As Americans count down to Election Day, more than three-quarters (78%) believe the winner of the presidential race should prioritize the faster adoption of renewable energy, according to the seventh annual Sense & Sustainability Study released by G&S Business Communications (G&S). Despite strong public sentiment favoring the next president’s focus on renewables, the G&S study found that American opinion is practically split when it comes to elected leaders and their understanding of the costs associated with fossil fuels. More than half (52 percent) disagree, as compared to 48 percent who agree, that elected officials are well informed about fossil energy’s total costs, among them the effects of air pollution on healthcare and the impact of climate change on property insurance.
More than 4 in 5 Americans (85 percent) believe customers benefit from having alternatives to conventional power utilities, such as distributed energy resources that include rooftop solar and wind. In addition, more than three-quarters (77 percent) say government regulators should develop a pricing model that ensures utility companies pay for excess power supplied to the grid by smaller scale, independently owned device operators. Americans believe the advantages of market competition may go beyond cost savings. More than two-thirds (68 percent) feel it is more important to have a resilient power grid than to enjoy lower electricity costs.
“It’s clear that public interest is served when there are discussions about the broader financial impact of fossil energy,”says Ron Loch, G&S managing director and sustainability consulting leader, “and the need to improve both energy efficiency and the infrastructure investment required to build a resilient power grid. Industry, government and civil society can better educate and engage by communicating about environmental and social responsibility in ways that tie back to stakeholders’ interests in choice, flexibility, and security.” The 2016 study is G&S’s seventh annual survey of U.S. adults about business efforts to improve society and the environment through sustainable practices, products, or services.
Key findings from the study include the following:
- Americans voice strong support for raising the priority of renewables on the White House agenda. More than three-quarters of Americans (78 percent) believe the next president should dedicate more attention to speeding up renewable energy adoption. Among issues ranked most influential on accelerating use of renewable energy, cost savings from energy efficiency was cited most often (26 percent), followed by energy security (23 percent) and cost to taxpayers for government incentives (19 percent).
- Americans can see the benefits of a more resilient power grid and increased competition among power suppliers. More than two-thirds (68 percent) feel it is more important to have a resilient power grid than to have lower electricity costs. In addition, 85 percent recognize the advantage for customers in having alternatives to conventional electric utilities.
- For the second year in a row, the same three industries of agriculture, food and beverage, and energy lead with positive reputations for sustainability while manufacturing, leisure services and transportation lag again. Among the industries measured, Americans ranked agriculture (45 percent in 2016 vs. 47 percent in 2015); food and beverage (40 percent in 2016 vs. 36 percent in 2015); and energy (37 percent in 2016 vs. 40 percent in 2015), in the top three with the best reputations for environmental and social responsibility.
G&S has a long-established communications record in sustainability consulting, corporate social responsibility, and successfully launching and guiding the growth of green products, technologies, and practices. The firm counsels a growing number of clients to help them align sustainability to their corporate strategies, produce compelling sustainability reports, and engage key stakeholders in constructive dialogue.
About G&S Business Communications
G&S Business Communications is an independent business communications firm with headquarters in New York and offices in Chicago, Raleigh, N.C., and Basel, Switzerland. G&S integrates business and communications strategies, using a full range of communications services to build sustainable relationships for clients along the entire value chain. For more information, please visit the company’s website or email: Mary C. Buhay.