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Study: Most Republicans, Democrats Agree Climate Change is Real

A study finds that more than 70 percent of Americans now believe climate change is real. Photo: Greg Goebel/Wikimedia Commons

by Eric Galatas

AUSTIN, Texas – Democrats and Republicans agree on climate change more than they might think, according to a new University of Colorado study, but forging a unified action plan continues to be a major challenge.

Leaf Van Boven, a psychology and neuroscience professor at the UC Boulder and lead author of the study, says despite what often is reported about deep divisions between parties, the clear majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents agree that climate change is a reality, that it threatens humans, and could be mitigated by reducing carbon emissions.

“Even though everyone agrees that climate change is a reality, Democrats and Republicans disagree about policies to mitigate climate change,” he says. “And the reason they disagree is because they disagree with ideas that come from the other side.”

Van Boven says both Republicans and Democrats in the study believed that good policy should be enacted regardless of which party proposes it, but participants did not follow through on those beliefs. Respondents were more likely to support proposals when they were told their side proposed it, and both parties rejected similar proposals if told they came from opponents.

Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 adults, along with four retired members of Congress – two Republicans, and two Democrats.

Van Boven notes most people assume that Republicans are skeptical of climate change, and as a result are less likely to speak up for fear of being excluded from the group. He says an important first step is to correct that mistaken assumption.

“Part of the solution has to be a readiness and willingness, if not an eagerness, to work with the other side,” he explains. “It really seems to be a moment in time where Republican leadership is needed on climate change.”

Van Boven argues that because of the intense tribal nature of today’s politics, the best way forward may be for Democrats to give Republicans a chance to offer up some solutions.

In a separate study, the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment recently found that 73 percent of Americans now believe climate change is real, a new all-time high.

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