Editorial team: Mrs. Knopf, many people are scared of change. And fear sometimes does not stay an internal emotion, but can also be expressed in vehement resistance. How can we convince the general public that climate protection offers opportunity?
Brigitte Knopf: The approach that has been used for a long time of saying that there is this new technology and we have to find acceptance for it is no longer appropriate. This sort of public-acceptance propaganda machinery dominated our way of thinking for a long time. We need to start again in society with a clean slate. The Energiewende conjured up positive connotations in people’s minds for a long time. Germany was a pioneer when it came to renewable energies. But I think that the term climate neutrality adds a new dimension to the discussion. It brings us into much closer proximity to people. Cities will change, our mobility will be turned on its head and much more besides. We need to make the effort to develop a new social narrative – based around social responsibility. It is important to give people the feeling that it is also their transformation. We will also need the right infrastructure for this change. We noticed in a recent study that people will only switch to using a bicycle when the right conditions exist, namely bike paths, rental options and bike-parking facilities. It is important to consider what makes certain options attractive because cities worth living in cannot be created by force but rather by creating new perspectives for people.
Katharina Klein: If I could just add something: I have also really come to dislike the term acceptance. It implies that something is happening against your will, something that you have to accept for better or worse. There are also some examples of how change can be perceived positively. At the beginning of the pandemic, 10,000 employees at EnBW suddenly found themselves working from home. This was a little strange to start with but has now become normal. If you ask my colleagues today, they will say that although they miss the contact with people, the fact that they no longer have to sit in traffic jams every day is a big advantage. Almost nobody wants to return to working five days a week in the office. This should embolden us because, even when faced with profound change, people can still find and carve out benefits.