Americans want green spending in federal coronavirus recession relief packages

Parrish Bergquist, Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, Matto Mildenberger, University of California-Santa Barbara, & Leah Stokes, University of California-Santa Barbara.

Coronavirus recession relief packages now under discussion on Capitol Hill present an opportunity to power an economic rebound and address climate change at the same time. This survey, conducted May 15-20, 2020 finds:

  • Including green infrastructure spending increases support for a coronavirus relief package.
  • Support for wind and solar investments and for clean transportation investments is particularly strong.
  • Including electricity transmission investments does not cause a change in support for the package.
  • Green investments increase support among a broad range of constituencies, suggesting that climate action can and should be included in the next coronavirus recession relief package.

In addition to the experiment, researchers asked Americans directly whether they think Congress should address coronavirus recession relief funding and climate change together. Despite their revealed support for incorporating green stimulus into any response—as indicated in our experimental results—58 percent of respondents said they think Congress should focus on coronavirus relief spending alone.

  • This suggests that Americans may view linked solutions as a trade-off that requires sacrifices on one dimension in order to achieve gains on the other.
  • That said, there need not be a trade-off. As a recent economic analysis from the Sierra Club suggests, a sustained investment in climate action could yield 90 million new jobs over the course of the current decade.

​See also their article in the Washington Post related to this research.

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