Majority believe US government is doing 'too little' to fight climate change: study

Majority believe US government is doing 'too little' to fight climate change: study
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A majority of Americans believe the government must do more to address pollution and climate concerns, according to a new study.

The federal government must do more to protect clean water, air quality, animals, open lands and reduce the effects of climate change, according to a majority of respondents in the survey released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

The survey broke down along party lines, with 90 percent of those who identified as Democrats saying they believe the federal government is doing “too little” to address climate change and just 39 percent of self-identifying Republicans saying the same.

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However, Republicans within the millennial and younger generations showed more concern than their older counterparts, with about 52 percent of those between the age of 18-38 saying they think the federal government isn’t doing enough to fight climate change, compared to 41 percent of Generation X respondents and 31 percent of the Baby Boomer and older group.

Pew conducted the survey with 3,627 U.S. adults between Oct. 1-13. It has a margin of error of 2.1 percentage points. 

The results highlight a growing national trend of Americans concerned about the effects of climate change and how opinions on how best to act has split the political parties and various generations. A number of polls this year have shown that climate change has grown as a top issue among Democratic voters, making climate action a top speaking point within the Democratic primaries. 

Surveys continue to also show that the issue is one of most concern among younger generations, with Republican youth particularly split from older GOP generations about the need to address, and vote on, the issue. The Pew survey underscores that divide, potentially offering a window to presidential candidates hoping to win over climate-minded right-wing voters.

The survey additionally found a national consensus over the need to shift energy consumption and production toward renewables. About three-quarters of Americans polled agreed developing wind, solar, hydrogen and other alternative energy sources over fossil fuels should be a priority. 

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Among Democrats, 90 percent believe renewable energy sources should be prioritized over oil, gas and coal, according to the study. For Republicans, women supported alternative energy over fossil fuels at a higher percentage, 66 percent to 32 percent. Republican men had a slimmer majority, supporting alternative energy development 58 percent to 42 percent.

The poll showed that there still remains a clear split among conservative Republicans over what fuel source to prioritize. Conservatives, who represent the party majority, are evenly divided at 49 percent over the issue.

The comprehensive climate study found that factors such as geographical location and temperatures fed into Americans' points of view on climate action. 

About 62 percent of those polled said their communities were already feeling the effects of climate change, with a vast majority saying unusually hot weather there indicated global warming.

Recent weather events across many states have already started affecting political outlooks, adding to a change in talking points within communities and in some public offices. Americans who reported the effects of climate change were notable by region, the study found. Residents of Pacific states including California, Washington and Hawaii, are the most likely to say they saw at least some local impacts of climate change, 72 percent.

The study additionally found that residents who reside near coastlines across the U.S. are more likely to say they are witnessing the effects of climate change in their communities. According to the survey, respondents living within 25 miles of any coastline are somewhat more inclined to say that climate change is having some effect, at 67 percent. That’s in comparison to those living between 25 and 300 miles inland, 60 percent, and more than 300 miles inland, 59 percent.