Public support wanes for state climate change policies

March 24, 2014

ANN ARBOR—Public support for some state climate change policies such as increasing fossil fuel taxes has significantly declined in the past five years, according to a University of Michigan survey.

Opposition to states increasing fossil fuel taxes as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions increased by 14 percent to 71 percent between fall 2008 and fall 2013. Half of Americans now believe it’s their state’s job to address global warming if the federal government fails to do so, down from 70 percent in 2008, according to the National Surveys on Energy and Environment.

The survey is a joint effort of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at U-M’s Ford School of Public Policy and the Muhlenberg Institute of Public Opinion at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.

Since the turn of the 21st century, the states—and not the federal government—have led the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But just as the federal government has emerged as a more aggressive player in climate change policy, the states have held back.

“Despite the absence of far-reaching federal legislation, a number of federal initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in recent years have tended to marginalize state policy initiative and expansion,” said Barry Rabe, U-M professor of public policy and director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy.

The survey also found that support for states increasing gasoline taxes as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions has dropped from 23 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2013. And, a large majority of Americans continue to support requirements for a portion of electricity in a state to be produced by renewable energy sources, with 79 percent favoring this option in fall 2013.

The random telephone survey of 948 American adults was conducted Oct. 3-14, 2013. The survey had a margin of error of 3.5 percent either way.


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