Climate protection and the shift to a decentralized, renewable energy supply are among the greatest challenges of our time. The energy transition offers a unique opportunity to place people at the heart of our energy systems through engagement and ownership in a way that large, centralized utility companies never could.

And yet, the public is seldom directly engaged or informed of the many exciting breakthroughs and opportunities that make renewable energy such a promising field. Findings are usually presented in lengthy scientific reports, which do not reach or inspire anyone outside the energy sector.

Public awareness and engagement is key to achieving our climate targets. Local opposition to renewable energy projects is holding back the energy transition at a time when we should be accelerating.

The Infographic Energy Transition Coloring Book is a unique interdisciplinary visual communication tool that seeks to draw everyone into the conversation about climate change and renewable energy.

The book is the result of a collaboration between IKEM (Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility) and Ellery Studio for Creative Strategy, both of which contributed expertise and skills to research, write and design this self-published book.

With each fact meticulously researched and each line hand-drawn, it is a project driven by passion rather than profit.

Objectives and beneficiaries

On a  macro-level, the Book aims to move climate change and energy transition facts into the mainstream of societal consciousness. The need and challenges of the energy transition must be common knowledge, available to all. This deeper public understanding can accelerate change: if the majority of voters demand quicker climate action, the policy will (ultimately) respond.  

The Book has piqued the interest of people of all ages and backgrounds and has even facilitated discussion with many who have been skeptical of climate science in the past. It is meant to be the first in a new generation of communication tools to address the increasingly urgent obstacle of public opposition to renewable energy through well-designed awareness raising.

On a micro-level, the Book is meant to engage people and facilitate light-hearted interactions around a heavy topic. The coloring-in option makes it unique in its educational and entertaining capacities.

Strong points of the solution

The book acts like a bridge between sector specialists or policy-makers and the people that they should reach with their findings and ideas. There is certainly no lack of great information on climate change and renewable energy out there. The problem is the format: long reports and scientific papers do not attract a high readership and do not trigger much excitement beyond the disciplinary sector it was written in.

Infographics and visualizations are powerful tools, adapted to the demands of today’s high-paced society for information to be accessible and easily understood.

The tone of the book stays light and oftentimes humorous, and in its innocence, it can reach a much wider audience, including people who question climate change, than traditional reports and studies.

Finally, the book invites creativity and engagement through the simple act of coloring. No digital devices needed, just some pencils and time to color in the pages!

Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation

The book has been distributed among policymakers, energy industry, environmental and design organizations, and has won multiple international design awards for its innovative format.

The scalability and enthusiasm for our project was bolstered when we learned that, from among 1,300 submissions to the annual Malofiej Infographics World Summit, our coloring book was selected to receive the Climate Change and Environmental Commitment Best Graphic Award and the Gold Award in the “Informative Format” category, and in June 2018, we were awarded Gold for Best Infographics at the European Design Awards. These accomplishments have bolstered our belief that the discussions on climate change that we initiate at a local level can have an international impact, and we’ve been inspired to work even harder to engage new audiences.

Positive feedbacks demonstrate the need and enthusiasm for hands-on, accessible educational tools of this kind. Meeting this need will move climate and energy knowledge into the mainstream.

A successful energy transition will require public action and commitment, and we must do a better job of informing and including people in the process.

Policymakers, as well as the public at large, must be familiar with key facts in order to advocate for a rapid transition to a renewables-based system. We plan to make the book the first in a series of solutions to build momentum to reach our climate targets.

Scalability potential of the solution

The energy transition is different in every country. The Infographic Energy Transition Coloring Book focuses on the energy transition in Germany. As the largest economy in the EU and with significant industry presence, Germany is a unique example of a large-scale phase-out of nuclear and fossil fuels. Germany’s transition helped create a worldwide market for renewable technologies and brought down associated costs significantly.

But to combat climate change, we’ll need to focus individually on each country that commits to phase out carbon-intensive fuels and move toward sustainable consumption patterns and renewable energy.

For each country, that journey and that story will be different. What unites these different stories is the central role of the people. Public engagement, awareness, and participation is key to an inclusive, sustainable energy transition.

[Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made for length and clarity.]