Climate Priorities for the New U.S. Congress

By Meighen Speiser

Last month’s election results sent a clear message: Americans consider climate change a top priority, and they want elected office holders to act. As the 116th Congress prepares to be sworn into office next month, many Americans are rightly questioning whether they will push forward climate policy with the needed speed and efficacy.

So as not to leave any member of Congress unclear about the extent of their mandate to act on climate, ecoAmerica decided to poll Americans on the topic. Are Americans united on key climate values? To what extent do they support clean energy? Do they know that climate solutions mean stronger, healthier communities? How does political affiliation shape their climate perspectives and motivations? ecoAmerica’s December American Climate Perspectives Survey, drawn from the 2018 American Climate Metrics Survey conducted in collaboration with Lake Research Partners, helps answer these questions. Below are the key takeaways:

  • Americans are united on key climate values: Across the political spectrum, Americans want Congress to prioritize clean energy and other climate solutions. They overwhelmingly believe clean air and clean water are critical rights for all people (91%), they feel a moral responsibility to create a safe and healthy climate for ourselves and our children (88%), and believe everyone has a right to clean energy that does not pollute (87%).
  • Americans want clean energy: Nearly 9-in-10 Americans agree that the U.S. should generate more clean energy. Support for renewables is more than double that of oil.
  • Americans know that climate solutions are a benefit to health, jobs and the economy: While oppositional forces have seeded the belief that climate solutions come at a cost to Americans, the exact opposite is true. The good news is that Americans are increasingly realizing that climate solutions can benefit health (66%), the economy (61%), and jobs (56%).
  • There is bipartisan support for a variety of climate solutions: Across the political aisle, Americans support a variety of climate solutions. A strong majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans are ready for more clean energy, a modernized electricity grid, increased public transit, and more. And we know from ecoAmerica’s September 2018 American Climate Perspective Survey that 90% of Americans want Republicans and Democrats to work together on solutions (including 83% of Republicans).

With such overwhelming support from the public, Congress has a clear mandate to bring forth just, equitable and effective climate solutions. Clean energy, clean energy jobs, and healthier communities with stronger economies are a political win for all office holders — and the time to act is now. To view the details of the report, check out the full version HERE.


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