Overwhelming US Public Support for Global Warming Action

Poll Confirms Americans Believe Economy, Jobs Helped By Pollution Reduction

This guest post was written by Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at American Progress.

Two new polls issued today confirm that an overwhelming portion of Americans want domestic action and an international agreement to reduce global warming pollution.  More than half the respondents want to do a great deal to reduce the threat of global warming, while only one-quarter oppose action.

Associated Press/Stanford Univ. poll; conducted 11/17-29 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media; surveyed 1,005 adults; margin of error +/- 3.1% (release, 12/15).

How Much Do You Think The U.S. Should Do About Global Warming?

A great deal/quite a bit  52%

Some                              23

A little/nothing               25

The AP poll also found that by nearly 2-1, respondents felt that reducing global warming pollution would create rather than cost jobs.  A near majority felt that steps to cut global warming pollution would help the economy, while slightly more than one-quarter thought that it would hurt the economy – about the same proportion that oppose action.

Do You Think That The U.S. Doing Things To Reduce Global Warming In The Future Would Cause There To Be More/Fewer Jobs For People Around The Country?

More jobs                       40%

Fewer jobs                      23

Would not affect jobs     33

Do You Think That The U.S. Doing Things To Reduce Global Warming In The Future Would Hurt/Help The U.S. Economy?

Help U.S. economy             46%

Hurt U.S. economy              27

Would not affect economy  24

The poll asked a number of questions about potential solutions.  It found that the public opposed reducing global warming pollution by increasing taxes on electricity, energy or gasoline so that people use less.   There was an even split between support and opposition to building new nuclear power plants.

Nearly 90% of the respondents supported giving “companies tax breaks to produce more electricity from water, wind, and solar power.”  Respondents supported tax incentives to produce electricity from coal fired power plants that capture and store carbon pollution.  And by 58% to 37%,  respondents supported a “cap and trade” system to reduce pollution (when accurately explained).   This support grew to 2-1 when respondents learned that “a similar system has been effective in reducing emissions that cause acid rain.”

Significantly, nearly two-thirds of the respondents in the AP believe that inaction on global warming “will hurt future generations a great deal/a lot.”  Less than one quarter believe that inaction will have little or no impact.

If Nothing Is Done To Reduce Global Warming In The Future, How Much Do You Think It Will Hurt Future Generations?

A great deal/a lot        63%

A moderate amount    13

A little/not at all          23

A poll released today by USA Today/Gallup found clear majority support for the United States to sign a binding agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas pollution.

Conducted 12/11-13; surveyed 1,025 adults; margin of error +/- 3.1%. Subsample of 898 RVs; margin of error +/- 3.3% (release, 12/14).

Do you Favor/Oppose The U.S. Signing A Binding Global Treaty At The Copenhagen Meeting That Would Require The U.S. To Significantly Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Favor   55%

Oppose  38

Both of these polls found support for action to stem global warming via pollution cuts despite the worst economy in nearly thirty years.  And the polls occurred during the  feeding frenzy over the stolen emails from the British climate research center that led the mainstream media to give disproportionate air time and weight to climate deniers who represent a tiny minority of scientists.  This coverage is reflected in the AP poll finding that two of three respondents believe there is a “disagreement among scientists” about global warming.  Even with this uncertainty, Americans still favor action to cut global warming pollution, and it will benefit the economy and create jobs.

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One Response to Overwhelming US Public Support for Global Warming Action

  1. Craig says:

    But the USA Today story on their poll also contained the following cautionary note:

    By a lopsided 7-1, however, Americans say the administration should put a higher priority on improving the economy than reducing global warming. And they are split on the likely economic impact of enacting new environmental and energy laws to address climate change: 42% say they will hurt the economy; 36% say they will help.

    “There’s a lot of public support for various climate policy approaches that diminishes as you begin to put a specific dollar figure with it,” says Barry Rabe, a University of Michigan political scientist who studies public opinion on the environment.