Climate Policy & Strategy: United States: Baseline survey, June 2021

  • You may think climate change is a mid-level issue based on the 27 percent who prioritize it, but the intense opposition of conservative Republicans who dominate the party obscures the issue’s importance across a broad spectrum. Nearly 60 percent of Americans believe climate change is a threat requiring major action, not exaggerated; almost 40 percent believe it strongly. The bloc saying we need major action moves from 83 percent with liberal Democrats to 61 percent with independents and a majority of moderate Republicans.
  • It also a very top priority for liberal Democrats who are half the party’s base and could impact turnout in mid-term elections. Independents too choose it as top priority and look more like Democrats on many climate issues. Excepting conservative Republicans, voters want America to lead on climate change and not wait on other countries and to prioritize a green recovery.
  • While the country remains closely divided politically, in June, it gave Biden positive marks overall and 57 percent on handling climate change, the environment, and the energy transition. And the administration’s policies and messaging raises his standing on handling climate and the economy. On learning of them, he gains with millennials and GenZ and working class voters.
  • Biden raises his standing on handling climate by a bold commitment to use American electricity, cut carbon emissions in half and get 80 percent of energy from emissions-free sources by 2030, and then achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
  • Biden gains further standing by calling climate change an existential threat to communities and national security that requires huge investment that will be an engine of job growth.
  • However, there is no majority for raising taxes on fossil fuels or ending oil exploration. They oppose raising the cost of energy and barely 30 percent believe these changes will result in unacceptable price increases. A majority believes the government should create a framework of regulation to make us more energy efficient & invest in innovative research to enable transition to low carbon economy.
  • Businesses raise their standing when they acknowledge a climate crisis and say they must change business models. CEOs of major companies are generally very distrusted, but those taking this position are admired. Leading here enables them to be part of a process where government is shaping the framework that drives the transition to zero carbon emissions.
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