Poll: One-third say action on climate 'essential' this year

Republicans who were polled rejected two major options for mitigating climate change. Nearly half opposed setting stronger power plant emissions limits, and only one-third backed using more renewable energy.

Overall, respondents gave Obama a 21-point advantage on congressional Republicans for handling climate change. Forty-seven percent favored the president’s outlook, while 26 percent preferred the GOP approach.

Sixty-two percent of respondents said Obama should forge ahead with stricter emissions limits on power plants, compared with 28 percent who opposed the idea.

That's a welcome finding for environmental groups, which want the White House to roll out emissions rules for existing power plants during Obama's second term.

Congressional Republicans have tried to stymie such regulations, suggesting they would further damage a limping economy.

But the survey respondents considered congressional Republicans' preference for expanding oil-and-gas development less desirable than building out renewable energy.

Fifty-four percent said the United States should use more renewable sources for energy, compared with 34 percent who wanted to develop more oil and gas.

And while a majority of respondents wanted stricter emissions, the numbers were different for Republicans — 42 percent wanted tougher limits, while 48 percent rejected them.

The poll also found a generational divide on the climate issue.

Older respondents were less likely to support developing wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy, while younger people were less likely to approve of expanding oil-and-gas production.

In the 18- to 29-year-old age group, 71 percent favored boosting renewable energy, compared with 47 percent over the age of 65.

Younger people also were the least supportive of using more oil and gas, with 24 percent promoting that path. Respondents who were at least 65 years old were most supportive of that idea, with 44 percent hoping to go that route.

The poll was conducted through telephone interviews — half by landline, half by cellphone. It has a 2.9 percentage point margin of error.

The survey polled 470 Democrats, 366 Republicans and 604 independents. They collectively gave Obama a 51 percent approval rating, with 41 percent disapproving of his performance.

— Updated at 10:33 a.m

More in E2-Wire

Five threats to the EPA’s climate rule

Read more »