WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden persuaded Democrats in Congress to provide hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change. Now comes another formidable task: enticing Americans to buy millions of electric cars, heat pumps, solar panels and more efficient appliances.
It’s a public relations challenge that could determine whether the country meets Biden’s ambitious goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
Relying on tax credits and rebates made the climate legislation — it was approved in August with only Democratic votes — more politically palatable than regulations that force wholesale changes in polluting industries.
But it also means the administration’s battle against global warming will be waged “one household at a time,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, who works on energy issues at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank closely aligned with the White House.
“It is very incremental,” she said. “So it requires a very sophisticated communications strategy.”
Biden acknowledged the hurdle during a recent Cabinet meeting as he talked about the incentives that are becoming available this year.
“Folks need to know how to take advantage of these benefits that we passed. That’s on all of us around the table here to make sure we get that message out clearly,” he said.
The White House says it is piecing together a plan to partner with state governments, contractors, retailers and social media influencers to get the word out. “Lowering utility bills is going to be a key driver,” said Josh Peck, a senior policy adviser on clean energy issues.
It’s also collaborating with Rewiring America, a nonprofit focused on ways to electrify homes and businesses, and companies like Airbnb, Redfin and Lyft. As part of the effort, Rewiring America created an online calculator that shows what credits or rebates homeowners might be eligible for, depending on their ZIP code and income.
Buying a heat pump or installing solar panels is “a major expense line and a major opportunity for savings,″ said Ari Matusiak, the group’s founder and CEO. “So it’s really important to make sure people are aware of the resources they have available and the benefits they can unlock in terms of bringing energy bill savings.″
But the White House faces an uphill battle.
Polling shows that while Americans support action to slow climate change, they are broadly unaware of the Inflation Reduction Act, the massive…