November 25, 2019 / 5:37 PM / 18 days ago

Concern over U.S. climate action grows among Republican voters, survey shows

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The majority of Americans, including a growing share of moderate Republicans, are dissatisfied with U.S. government efforts to curb global warming, researchers said on Monday.

In a survey by the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based non-partisan think-tank, two-thirds of Americans said U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration was “doing too little” to reduce the effects of climate change.

Since taking office, Trump has rolled backed Obama-era rules limiting planet-warming emissions from sectors of the economy such as electricity, transport, and oil and gas.

The Trump administration filed paperwork this month to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, while his opponents have championed a “Green New Deal” that seeks to slash U.S. emissions within a decade.

In the Pew survey, the proportion of people who said the government was taking too little action to tackle climate change was unchanged from a year ago - but unease among moderate Republicans grew significantly, noted the report.

“Previous analysis showed that concern about climate change has gone up over the past several years (since 2013) among Democrats but not Republicans,” said Cary Funk, director of science and society research at Pew.

But the new survey, which polled more than 3,600 people last month, found that 65% of moderate or liberal Republicans said the federal government was not doing enough to reduce the effects of global warming, up from 53% in 2018. 

A divide was also seen by age, with 52% of 18 to 38-year-old Republicans displeased with government climate action, compared with 41% of those from 38-54, and 31% of those aged 55 or above.

Among Republicans, 46% of women thought the government was doing too little, compared with 34% of men.

Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said the recent wave of extreme wildfires, hurricanes and flooding hitting the United States had likely played a part in shifting Republican opinion.

“People are beginning to hear and see that the impacts of climate change are here - now,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Most climate scientists believe a human-produced increase in greenhouse gases is heating the planet but the survey found no change in the longstanding U.S. political divide on that issue.

Just under half of respondents agreed human activity contributes a great deal to climate change, and another 30% said human actions have some role.

“Many people, not just Republicans, underestimate the scientific agreement about this stuff,” noted Leiserowitz.

For decades, the fossil fuel industry has pushed a message that climate change is part of natural cycles, he said.

Nonetheless, the survey showed most Americans favor adopting renewable energy sources, with 92% of adults supporting the expansion of solar power and 85% backing wind power.

Reporting by Matthew Lavietes; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and property rights. Visit news.trust.org/climate

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