Partisan Divide Over Climate Change Narrowing, Survey Finds

Protesters gather outside the White House in Washington on June 1, 2017, opposing President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the Unites States from the Paris climate change accord. (SUSAN WALSH/AP)

(CN) — The partisan divide over climate change is closing as more people say global warming is an issue they are seeing play out in their lifetimes.

The majority of Democrat, Republican and independent voters say they support goals to curb global warming and believe they have personally seen the effects of climate change, according to a study published Tuesday. 

Americans’ growing concern over climate change is revealed in the fourth installment of Climate Insights 2020: Partisan Divide, a series of survey reports from researchers at Stanford University, the nonprofit research group Resources for the Future, and the research firm ReconMR. The researchers polled 999 American adults from May to August of this year.

Jon Krosnick, a professor of political science, communication, and psychology at Stanford University, said the partisan divide on climate change is much narrower than on other issues facing the country.

“While some observers have claimed that climate change is a deeply partisan issue, the data show more nuance — majorities of all three groups of Americans agree on the existence, causes, and threat of climate change, as well as on various government policies that could be used to mitigate future warming,” Krosnick said in a statement.

Natural disasters in the last 20 years nearly doubled across the globe, according to a report published by the United Nations’ Office for Disaster Risk Reduction on Monday.  

There were more than 7,300 major recorded disasters between 2000 to 2019, which resulted in 1.2 million deaths and impacted 4.2 billion people worldwide, according to the report. From 1980 to 1999, just 4,200 major disasters were reported with more than 1 million dead as a result and 3.2 billion impacted.

Climate change has been a partisan issue for decades across the globe. In the U.S., the Trump administration has dismissed many scientific reports on emission standards

But the Climate Insight study found that 56% of Republicans, 77% of independents and 86% of Democrats say they have personally seen the consequences of climate change in their lifetime.

Nearly all Democrats polled (94%) say they believe climate change is real, while two thirds of Republicans (67%) think the same.

The majority of voters across the political spectrum agree the government should do something about climate change but they have different ideas about what actions should be taken.

But just 53% of Republicans say the U.S. should try to follow the standards established by the U.N.’s Paris Agreement, which sets a goal of keeping global warming in check over the next several decades and will require comprehensive shifts in how nations across the globe curb greenhouse gas emissions.

In contrast, 96% of Democrats say they favor abiding by the agreement and 71% of independents feel the same way.

When asked if they attach any extreme personal importance to climate change, just 42% of Democrats, 22% of independents and only 4% of Republicans agreed, according to the study.

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