run on the IRA’s health care provisions. Health care is a far less partisan issue than climate change in the United States.

But the people behind the ads believe the climate will also resonate with voters. Two 30-second spots air on cable channels and streaming platforms, especially those, like MTV and Comedy Central, that cater to younger audiences. Young Americans have made it clear that they want to see real action on climate change. And this bill is “positive proof” that Democrats are doing it, Maysmith says. Leiserowitz agrees. “There are a lot of people who are climate-concerned voters who feel like Biden and the Democrats let them down,” he said, due to the long struggle to pass the bill. law. It is important now before the Midterms to remind them that their vote in 2020 really had an impact.

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Additionally, the climate can play a role in state races. Evergreen Action, another climate advocacy group, recently made six-figure ad buys in Michigan and Nevada that support two struggling Democratic governors by highlighting their commitment to clean energy.

Given that the IRA did not garner a single Republican vote in the House of Representatives or the Senate, Republicans and their allies will certainly push to define the climate measures in the bill on their own terms. Fox News anchors have repeatedly confused the new law with the Green New Deal, a broad set of vague climate and economic principles outlined by New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that are viewed very negatively by many voters.

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The good news, says Max Boykoff, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies climate communications, is that there’s still plenty to pay off when it comes to communicating both on the climate change in the broad sense and on the importance of this specific problem. bill to voters. “In the United States, only 35% of adults occasionally talk about climate change with friends and family,” he said, “so we know that more stimuli in the public world can stimulate those conversations and open possibilities for greater engagement”.

Although it’s difficult to measure the effectiveness of a single ad campaign, Boykoff believes there is a cumulative effect. “There is no magic bullet, only silver buckshot,” he added. “The more voters see that their government is working for their benefit, the more useful information it will be when they go to the polling booths.”

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