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Climate change is only polarizing on Capitol Hill.

A new report from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication finds that the majority of voters are concerned about global warming and want their elected leaders to take action.

The report follows up a September, 2012 national survey “Climate Change in the American Mind” and is an attempt to answer the question “do political leaders stand to benefit, or not, from talking about and supporting action to address global warming?” The answer is yes — 58 percent of registered voters say they will consider a candidate’s position on global warming when deciding how to vote. Of those 58 percent, a majority of 83 percent say global warming is happening and 65 percent say it is because of human activity.

A majority of Democrats (73 percent) and Independents (63 percent) are somewhat or very worried about global warming, compared to only 33 percent of Republicans. However, even 46 percent of Republicans say global warming will harm future generations and a majority 52 percent of Republicans say that global warming should be a medium, high or very high priority for the president and Congress.

The report says that “Independents more closely resemble Democrats in their attitudes and beliefs about global warming, and like Democrats, most support efforts to address global warming. Thus, the issue of global warming is an opportunity to connect with most Independents.”

Clean energy cuts across party lines, with Democrats (83 percent), Independents (85 percent) and Republicans (70 percent) all agreeing that the United States should rely more on renewable energy in the future. There is also a bipartisan majority who support funding more research into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, with 83 percent of Democrats and Independents and 63 percent of Republicans supporting more renewable energy research funding.

A majority of Republicans also side with Democrats and Independents in supporting eliminating subsidies for the fossil fuel industry (coal, oil and natural gas) and opposing eliminating subsidies for the renewable energy industry (solar, wind and geothermal) — 53 percent of Republicans want to end subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and 52 percent support subsidies for renewable energy.

Half of Republicans support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, while large majorities of Democrats (80 percent) and Independents (74 percent) support regulation.

The report directly contradicts the opinions of GOP insiders who say that climate change is not a winning issue for Democrats. A National Journal poll found that 9 out of 10 GOP insiders say climate change is not an issue Democrats can capitalize on.

Photo credit: Greenpeace USA 2013 via Flickr



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