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Poll Shows U.S. Support for Climate Action is Growing

6/9/10—A new survey released by Yale and George Mason universities shows public belief in global warming and that something needs to be done is on the rise. The rise is relative to a January survey by the two universities that showed a decline in such opinions.

Since January, public belief that global warming is happening rose 4 points, to 61%, while belief that it is caused mostly by human activities rose 3 points, to 50%. The number of Americans who worry about global warming rose 3 points, to 53%. And the number of Americans who said that the issue is personally important to them rose 5 points, to 63%.

“The stabilization and slight rebound in public opinion is occurring amid signs the economy is starting to recover, along with consumer confidence, and as memories of unusual snowstorms and scientific scandals recede,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. “The BP oil disaster is also reminding the public of the dark side of dependence on fossil fuels, which may be increasing support for clean energy policies.”

Americans who said President Obama and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a high priority increased 11 points, to 71%, while those who said that global warming should be a high priority rose 6 points, to 44%. In a 7-point increase since January, 69% of Americans said that the United States should make a large or medium effort to reduce global warming even if it incurs large or moderate economic costs.

Current public support for specific policy options (and changes since January, 2010) include:

  • 77% support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (+6)
  • 87 percent support funding more research into renewable energy sources (+2)
  • 83%support tax rebates for people who buy fuel-efficient vehicles and solar panels (+1)
  • 65 % support signing an international treaty that requires the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by the year 2050 (+4)
  • 61% support requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it cost the average household an extra $100 per year (+2)
  • Support for expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast fell to 62%  (-5)

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