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8. Special Section: Perceptions of Fossil Fuel Companies

8.1. Few registered voters trust fossil fuel companies to act in the public’s best interest.

About one in three registered voters (35%) say they trust renewable energy companies to act in the public’s best interest. By contrast, only 18% of registered voters trust fossil fuel companies to act in the public’s best interest. Trust in renewable energy companies is highest among liberal Democrats (54%) and moderate/conservative Democrats (47%), while trust in fossil fuel companies is highest among conservative Republicans (32%; the highest level of trust among this group of all of the types of companies asked about) and moderate/liberal Republicans (24%).

Although trust in fossil fuel companies to act in the public’s best interest is low, trust is even lower for large banks (16%), pharmaceutical companies (12%), social media companies (7%), and tobacco companies (2%).

This dot plot shows the percentage of registered voters, broken down by political party and ideology, who "strongly" or "somewhat" trust fossil fuel companies to act in the public's best interest. Few registered voters trust fossil fuel companies to act in the public's best interest. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

8.2. Most registered voters say fossil fuel companies have too much influence on government decisions.

Seven in ten registered voters (70%) agree that fossil fuel companies have too much influence on government decisions. Large majorities of liberal Democrats and moderate/conservative Democrats (both 92%), a majority of liberal/moderate Republicans (56%), and about four in ten conservative Republicans (39%) agree.

This dot plot shows the percentage of registered voters, broken down by political party and ideology, who "strongly" or "somewhat" agree that fossil fuel companies have too much influence on government decisions. Most registered voters say fossil fuel companies have too much influence on government decisions. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

8.3. Many registered voters think fossil fuel companies should be allowed to participate in international climate negotiations.

Forty-seven percent of registered voters think fossil fuel companies either “definitely should” (17%) or “probably should” (30%) be allowed to participate in international climate negotiations, while 36% think they either “definitely should not” (15%) or “probably should not” (21%) be allowed to participate.

About six in ten conservative Republicans (64%) and half of liberal/moderate Republicans and moderate/conservative Democrats (both 50%) think fossil fuel companies should be allowed to participate in international climate negotiations. By contrast, 61% of liberal Democrats think they should not be allowed to participate, while 31% think they should.

This bar chart shows the percentage of registered voters, broken down by political party and ideology, who think fossil fuel companies should be allowed to participate in international climate negotiations. Many registered voters think fossil fuel companies should be allowed to participate in international climate negotiations. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.

8.4. Most registered voters think fossil fuel companies should not receive financial support from the government.

About two in three registered voters (66%) think fossil fuel companies either “definitely should not” (35%) or “probably should not” (31%) receive financial support from the government, while only 19% think they either “definitely should” (5%) or “probably should” (14%) receive support.

Majorities of each political identity group, including 82% of liberal Democrats, 70% of moderate/conservative Democrats, and 55% of both liberal/moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans think fossil fuel companies should not receive financial support from the government.

This bar chart shows the percentage of registered voters, broken down by political party and ideology, who think fossil fuel companies should not receive financial support from the government. Most registered voters think fossil fuel companies should not receive financial support from the government. Data: Climate Change in the American Mind, Fall 2023. Refer to the data tables in Appendix 1 of the report for all percentages.