Climate Change

2020 US elections: Voters across party lines irked with climate change inaction

Democrats registered the strongest negative emotions, followed by Independents and Republicans, showed the survey

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Wednesday 14 August 2019
Photo: Getty Images

Climate change could take centrestage when United States votes to choose its president in 2020, suggested a new survey. Voters there were "discontent, angry and anguished" over how political leaders lacked focus and didn't act on human-induced climate change, according to the study.

The US has suffered a series of floods, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes and other disasters that have been linked to global warming, like many parts of the world. Several governments, including that of US neighbour Canada, have taken strong note of extreme weather events — including declaring climate emergencies.

Parties with ‘green’ agenda have carved space for them in the electoral politics in many European countries. The civil society, driven by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, has also pressed for greater action to cap warming within 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

US President Donald Trump, however, has been among those who have denied climate change. He has even pulled out of committing towards the Paris Agreement.                                                                                                              

Voters there, in fact, feel political leaders lack courage and focus in their outlook on climate, according to ‘Emotions on US Stance of Global Climate Change-Across Party Lines’. The national-level survey measured emotions of voters’ across party lines on the country's outlook on global climate change. 

The online survey by Bellwether Citizen Response, a behavioural research consultancy, measured emotions of 914 citizens (358 Democrats, 344 Republicans and 212 for independents) who voted in the 2016 Presidential Election and who intended to vote next year too.

They all elicited negative emotions — the Democrats registering the strongest, followed by Independents and Republicans.

“Democrats have lost hope, feeling anguished and show more apathy toward the issue than do Independents or Republicans. Independents are angry and feel restrained in their ability to change our nation’s attitude on climate. Republicans are confused on the issue, but still maintain an enthusiastic outlook,” found the survey.

“Democrats feel defeated about our outlook, as if it is too late to impact climate change, and fear tactics frequently used in environmental public service announcements may have backfired for this party’s members, inciting futility at a game already lost,” said Bellwether Partner, Kimberly Rose Clark, in a release.

All voters also feel that the US is too restricted to become a change agent, giving rise to extreme sadness and anger on the issue. They feel the need for courage among elected leaders to tackle harmful impacts of climate change.

“Perhaps the good news is that no group is apathetic. And no group feels protected. This stance may open the door to action in view of continued caring about climate change and a sense of vulnerability. These emotions can be leveraged together for action,” said Elissa Moses, a Bellwether partner.

The findings come at a time when several states across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have committed to policy that will curb transportation sector emissions; and also supports the Green New Deal, which aims to switch US power production entirely to zero-emission sources by 2030.

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