25 Oct 2019, 09:59
  • Martha
    Otwinowski
    Martha Otwinowski is Journalism Network Manager at Clean Energy Wire. She develops network strategies for international climate policy and energy reporters.
  • Justin
    Gerdes
    Justin Gerdes is a freelance journalist who regularly covers the energy transition from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a Contributing Writer for Greentech Media, where he reports on the offshore wind industry, the electrification and decarbonisation of buildings, and electric mobility, among other topics.

Three questions to Justin Gerdes, CLEW Ambassador for the United States (West Coast)

Justin Gerdes, CLEW Journalism Network volunteer ambassador for the United States (West Coast).
Justin Gerdes is a freelance journalist who regularly covers the energy transition from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a Contributing Writer for Greentech Media, where he reports on the offshore wind industry, the electrification and decarbonisation of buildings, and electric mobility, among other topics. Justin became a CLEW Ambassador in August 2018 because of his commitment to improving and growing reporting on the global energy transition. This interview is part of our current series introducing our volunteer representatives from 16 regions across the world. Martha Otwinowski of the CLEW Journalism Network team in Berlin spoke to Justin.

Justin, what is the most important energy topic or debate in the United States right now?

In California, where I’m based, the pressing energy topic is: How do we complete the energy transition? California is well out in front of most jurisdictions in decarbonising its power grid. Much more difficult will be the task of moving away from fossil fuels and eliminating carbon from the heating and transportation sectors. At the national level, we have a general election coming in November 2020. Democratic challengers to President Trump are busy putting forth versions of a “Green New Deal,” plans to put the United States on a path to 100 percent clean energy and to reduce planet-warming pollution to a level commensurate with the commitment the Obama administration made in Paris.

How do you view your role as CLEW Ambassador?

I hope to be both a resource and a collaborator. I can provide insights and advice to foreign journalists interested in reporting US-based stories. And I’m eager to collaborate with fellow journalists to report compelling energy transition stories that cross national borders.

What is your advice for local journalists starting out with covering the energy transition – and what guidance would you give an international journalist doing an energy transition story in the United States?

Invest time and effort in learning your new beat. Energy transition stories are complex. These stories reward those willing to work to learn arcane jargon and myriad actors in the public and private sectors and civil society. For international journalists, I’d suggest not trying to take on too much in any single story. There are great untold stories waiting to be reported in every corner of the United States. Find one of these under-reported stories and explain how and why the people and events involved have meaning far beyond the region.

If you are an international journalist doing a story that involves research on energy transition and climate policy in the United States, you can reach out to Justin as a first point of contact. Beyond that, our other CLEW Journalism Network members in the United States might be able to help you or be interested in collaborating on an energy transition story with you.

If you are a journalist based on the West Coast of the US and have an idea for an on-the-ground project, Justin can refer your suggestion to us at CLEW and we can help put you in touch with journalists in our network for possible collaboration.

Should you be looking for expertise in other countries – go and have a look at the CLEW Journalism Network map!

 

Journalism for the energy transition

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