Substantial changes in climate change beliefs, bipartisan support for a variety of climate and clean energy policies, demand for action by companies, citizens, and governments, and individual willingness to get politically involved are findings from a report released by the Centre for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, USA on Thursday, December 14, 2017.
The report is titled: “Politics & Global Warming”.
Climate Change Beliefs
The Trump administration has taken numerous actions to reverse the climate policies of the Obama administration. Some of these actions have received substantial media coverage, like the decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and stop the Clean Power Plan. These attacks on climate science and policy appear to be having an effect on Republican registered voters:
- 72% of registered voters think global warming is happening, but this belief has declined 7 percentage points among Republicans since the 2016 election.
- Only 54% of registered voters think global warming is mostly human caused, and this belief has declined 8 percentage points among Republicans since the 2016 election.
- A record number of registered voters are now worried about global warming (63%, 8 points higher than May of 2017. Among Republicans, worry levels declined from the fall election to May of 2017, but then increased over the summer and early fall almost back up to their 2016 levels.
Climate Change and Clean Energy Policies
Despite the changes in climate change beliefs, public support for a variety of climate and clean energy policies remains strong and bipartisan. Large majorities of registered voters support:
- Funding more research on renewable energy (87% support), including 96% of Democrats, 82% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans.
- Generating renewable energy on public lands (86% support), including 91% of Democrats, 81% of Independents, and 81% of Republicans.
- Providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (83% support), including 94% of Democrats, 74% of Independents, and 71% of Republicans.
- Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (77% support), including 92% of Democrats, 72% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans.
- Setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase (70% support), including 90% of Democrats, 61% of Independents, and 47% of Republicans.
- Requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes (such as income tax) by an equal amount (69% support), including 87% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and 49% of Republicans.
The tax bills currently being considered by Congress include a provision allowing drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A large majority of registered voters (69%) oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Those strongly opposed outnumber those who strongly support the policy by more than four to one.
The Trump administration has proposed to dramatically cut funding for climate change research and programmes at the EPA, yet a large majority of registered voters think the budget for the EPA’s work on global warming should be increased (54%) or kept the same (28%). Only 16% think the budget should be reduced.
Opponents of environmental policies often argue that environmental protections will harm the economy, yet a large majority of registered voters (62%) think that protecting the environment actually improves economic growth and provides new jobs. An additional 21% think protecting the environment has no effect on economic growth or jobs. By contrast, only 16% think protecting the environment reduces growth and costs jobs.
Further, when there is a conflict between environmental protection and economic growth, a large majority of registered voters (75%) prefer to protect the environment, including 92% of Democrats, 67% of Independents, and 54% of Republicans.