Today George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released the second report from their latest national survey of the American public.
The big takeaway: “Despite political polarization in Washington D.C., public support for a variety of climate change and energy policies remains high, across party lines.”
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Here are more highlights from this survey of 1,010 adults, conducted April 23, 2011 – May 12, 2011:
Americans see climate as a fairly high priority–and that includes Independents, Democrats, and Republicans too.
- 71 percent of Americans say global warming should be a very high (13%), high (27%), or medium (31%) priority for the president and Congress, including 50 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of Independents and 88 percent of Democrats.
- 91 percent of Americans say developing sources of clean energy should be a very high (32%), high (35%), or medium (24%) priority for the president and Congress, including 85 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents, and 97 percent of Democrats.
Notably, majorities agree when it comes to action to curb global warming pollution. And the myth that the environment is at odds with the economy seems to be dying.
- Majorities of Americans want more action to address global warming from corporations (65%), citizens themselves (63%), the United States Congress (57%), President Obama (54%), as well as their own state and local officials.
- Despite ongoing concerns about the economy, 67 percent of Americans say the United States should undertake a large (29%) or medium-scale effort (38%) to reduce global warming, even if it has large or moderate economic costs.
- 82 percent of Americans (including 76% of Republicans, 74% of Independents, and 94% of Democrats) say that protecting the environment either improves economic growth and provides new jobs (56%), or has no effect (26%). Only 18 percent say environmental protection reduces economic growth and costs jobs.
- Large majorities (including Republicans, Independents, and Democrats) say it is important for their own community to take steps to protect the following from global warming: public health (81%), the water supply (80%), agriculture (79%), wildlife (77%), and forests (76%).
Policy Support is strong, even if voters anticipate some costs to themselves.
- 84 percent of Americans support funding more research into renewable energy sources, including 81 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Independents, and 90 percent of Democrats.
- 68 percent of Americans support requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it costs the average household an extra $100 a year, including 58 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Independents, and 82 percent of Democrats.
- Majorities support local policies, including installing bike lanes on city streets (77%), more public transportation (80%), requiring all new homes to be more energy efficient (71%), changing zoning to promote mixed development (57%), decreasing sprawl (56%), and promoting more energy efficient apartments instead of single family homes (52%).
Still, support for domestic energy sources that aren’t so clean and green (but not among the worst dirty fuel offenders) remains fairly steady.
- 66 percent support expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, up 4 points since June of 2010.
- 47 percent support building more nuclear power plants, down 6 points since June of 2010. Only 33 percent support building a nuclear power plant in their own local area.
The report includes both overall results and breakdowns of public support by political party. It can be downloaded here: Public Support for Climate & Energy Policies in May 2011.
craig van note
Please make printable copies available on your site.
In the meantime, please send me a pdf of this fine story.
Georgie Bright Kunkel
Interesting that Washington is a blue state when it would probably be more appropriate to label it a red color since it is more
liberal than a lot of states. But whoever decided on coloring states didn’t recognize the power of color in our society.
I have to say, I think more is needed here. What do numbers like these really mean? That the legislators who are adamantly refusing to address climate change — or openly working to dismantle any progress to date — are going against the will of the people? If that’s the case, where is the nationwide backlash? I have to assume that many respondents are simply saying what they think they should say or that to the extent they support these policies, the support goes about an inch deep. Maybe there’s a deep reservoir of support, but it’s not in the right places? I don’t know honestly, but it seems to me that reality is not reflected in polls like this. I guess I’d like to see some analysis. Something beyond “look how popular these policies actually are.” Maybe polls like this bolster the inclinations of the existing progressives, but my guess is that a lot of this support evaporates when it comes down to actual policies (cap & trade; carbon tax; renewable subsidies; eliminating fossil fuel subsidies). I guess it comes down to my having some real skepticism about results like these.