Tackling Climate Change by Hiding the Language

In an article for GreenBiz, Navigant Research says highlighting nonsustainability benefits can remove contention while still achieving environmental goals

Though uncertainty remains around U.S. federal climate change actions, other levels of government, as well as the private sector, are working to advance renewable energy and sustainability goals. As stakeholders push progress, however, many are finding that the words they use to explain their goals can play an important role in actually achieving them.

In an article for GreenBiz, Casey Talon, research director at Navigant Research, said language is key in energizing supporters and diverting opposition, particularly around contentious topics.

“Climate action must be inclusive and positioned carefully,” she said. “Focusing on the co-benefits of the changes that tackle greenhouse gas emissions can help overcome the politics and barriers both at the corporate and government levels.”

Talon cites the recent Smart Building Acceleration Act of 2018, H.R. 5069 as an example. The bill does not mention climate or sustainability, but if the technologies it references are deployed and used across the government’s building stock, they would create efficiency gains, leading to a positive impact on the portfolio's carbon footprint.

This tactic has become increasingly common in the intelligent buildings market, where in the past 12-18 months, there has been a notable trend of rebranding and positioning technology trends such as analytics and the internet of things as key features. These features contribute to climate change mitigation, but also provide value for building owners and operators by decreasing the bottom line, according to the article.

“Corporations, regional and local governments, and other stakeholders can achieve their climate change goals if they are willing to explore messaging that overcomes adversaries and talks up the benefits experienced by their advocates,” Talon said.

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