credit: White House


Polls reveal clear majority of Americans back action to tackle climate change, despite new administration's promise to tear up climate policies...

As green businesses and environmental campaigner wait to see if Donald Trump's inaugural address provides any indication as to his latest thinking on US and international climate policy, fresh evidence emerged this week to suggest any attempt by the new administration to curtail climate action could face significant public opposition.

Trump has pledged to 'cancel' the Paris Agreement, tear up a raft of Obama era climate policies, and appoint a series of high profile climate sceptics to his cabinet.

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However, with Trump already set to enter the White House with historically low approval ratings, a new survey from Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication revealed his proposed environmental policies could also face significant public opposition.

The survey of over 1,200 American adults is the latest in a series of polls undertaken by the two universities. It found 61 per cent of Americans describe themselves as 'very' or 'somewhat' worried about global warming - just shy of the record high of 62 per cent recorded in 2008.

Meanwhile, 19 per cent said they were 'very worried' about global warming, representing a new record for a series of polls which dates back to 2008.

The poll also found that growing numbers of people perceive climate change as a threat.

Since Spring 2015, the proportion of Americans who think climate change will harm people in developing countries has risen by 12 percentage points to 65 per cent, the proportion who think it will harm people in the US has risen 10 points to 59 per cent, and the proportion who think it will harm their own family has risen five points to 46 per cent.

"Despite the election of a president who has described global warming as a hoax, Americans are increasingly convinced global warming is happening and are more worried about it," said lead researcher Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD. of Yale University. "This indicates that on this issue, there is a growing gap between the views of the American public and the incoming Trump administration."

The survey also revealed growing acceptance of the latest climate science, with 55 per cent of Americans understanding that climate change is mostly caused by human activity, representing the highest level since 2008.

In addition, six in 10 Americans said the issue of global warming is either 'extremely', 'very', or 'somewhat' important to them personally.

The report follows a similar survey by the two universities late last year that revealed majority support for a series of US climate policies.

The survey found 69 per cent of registered voters think the US should participate in the international Paris Agreement to limit global warming, compared to only 13 per cent who say the US should not.

Equally, 70 per cent said they supported proposals to set strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies increased. Trump has proposed reversing the Obama administration's rules imposing emissions limits on power plants, declaring that he will take steps to revive the coal industry.

But the poll found there was majority support for the planned emissions limits, which are a core component of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, across Democrat, Independent, and Republican voters.

"Americans across party lines support participating in the Paris international agreement, limiting carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, and using regulations and/or taxes to limit global warming," observed co-lead investigator Edward Maibach, PhD. of George Mason University.

The latest survey results came as Trump prepared to deliver his inauguration speech and several of his most high profile cabinet picks were this week grilled on Capitol Hill.

Proposed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Interior Secretary pick Ryan Zinke, and planned EPA director Scott Pruitt were all quizzed on their stance on climate science and Trump's previous assertion that climate change was a "hoax".

They each distanced themselves from the idea manmade climate change was a hoax, and Tillerson hinted that the new administration may see value in remaining engaged with global climate change negotiations.

However, each of Trump's key picks argued the level of climate change being caused by human activity was still up for debate, suggesting they believe a watering down of climate policies and continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure could still be justified.


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