Public opinion supports Paris Agreement, emissions regulation

public opinion, climate change

A new national public opinion survey shows broad support across party lines for strong climate action, including a price on carbon.

By Flannery Winchester

Yesterday, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication released the results from their latest national survey, and public opinion is strongly in favor of serious climate action.

A few highlights from the report, which was conducted after Trump’s election:

  • 69% of registered voters say the U.S. should participate in the Paris Agreement adopted at COP21 last year.
  • 70% of registered voters support emissions limits on coal-fired power plants, to reduce global warming and improve public health
  • Registered voters are also concerned about the impacts of global warming on public water supplies (76%), agriculture (75%) and people’s health (74%)

These numbers indicate that people are aware of climate change as a concrete, present problem and are ready to support an effective solution. Increasingly, that solution appears to be a carbon tax, because the survey also found:

  • 78% of registered voters support taxing global warming pollution, regulating it, or both
  • 66% of registered voters support fossil fuel companies paying a carbon tax, and using those funds to reduce other taxes. (This is not exactly the same model as CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal, but it is also considered revenue neutral.)
  • 85% of Democrats, 78% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans want to see the U.S. use more renewable energy. A price on carbon would help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and toward those renewable sources.

These survey results are positive, according to CCL’s Director of Science and Legislation, Danny Richter, because it signals a narrowing of the partisan divide. Richter said, “We’re seeing the depoliticization of science, and that is very good for the climate.” As public opinion unites on this issue, legislators will be more and more likely to respond and to act.

“I expect these results will make it easier for members of Congress to join the Climate Solutions Caucus, and to pursue serious efforts to reduce emissions once they’re there,” Richter said. He’s exactly right—that’s what voters want, and this latest survey confirms it. The report found, “A majority of registered voters want President-elect Trump (62%) and Congress (63%) to do more to address global warming.”

Download the report here to read all the findings and send a copy to your representative, encouraging him or her to take actions on climate change that most Americans want.

Flannery Winchester has put her words to work for magazines, for marketing agencies, and now for our earth as CCL's Communications Director. She is grateful to spend every day working to preserve this beautiful planet.