This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new polling on climate change as a national priority, new polling about offshore wind energy among Americans in coastal counties, and new polling about the impacts of people’s religious views and partisanship on their climate attitudes.
- Climate Power + Data for Progress - Voters continue to support the Inflation Reduction Act and its climate and environmental components, and now want to see additional climate action from President Biden and the new Congress (Article, Topline)
- ecoAmerica - Partisans on both sides agree that the country needs to take “urgent action now” to reduce the pollution that is causing climate change (Article, Report, Topline)
- Climate Nexus + Turn Forward - Americans in coastal counties overwhelmingly support the expansion of offshore wind energy, including in their own areas (Release, Memo, Topline)
- Pew - Religious Americans are relatively less likely to acknowledge climate change or view it as a serious problem, but differences in climate attitudes are driven much more by political partisanship than by religious beliefs (Article, Report, Topline)
- There’s a strong public appetite for more climate action from the new Congress. Climate Power and Data for Progress find that support for the Inflation Reduction Act and its core climate policies remain high, and most Americans now want to see additional climate action at the federal level that builds on the IRA. Their polling finds that majorities support further climate action both through legislation by Congress and through executive actions by President Biden.
- Americans in coastal areas want to see more offshore wind development. Climate Nexus and Turn Forward encouragingly find that Americans in coastal counties widely support expanding offshore wind, including in their own areas. Majorities of Americans in coastal areas view offshore wind expansion as a net positive for the economy, jobs, and energy bills, and most also say that they are not worried about common NIMBY-ish concerns like negative impacts on ocean views or the local quality of life.
- Partisanship is by far the clearest driver of Americans’ climate attitudes. This may not be news to those who follow polling on climate change, but a new analysis by Pew puts the finding in stark relief. Pew finds that, holding other variables equal, religious beliefs have a small but significant impact on people’s climate attitudes while the impacts of partisanship are orders of magnitudes larger. When controlling for other variables, Pew estimates that self-identified Republicans are 50+ points less likely than self-identified Democrats to acknowledge human-caused climate change or to rate it as a serious problem.
GOOD DATA POINTS TO HIGHLIGHT
- [Climate Action] 85% of Americans agree that “we need to take urgent action now to reduce the pollution that causes climate change,” including 93% of Democrats, 82% of independents, and 73% of Republicans [ecoAmerica]
- [Federal Climate Policy] By a 60%-34% margin, voters agree that Congress should take additional actions beyond the Inflation Reduction Act to address climate change [Climate Power + Data for Progress]
- [Federal Climate Policy] By a 55%-42% margin, voters support President Biden issuing executive actions to address climate change [Climate Power + Data for Progress]
- [IRA] Voters support the Inflation Reduction Act by a 65%-29% margin after reading a brief description of it [Climate Power + Data for Progress]
- [IRA + Conservation] 79% of voters support the IRA’s investments in conservation measures such as sustainable agriculture practices, the restoration of coastlines, and the preservation of forests [Climate Power + Data for Progress]
- [IRA + Jobs] 76% of voters support the IRA’s standards to ensure that businesses receiving government clean energy tax credits pay their workers a fair wage and make their goods in America [Climate Power + Data for Progress]
- [IRA + Clean Energy] 73% of voters support the IRA’s provision to ramp up production of American-made clean energy technologies to strengthen our energy supply chains and manufacturing industries [Climate Power + Data for Progress]
- [Offshore Wind] By a 70%-11% margin, Americans in coastal counties support expanding offshore wind energy in U.S. waters [Climate Nexus + Turn Forward]
- [Offshore Wind] By a 66%-14% margin, Americans in coastal counties support expanding offshore wind energy in U.S. waters near where they personally live [Climate Nexus + Turn Forward]
- [Issue Priority] More Americans name climate change and the environment as the single “most important issue” to them than any other issue aside from inflation/prices and health care [Economist/YouGov]
Climate Power + Data for Progress
Voters continue to support the Inflation Reduction Act and its climate and environmental components, and now want to see additional climate action from President Biden and the new Congress (Article, Topline)
This fresh, post-election polling from Climate Power and Data for Progress confirms that voters want to see additional climate action that goes above and beyond the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
After being reminded/informed about the Inflation Reduction Act with a brief description of the bill, voters continue to overwhelmingly support the IRA (65% support / 29% oppose) and majorities also support each of 11 specific IRA provisions tested in the poll that relate to climate, energy, and the environment.
