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Iowans support climate action as impacts hit home

Residents of the State of Iowa in the United States are worried about climate change and want their elected officials to reduce global warming and increase clean, renewable energy.

Iowa flood
Flooding in Iowa

This is the outcome of a recently conducted survey by the Centre for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, in collaboration with Nexus Polling and the Yale Programme on Climate Change Communication.

The results of the poll were released on Monday, August 12, 2019 as Democratic presidential candidates head to the Iowa State Fair this week.

Having experienced the impacts of extreme weather, Iowans are worried about climate change, says the study.

Over two-thirds of registered voters (69%) say they are worried about climate change, and say it is having an effect on the Iowa’s agriculture (74%), extreme weather in the state (71%), its economy (59%) and Iowans’ health (58%).

And as a result of the historic floods that devastated parts of the Midwest this year, roughly a quarter of Iowans (27%) say they or someone in their family has experienced property damage or other economic hardships as a result of flooding or severe storm damage in the past 12 months.

Iowans are likewise concerned about the impacts climate change is having on health and safety. More than three-quarters (79%) say pollution of rivers, lakes, and streams is a serious problem in their area, and 77% also say extreme weather such as heavy rainfall and flooding is a serious problem. Nearly two-thirds (66%) worry that floods could expose and damage oil and gas pipelines, causing pollution to rivers and other bodies of water.

Similar large majorities of Iowans favour policies to address climate change and its impacts and support increased generation of renewable energy. Seven in 10 Iowa voters (70%) say they favour more government action to address climate change. More than three-quarters (76%) support a policy to require Iowa to generate 100% of its energy from renewable sources (RPS) by 2050.

Eight in 10 voters (80%) support extending government funding for renewables, such as wind and solar, and more than three-quarters (77%) say new infrastructure projects should be built to withstand extreme weather, even if it comes at a higher cost to taxpayers.

Iowans believe policies like switching to 100% renewable energy will benefit their state, with majorities saying it will have a positive impact on Iowa’s environment (79%), its cities and towns (73%), its economy (70%), and its rural and farming communities (61%). They also say it will lower electricity costs (64%), improve wages (52%), and bring down Iowa’s unemployment rate (50%).

These concerns translate to support for candidates backing specific policies. Strong majorities say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports extending government funding for renewables (77%), requiring the U.S. to generate 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050 (73%), setting stronger fuel efficiency standards (72%), and requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a tax on carbon pollution (66%). 

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