Public Resource

Environmental Polling Roundup - May 13th, 2022

David Gold, Environmental Polling Consortium
05-13-2022

This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including a new edition of Muhlenberg College’s long-running National Survey on Energy and the Environment (NSEE), new polling on potential clean energy investments in Congress, a poll gauging young Americans’ support and interest in a Civilian Climate Corps, and polling on air pollution and environmental injustice in New York State.

 

 

HEADLINES

  • Muhlenberg College - Three-quarters of Americans believe there is solid evidence of global warming, a new high in 14-year tracking, and most say they’ve been personally impacted by it; greenhouse gas reductions remain a more popular solution than geoengineering or climate adaptation (ReleaseReport including topline + key findings)
  • Navigator - Voters support new economic legislation that invests in clean energy by a three-to-one margin; provisions to ramp up clean energy use to create jobs and lower utility bills have overwhelming support (ReleaseDeck)
  • Service Year Alliance + Data for Progress - The Civilian Climate Corps holds strong appeal to young Americans, who are deeply concerned about climate change but not sure what they can personally do about it (ArticleTopline)
  • Data for Progress (NY) - New York State voters widely back new legislation to reduce air pollution and the majority understand that asthma and other health problems in communities of color stem from legacies of discrimination (ArticleTopline)

 

 

GOOD DATA POINTS TO HIGHLIGHT

  • Voters support “Biden and Democrats’ new economic plan” by a 67%-22% margin after a brief description including the fact that it would “invest in clean energy like wind and solar power” [Navigator]

  • 76% of Americans recognize that there is solid evidence of global warming [Muhlenberg College]

  • 72% of voters support “creating millions of good, high-paying jobs in clean energy like solar and wind” as part of new economic legislation [Navigator]

  • 69% of voters support “lowering energy bills by $500 a year or more by ramping up the use of clean energy like wind and solar power” as part of new economic legislation [Navigator]

  • 69% of Americans recognize that climate change is going to “cost a lot more later” if we don’t act now [Muhlenberg College]

  • 57% of Americans recognize that they have personally felt the effects of climate change [Muhlenberg College]

  • 55% of Americans recognize that climate change is a “public health emergency” [Muhlenberg College]

  • More Americans say that climate change and the environment is the single most important issue to them than any other issue aside from the economy and health care [Economist + YouGov]

  • [Young Americans] Young Americans aged 18-28 support the creation of a new Civilian Climate Corps by a 72%-9% margin [Service Year Alliance + Data for Progress]

  • [NY] 85% of New York State voters support new state legislation to reduce air pollution and help decrease asthma rates [Data for Progress]

 

 

FULL ROUNDUP

 

Muhlenberg College

Three-quarters of Americans believe there is solid evidence of global warming, a new high in 14-year tracking, and most say they’ve been personally impacted by it; greenhouse gas reductions remain a more popular solution than geoengineering or climate adaptation (ReleaseReport including topline + key findings)

 

Muhlenberg College’s National Survey on Energy and the Environment (NSEE) series is one of the longest-running tracking studies of Americans’ attitudes about climate change and energy, and their latest wave confirms that Americans’ recognition of climate change continues to trend upward. Pulling from their release:

 

“The results from the Winter 2022 NSEE indicate that 76% of adult Americans believe there is solid evidence that temperatures on the planet have risen over the last four decades. This 76% mark is the highest level of acceptance recorded since the inception of the NSEE in 2008. The most recent survey marks the 10th consecutive survey wave, dating back to 2016, in which at least 70% of Americans indicated there was solid evidence of global warming. This consistently high level of acceptance of climate change indicates increasingly durable views among Americans regarding this matter.”

 

The new NSEE poll also finds that the majority of Americans (57%) now say that they have felt the effects of climate change first-hand, a notable finding that replicates what Yale and GMU found in their national tracking survey last summer. 

 

The fact that a majority (56%) in the NSEE poll agree that climate change is a “public health emergency” also demonstrates the high salience of the issue. Messages about public health reliably test as some of the most persuasive arguments for shifting away from fossil fuels. 

