A survey published on Tuesday found that a majority of Republicans want to reduce the country’s fossil fuel use, a position that is at odds with the Republican Party.
“Over the past few years, our surveys have shown that a growing number of Republicans want to see Congress do more to address climate change,” said Mason professor Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication. “In this survey, we asked a broader set of questions to see if we could better understand how Republicans, and Independents who have a tendency to vote Republican, think about America’s energy and climate change situation.”
Of the more than 700 adults surveyed, roughly 51 percent said they wanted the country to use less fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. Only 22 percent said they wanted the country to use more. Many Republicans said reducing the use of fossil fuels would lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil, and conserve resources for their children and grandchildren. But many also worried it would lead to more government regulation and cause energy prices to rise.
The support for reducing fossil fuels closely reflected Republicans’ belief in climate change, though the survey did not examine whether the two positions were in fact correlated. A majority of Republicans, 52 percent, said they believed climate change was occurring, while 26 percent denied its existence. More than 60 percent said the country should take steps to address climate change.
“The findings from this survey suggest there is considerable support among conservatives for accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean renewable forms of energy, and for taking steps to address climate change,” Maibach added. “Perhaps the most surprising finding, however, is how few of our survey respondents agreed with the Republican Party’s current position on climate change.”
The Republican Party’s official platform in 2012 opposed efforts to combat climate change with environmental regulations and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney went so far as to mock President Barack Obama for being concerned about the rise of the oceans. The party’s energy policy consisted almost exclusively of increasing production of fossil fuels.
With the apparent disconnect between Republicans and their own party, it should not be surprising than 62 percent agreed with the statement, “I don’t think elected officials care much about what people like me think about climate change.”
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