Republican rank-and-file back carbon regulation

A new poll has found that 55 per cent of Republican voters in the US think CO2 should be regarded as a pollutant, with 52 per cent saying fossil fuel subsidies should end.


A recent survey found that most Republicans want the government to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, and regulate carbon pollution. And the vast majority of Americans believe the US should take action to reduce global warming, regardless of any perceived cost to the economy.

The new poll by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that 83 per cent of Americans want their country to make an effort to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs. Despite calls for American inaction on climate until other countries act first, 60 per cent of Americans think the US should act “regardless of what other countries do.”

Americans ranked global warming 11th out of 13 listed national issues. Yet a solid majority — 71 per cent — thinks that global warming should be at least a medium priority. Thirty-seven per cent say it should be a high priority.

While 57 per cent of Democrats — and just 19 per cent of Republicans — believe climate change should be a high or very high priority for Congress or President Obama, there were areas of something that somewhat resembled partisan agreement. Both groups think CO2 should be regulated as a pollutant (85 per cent of Democrats, 55 per cent of Republicans). Both want to cut all fossil fuel subsidies (67 per cent vs 52 per cent). And big majorities of both groups want more funding and more tax rebates for renewable energy and efficient cars.

In general, Americans want less fossil fuels and more low-carbon energy — with many willing to pay more for those benefits:

  • 67 per cent want to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant
  • 59 per cent want to cut fossil fuel subsidies entirely — while 60 per cent think cutting renewable subsidies is a bad idea
  • 56 per cent would pay an extra $100 a year if it meant their electric utility was required to produce more than 20 per cent electricity from renewables
  • 72 per cent want more research funding for renewable energy

Sixty-five per cent think corporations and industry should be doing more to address climate change. And 52 per cent think Congress should be doing more — but just 46 per cent believe the same for President Obama. Even less believe local governments should be doing more. This makes some sense, as many citystate, and local governments have taken the lead on addressing climate change. Still, only 39 per cent believed federal, state, or local government can help reduce global warming, or protect people from the impacts of climate change.

Support for regulating carbon dioxide from existing power plants dropped 4 per cent when it was described as a directive from President Obama to the EPA — and strong opposition rose 8 per cent. Still, even with that 4 per cent drop, 59 per cent of Americans want the EPA to regulate carbon pollution from power plants. Different versions of a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax gained the support of almost half of respondents.

Originally published on ClimateProgress. Reproduced with permission.

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