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You Don't Have to Take Our Word For it: Americans Want Action on Climate Change

Pete Altman

Posted February 21, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment, Solving Global Warming

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For years now, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental/health groups have known that Americans want tough action to curb carbon pollution, based on a long record of polls.  Just last week, we released another poll showing just that, measuring reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

Among other things, our latest survey found:  “Sixty-five percent of Americans think that climate change is a serious problem and a substantial majority support Presidents Obama using his authority to reduce its main cause, dangerous carbon pollution.”

Of course, it’s easy to dismiss any poll as being “self-serving” in some way.  And some people are very quick to make that kind of objection – since it’s much easier than explaining away the actual findings.  

That’s why we were so interested to see the results out today from the Pew Center for the People and the Press. There’s a big write-up on the survey in USA Today that explains the Pew poll’s findings on what Americans think about key issues such as the budget deficit, gun policies, immigration … and climate change.

Americans Support Action this Year

Here are the key Pew poll findings on climate 

  • Fully 62% favor setting stricter emission limits on power plants in order to address climate change while 28% oppose this, and nearly half (46%) of those who support emissions limits say that new climate policies are essential this year.
  • 73% say action on climate is essential this year or in the next few years; 34% say essential this year.

Young Adults and Independents Care About Climate

The Pew poll examined support for climate action by age group, and found something that should make our nation's political parties perk up and pay attention: 

 Young Americans between 18 and 29 are the most supportive of climate action: fully 70% of them support cleaning up power plants. 

 

Nearly as many independents – 64% – favor stricter emission limits on power plants in order to address climate change, while only 26% oppose such limits – a margin of more than two-to-one in support of carbon limits on power plants. Consistent with what we've seen before, republicans are divided, with 42% favoring stricter emission standards while 48% are opposed.

On Climate, Advantage Obama

The Pew survey is also notable because it thoroughly debunks the notion that climate is a “loser” issue in terms of politics.  

In fact, President Obama's strongest political advantage over republicans is on climate change. Asked whether Obama or Congressional Republicans have the best approach on climate, nearly half of Americans said Obama while just over a quarter said republicans. The gap – 21 points in Obama’s favor – is the largest margin out of the issues examined.

So, there you have it. The highly respected independent research team at Pew is finding what NRDC has been finding: Americans want action on climate change and they want to tackle the nation’s biggest source of carbon pollution, our nation’s power plants.

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About

Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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