‘Solid majority’ of Republicans say U.S. should tackle global warming — survey

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013

Global warming isn’t just an issue for Democrats, according to a report released yesterday by George Mason and Yale universities.

Sixty-two percent of self-identified Republicans and GOP-leaning independents said in a national survey that the United States should or probably should take action to address climate change despite uncertainties, the report says.

Only 52 percent of those surveyed said climate change is happening.

More than three-quarters of those surveyed said the nation should use more renewable energy — with 69 percent saying more renewables should be used immediately. By a 2-1 margin, respondents said the nation should reduce its reliance on fossil fuels when considering the benefits.

The survey, conducted in January, asked more than 700 people who self-identified as Republicans and Republican-leaning independents about energy and climate change, with a 4-point error margin.

Of those, 17 percent identified themselves as part of the tea party and 34 percent as a “strong Republican.” Participants weren’t told the survey would focus on climate change to avoid selection bias, according to the report.

“Over the past few years, our surveys have shown that a growing number of Republicans want to see Congress do more to address climate change,” said Edward Maibach, director of Fairfax County, Va.-based George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication. “Perhaps the most surprising finding, however, is how few of our survey respondents agreed with the Republican Party’s current position on climate change.”

The survey found 34 percent of respondents agreed with the Republican Party’s position but an equal percentage “neither agree nor disagree” and 10 percent disagreed. On energy policy, 51 percent of respondents agree with the Republican Party, 24 percent were neutral on the subject and 8 percent disagreed.

Respondents said independence from foreign oil, conserving resources and providing a better life for future generations were the most important personal benefits of reducing the nation’s use of fossil fuels. More government regulation and higher energy prices were the most concerning outcomes of reducing fossil fuel use chosen by respondents.

The findings follow another report released by George Mason and Yale last month that found 70 percent of the U.S. population was at least somewhat concerned about man-made climate change, higher than at any time since autumn 2008 (E&ENews PM, March 6).