 

The NSEE survey also touches on questions around climate fatalism and inevitability and, encouragingly, finds that Americans want to reduce climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions rather than hoping for a geoengineering solution or simply adapting to the crisis. Only around one-third (34%) agree with the following statement: “Instead of trying to stop global warming from occurring we should focus on adapting to a warmer climate.” And when asked to choose the most important action that the United States can take to address climate change, Americans are far more likely to prioritize greenhouse gas reductions (42%) than geoengineering (20%) or learning to adapt to a warmer world (13%).

 

Navigator

Voters support new economic legislation that invests in clean energy by a three-to-one margin; provisions to ramp up clean energy use to create jobs and lower utility bills have overwhelming support (ReleaseDeck)

 

Navigator continues to find that legislation following the framework of the Build Back Better Act, including its investments in clean energy, remains overwhelmingly popular. Voters support “Biden and Democrats’ new economic plan” by a 67%-22% margin when provided with the following description:

 

“As you may know, Biden and Democrats' new economic plan will expand Medicare for seniors to include hearing coverage, lower health care costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, and invest in clean energy like wind and solar power. Knowing this, do you support or oppose this new economic plan?”

 

As has consistently been the case in polling about the Build Back Better Act, Navigator finds that the most popular provisions of the new proposal relate to health care: 80%+ support provisions to have Medicare cover hearing aids (86%), give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs (82%), and cap the costs of insulin at $35 a month (80%).

 

That said, investments in clean energy continue to have widespread and intense support:

  • 72% support “creating millions of good, high-paying jobs in clean energy like solar and wind” as part of Biden and Democrats’ economic plan, including 46% who strongly support this provision

  • 69% support “lowering energy bills by $500 a year or more by ramping up the use of clean energy like wind and solar power” as part of Biden and Democrats’ economic plan, including 44% who strongly support this provision

 

The substance of the Build Back Better Act has shown extremely durable public support since it was introduced, and this new polling confirms that there remains a passionate constituency for the kind of clean energy investment that was proposed in the bill.

 

Service Year Alliance + Data for Progress

The Civilian Climate Corps holds strong appeal to young Americans, who are deeply concerned about climate change but not sure what they can personally do about it (ArticleTopline)

 

This new poll release highlights a core obstacle to increasing youth engagement on climate: while young Americans care deeply about combating climate change, many simply don’t know how they can personally contribute to reducing it. 

 

The poll finds that 77% of young Americans aged 18-28 are concerned about climate change, including 42% who are “very” concerned about the problem. However, when asked about actions they are taking to address climate change, nearly two-thirds (65%) say they “care about climate change” but aren’t sure what they “can do personally to make a difference.” By comparison, less than one-quarter (23%) say they “care about climate change” and are “already doing something to address it.”

 

Given these dynamics, the poll finds, the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) profiles as an excellent pathway to convert young Americans’ climate concerns into action. After reading a brief description of the CCC proposal, including its pay (at least $15/hour) and benefits (health care and educational assistance), young Americans support the idea by a resounding 72%-9% margin. Additionally, nearly two in five young Americans (38%) say they would consider joining the Civilian Climate Corps if a position was available to them.

 

Data for Progress (NY)

New York State voters widely back new legislation to reduce air pollution and the majority understand that asthma and other health problems in communities of color stem from legacies of discrimination (ArticleTopline)

 

Past polling has shown that the term “environmental injustice” leads to a lot of confusion among everyday Americans, and this new polling from Data for Progress is a great example of how the public recognizes and wants to remedy environmental injustices when the issue is broken down to them in clear and understandable terms.

 

The poll finds that New York State voters are 20 points more likely to agree with a statement that higher rates of asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health conditions in Black and Latino communities are “primarily the result of a legacy of racial discrimination, including a lack of access to fresh and healthy foods, poor healthcare treatment, and communities located in high-pollution areas’ (54%) than a statement that “worse health outcomes are primarily the result of poor individual choices, not outside factors” (34%).

 

And when asked about proposed state legislation to “reduce air pollution and help decrease the number of New Yorkers who have asthma,” New York State voters back the proposal by an overwhelming 85%-8% margin. The proposal is popular across party lines, with 91% of Democrats, 84% of independent voters, and 74% of Republicans in favor.