Big leap in support for climate action follows 2021 series of extreme weather conditions
A new national poll has revealed an increase in Americans’ agreement on global warming, their concerns about it and their support for climate action. Will the push translate into the passage of blocked bills in Congress?
As 2021 rolled by month-to-month, a string of extreme weather events increasingly hit the United States, ranging from record drought and wildfires in the west to unusually deadly flooding in the United States. the North-east.
Climate action advocates have worked tirelessly to increase public understanding of the links that scientists believe exist between extreme weather and man-made climate change.
Perhaps linked to these messages and to this year’s litany of extreme weather events, Americans’ concerns about climate change and support for federal action to combat it have increased “dramatically” over the past six years. months, opinion researchers from Yale and George Mason universities found. They released their new national survey results last week.
The poll, conducted in September, was the team’s first on climate issues since March. This is the latest national survey of the Yale-George Mason collaboration’s “Climate Change in the American Spirit” project, launched in 2008.
Key findings from the findings of the new survey on growing public concerns about climate:
More Americans (76%) believe global warming is happening than at any time in the survey’s 13-year history – a “dramatic” 6-point increase since March, the researchers said. researchers. Only 12% now do not believe that global warming is happening, one of the smallest numbers of polls ever on this issue.
Unprecedented majorities are also worried about global warming (70% to 35% “very worried” and 35% “a little worried”) and think that Americans “are currently being wronged” by this climate trend. The 55% who share the latter opinion marks the first time that a majority of respondents have said that evil is already happening, and not just a future concern.
There have also been increases since March in favor of climate action across parties and ideologies:
Record percentages of Liberal Democrats (94%), Moderate / Conservative Democrats (80%), and Liberal / Moderate Republicans (45%) have said government action on global warming should be a public priority.
Among conservative Republicans – historically by far the least favorable group for climate action – the portion supporting it as a priority has now remained low but has jumped to 17% from 12% in March and 10% in April 2020.
In a particularly significant change since March, 61% of liberal / moderate Republicans who registered to vote said their party should do more to tackle global warming, compared with just 40% who said that in March. The party’s willingness to do more on the issue rose from 20% to 24% among registered conservative Republicans.
The poll showed the enduring strong (and now growing) support for climate action among Democrats.
Nonetheless, the legislative effort by President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats to mitigate climate disruption caused by pollution and help build the country’s capacity to withstand increasingly severe impacts remains stuck in Congress. This effort involves a pair of high-profile bills whose destinies are tied by negotiations between moderate and progressive Democrats.
One of the measures is a package of 3.5 trillion dollars spent over 10 years on social programs and efforts to reduce disruptive emissions from the climate. The other is a $ 1 trillion infrastructure proposal, passed by the Senate in a bipartisan vote, which includes new spending for certain climate components such as resilience programs, as well as infrastructure elements. traditional like roads, bridges and airports.
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that an important point of discussion among Democrats was whether to cut spending on all parts of the larger social / climate measure, or abandon some parts entirely and fund the rest entirely. The New York Times reported on Monday that business interests “are pushing to kill or reshape crucial elements of the president’s plan.”
The results of another recent poll highlighted another factor that may also feature in Democrats’ negotiations over whether and how much to cut climate programs.
Axios reported last week that Hit Strategies, a Democratic polling company, found in a poll of black voters, a crucial constituency for the party, that they supported the association of climate and social agendas in the bill. larger than $ 3.5 trillion.
Climate measures in the small infrastructure bill were also tied as a top priority of black poll respondents among infrastructure measures programs.
Seventy-one percent of those polled said they want Congress to go beyond physical infrastructure to approve new spending for programs proposed in the social / climate bill – “investing in the reversal climate change, job training programs, a free community college, and providing more help for children, caregivers and people with disabilities.
Bill Dawson is the founding editor of Texas Climate News.