GOP Has a Generational Split Over Climate Change
PHILADELPHA — There’s a generational divide between older and younger Republicans when it comes to climate change, but overall, most Americans agree that the science — and the problem — are real, according to a national Pew survey released Monday.
Almost two-thirds of all Americans say the federal government isn’t doing enough to address climate change and want it to focus on developing renewable energy sources, according to Pew. That might not be surprising since polls have been trending that way for years.
But digging deeper into the survey of more than 3,627 nationally representative panelists in October shows an age divide between millennials and Generation Z Republicans and their Generation X and baby boomer counterparts.
About 52% of Republicans between the ages of 18 to 38 say the government is doing too little on climate. Meanwhile, 41% of their elders believe so.
There’s also a gender divide, with more Republican women than men saying the government is not doing enough.
Those divisions persist on protecting water and air quality, with younger people and women within the party more supportive of regulatory efforts. The report comes at a time when the Trump administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are aggressively seeking to roll back protections put in place during the Obama administration.
Cari Funk, director of science and society research at Pew, was cautious about drawing conclusions on long term trends, but said the findings are similar to those found last year. Pew has migrated away from telephone interviews to an Internet-based survey. So it is not comparing results of survey years prior to 2018.
“We noticed this difference about a year ago,” Funk said of a generational split.
Funk noted Democrats are consistent in an overwhelming belief in climate change, that it’s caused by humans and that government isn’t doing enough. That belief is consistent among all ages and both genders.
It’s only within the GOP that the split occurs.
“It’s not brand new, but it’s certainly a more recent phenomenon,” Funk said.
Funk emphasized that beliefs of younger Republicans, however, don’t align with their Democratic age cohorts.
“We don’t want to overstate the differences,” Funk said. “Millennials and Gen Z Republicans don’t look like Democrats on these issues, but they don’t look like the older generation (of Republicans) either.”
For example, Democrats tend to believe that climate policies do more good than harm for the environment. But Millennial and Gen Z Republicans are still skeptical about government. Only 40% believe climate policies do more good than harm.
The cause of climate change continues to be a partisan issue. Older Republicans in particular attribute the problem to natural, not man made, causes.
Overall, about half of Americans say human activity contributes a “great deal” to climate change.
But more than 8 in 10 Democrats attribute climate change to human activity, compared with fewer than 4 in 10 Republicans blaming people for the crisis.
Renewable energy sources also reflect a GOP divide, with younger people less in favor of offshore drilling for oil and natural gas than older Republicans. And, they are less likely to support hydraulic fracturing.
“You’re seeing a majority of millennials and Gen Z saying, we should prioritize renewable energy sources,” Funk said.
©2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at www.inquirer.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s declaration last month that climate change is a “serious subject” marked the completion of a yearlong shift away from his outright denial of the global threat — a shift, according to one former aide, driven by 2020 politics. William Happer, one... Read More
WASHINGTON – Though the Trump administration continues to deny the validity of climate science, a new report suggests that both Democratic and Republican mayors across the nation are taking definitive steps to reduce carbon pollution, a leading contributor to climate change. The report, which was released... Read More
President Donald Trump used his speech on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to ignore the "perennial prophets of doom" and to claim the U.S. economy has come "thundering back" under his watch. "This is not a time for pessimism, this... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Democrats in 2020 plan to pass legislation on top party priorities like health care, infrastructure and climate as well as more under-the-radar subjects like modernizing Congress and redistricting — all while trying to fully fund the government on time for the first time... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Environmentalists and a South Carolina mayor warned Congress recently that climate change will take an increasing toll on the lives and finances of Americans if the federal government does not act soon. They discussed how greenhouse gas emissions are damaging the real estate and... Read More
MAJURO, Marshall Islands (TNS) - Congress is demanding that the Department of Energy investigate an aging, cracking U.S. nuclear waste dump threatened by climate change and rising seas in the Marshall Islands. As part of the new National Defense Authorization Act, signed last week by President... Read More