A majority of registered voters of both parties in the United States support initiatives to combat climate change, including many listed in the climate plans announced by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., according to a new poll.
The poll, conducted after the presidential election, suggests that a majority of Americans in both parties want a government that deals vigorously with climate change rather than denying its urgency – or denying that it even exists.
In the poll released Friday by the Yale Climate Communication Program and the George Mason University Center for Climate Communication, 53 percent of registered voters said global warming should be a high or very high priority for the President and Congress, and 66 percent said developing clean energy sources should be a high or very high priority.
Eight out of ten helped achieve these goals through tax breaks for people buying electric vehicles or solar panels and investing in research into renewable energy.
“These results show that there is strong public support for bold, ambitious action against climate change and clean energy,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale program. This suggests an opening up to bipartisan law supported by constituents of the legislature.
During the campaign, Mr Biden spoke often about how his proposals would create jobs and the survey shows that this idea has widespread support not only in the jobs associated with renewable energy creation.
Of those surveyed, 83 percent said they support the creation of an employment program to recruit unemployed coal workers, safely shut down old coal mines and restore the natural landscape. The same percentage said they supported an employment program that would shut down the thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells across the country that pollute water and leak methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Some of the guidelines included in the survey are in line with Mr Biden’s campaign items, including 78 percent of respondents supporting setting stricter fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and 67 percent supporting the installation of 500,000 electric vehicle charging points in the U.S. by 2030.
The nation is, of course, still politically divided, with some of the Democratic initiatives receiving greater support than those of the Republicans. The percentage of Liberal Democrats who said global warming should be a high or very high priority was 86 percent; For Conservative Republicans it was only 12 percent, for all Republicans it was closer to 23 percent.
While 93 percent of Liberal Democrats believed that developing clean energy sources should be a high or very high priority for the President and Congress, only 32 percent of Conservative Republicans did. For all Republicans, however, it was 43 percent – and for Liberal and moderate Republicans, 58 percent.
An incentive program to promote renewable energy could be supported by conservatives seeking energy independence or economic development, said Dr. Leiserowitz, although they may not be that deeply concerned about tackling climate change. “There are many roads to Damascus,” he said.
The Green New Deal, a package of progressive proposals to combat climate change that has been heavily attacked by conservatives, was supported by 66 percent of respondents, a lower number than many of the specific proposals discussed in the survey. Mr Biden has refused to specifically support the Green New Deal, despite his campaign calling it the “critical framework” for climate action.
Some of the Trump administration’s signature initiatives turned out to be hugely unpopular with the public, particularly efforts to encourage drilling at Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: only 28 percent of voters supported it. Only 40 percent were in favor of drilling and mining fossil fuels on public land and 47 percent were in favor of expanding U.S. offshore oil and natural gas wells.
Regarding the Paris Climate Agreement, which Mr Trump enthusiastically abandoned, 75 percent of American voters said they wanted the nation back. And while Mr Trump announced his aggressive efforts to relax energy efficiency standards for home appliances like dishwashers and lights, 83 percent of voters in the poll said they support more energy efficient appliances.
The fact that interest in climate issues is so great given the proliferation of crises, which include the coronavirus pandemic and related economic troubles, as well as months of unrest over racism is impressive, said Dr. Leiserowitz. In part, this could be due to increased media coverage and events such as the very active forest fire and hurricane season last year.
“For most people, climate change was an abstract topic until recently,” he said.
The poll of 1,036 registered voters was conducted between December 3rd and 16th and has an error rate of three percentage points.
Dr. Leiserowitz said that support for government measures to move the nation toward a clean energy future, even among conservative Republicans, showed a shift in American political thinking.
“We are in a fundamentally different political climate today than in the 1980s and 1990s,” he said.
This poll suggests that Americans accept the idea that “the free market alone will not solve people’s problems,” he said. “It takes a strong government to fix these problems.”