IRA provisions related to conservation, jobs, and American manufacturing are especially popular:
- 79% support the IRA’s investments in conservation measures such as sustainable agriculture practices, the restoration of coastlines, and the preservation of forests
- 76% support the IRA’s standards to ensure that businesses receiving government clean energy tax credits pay their workers a fair wage and make their goods in America
Additionally, two-thirds or more support IRA provisions related to ramping up clean energy production, reducing pollution in disadvantaged communities and at U.S. ports, investing in energy efficiency and carbon capture technology, and holding methane polluters accountable:
- 73% support ramping up production of American-made clean energy technologies to strengthen our energy supply chains and manufacturing industries
- 71% support grants to reduce air pollution at our nation's ports and improve public health in surrounding communities
- 70% support providing up to $14,000 in rebates on home energy efficiency investments per household that save families money and help reduce reliance on fossil fuels
- 70% support investments in new clean energy technologies to safely capture and store pollution from industrial activities such as steel and cement production
- 69% support penalties for oil and gas companies that are found to have pumped out excess methane gas pollution into the air
- 67% support investments to reduce pollution and improve public health in disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change
IRA provisions related to clean vehicles don’t enjoy quite the same level of broad appeal as the top-testing IRA policies, but still garner majority support from voters:
- 65% support tax credits for businesses that produce clean electricity such as solar and wind power, electric vehicles, and other new clean energy technologies
- 61% support grants for local communities to buy electric school buses, transit buses and garbage trucks so we reduce air pollution
- 57% support consumer tax credits to reduce electric vehicle costs for lower and middle-income Americans by $7,500 for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles
Even after reading a fairly comprehensive summary of how the IRA will address climate change, including these 11 specific provisions, voters continue to call for additional climate action at the federal level.
By a 60%-34% margin, voters believe that Congress should take additional actions to address climate change rather than holding off on further climate action following the passage of the IRA.
Additionally, by a 55%-42% margin, voters support President Biden issuing executive actions to address climate change. While reactions to this idea are predictably polarized, it’s notable that Democratic support for executive actions on climate change (94% support / 5% oppose) is much higher than Republican opposition to executive actions on climate change (20% support / 76% oppose).
The poll also shows that the new Republican majority in Congress risks serious public backlash if it attempts to roll back policies to protect the climate and environment. Half of the electorate or more say that they will be “upset” if Republicans in Congress take each of the following actions:
- Making it more expensive for American families to make their homes more energy-efficient (74% would be upset)
- Failing to hold oil and gas companies accountable for unfairly raising energy prices (71%)
- Reducing the size of protected national monuments, public lands, and public waters (71%)
- Weakening safeguards on air and water pollution (67%)
- Directing less government funding to the research and development of new American-made clean energy technologies (54%)
- Getting rid of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which studies the impacts of climate change on the United States (53%)
- Rolling back key tax credits and government financial incentives for clean energy production, such as wind and solar power (50%)
The latest survey by ecoAmerica demonstrates that there is a bipartisan consensus that climate-related pollution needs to be dealt with now.
The overwhelming majority of Americans (85%) - including over nine in ten Democrats (93%), over four in five independents (82%), and nearly three-quarters of Republicans (73%) - agree with the statement that “we need to take urgent action now to reduce the pollution that causes climate change.”
However, Republicans are still much less likely than other Americans to rate climate change as a “serious” problem. Over two-thirds of Americans (69%) rate climate change as a “very” or “fairly” serious problem, including clear majorities of Democrats (80%) and independents (69%) but just under half of Republicans (47%).
Republicans also lag behind other groups in the level of prioritization that they place on climate change. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) believe that climate change should be a “top” or “high” priority for the United States, including 81% of Democrats and 62% of independents but only 35% of Republicans.
The survey also finds that Republicans are less optimistic than other groups about our ability to meaningfully combat climate change, even when controlling for Republicans’ relatively higher rates of climate denial.
