Politics & Global Warming, September 2021

October 21, 2021


Drawing on a nationally representative survey (n = 1,006; including 898 registered voters), this report describes how Democratic, Independent, and Republican registered voters view climate and energy policies.

This report is based on findings from a nationally representative survey – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (climatecommunication.yale.edu) and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication (climatechangecommunication.org), Interview dates: September 10 – 20, 2021. Average margin of error +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Download the full report


Executive Summary

Drawing on a representative sample of the U.S. adult population (n = 1,006; including the 898 registered voters whose data are included in this report), these findings describe how registered voters view a variety of domestic climate and energy policies. We will follow this next week with a report detailing registered voters’ views about international climate issues. The survey was fielded from September 10 – 20, 2021. This executive summary presents the results from all registered voters, while the main text of the report goes further by breaking the results down by political party and ideology.

Global Warming and Clean Energy as Government Priorities

  • 60% of registered voters say global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress.
  • 69% of registered voters say developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress.

Global Warming and Energy Policies

Majorities of registered voters support a range of policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy. These include:

  • 86% support providing tax incentives or rebates to homeowners, landlords, and businesses to make existing buildings more energy efficient.
  • 81% support funding more research into renewable energy sources.
  • 81% support providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels.
  • 79% support providing tax incentives or rebates to homeowners, landlords, and businesses to purchase appliances that can be powered without burning fossil fuels.
  • 75% support setting aside 30% of America’s lands and waters for conservation by 2030.
  • 75% support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
  • 74% support requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose how much carbon pollution they produce
  • 70% support transitioning the U.S. economy (including electric utilities, transportation, buildings, and industry) from fossil fuels to 100% clean energy by 2050.
  • 70% support increasing federal funding to low-income communities and communities of color who are disproportionally harmed by air and water pollution.
  • 69% support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a tax on the carbon pollution they produce, and using that revenue to reduce other taxes (such as the federal income tax) by an equal amount (i.e., a revenue-neutral carbon tax).
  • 66% support requiring electric utilities to produce 100% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by the year 2035.

Declaring Climate Change a National Emergency

  • 63% support a U.S. president declaring global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act.

Energy Production as an Economic Issue

  • 52% say that policies to promote clean energy will improve economic growth and create jobs, while 31% say these policies will reduce growth and cost jobs.
  • 64% say that increasing production of clean energy in the U.S. will produce more new jobs than will increasing fossil fuel production.

Who Should Act?

  • 73% say corporations and industry should do more to address global warming.
  • Half or more say the following should do more to address global warming: citizens (69%), the Republican Party (66%), the U.S. Congress (64%), their local government officials (61%), the Democratic Party (60%), their governor (60%), the media (59%), President Biden (58%), and they themselves (55%).

Local and State Government Action on Global Warming

  • Majorities support climate-friendly policies for their local community, including providing funding to help homeowners make energy-efficient improvements to their homes (85%), increasing the availability of public transportation in their county (85%), and constructing bike paths and installing bike lanes on city streets (80%).

Political Actions to Limit Global Warming

  • 57% say they would sign a petition about global warming, although only 19% say they have done so in the past year.
  • Fewer say they would take other actions, including 34% who would donate money to an organization working on global warming (compared with 15% who say they have actually done so in the past year), 33% who would contact government officials about global warming (compared with 10% who say they have done so in the past year), 31% who would volunteer their time to organization working on global warming (compared with 6% who say they have done so in the past year), and 25% who would meet with an elected official or their staff about global warming.
  • 29% say they would support an organization engaging in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse, and 15% say they would personally engage in it.
  • 1% say they are currently participating in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming. 9% say they would “definitely” join such a campaign and an additional 20% say they would “probably” join one.

Educating Students About Global Warming

  • 78% support schools teaching children the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming.

Citation

Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Carman, J., Neyens, L., Goldberg, M., Lacroix, K., & Marlon, J. (2021). Politics & Global Warming, September 2021. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Funding Sources

The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Grantham Foundation.

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