Who’s the most fed up with the federal government’s response to climate change? The Democratic voters who put Joe Biden in the White House.
That’s according to a Politico Morning Consult Global Sustainability poll released Tuesday.
The U.S. is home to the largest ideological divide on climate action. Among Americans, 97% of left-leaning voters in the poll expressed concern about climate change. A majority of right-leaning American voters, at 51%, feel the same way.
As for right-leaning voters who likely passed on a Biden-Harris ticket, or held their nose and voted, they expressed to the polltakers general satisfaction that a climate-focused administration can only move cautiously. Biden’s push for a phase-out of oil and gas
extra incentives for solar and electric vehicles
and generally spending to save Earth, has hit a few speed bumps.
Biden and the Democrats’ $5 trillion Build Back Better bill has stalled in a narrowly divided House and Senate, although some of the climate proposals may get cleaved off and advanced separately.
Though the administration has made climate action a centerpiece of its policy initiatives, pushing environmental efforts through infrastructure and budget bills, and via executive action, some 80% of Americans who labeled themselves left-leaning said that the Biden administration is doing too little to address climate change. That included 64% of those claiming to be Democrats, the poll found.
Biden’s primary climate lead, John Kerry, has described coal as “the dirtiest fuel on the planet.” But he also concedes that natural gas, in which the U.S. is a major player, could have a role as a bridge fuel in the energy transition, a comment that chafed the staunchest environmental voters.
Still, the days when the political camps neatly split over whether climate change is even “real” appear to be long gone.
Majorities in all 13 countries surveyed said they are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about climate change. That includes majorities among right-leaning voters in every country, except Australia where only 49% of right-leaning voters said they are concerned.
All segments of the political spectrum give the Biden team less-than-stellar marks for its climate approach: Less than 1 in 5 say Biden is doing “the right amount to combat climate change.” But 26% of right-leaning voters say Biden is doing the right amount, compared to just 10% of those identifying as left-leaning.
A majority of citizens the world over said they feel burdened to slow climate change without much lift from the government and companies. Several major tech firms and others have made net-zero emissions pledges or are sourcing alternative energy.
Consumers across the five continents surveyed say companies should share more of the costs of combating climate change, including paying higher taxes. Fossil fuel companies
in particular, face the most skeptics.
And when asked about China and India…
Majorities in every country surveyed — ranging from 57% in Japan to 80% in South Africa — agreed that China, with the world’s second-largest economy, should now be classed as a wealthy country. That means it would be held more accountable for the emissions its industry and agriculture produce.
Republican lawmakers who tend to push back on Biden climate efforts often peg their resistance to China and holding that nation to clean energy and emissions standards in order, they say, to keep the U.S. competitive on global markets. China’s continued coal use is a key sticking point.
Citizens polled in India, meanwhile, are the most likely to say their country is doing its “fair share” or more than its “fair share” to tackle climate change: 70% said so, the highest level among the 13 populations surveyed. That compares with just 33% of Japanese respondents who think the same about their country. An identical 70% of Indians think the country is doing either the right amount or too much to tackle climate impacts.
India sided with China last fall in convincing the powerful panel of nations at the U.N. climate conference to go easier on coal rules. Burning coal, a major contributor to global warming, accounts for around 50% of India’s energy supply.
The poll also showed that 62% of Germans surveyed said their country is doing its fair share or better on climate. With Germany still reliant on liquified natural gas for its electricity, especially from Russia, the chance that it will reinvigorate its nuclear sector or shift further to renewables faces an uphill climb.
Large majorities in every country surveyed support holding fossil fuel companies accountable for their climate impact. Russia, a main source of natural gas to Europe, topped the list: 90% agreed that fossil fuel companies should “definitely” or “probably” be held responsible for the impacts their products have on the environment.
Financial culpability is fuzzier
But when it comes to whether banks and insurance companies should disentangle themselves from fossil fuel projects, the support is softer: Around one-third of citizens, including 51% in Japan, suggested they did not have enough information to offer an opinion.
Financial-services giant Citigroup
for one, set a rare “absolute reduction” target for fossil-fuel pollution in the companies it lends to, but said last month it will halt oil-and-gas lending only as a last resort.
Environmentally-friendly infrastructure is the most popular immediate climate investment in all 13 countries surveyed, well ahead of banning coal and gasoline-powered cars. Some 41% of Americans surveyed said gasoline-powered vehicles should never be banned. In fact, there is relatively little global support to ban these vehicles before 2040, even as more consumers voluntarily explore this option.
Biden again pushed his desire to grow U.S. EV manufacturing, spending Tuesday with executives from an EV-charging technology company that will expand in Tennessee.