A large majority of Americans (65%) agree the federal government isn’t doing enough to reduce the impacts of climate change, with 63% claiming that they already see the effects of a warmer world in their own communities, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.
The survey was carried out from April 29 to May with almost 11,000 adults in the United States, showing a broad majority agreed on initiatives to reduce the impacts of climate change, such as planting trees (90%), giving tax credits for businesses that capture emissions (84%) and implementing fuel efficiency standards (71%).
Nevertheless, the same level of agreement is difficult to find when looking at political affiliations.
While most Democrats (72%) believe human activity largely contributes to climate change, only 22% of the Republicans agree with that statement. A similar gap is seen on whether the government is doing too little on climate (89% to 35%) and on whether effects are visible in local communities (83% to 37%).
Alec Tyson, Associate Director of Research on Pew’s Science and Society research team, told Newsweek: “The public has grown much more concerned about the threat posed by climate change over the last decade. This shift is being driven by changing attitudes among Democrats—there’s hardly been any change in views among Republicans.”
The survey found some bipartisan support for some policy options to reduce the effects of climate change. Large shares of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (92%) and Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (88%) favor planting about a trillion trees, for example.
But partisan divides were larger on other policy options, such as implementing restrictions on power plant emissions, taxing companies according to their level of carbon emissions and implementing tougher standards on fuel efficiency for cars and trucks. Still, about half of Republicans say they would favor each of these policies.
The survey also found differences inside the party coalitions. Republicans that describe themselves as moderate or liberal are much more likely than conservative Republicans to acknowledge the impacts of climate change, support actions to address its effects and claim that the federal government is doing too little on the environment.
Michael E. Mann, Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, told Newsweek the poll findings show climate change will play a role in the forthcoming election, scheduled for November 3rd this year.
“This is a make-or-break election on climate, and climate action is on the ballot this Fall. If voters turn out and vote on climate, at the top of the ticket and all the way down, there is very real opportunity to make progress,” said Mann.
The survey also showed that most of the Americans (79%) believe that one of the priorities for the country has to be developing alternative energy sources such as solar and wind, instead of expanding production of fossil fuel energy. This applies to both Democrats (91%) and Republicans (65%).
While there’s large support in the country to develop more solar panel farms (90%) and more wind turbine farms (83%), there’s less backing to expand fossil fuel sources. Most oppose expanding coal mining (65%), fracking (60%), and offshore oil and gas drilling (58%).