Igniting climate action through data-led storytelling

Centre for Net Zero
Jun 17 · 4 min read

Hi, I’m Izzy.

Having spent the last six years working for communications and marketing agencies, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that I’m a big believer in the power of comms.

Whether it’s helping an organisation shape its purpose and define a clear tone of voice or pushing insights by developing first-rate thought leadership, it’s been super rewarding to execute communications strategies for clients that deliver material value.

The beauty of agency work is the way it exposes you to different sectors and businesses of all sizes. One day you’re learning about the impact of open banking on insurance and the next you’re crafting narratives for an art tech start-up. But in recent years, I’ve developed a keen interest in the energy sector and its rapid evolution.

Two of my principal clients were major energy blue-chips who are seeking to transition from traditional oil and gas providers to green energy services and solutions companies. I worked closely with corporate venturing principals, mobility leads and home energy management experts as these giants seek out high potential green tech start-ups to invest in and grow, or potential partners that could take them into emerging, environmentally-friendly sectors. In essence, they’re attempting to accelerate their transition to a lower carbon offering in a fast-changing market.

Whilst exposure to this world has been fantastic — enabling me to build an in-depth understanding of the potential of vehicle to grid (V2G) charging, the capabilities of virtual power plants (VPPs) and the power of a flexible energy system — I soon realised that I was on the outside looking in, building positioning and crafting narratives that were limited to the confines of an agency brief.

Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to lead the marketing and comms at the Centre for Net Zero. Tackling the climate crisis is the most profound challenge of our time and the Centre’s mission to realise faster, fairer and more affordable paths to net zero is hugely pertinent. Clearly, we can’t achieve this alone and the team’s focus on working alongside government, investors, innovators and researchers means that getting our comms right is paramount. No pressure then…

So, how do we engage stakeholders effectively? And how important is the general public? As we approach COP26, public knowledge about the crisis remains limited: just 35% of us are aware of the concept of net zero. Whilst CNZ isn’t targeting consumers specifically, the importance of public engagement in achieving policy success — especially policy that deeply impacts people’s everyday lives — is incredibly interesting, not least in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Poor engagement creates real hurdles, as showcased by President Macron’s withdrawal of his controversial climate tax on fuel after Gilets Jaunes protests just a few years ago. In short, bad communications can result in social disenfranchisement and political polarisation.

Whilst 2050 might seem distant, it isn’t when you consider the seismic changes required. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. Rapid changes in investment and business models, government policy and consumer behaviour are needed, and comms will play a crucial role in this transition.

I’m looking forward to the challenge of communicating multifaceted issues in ways that best engage our target audiences. As an open research lab, we’ll be focused on taking robust datasets and research and crafting its findings into an expert story that can have quick and concrete impact.

There have been many challenges in communicating climate issues to date. We know that people conceptualise things that are psychologically distant more abstractly than those that are close. We don’t like uncertainty, intangibility or non-linearity. If you start to wrestle with the scale and complexity of the challenge, you can quickly lose hope — and warm to doomist narratives popularised by outspoken academics. But the reality is that there’s a huge amount of emerging tech and innovation already out there that can help us achieve net zero. What we need is more of it — and more research to inform bold decarbonisation action across the public and private sector.

On a final note, the challenge of fundamentally reshaping our markets to support a faster, fairer and more affordable energy transition is significant. While a green economy promises longer-term benefits, how do we protect vulnerable people from the impact of transitioning to climate neutrality? How do we make the greenest energy also the most affordable? These are just some of the big questions that the team at CNZ are seeking to answer — and I couldn’t be more excited to communicate their findings in the coming future.

Centre for Net Zero

Building the world’s largest ‘living lab’ for energy research

Centre for Net Zero

An open research lab that uses data-driven modelling and simulation to provide the critical insights that policy makers need to take bold climate action.

Centre for Net Zero

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Open Research Lab, realising faster, fairer and more affordable paths to Net Zero. Powered by Octopus Energy

Centre for Net Zero

An open research lab that uses data-driven modelling and simulation to provide the critical insights that policy makers need to take bold climate action.