From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published February 13, 2013 10:05 AM

Poll Reveals American Attitude Towards Climate Change, Support for Clean Energy

Whether you believe climate change is occurring or not, according to a Duke University poll, the percentage of Americans who think climate change is occurring has reached its highest level since 2007. In recent years, the climate change debate has been a hot topic not only among scientists and experts in the field, but among political party lines.


As part of an ongoing effort to inform the climate policy debate, through assessment of public opinion on policy alternatives, researchers at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy and Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions conducted a national survey on climate change and responses to various actions that can be taken in order to influence change.

"Whether in response to extreme weather events like mega-storm Sandy or the improved economy, public opinion has clearly rebounded from its low point of a couple years ago," said Frederick Mayer, associate professor of public policy and political science and poll conductor.

Other key findings of the poll include:

â—ª The percentage of Americans who agree there is solid evidence of a changing climate has steadily increased since 2010. The Duke poll found 50 percent of Americans are convinced the climate is changing and another 34 percent say it is probably changing an increase from other recent polls.

â—ª 54 percent feel climate change is primarily the result of human activity (the highest level in the past couple of years).

â—ª There are strong partisan differences in the perceived seriousness of the problem. About half of Democrats say it is "very serious" while 35 percent of Independents and 17 percent of Republicans agree.

Getting public support for regulating greenhouse gas emissions and requiring utilities to switch to lower-carbon fuel sources is an important step in the process that will influence policy makers' decisions.

"Although there appears to be little prospect for tax or cap-and-trade legislation in the current Congress, there is a clear opening for stronger regulation and investments in clean energy," says Mayer.

Although Democrats are more willing than Republicans to support all policies, the preference for a regulatory or clean energy approach is shared across party lines. Bipartisan support for regulating greenhouse gas emissions and for clean energy requirements shows a united front. These findings reflect a reinforced backing behind investments and research that will hopefully lead to policy changes, which encourage the growth of a clean energy industry.

Read more at Duke University.

Climate change words image via Shutterstock.

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