As Republican leaders herald Congress’ power to hinder a global climate deal, most Americans say the U.S. should join an international treaty requiring America to reduce emissions, according to a new poll.
The New York Times and CBS poll released Monday also notes that 63 percent of Americans favor limits on carbon emissions. The poll comes as delegates from nearly 200 countries are meeting in Paris in hopes of negotiating a climate deal that puts the world on a track to limit global warming to no more than 2°C. Many scientists believe that global warming would be irreversible and cause catastrophic effects beyond this threshold.
The survey puts the American public in line with international public opinion. A recent Pew Research Center poll across 40 countries found that 78 percent of respondents “support the idea of their country limiting greenhouse gas emissions as part of an international agreement in Paris.”
Meanwhile, for the past few days Republican leaders have been ramping up attacks against President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. Republicans in Congress expressed their opposition to any international agreement that they say could hamper the nation’s energy industry, and many pledged to oppose financial commitments to help other countries curb carbon emissions.
“It would obviously be irresponsible for an outgoing president to purport to sign the American people up to international commitments based on a domestic energy plan that is likely illegal,” wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in a recent Washington Post op-ed. He went on to say that international negotiating partners in Paris “should proceed with caution before entering into an unattainable deal with this administration.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also used a recent op-ed to establish Congress’ power and its potential opposition to a climate deal. “Congress will promote the American energy story and reject commitments based on a misguided understanding of our climate, economic progress, and our needs for tomorrow,” McCarthy wrote in Reuters.
Monday’s poll, however, suggests that most Americans are even willing to pay more money to help reduce global warming. About 55 percent of respondents said they willing to pay more for electricity if it were generated by renewable sources like solar or wind energy. That’s in spite of the fact that only 14 percent of respondents said they worry a “great deal” about global warming or climate change.