Will Americans ever stop debating climate change? That seems, at best, unlikely. But interestingly, the debate is far more settled over one aspect of changing how we treat our world. Renewable energy, a new poll finds, is something many voters, even the most hardcore climate change deniers, think should be a higher national priority.
The University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy got 707 Americans on the phone right after the election to chat about climate change and renewable energy. 31% of respondents were Trump supporters, 36% Clinton, and the rest either didn’t vote or didn’t vote in the Presidential race. But one thing many of them had in common was wanting more renewable energy: 73%, regardless of affiliation, wanted renewable energy to be a higher priority than oil drilling and 65% agreed with the statement that climate change was happening now and caused by human action.
Granted, only a quarter of Trump voters went along with that last sentiment, but 48% said renewable energy should be a higher national priority. That squares with how renewable energy is being built: In California, Republican-leaning districts are more likely to have solar panels than Democratic ones, and Republican districts are seeing more growth in solar and wind power than Democratic ones. Even people who don’t believe in climate change can believe in a regular paycheck from a power generation job: The majority of jobs in energy generation right now are in renewables. It also squares with the policy of energy independence the US is pursuing. While climate change is denied heavily on the right, the need for less dependence on foreign fossil fuels is squarely in their purview.
That said, fossil fuel does provide the majority of power in America, and will through at least 2040, according to Department of Energy research. But it’s fairly clear most Americans would prefer renewable energy instead, and that may be all many in the energy sector need to hear.