A Public Opinion Study on Climate Change Denial and the Use of Renewable Energy

No Thumbnail Available
Hawes, Rachel
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Climate change is a complex, environmental issue, and an issue in which the effects are intensifying and becoming more politically polarized. The public’s support is necessary for the implementation of climate change mitigation policy. This study gauges the public’s opinion on climate change, including those that deny climate change in some aspect, and assesses their opinion on renewable energy. A nationwide survey was conducted in October 2017 with around 1,400 respondents (around 1,200 competed). Analysis of the data uncovered optimistic opinions on renewable energy despite the respondents denying some aspect of climate change, and it also gave an insight into important demographic and political ideological data. More than half (58%) of the respondents believed that anthropogenic climate change was happening and was of moderate to extreme risk. The second largest amount of respondents (21%) was from the politically opposite group and believed that climate change was happening but due to natural causes. These respondents were significantly more likely to be moderate/conservative Democrats, conservative Republicans were less educated. The study also found that 10% of the respondents did not believe climate change was already occurring and this group of respondents was significantly more likely to be conservative Republicans and male. The smallest group of respondents (8% of the total respondents) believed that anthropogenic climate change was occurring but is of no to low risk. This group was significantly more likely to be conservative Republicans, male and less educated. Liberal Democrats were significantly less likely deny climate change in any aspect. While this study shows that climate change denial may appear to be politically polarized, the respondent’s opinions on renewable energy were not polarized. All respondents who reported denying climate change in some aspect, also supported three types of renewable energy (solar, wind and hydro), and supported the use of more renewable energy than the amount expended in 2016. These results suggest a bipartisan support for renewable energy and can be used to help promote renewable energy policies with politicians across political lines.