3 Areas Where Americans Agree on Clean Energy and Climate Change
Is the American public really divided on climate change? According to a new memo recently put out by nine Democratic pollsters, bipartisan support for addressing climate change is actually quite broad. The report found three main areas of consensus:
1. Most Americans consider climate change a serious issue and want action to address it now. This may be due to the rising physical evidence of climate change, such as extreme temperatures, drought, and floods.
2. Support for the Clean Power Plan is widespread and crosses party lines. The memo mentions several reasons for this: the health impacts of unregulated carbon pollution, the moral irresponsibility of passing on the problem to future generations, and the economic and environmental benefits of transitioning to clean energy.
3. There is strong support for increasing the use of clean energy. Voters believe the transition to wind and solar power will create jobs and lower electricity costs over the long term.
These conclusions indicate that our best practices for climate communications hold true. Local impacts and real-life examples are more relevant and motivating than abstract scientific language or photos of polar bears. Appealing to people’s values – such as protecting the health of their families and future generations – is an effective way to build support for climate action. So is emphasizing the co-benefits of solutions and framing solutions as an opportunity rather than a sacrifice.
As this Vox article points out, support for clean energy and regulating pollution isn’t new, but the first area of consensus has been slow in coming. Now climate concern is starting to build, and voters don’t have patience for politicians who deny the reality of climate change. In addition, big financial institutions and corporations are making serious investments in clean energy. This could make climate change a key issue for Democrats in the upcoming election.
By David Roberts, contributor to Vox
For years, US public opinion polls on climate change and clean energy have displayed a remarkable consistency.
This consistency has been underappreciated because so much attention has focused on the most polarizing questions: Does climate change exist? Is it caused by humans? Public opinion on those subjects has fluctuated, mainly thanks to the hard turn back toward denialism on the right under the Obama administration.
But on other matters, there is wide, bipartisan agreement. Now, it seems, the Democratic establishment is taking note. Last week, nine Democratic pollsters — some of the biggest players in the party — circulated a memo making the case that there is a “National Consensus on Climate Change and Clean Energy.”
Image credit: Shutterstock