• Analysis of more than 2,300 news and opinion articles from 2019 related to renewable energy— sourced from LexisNexis and Google News. Articles came from national and state outlets, as well as online and trade publications.
  • Purpose of the research was to understand how the media covers renewable energy, in particular to determine if funding gaps in climate philanthropy are also leading to a gap in media coverage of local leaders and innovations. To what extent would articles quote women as spokespeople, reference issues of equity, or talk about communities of color?
  • Percentage of clean energy news articles quoting women doubled in 2019 compared to 2018 . Women were quoted in 42% of clean energy articles in 2019, up from 21% the year before.
  • Communities of color, despite being disproportionately impacted by climate change and fossil fuels, were referenced in only 2% of articles.
  • Only 6% of the articles referenced issues related to equity and justice.
  • Local leaders and their organizations are having outsized impact in the renewable energy space, especially relative to the funding they receive.
  • Developed by The Solutions Project, a philanthropic organization, and Conspire for Good, a strategy and communications agency.

BACKGROUND

2019 was a big year for renewable energy. Dominating coverage were articles about the Green New Deal, which was reintroduced for public discourse back in 2018. From legislation introduced in Congress to debates among a wide variety of presidential candidates, people were exposed to a variety of messages about climate change and potential energy solutions. The Solutions Project also saw many new voices enter the national renewable energy conversation in 2019, and we continue our work to understand how the media hears and reflects those voices.

This is our second year tracking how the media covers renewable energy. We ended 2018 concluding that, while coverage of the sector is generally positive, discussion about issues of racial and gender equity was lacking. We also noted that the voices quoted in coverage did not reflect the diversity of the U.S as a whole. Much less reflected were poor and low-income communities and communities of color— those most affected by the climate crisis, and those with the most innovative solutions.

Yet, as we move into the new year, we can look back and appreciate incremental changes by crediting the work of many notable women. The influence of both the Green New Deal and the 2020 Democratic primaries has pulled equity conversations further into the spotlight. Young activists spoke out about climate change and captivated an entire world. Communities also stood up and asked hard questions about what it really looks like to implement renewable energy projects.

As the pathway to 100% takes center stage, it’s clear that advocates are turning the renewable energy conversation from “if” to “when.” The Solutions Project and our partners in both frontline communities and entertainment want to be sure we also talk about the “who” and “how”. Toward that end, we hope this report highlights how advocates’ work inspires progress and where the opportunities are to shift conversations to include all those who are working for energy justice in their communities. 100% renewable energy is possible. It’s happening. This past year, we heard numerous women’s voices in this conversation. And with the work of The Solutions Project and its grantees, those with a vision for equity and justice will begin to see their messages take hold.

For more information, please contact Dannie Tillman, dannie@thesolutionsproject.org