Public Support for Climate & Energy Policies in May 2011

Report Summary


  • 71 percent of Americans say global warming should be a very high (13%), high (27%), or medium (31%) priority for the president and Congress, including 50 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of Independents, and 88 percent of Democrats.
  • 91 percent of Americans say developing sources of clean energy should be a very high (32%), high (35%), or medium (24%) priority for the president and Congress, including 85 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents, and 97 percent of Democrats.
  • Majorities of Americans want more action to address global warming from corporations (65%), citizens themselves (63%), the U.S. Congress (57%), President Obama (54%), as well as their own state and local officials.
  • Despite ongoing concerns about the economy, 67 percent of Americans say the U.S. should undertake a large (29%) or medium-scale effort (38%) to reduce global warming, even if it has large or moderate economic costs.
  • 82 percent of Americans (including 76% of Republicans, 74% of Independents, and 94% of Democrats) say that protecting the environment either improves economic growth and provides new jobs (56%), or has no effect (26%). Only 18 percent say environmental protection reduces economic growth and costs jobs.
  • Large majorities (including Republicans, Independents and Democrats) say it is important for their own community to take steps to protect the following from global warming: public health (81%), the water supply (80%), agriculture (79%), wildlife (77%), and forests (76%).
Policy Support
  • 84 percent of Americans support funding more research into renewable energy sources, including 81 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Independents, and 90 percent of Democrats.
  • 68 percent of Americans support requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it costs the average household an extra $100 a year, including 58 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Independents, and 82 percent of Democrats.
  • 66 percent support expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, up 4 points since June of 2010.
  • 47 percent support building more nuclear power plants, down 6 points since June of 2010. Only 33 percent support building a nuclear power plant in their own local area.
  • Majorities support local policies, including installing bike lanes on city streets (77%), more public transportation (80%), requiring all new homes to be more energy efficient (71%), and changing zoning to promote mixed development (57%), decrease sprawl (56%), and more energy efficient apartments instead of single family homes (52%).

The report includes both overall results and breakdowns of public support by political party.

Public Support for Climate & Energy Policies in May 2011 reports results from a national survey fielded from April 23 to May 12, 2011 with 1,010 adults, using the online research panel of Knowledge Networks. The report includes measures of public support for national and local climate change and energy policies, desire for action by corporate and government leaders, and perceived importance of protecting public health and local communities from global warming, and how these have changed since June 2010, January 2010, and November 2008.