National Perceptions and Implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act

On March 31, 2023, the Yale Center for Environmental Communication hosted a webinar panel discussion on what Americans currently understand and misunderstand about the Inflation Reduction Act and how to better communicate this landmark national investment in climate change and clean energy. Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, moderated a conversation with Lori Lodes, Executive Director and co-founder of Climate Power and John Marshall, founder and CEO of Potential Energy Coalition.

Key Takeaways include:

  • Climate Power’s polling shows that voters generally favor the IRA but are skeptical that its touted benefits will be realized or save them money. To cement support, it is important to demonstrate that the transition to clean energy is happening now and to share concrete examples of local investment in increasing clean energy, job creation, and savings for businesses and consumers. Successful messaging will show that the IRA is already lowering pollution, improving health, and making clean energy affordable for average Joes, not just rich people.
  • Potential Energy’s message tests related to the Inflation Reduction Act revealed two communications challenges. Many messages performed poorly because they all began with some variation of “the government…”  So non-political messengers are critical for getting people excited about the IRA. Test participants did not believe that the IRA reduces inflation. It may be beneficial to refer to the legislation as the “Climate Plan” or the “Clean Energy Plan.”
  • Potential Energy messaging recommendations include emphasizing the benefits of the IRA instead of the sacrifices, the measures being attainable instead of expensive, that moving towards clean energy is the norm, not elitist, that the timeframe to act is now, not in the future, and that the messengers should be new voices, not politicians. It is more effective to say that dirty energy is expensive than that clean energy is cheap.