Against the backdrop of a CNN candidate forum on climate change on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, the Centre for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax in Virginia, USA, has released the results of a new national survey finding that registered voters in the country have deep concerns about climate change and want the government to act.
Voters support policies to reduce carbon pollution and protect Americans from climate impacts. The poll comes as events across the month of September will elevate climate change in the national conversation, including two televised Democratic presidential candidate climate forums, a third Democratic presidential primary debate, and the United Nations climate summit in New York.
Democratic voters say climate change is a top-tier issue in determining their vote for president in 2020. When asked to state the two most important issues to their presidential vote, Democrats identify health care as the most important issue (40%), followed by climate change (28%) and gun policy (24%). Seventeen percent of registered voters overall select climate change as one of the two most important issues that will determine their vote.
Voters overall are more likely to back candidates who support specific policies to address climate change. Nearly three-quarters of registered voters (74%) say they are more likely to support candidates who favour setting stronger pollution limits for business and industry, and seven in 10 say they are more likely to support candidates who favour setting stronger fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks (70%), requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a tax on their carbon pollution (70%), and providing assistance to communities losing jobs in the oil, gas, and coal industries (70%).
More than six in 10 (62%) voters also say they are more likely to support candidates who favour ensuring protection of low-income and minority communities that are more vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Nearly seven in 10 (69%) voters are worried about climate change, including more than a third (35%) who are very worried. Voters say climate change is impacting U.S. agriculture (73%), extreme weather events in the U.S. (72%), the health of Americans (61%), the U.S. economy (59%), and their own family’s health (50%).
Seven in 10 American voters support government action to address climate change, including more than four in 10 (42%) who strongly support it. A large majority (71%) of voters supports establishing a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requiring 100% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2050, and nearly half of voters (49%) would approve of the federal government using their tax dollars to help pay for the transition to 100% renewable-generated energy.
Majorities say enacting a national 100% RPS would have a positive impact on the environment in the U.S. (77%) and the U.S. economy (61%), bring down electricity costs (61%), and benefit rural and farming communities (56%).
Some three-quarters of American voters (76%) say it’s important to invest in building infrastructure to be better able to withstand the effects of climate change; they also want upgrades to existing infrastructure (74%) and new infrastructure projects (75%) be built to withstand extreme weather, even when those upgrades come at a higher cost to taxpayers.