The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Poll: Fewer Americans Support Climate Legislation

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted October 22, 2009

House and Senate leaders are continuing to push for climate legislation despite the fact that far fewer people believe that global warming is a serious problem, according to a new survey released today by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The survey, conducted among 1,500 adults from Sept. 30-Oct. 4, shows that 35 percent of respondents believe global warming is very serious as compared with 44 percent in April 2008.

Similarly, the new poll shows that 36 percent of Americans believe that global temperatures are linked to human activity, down from 47 percent last year.

The poll also indicates that few Americans are following the debate about the climate bills that are being considered in Congress. A majority (55 percent) said they had heard nothing about "cap and trade" policies that would place limits on carbon dioxide emissions, and only 14 percent said had heard a lot about the policies. And those who have heard a lot about the issue said they oppose carbon limits by a two-to-one margin.

Partisan differences were evident in the poll. Those who described themselves as liberal Democrats were more concerned about global climate than moderate or conservative Democrats. Only a third of self-described independents ranked global warming as a very serious problem, which is a 13 percent decline from last year. Only 14 percent of Republicans considered global warming a very serious problem, down from 22 percent in April 2008.

A January 2009 Pew report shows that most Americans do not believe that global climate legislation should be a top priority for the administration and Congress. They were much more concerned about the economy and jobs, which studies show could be harmed by the climate legislation being considered by Congress.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.