Americans largely favor U.S. taking steps to become carbon neutral by 2050

Read the full story from Pew.

Amid growing global energy demand and rising carbon dioxide emissions, majorities of Americans say the United States should prioritize the development of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and take steps toward the country becoming carbon neutral by the year 2050.

Still, Americans stop short of backing a complete break with fossil fuels and many foresee unexpected problems in a major transition to renewable energy. Economic concerns are also front of mind for many when asked to think about what a transition away from fossil fuels could mean for their own lives.

Who is willing to participate in non-violent civil disobedience for the climate?

Read the full story from the Center for Climate Change Communication.

Social movements (e.g., anti-war, civil rights, labor, environmental) and leaders (e.g., the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks) have historically used non-violent civil disobedience (e.g., sit-ins, blockades) as a powerful tool to build political power and motivate corporate or government action. In recent years, groups like Extinction Rebellion have advocated for the use of non-violent civil disobedience to promote climate action.

In September 2021, we asked Americans about their willingness to support an organization engaging in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse and about their willingness to personally engage in such non-violent civil disobedience themselves. Here we examine how this willingness varies across different groups including Global Warming’s Six Americas, generations, and the three largest racial/ethnic groups in the United States.

Americans support climate change policies, especially those that give them incentives and clean up the energy supply

Incentives like rebates for insulation or allowing homeowners to sell energy from solar panels were more popular than taxing for excess energy use. Lourdes Balduque via Getty Images

Janet K. Swim, Penn State and Nathaniel Geiger, Indiana University

As the Biden administration tries to build support for new climate and energy policies, a set of studies offers some insights that could help them appeal to the widest audience.

We are social scientists who examine how people think about climate change solutions. In the studies, we explored how the public responds to different types of policies and why some are likely to be more popular than others.

For example, which is better: incentives to cut emissions, such as rebates for installing solar panels, or disincentives, like a carbon tax? Does it matter whether those policies target individuals or businesses? What about policies that would reduce energy use or change energy sources from fossil to renewable energy?

Overall, we found people support climate change policies, but they have preferences among different types based on the policies’ anticipated environmental, economic and social impacts.

The who, what and how of climate policy

We used two different measures in two separate studies to assess U.S. residents’ reactions to a set of climate and energy policy types. The 265 participants ranged in age from 18 to 80 and had an approximately equal likelihood of identifying themselves as Republican, Democrat or independent.

These policies varied in three crucial ways:

  1. How they promoted change – through incentives, such as grants or rebates to encourage low-carbon actions, or disincentives, such as fees or taxes to discourage high-carbon actions.
  2. Whom they targeted – businesses or individuals.
  3. What they targeted – energy supply, such as switching to renewable sources, or energy demand, such as promoting energy efficiency and conservation.

The participants shared their preferences, but they also estimated the environmental, economic and social effects they thought each policy would have. Understanding the influence those estimates have on the participants’ views could help policymakers make less-popular policies more palatable.

Lesson 1: Incentives over disincentives

We found that people preferred policies with incentives rather than punishments – especially when the policies applied to individuals, but also for businesses.

They said they thought incentives would be better for the environment and have more economic and social net benefits than disincentives would.

However, we found greater tolerance of disincentives when they applied to businesses than when they affected individuals.

This tolerance was not a result of impressions of effects on the economy – in both cases, the participants anticipated greater economic benefits from incentives than disincentives.

Instead, participants appeared to think that trying to change individuals’ behaviors – but not businesses’ practices – with disincentives would have less positive social impact and be less effective. For example, about one-third of the respondents thought the disincentives for individuals would have more social harms than benefits, while only about 10% thought the same for other policy options.

Lesson 2: Clean energy is better than less energy

People also preferred policies that would change the supply of energy by increasing renewable energy and decreasing fossil fuels more than policies that would decrease the amount of energy people use.

The study participants thought increasing renewable energy and decreasing fossil fuel use would have greater economic and social benefits than decreasing the amount of energy used. For example, 87% percent indicated there would be more economic benefits than harms from energy supply policies, while 77% indicated the same for energy reduction policies.

We found that the participants’ political leanings had surprisingly little effect on relative preferences among all eight policies.

Our previous research with University of Oklahoma postdoctoral fellow Lizbeth Benson also found that environmental benefits, and the anticipated economic consequences, considering both benefits and harms, affected which policies people support. Moreover, the anticipated human impact of climate policies – these could include health, food, safety and human well-being – was even more strongly associated with climate policy support.

The limitations of climate popularism

It may not always make sense for politicians to promote the climate policy with the greatest public support.

For example, enacting some policies that penalize individuals for actions that emit a lot of greenhouse gases may be necessary to reach the world’s climate goals, despite their relative unpopularity.

Of course, a climate policy that doesn’t pass will not reduce carbon emissions at all.

Our work also suggests a possible path forward for promoting less-popular policies, such as those with disincentives for individuals or that reduce energy use. We found that these policies are less popular because people tend to believe they will be less effective and have less of a positive social impact.

