In the face of expanding global energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions, a majority of Americans believe the US should emphasize the development of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as well as take efforts toward becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
Still, many Americans are wary of a complete abandonment of fossil fuels, and many see problems in a large shift to renewable energy. When asked to consider what a shift away from fossil fuels would mean for their personal lives, many people immediately think of economic concerns.
According to a new Pew Research Center poll of 10,237 U.S. adults conducted from January 24 to 30, 2022, 69 percent of Americans prefer developing alternative energy sources like wind and solar to boosting oil, coal, and natural gas production. The same percentage (69%) supports President Joe Biden’s climate and energy policy program, which calls for the US to take steps to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Only 31% of Americans believe that the United States should totally phase out the usage of oil, coal, and natural gas; considerably more (67%) feel that the country should utilize a combination of fossil fuel and renewable energy sources. Officials are examining options such as tree planting and carbon capture and storage to reduce carbon emissions from the environment.
The study was conducted prior to increasing tensions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both of which have heightened global oil market volatility.
With Republicans and Democrats setting out contrasting visions for the country’s energy future, partisan affiliation continues to be the dominating gap in views on climate and energy problems.
Overall, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents prioritize boosting oil, coal, and natural gas production over developing other energy sources, and they largely believe that fossil fuels should remain a part of the energy mix in the United States.
Large majorities of Democrats and Democratic leaners believe that developing alternative energy sources should be prioritized, and that the United States should take steps to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Energy challenges, though, continue to expose fault lines in both partisan alliances.
– Internal Republican divisions exist over the objective of the United States becoming carbon neutral: 66 percent of self-described moderate and liberal Republicans support taking measures toward this goal, while 64 percent of conservative Republicans oppose it.
– A similar ideological divide exists over the country’s more important energy priority: 64 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans believe alternative energy sources such as wind and solar should be developed, while 67 percent of conservative Republicans believe oil, coal, and natural gas production should be increased.
Democratic-leaning Democrats and independents:
– There is disagreement about whether the United States should entirely phase out the usage of oil, coal, and natural gas (49 percent of Democrats believe this) or use a mix of energy sources, including fossil fuels and renewables (50 percent ).
– This overall difference reflects contrasting opinions within the Democratic Party: 63 percent of liberal Democrats believe the United States should entirely phase out fossil fuel use, while 61 percent of moderate and conservative Democrats believe the country should employ a mix of energy sources.
The latest Center study follows the United States’ participation in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. The survey reveals widespread support for the United States participating in international efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, with 75% favoring it and only 24% opposing it.
When it comes to the United States’ involvement in combating global climate change, 54 percent of Americans believe the country should do about as much as other developed countries. About three out of ten people (31%) believe the US should do more to help mitigate climate change consequences than other large economies, while 14% believe it should do less.
There is little agreement on how much the United States is doing now to address climate change: 36% believe it is doing less than other countries with large economies to mitigate the effects of climate change, while 32% believe it is doing more and 31% believe it is doing the same as other countries with large economies.
Partisans agree that the United States should do at least as much as other large economies in this area. However, approximately half of Republicans (51%) believe the United States is now doing more than other countries, while approximately half of Democrats (49%) believe the United States is currently doing less.