By October 21, 2015 Read More →

76% of Americans believe climate change is real – UT of Austin energy poll

Fracking is evenly supported and opposed by Energy Poll poll respondents

More than 3 out of 4 Americans (76 per cent) now believe that climate change is occurring, up from 68 per cent just one year ago, according to the latest University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll.

Energy PollThe biannual nationwide survey, conducted Sept. 1–15, also reveals growing support for environmental protection in several areas, especially among Democrats and millennials.

The Energy Poll, now in its fifth year, reveals sharp political divisions among Americans on several prominent energy issues. For example, 90 percent of Democrats say climate change is occurring, compared with 59 percent of Republicans (up from 47 percent six months ago); 29 percent of Republicans say climate change is not occurring, compared with only 3 percent of Democrats.

“Political ideology continues to be the single greatest determinant of Americans’ views on climate change,” said UT Energy Poll Director Sheril Kirshenbaum.

“Party affiliation also colors perceptions of other controversial energy topics, including efforts to reduce coal-fired power and levy a tax on carbon.”

Energy also appears to be an important issue in the upcoming presidential election. For example, 52 percent of Energy Poll survey respondents say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports reducing coal as an energy source, up from 43 percent in March.

  • Sixty-­two per cent of Democrats support the policy, compared with 40 per cent of Republicans; 65 per cent of respondents age 35 and younger support reducing coal use, compared with 42 per cent age 65 and older.

Thirty-­seven per cent of Energy Poll survey respondents say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who favors imposition of a carbon tax, up from 28 per cent six months ago.

  • Fifty per cent of Democrats support a tax on carbon, compared with 26 per cent of Republicans; 54 percent of millennials support a carbon tax, compared with 27 per cent of Americans age 65 or older.

Sixty-­two per cent of Americans say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports requiring utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, up from 54 per cent six months ago.

  • Nearly 3 out of 4 Democrats (74 per cent) support such a requirement, compared with 50 per cent of Republicans.

Other findings from the UT Energy Poll include:

Gasoline prices. Today, 58 per cent of respondents describe gasoline prices as high, compared with 66 per cent in March and 92 per cent a year ago. And, 62 per cent expect gasoline prices to increase six months from now, compared with 84 per cent in March and 76 per cent a year ago.

Fracking. Nearly half of respondents (48 per cent) are familiar with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, compared with 44 per cent a year ago. Among those familiar, 43 per cent support fracking and 41 oppose it; a year ago, 44 per cent supported the practice and 41 per cent opposed it.

Fifty-­eight per cent of respondents familiar with fracking continue to say cities should be able to ban it within their borders even if state law otherwise permits it. Today, 18 per cent oppose granting cities such local authority, compared with 25 per cent six months ago.

Export of natural gas. The percentage of Americans who favor policies allowing the export of U.S. natural gas has increased, from 34 per cent a year ago to 38 per cent today, while opposition to the export of domestic gas has declined from 28 per cent six months ago to 23 per cent today.

The ninth iteration of the UT Energy Poll was conducted online Sept. 1–15, 2015, among 2,019 U.S. residents age 18 and older. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. A propensity score weighting approach was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to answer online surveys. With a sample size of 2,019 and weighting efficiency of 50.3 percent, the overall margin of error is 3.1 percentage points at the widest interval.

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