Majority thinks global warming, clean energy should be priorities

Smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant at sunset near Emmett, Kan.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – Global warming and clean energy should be priorities for Congress and the president, a majority of Americans said in a recent survey.

In the survey, released Tuesday by Yale and George Mason universities, 70% of American adults say global warming should be a priority for the nation’s leaders, while 87% say leaders should make it a priority to develop sources of clean energy. Those support levels have dropped by 7% and 5% respectively since fall.

Six in 10 Americans want the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions regardless of other countries’ emissions efforts, according to the survey. Only 6% say the U.S. should not reduce its greenhouse emissions.


The study also shows only half of Americans have heard of the Keystone XL pipeline. Among those who have heard of the pipeline, 63% support the project. The study also shows 58% of Americans support expanded drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast.

A majority of Americans supports policies like taxing carbon, giving tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels, and funding renewable-energy research, the survey shows.

“Americans continue to show strong support for a range of policies that will move our nation away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy,” survey co-author Dr. Edward Maibach, of George Mason University, said in a press release Tuesday. “It is telling that most Americans want to end public subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, yet increase public spending on renewable energy.”

But support for some of the policies has fallen since 2008, including a 21% drop in support for funding renewable energy research and a 15% drop in support for tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles and solar panels. The percentage of people who support expanding offshore drilling has dropped by 17 points.

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