Is there sufficient political pressure for elected officials to adopt the big changes necessary to meet the climate challenge? A literature review suggests the answer is no. Current public attitudes may be sufficient, however, to promote less substantial but still important actions
The State of the Union on Climate Change
In a poll taken shortly before Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, the Pew Research Center reported “While partisans agree on some assessments of what Trump and Congress’ top priorities are, climate change and the environment are among the most divisive. Nearly seven-in-ten Democrats (68%) say dealing with climate change should be a top policy priority, 50 percentage points higher than the share of Republicans who say so (18%). And while 81% of Democrats say protecting the environment should be a top priority, just 37% of Republicans say the same.” Respondents ranked climate change second to last among 19 issues. But like many other polls, Pew treated climate change as an issue disconnected from several topics that respondents ranked as most important: terrorism, the economy, health care costs and jobs. In reality, climate change and its impacts have profound impacts on these other issues.
Recent public opinion research by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that a majority of registered voters – including large majorities of liberal, moderate and conservative Democrats, Independents, and nearly half or more of liberal and moderate Republicans – want corporations and industry, citizens themselves, the U.S. Congress, President Trump, and their own members of Congress to do more to address global warming. Half of conservative Republicans want corporations and industry to do more to address global warming, although fewer conservatives want Congress or President Trump to take action.