Sunday, February 07, 2010

Americans Support Strong Climate Change and Clean Energy Policies

Here's more evidence that even while Americans' concern about climate change may be declining, they remain overwhelmingly in favor of solutions like a transition to a clean energy economy.  The latest from Yale:

Despite a sharp drop in public concern over global warming, Americans—regardless of political affiliation—support the passage of federal climate and energy policies, according to the results of a national survey released today by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities.

The survey found support for:
  • Funding more research on renewable energy, such as solar and wind power (85 percent)
  • Tax rebates for people buying fuel-efficient vehicles or solar panels (82 percent)
  • Establishing programs to teach Americans how to save energy (72 percent)
  • Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (71 percent)
  • School curricula to teach children about the causes, consequences and potential solutions to global warming (70 percent)
  • Signing an international treaty that requires the United States to cut emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by the year 2050 (61 percent)
  • Establishing programs to teach Americans about global warming (60 percent)
Here's a mindblowing part:

Sixty percent of Americans, however, said they have heard “nothing at all” about the cap-and-trade legislation currently being considered by Congress. Only 12 percent had heard “a lot.”

When cap and trade is explained, 58 percent support the policy, but this support drops to approximately 40 percent if household energy costs increase by $15 a month, or 50 cents a day. Sixty-six percent support cap and trade, however, if every household were to receive a yearly bonus of $180 to offset higher energy costs. In addition, 59 percent of Americans said they would likely spend the bonus on home energy efficiency improvements. This increases to 71 percent if the government offered to double the bonus if it was spent on energy efficiency improvements.

What's also interesting is that these results come from the same respondents who said they weren't nearly as concerned about global warming as they were a few years ago.  Says the study's lead author:

It may at first glance seem strange that public support for many of these policies remains high, despite the drops in public belief and concern about global warming we reported last week. These results are from the same survey respondents, however, and it is important to remember that different people support these policies for different reasons. For example, some do so because they want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, others because they want to strengthen national security, or make the US less dependent on foreign sources of energy. 

Exactly.  It's getting the solutions in place that matters -- not how we get them in place.  Whatever it takes to build the broad public support needed to make it happen...

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