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Big picture Two-thirds of Americans believe the US government must act more urgently to slow global warming. As November’s presidential election nears, climate change policy will likely earn a top-ten spot in debate topics.
What to know
- 63% of Americans feel as if climate change is directly or indirectly affecting their communities and livelihoods.
- 65% believe the federal government is not doing enough to combat climate change.
- 79% of respondents advise federal investment in alternative energy sources such as solar panels and wind farms.
Politics politics politics
- Democrats have increased their awareness of the dangers of climate change by 27% since 2009.
- Republicans and Republican-leaning voters developed only a 6% greater consciousness of climate change.
- Partisanship seems to color most people’s views about local climate change effects more than anything else.
- Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say climate change impacts their local community.
- Moderate-liberal Republican and Republican-leaning voters acknowledge the local impacts of climate change more frequently than their more conservative counterparts.
Bottom line Come November, policy differences between the presidential candidates on climate change will become abundantly clear. Political analysts will have to examine what level of influence climate will have over election results.
Dig deeper → 3 min
Politics so often cloud American views of climate change, but the Pew Research Center separates political sentiment from genuine opinion.
In “Two-Thirds of Americans Think Government Should Do More on Climate“, Pew collected the climate opinions of 10,957 Americans from April 29—May 5, 2020. Evidently, most Americans seek federal action on climate change.
As the title suggests, the results are clear: two-thirds of Americans believe the US government must act more urgently to slow global warming. As November’s presidential election nears, climate change policy will likely earn a top-ten spot in debate topics.
Americans endorse progressive climate policies
The data show that about 63% of Americans feel as if climate change is directly or indirectly affecting their communities and livelihoods. 65% believe the federal government is not doing enough to combat climate change.
How can the federal government improve its climate initiatives? The Pew Research Center suggested several improved climate policies to which respondents voiced their support or disapproval or chose not to answer.
Americans overwhelmingly support planting a trillion trees in the United States to increase carbon sequestration. Additionally, many citizens believe offering tax cuts to businesses demonstrating carbon capture and storage would promote long-term sustainability.
Planting trees will certainly abate climate change, but this solution alone will not solve it. We must not allow large corporations to “make amends” for their carbon footprints by planting trees in Africa while simultaneously destroying the Amazon.
Despite reliance on American power plants for domestic and workplace power, many citizens support capping power plant carbon emissions at a much lower level. Similarly, they boost adjusting corporate taxes based on individual carbon emissions.
From this data we might infer that public sentiment would oppose Trump’s decision to lower fuel emission standards in April. Supporters of rigid fuel emission standards must advocate immediately for presidential candidates to campaign for a reversal of Trump’s fuel standard rollbacks.
Climate attitudes across party lines
Although the Pew Research Center is nonpartisan, its surveys examine the political inclinations of respondents. Climate activists, economists, and politicians must analyze these tendencies to determine how to best reach voters with climate activism.
Luckily, the political climate around COVID-19 has not weakened American climate concern. A similar 2009 survey described 44% of Americans as viewing climate change as a significant threat to the United States. Today, that number has reached 60%.
That being said, climate concern does vary across political party lines. The challenge is now to decrease this difference because any one party cannot effectively fight climate change by itself.
Despite heightened American concern about climate change, Pew attributes much of this increase to Democratic or Democrat-leaning voters. About 9-in-10, or 88%, of these voters recognize climate change as a serious threat to America. In other words, Democrats have increased their awareness of the dangers of climate change by 27% since 2009.
To the contrary, Republicans and Republican-leaning voters developed only a 6% greater consciousness of the issue at hand. More specifically, about 3-in-10, or 31%, of these voters consider climate change a hazard to American well-being. 45% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters see it as a minor threat, while 24% believe it isn’t a threat at all.
While it is encouraging that both parties have become more cognizant of the risks climate change poses to America, there is still much work to be done. Therefore, we must consider why this issue is so polarizing by utilizing demographic data.
Examining our political differences
Many Americans seek federal action in different capacities depending on demographics and local politics. For example, a majority of inhabitants of the Northeast, South, and West regions of the United States assert that climate change is affecting their local communities in some capacity.
However, partisanship seems to color most people’s views about local climate change effects more than anything else. Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say climate change impacts their local community.
Likewise, moderate and liberal Republican and Republican-leaning voters acknowledge the local impacts of climate change more frequently than their conservative counterparts. Further, they increasingly support advanced climate change policy and say the government isn’t doing enough for environmental protection.
Younger generations and women in the Republican Party also voice their disapproval of government inaction on climate change more than older members and men. Additionally, Republican women support policies designed to reduce climate change more than male GOP members.
As November nears, policy differences between the presidential candidates on climate change will become abundantly clear. Moreover, Americans seeking federal action on climate change will make their voices heard. On this particular issue, we must attempt to dissolve party lines in solidarity for a sustainable future.