The Institute’s Clean Energy Mapping project aims to use Tableau’s data visualization software to create an interactive map displaying attitudes toward decarbonization and examples of clean energy activities in state legislative districts in the four Northwest states. The goal is to show Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington policymakers and legislators evidence of clean energy economic value and support for clean energy throughout the region.
We know that talking about climate change is polarizing, but discussing clean energy is not and that broad statements about the benefits of clean energy can ring hollow without substantiation. We also know that massive reports about the economic benefits of clean energy largely go unread by the target audience and that data visualization with interactivity is an exceptionally effective way of making those reports accessible and conveying narratives.
The Institute has developed a database of clean energy solutions and strategies underway or proposed throughout the region by researching the Washington State Clean Energy Fund recipients, the Clean Tech Alliance companies, and other sources of clean energy economic development. The Institute would further develop its existing database with clean energy economic data from state agencies, universities, and nonprofit organizations in the four states.
To assess the clean energy jobs information at the county level, the Institute aims to collaborate with the Energy Futures Initiative and the National Association of State Energy Offices, which is now conducting the annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report formerly handled under the U.S. Department of Energy, but discontinued by the Trump Administration.
To obtain information on attitudes awareness of climate change and openness to the clean energy transition for each state by county and legislative district, we will use data from the Yale Climate Communications project.
In order decarbonize at the scale that the climate crisis demands, we will need to fundamentally transform our energy systems in fairly short order. While a significant challenge, the clean energy transition also offers opportunities to create jobs and improve the air we breathe and the water we drink. We need to be able to convey the promise of the clean energy economy to encourage policymakers to embrace the transition.
Once developed in the Northwest, interactive maps could be created of other regions of the country, perhaps by congressional district in addition to state legislative district, to enable policymakers and advocates throughout the country to make a compelling case for rapidly accelerating the clean energy economy, which is what we must do to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The maps could also include climate impact information if the data are available at the county and district level.