Changing policies to increase their positive social impact – a carbon tax that rebates the proceeds to citizens is an example – can help win public support.

Communication strategies can focus on successes to illustrate that people working together to reduce their energy can effectively reduce emissions. For instance, communities can learn from and be inspired by cities that have cut their emissions.

Janet K. Swim, Professor of Psychology, Penn State and Nathaniel Geiger, Assistant Professor of Communication Science, Indiana University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The G20 Peoples’ Climate Vote 2021

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The actions that G20 governments take to tackle the climate crisis will be critical to the future of the planet. In the run-up to the G20 Summit in Rome, and ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the UN Development Programme and the University of Oxford are publishing the G20 Peoples’ Climate Vote, a large G20 survey of public opinion on climate change.

The G20 Peoples’ Climate Vote polled over 689,000 people across 18 of the G20 countries from October 2020 until June 2021. This includes over 302,000 young people under the age of 18. It leverages, an innovative survey methodology using mobile gaming networks.

In some countries, it is the first time that the voices of young people – who in many countries will be voting age in just a few years –are heard on climate change. This means the survey has significant value as a predictor of where public opinion is headed on climate policy. It also indicates where stronger efforts to educate the public may be required.

Public Support for International Climate Action: September 2021

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Summary: The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will take place in Glasgow Scotland (UK) beginning on October 31, 2021. The two-week conference “will bring [nearly all the countries in the world] together to accelerate action towards the goals of the [2015] Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

As context for the conference, this report describes how registered voters in the United States view a variety of policies related to international climate action. This survey was fielded from September 10 – 20, 2021, drawing on a representative sample of the U.S. population (n = 1,006; including the 898 registered voters whose data are included in this report). This report is a follow-up to our March 2021 report, which included most of the same survey items as the current report, and was released just prior to President Biden’s Earth-Day Leaders Summit on Climate. This executive summary reports the results from all registered voters, while the report breaks the results down by political party and ideology.

  • 66% of registered voters think the United States should be doing more to address global warming.
  • 66% think the United States should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what other countries do, an increase of 5 percentage points since our survey in March 2021.
  • 73% support the U.S. government’s pledge to reduce the nation’s carbon pollution by 50% by the year 2030.
  • 66% support providing financial aid and technical support to developing countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions (+8 percentage points since March 2021)
  • 61% support providing financial aid and technical support to developing countries to help them prepare for the impacts of global warming (+6 percentage points).
  • 78% support the United States pressuring other countries to reduce their carbon pollution.
  • 74% think other industrialized countries (such as England, Germany, and Japan) should be doing more to address global warming.
  • 81% think developing countries (such as China, India, and Brazil) should be doing more to address global warming.

In response to climate change, citizens in advanced economies are willing to alter how they live and work

Read the full story from the Pew Research Center.

A new Pew Research Center survey in 17 advanced economies spanning North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region finds widespread concern about the personal impact of global climate change. Most citizens say they are willing to change how they live and work at least some to combat the effects of global warming, but whether their efforts will make an impact is unclear.

On climate change, Republicans are open to some policy approaches, even as they assign the issue low priority

Read the full story from the Pew Research Center.

Climate change remains a low-priority issue for Americans who identify as Republican or lean toward the Republican Party. At the same time, Republicans express openness to certain policy proposals to deal with climate change. And there are differences in views within the GOP, with moderates and younger adults generally offering higher levels of support for action to address climate change than conservatives and older adults.

Key findings: How Americans’ attitudes about climate change differ by generation, party and other factors

Read the full story from the Pew Research Center.

Majorities of Americans say the federal government, businesses and other actors are doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change and express support for a variety of policy approaches aimed at addressing the issue. At the same time, the public has limited appetite for some of the more dramatic proposed changes to energy consumption, such as phasing out the use of fossil fuels entirely or ending the production of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Gen Z, Millennials stand out for climate change activism, social media engagement with issue

Read the full story from Pew Research.

In the first year of Joe Biden’s presidential term, climate, energy and environmental policy have been the subject of renewed federal attention. In recent months, the United States has rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency has moved to sharply restrict greenhouse gas emissions, and Biden has outlined a range of policy goals, including getting the U.S. to “net-zero” by 2050.

Even as Americans identify a number of pressing national problems, majorities see an array of actors, from government to business, as doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change and are broadly supportive of a range of policy approaches that would help address climate change, including moving toward renewable energy sources, developing infrastructure for electric vehicles, and increasing taxes and restrictions on carbon emissions.

3M study shows 89% of people agree that climate change solutions should be implemented immediately

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

New research from 3M, “The State of Science Index,” exposes a growing concern and a sense of urgency surrounding the health of the planet. According to the survey, a significant majority (89%) of respondents agree that solutions to mitigate climate change need to happen immediately, and 89% confirm their belief that the world should follow science to help create a more sustainable future.