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Survey finds most voters support initiatives to fight climate change

 

By John Schwartz

© The New York Times Co.

A majority of registered voters of both parties in the United States support initiatives to fight climate change, including many that are outlined in the climate plans announced by President-elect Joe Biden, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted after the presidential election, suggests a majority of Americans in both parties want a government that deals forcefully with climate change instead of denying its urgency — or denying that it exists at all.

In the survey, published Friday by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, 53% of registered voters said global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress, and 66% said that developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority.

Eight in 10 supported achieving those ends by providing tax breaks to people who buy electric vehicles or solar panels, and by investing in renewable energy research.

“These results show there’s very strong public support for bold, ambitious action on climate change and clean energy,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, who heads the Yale program. That suggests an opening for bipartisan legislation backed by lawmakers’ constituents.

During the campaign, Biden spoke often about how his proposals would generate jobs, and the survey indicates broad support for that idea, and not just in the jobs that would come with creating renewable energy.

Of those polled, 83% said they supported creating a jobs program that would hire unemployed coal workers, shut down old coal mines safely, and restore the natural landscape. The same percentage said they supported a jobs program that would shut down the thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells around the nation, which pollute water and leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Some of the policies that appear in the survey echo Biden’s campaign points closely, including support among 78% of those surveyed for setting stronger vehicle fuel efficiency standards and 67% support installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the United States by 2030.

The nation is still divided politically, of course, with higher levels of support for some of the initiatives among Democrats than Republicans. The percentage of liberal Democrats who said global warming should be a high or very high priority stood at 86%; among conservative Republicans, the figure was just 12%, and among all Republicans that figure was closer to 23%.

While 93% of liberal Democrats said they thought developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress, just 32% of conservative Republicans did; among all Republicans, however, the figure was 43% — and 58% among liberal and moderate Republicans.

 

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