State-level renewable energy policies

Strengthening critical public support

Public support will be key in moving toward low-carbon energy solutions on a large scale.

If public support for renewable energy policies increased, we could expect to see more renewable energy laws.

Christopher Warshaw

Along with developing new technology for renewables, MIT researchers are working on the implementation side: gathering support from the public. In recent years, many US states have weakened their policies that call for the future adoption of renewable energy. An MIT analysis shows that in this policy arena, state legislators are broadly responsive to public opinion. Using data from a public opinion survey, the researchers have compiled practical recommendations on how to bolster public support for renewable policies. They have found that advocates should emphasize the air pollution and job creation benefits of using renewables, have leading legislators speak out in favor of them, and carefully craft any communications about potential added costs for residential customers. Citing climate change benefits doesn’t appear to increase public support. However, given the current views of the federal administration, maintaining and strengthening renewable energy policies at the state level may actually be the best way to make progress on climate change.

This research was supported in part by the MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund