20 April 2021
Grassroots energy initiatives started pushing for clean and safe alternatives to coal and nuclear back in the 1980s and 1990s. New energy communities have been rising up ever since, but only captured a small share of the market in most countries. Viewing them as key to an equitable clean energy future, outdoor clothing brand Patagonia just launched We the Power, a documentary and campaign highlighting local energy cooperatives.
The documentary focuses on community projects and organizers in Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Spain, showing how decentralized, not-for-profit energy producers contributed to the emergence of renewables. It turns out that ownership creates acceptance: nimby resistance to wind energy dies down if people control those wind turbines in their backyards.
But this isn't just about fighting climate change: as energy production has undergone a dramatic shift from publicly owned utilities to ever-larger multinational conglomerates, community ownership can safeguard reasonably priced energy and combat fuel poverty. Energy coops also contribute to local economies, since money paid for energy stays within the community, and members often take an active role in deciding where to invest profits.
In addition to the documentary and an ad campaign, Patagonia created a directory to connect consumers with energy communities across Europe.
As a brand, which movement can you put your marketing clout behind? In addition to (re)aligning your own mission to decrease global warming or increase equality, whose voices can you amplify?