A Worthy Cause in Need of Better Messaging or Messenger?
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is considered to be the Superman of the climate change movement. He has a clear campaign message to address climate change that maps out a sustainable future and how we can save a sinking ship.
“We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it,” Inslee said. Inslee also said climate change is not only an environmental crisis, but it also affects other issues including racial justice and health care. And it doesn’t stop with exposure to toxins from coal-fired power plants. The latest example can be found in media reporting that ConEd cut the power in economically disadvantaged and diverse areas in Brooklyn to avoid a bigger outage caused by extremely hot temperatures.
While he is consistent on his campaign messages, Inslee isn’t favored among the many candidates on the Democratic platform. Further, his approval ratings as governor were around 44% per Morning Consult, which put him near the bottom in terms of popularity among all governors. Now, he is polling less than 2% in the presidential race.
While his plan is expansive and noteworthy, its rollout was less than stellar. The plan to solve the climate crisis was introduced on social media in the form of a bite-sized, 35-second video clip set to music masking the urgency and severity of the issue. Between the rollout and the approval ratings, it seems like Inslee has a communications challenge more than anything.
The climate policy itself, on the other hand, contains five volumes of detailed reports and well-thought out, substantial steps to eliminate more damage to the planet. The steps include:
- 100% clean energy in electricity, new cars and buildings
- A 10-year, $9 trillion investment in these efforts – note that in fiscal year 2015 the total federal budget was $3.8 trillion
- Reject all fossil fuel subsidies
- Stop federal leasing and phase out fossil fuel production
- Implement climate pollution fee
- Revoke permits of the fossil fuel infrastructures
- Hold corporations accountable for transparency
For a man of big plans, Inslee’s campaign hasn’t yet detailed how it will offset the greenhouse gas emissions the campaign is creating. Stronger focused communications can cure this with aligned actions that ultimately build voters’ confidence and garner the right attention ensuring Inslee is seen as the 21st century environmental leader our country needs.