The Republican Party is not known for taking action on climate change, or even for acknowledging its existence. Republican voters across the country evidently do not feel the same way. A recently released national survey conducted by the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication shows that a majority of Republican and Republican-leaning voters believe that climate change is happening – and that 77 percent of respondents believe the U.S. should transition to clean energy sources.
Here are some of the key results from the study:
1. Republicans support action on clean energy
Seventy-seven percent of respondents support using much more (51%) or somewhat more (26%) clean energy than the U.S. does today. Of those polled, 69% responded that we should take action “immediately.”
2. Republican leaders aren’t listening to voters
Only a third of the respondents in the poll agreed with the Republican Party’s stance on climate change, and only half agree with the party's position on energy. In addition, only 20% of those polled believe they can have any influence over elected officials’ positions on climate change.
3. The benefits of clean energy outweigh the costs
A majority of respondents said they believe reducing fossil fuel use will benefit the U.S. in many ways, from helping to free us from our dependence on foreign oil (66%), to saving resources for our children and grandchildren to use (57%), to providing a better life for our children and grandchildren (56%). None of the potential costs associated with taking action were seen as being likely by a majority of respondents.
The new evidence of popular Republican support for action on climate change comes as many prominent Republicans continue to deny the existence of climate change. Other party leaders are pressing Obama to roll back EPA regulations issued during the President’s first term. The evidence is now mounting that Republican elected leaders are out of touch with their own constituents on the topic of climate change. And with the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline dividing Washington, it’s unlikely elected Republicans will quickly embrace a transition away from fossil fuels.
Disagreement between voters and officials is not new to the Republican Party, but perhaps it will take some public pressure to sway elected leaders minds. After all, we’re finally seeing progress with big corporations and banks addressing climate change; perhaps elected leaders will evolve as well.
This article was first published at Mosaic's blog.
Peter DiPrinzio is a student at Middlebury College, where he studies International Economics and Film. Peter is a former fellow at Mosaic, a platform for making direct investments in solar energy, and stays involved via the Mosaic Blog Leadership Team, writing and creating videos and graphics. He is a 2013 Venture for America fellow and has worked at organizations ranging from a NYC hedge fund to the New York Parks Department. He was a member of Team Middlebury in the 2011 Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition, working on the fundraising, communications and construction teams.
Photos courtesy of flickr users jwotis and Mosaic.