University poll finds democrats, millennials more likely to support environmental protection

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

More than three out of four Americans believe climate change is occurring, which is up from 68 percent one year ago, according to a University poll published Tuesday.

People are more familiar with hydraulic fracking, more supportive of exporting natural gas and less likely to describe gasoline prices as high compared to last year, according to the report.

The biannual nationwide Energy Poll also shows increasing support for environmental protection, especially among Democrats and millennials.

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

Political affiliation divides Americans drastically on the legitimacy of climate change which 90 percent of Democrats say is occurring compared to 59 percent of Republicans, according to the report. Similarly, the report found 29 percent of Republicans believe climate change is not occurring compared to 3 percent of Democrats. 

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

Energy issues are also important in the upcoming presidential election according to the report. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports reducing coal as an energy source, with Democrats 22 percent more likely to support the reduction policy than Republicans.

While 37 percent of respondents said they are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who favors enforcing a carbon tax, 50 percent of Democrats support the tax compared to 26 percent of Republicans. While about a quarter of Americans age 65 and older support the tax, the report found more than half of millennials are in favor of the policy.

Sixty-two percent of Americans, and almost 75 percent of Democrats, said they are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports requiring utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. Comparatively, 50 percent of Republicans support a renewable resource requirement policy.