We analyzed over 2,400 news and opinion articles from 2020 related to renewable energy. Articles came from LexisNexis and from publications including national and state outlets, Lifestyle/Magazine, and online and trade publications.
Our goal for this annual media analysis is to learn how renewable energy is covered. We especially wanted to know to what extent articles would quote women as spokespeople, reference issues of equity, or talk about communities of color. Through this lens of representation, we also seek to understand how gaps in philanthropic funding, major news events, and overall issues of race, health and democracy intersect with how energy and climate are covered across the United States.
Highlights from this year’s report include that in 2020:
- 21% of stories mentioned equity, but only 13% mentioned front-line communities of color where equity must be a primary driver of climate action
- The Movement for Black Lives helped drive discussion of equity issues, which more than doubled compared to 2019
- Mentions of communities of color grew from 2% in 2019 to 13% in 2020, representing a 500% increase
- Among articles quoting a spokesperson or lawmaker about energy issues, more than half quoted a woman, a clear tipping point in our analyses since 2017
- COVID-19 drove an increase of more than 600% in messages about renewable energy’s health benefits
In the extraordinary year that was 2020, the one-two-three punch of the COVID-19 pandemic, the national reckoning on race, and the bitter and divisive presidential election sparked unprecedented soul-searching that was reflected in the media. Consequently, racial inequity became a central theme in news coverage and social media discussion of issues from police violence to public health. This included a massive increase in the number of energy stories focused on equity and communities of color.