Public Opinion on Climate Remains Unchanged, According to New RFF Survey

First poll since announcement of proposed EPA regulations finds large majorities continue to favor government action.


June 13, 2014

News Type

Press Release

Resources for the Future (RFF) and Stanford University today released results from the first poll of public opinion on climate change taken since the Obama administration’s June 3 regulatory proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at existing power plants. Nearly 90 percent of Americans favor government action to address climate change, and only 27 percent believe such action will harm the US economy.

Government-imposed limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants remain favored by about 50 percent of the country. The poll indicates no significant change in support for this approach in the wake of the administration’s announcement.

“Despite all the recent news on climate change, from Antarctic ice melts to the administration’s national outreach efforts, public opinion on this issue has been remarkably stable,” said Stanford Professor and RFF University Fellow Jon Krosnick, who oversaw the polling. “A huge proportion of Americans believe that government should act. Although many Americans favor limiting power plant emissions, the proportion remains well below what we see for some other environmental policies, such as subsidies to support renewable energy.”

Early last December, almost six months before the Obama administration’s June 3 climate announcement, RFF released polling results on this issue in conjunction with Stanford University and USA Today. In that survey, 54 percent of respondents favored the US government requiring power plants to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases, whereas more than 70 percent favored government subsidization of renewable energy production. Seventy-three percent believed that temperatures have been going up over the last 100 years, with 80 percent saying if warming has occurred, it’s at least partly due to human activity.

Those findings were largely consistent with the new poll, conducted between June 4–8, which found that 49 percent favor the government requiring power plants to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, 73 percent believing temperatures have been rising, and 78 percent citing human activity as a cause.

The new poll, released today, was conducted by random digit dial telephone calls to landlines and cell phones by SSRS, a survey research firm based in Media, PA. The 1,023 respondents constitute a representative national sample of adults living in the United States, and the margin of error is +/-3.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Get the full results of both surveys at

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Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonprofit research institution in Washington, DC. Its mission is to improve environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. RFF is committed to being the most widely trusted source of research insights and policy solutions leading to a healthy environment and a thriving economy.

Unless otherwise stated, the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and may differ from those of other RFF experts, its officers, or its directors. RFF does not take positions on specific legislative proposals.

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