American Attitudes on a Green New Deal

 

Vast majorities across political lines want both parties to work together to address climate change.

In June, ecoAmerica presented its research findings on American views on the Green New Deal in a webinar produced for the Local Government Commission.  With elections coming up in 2020, the political environment has made the conversation on the Green New Deal swerve into the great partisan divide.

However, research conducted by ecoAmerica and Lake Research Partners in February of this year indicates that Americans are not as divided on the topic as the media often portrays. While a majority of Americans continue to rank climate change in the bottom half of their concerns, after issues like healthcare, the economy, immigration, and gun policy, nearly half of voters do believe that climate change is a critical threat to the United States over the next 10 years (46%).

In addition, majorities across party lines have personal concerns about climate change, and want both parties to work together to address it.  More Democrats than Republicans support these views, but polling showed that even 83% of Republicans want both parties to work together on climate solutions.

People may differ on which solutions are best, and on which create more jobs and cause the least disruption to our economy, but there are broad majorities that favor a transition to a clean energy economy. Nearly 71% of respondents said they favor speeding up the transition to clean energy sources like wind and solar. When the question put in a time specific goal, having that transition take place in 10 years, support fell to 64%. However, when the question was asked the other way around to see if people favor rapidly transitioning away from energy sources like oil, coal, and natural gas, partisan differences were more apparent.  A majority of Republicans were not in agreement with this statement, while 78% of Democrat respondents were.

Finally, the webinar concluded with several examples of local and state versions of a Green New Deal, and how each community can adjust their goals based on their particular regulatory environment, their current energy structure and authority, their sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and their local culture.

Key talking points for local leaders who are engaging and building support with the public include the following:

  • Focus on speeding up the transition to clean, renewable energy, without a timeline if possible.
  • Highlight the development on new technologies that can remove carbon pollution from the air.  This is seen as a solution supported by all parties with little downside.
  • Emphasize energy efficiency as a practical and pragmatic solution. It saves money, reduces pollution, and people in both parties connect it with jobs.
  • Connect the idea of moving away from fossil fuels with job training, innovation and help for communities in making the transition.

The full webinar can be viewed here: https://www.lgc.org/path-positive-communities/

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