Overall, about one-third of Americans (32%) believe that we “can definitely” make a difference in slowing or reducing climate change, while about two in five Americans (39%) believe we “might be able to” slow or reduce climate change. An additional 19% believe we “can’t stop” climate change even if it is happening, while 10% deny that climate change is happening at all.
Republicans are more likely to say that climate change isn’t happening (17%) than Democrats (11%) or independents (6%), but this alone doesn’t explain why Republicans are much less optimistic than Democrats or independents about the issue. Republicans (15%) are half as likely as independents (30%) and only about one-third as likely as Democrats (43%) to believe that we “can definitely” make a difference in slowing or reducing climate change.
Compared to Democrats (12%) and independents (19%), Republicans (31%) are more likely to hold the belief that “we can’t stop climate change even if it is happening.”
Climate Nexus + Turn Forward
Climate Nexus and Turn Forward surveyed over 2,000 Americans who live in coastal counties for this poll, and they encouragingly find that Americans who would be most directly impacted by new offshore wind development are overwhelmingly supportive of it.
The poll finds that 87% of Americans in coastal counties have favorable opinions of wind energy in general and 79% have favorable opinions of offshore wind energy specifically.
Further, Americans in coastal areas have more favorable opinions about offshore wind energy than they do about any fossil fuel - including natural gas (70% favorable), oil (46%), and coal (33%).
Additionally, Americans in coastal counties overwhelmingly support expanding offshore wind energy in U.S. waters generally (70% support / 11% oppose) and expanding offshore wind energy in the waters near where they live personally (66% support / 14% oppose).
And when given a choice between building more offshore wind farms or expanding offshore drilling for oil and gas, Americans in coastal areas prefer offshore wind over offshore drilling by a nearly three-to-one margin (59% wind / 20% drilling).
The survey also finds majority support for several specific measures to boost offshore wind energy production, including:
- The recently announced partnership between the U.S. government and state governments to build enough offshore wind farms to power 10 million homes (72% support / 15% oppose)
- The U.S. government selling more leases to developers of offshore wind farms (64% support / 17% oppose)
- Policies to speed up government permitting and approvals of offshore wind projects in U.S. waters (60% support / 21% oppose)
Positive impressions of offshore wind expansion are driven by common beliefs that it would have a positive impact on U.S. energy independence (71% agree), jobs (64%), the U.S. economy (61%), energy bills (60%), climate change (59%), and public health (57%).
On the flip side, when asked about seven possible concerns that people might have with offshore wind projects - such as impacts on the local quality of life, ocean views, wildlife, fishing, and tourism - the only two potential downsides that majorities say they are at least “somewhat” concerned about are negative impacts on marine life (63% concerned) and birds (59%).
Religious Americans are relatively less likely to acknowledge climate change or view it as a serious problem, but differences in climate attitudes are driven much more by political partisanship than by religious beliefs (Article, Report, Topline)
This recent polling by Pew finds a complicated relationship between Americans’ religious beliefs and climate attitudes.
People with “high religious commitment” (defined as people who pray daily, attend religious services at least weekly, and say religion is very important in their life) overwhelmingly agree that “God gave humans a duty to protect and care for the Earth” (92% agree) and that “Earth is sacred” (68%).
However, people with high religious commitment are less likely than the general population to acknowledge that the Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels (53% agreement among the general population, compared to 39% agreement among people with high religious commitment)
Additionally, while the majority of U.S. adults (57%) rate global climate change as an “extremely” or “very” serious problem, only 42% of people with high religious commitment rate climate change as an “extremely” or “very” serious problem.
It’s important to note, however, that the differences in climate attitudes between religious and non-religious Americans largely (but don’t completely) fade when controlling for partisanship.
Pew’s analysis finds that, when controlling for other variables such as partisanship, an American with high religious commitment is 10 points less likely than an American with low religious commitment to rate global climate change as an “extremely” or “serious” problem. Compared to Americans with low religious commitment, Americans with high religious commitment are also seven points less likely to acknowledge that the Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity.
When controlling for other variables such as religiosity, meanwhile, Americans who identify as Republicans are 54 points less likely than Americans who identify as Democrats to rate climate change as an “extremely” or “very” serious problem and 50 points less likely to acknowledge that the Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity.
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