Where You Sit Is Where You Stand on Climate, Poll Finds
A new research survey by Pew shines a light on a reality that's increasingly apparent: partisan affiliation remains the dominant divide in views of climate and energy issues. But Republicans in particular face a divide of their own.
There is internal disagreement around the goal of the US becoming carbon neutral: 66% of self-described moderate and liberal Republicans favor taking steps towards the country’s carbon neutrality, while 64% of conservative Republicans oppose it. Likewise, 64% of moderate and liberal Republicans say the country should be developing alternative sources such as wind and solar, whereas 67% of conservative Republicans say it should be expanding the production of oil, coal, and natural gas.
Why This Matters
American political leaders need broad support for climate action in the years ahead. The good news is that when the findings are aggregated, 69% of US adults prioritize developing alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, over expanding the production of oil, coal, and natural gas. The same 69% share favors the US taking steps to become carbon neutral by 2050.
More Work To Do
The IEA reports the world needs to stop new fossil fuel development by the end of this decade. However, hitting that kind of progress is not yet on track. A relatively small share of Americans (31%) currently believe the US should phase out the use of oil, coal, and natural gas completely. Clearly, there's greater work to be done to increase public understanding that: 1) science is dictating the need for a dramatic reduction of fossil fuel use, and 2) economics show we have more affordable and accessible clean energy options. A smooth transition is key; energy demand is already soaring, and seven-in-ten Americans polled said it’s very or somewhat likely a major shift to renewable sources would lead to unexpected problems for the country. Americans are divided over whether a major shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources over the next 30 years would make the prices to heat and cool their homes better (39%) or worse (39%).
Growing Confidence In Clean Options
Ten years ago, Americans were skeptical about the affordability and reliability of clean energy. That’s changing. Nearly three-quarters of Americans say the federal government should encourage the production of wind and solar power. About half (51%) say it should encourage the use of electric vehicles, while about a third say it should encourage the production of nuclear power (35%) and oil and gas drilling (33%). Fewer (20%) say the federal government should encourage coal.
What Comes Next?
Pew's polling was done long before the crisis in Ukraine put a different urgency on the world’s dependence on oil and gas from volatile countries like Russia. Will this urgency suddenly be a prominent part of the debate at home change public opinion about the clean energy transition?
DW: How Russia's war and international sanctions impact global energy and food security, March 3, 2022.
ABC: Gas prices near all-time high, March 7, 2022.