Days after President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, a majority of Americans said they disagreed with the decision, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
Conducted from June 2-4, the research addressed public opinion with regards to US climate change policy and the role the nation should play in the global response to rising temperatures.
The poll found that 72% of participants agree “that given the amount of greenhouse gases that it produces, the United States should take aggressive action to slow global warming,” while 68% want the US to lead global efforts to slow climate change.
Specifically regarding Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, respondents split across party lines, Reuters reports. Out of 1,398 American participants (459 Republicans and 635 Democrats), the poll found that 38% agreed with Trump’s decision, 49% disagreed and 13% were undecided.
Many respondents worried that Trump’s decision will have a direct impact not just on the climate, but also on US diplomacy, and not in a good way – half of all respondents believe global temperatures will rise faster now that the US has left the Paris Agreement and 64% believe US international relations will suffer as a result.
Other data collection organizations have showed similar results. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center in late May found that 74% of US adults said, “The country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.” One option is funding renewable energy initiatives, which 82% of Americans support, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
The data clearly demonstrates that Americans support policies to reduce man-made global warming. But climate change still is not the most pressing issue for most Americans. While most people want to see aggressive action taken against climate change, other policies are higher up on their list of priorities.
Only 4% of respondents said environmental protection is more important than healthcare, the economy, terrorism, immigration, education, crime and morality, according to Reuters.
Pew similarly found that while 55% of Americans ranked the environment as a top policy issue for the Trump Administration to address, protection from terrorist attacks (76%) and strengthening the economy (73%) topped the list of public priorities.
Trump seems to be playing into these priorities by focusing on economics and national security.
Trump justified pulling out of the Paris agreement by claiming it would hurt the US economy.
“I’m willingly to immediately work with Democratic leaders to negotiate our way back into Paris on terms that are fair for the US and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers,” he said while announcing the decision.
But studies show renewable energy could actually create millions of jobs in the US.
From a security standpoint, Trump berated London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Twitter for advising the city’s citizens not to be alarmed by an increased police presence following a terror attack in London last Sunday.
Trump then used the attack to promote his travel ban, which his administration is currently appealing to the Supreme Court. The barrage of tweets was widely criticized for inciting fear and paranoia to justify controversial policies.
We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2017
Popular opinion can dictate policy, which means understanding people’s beliefs about global issues is crucial to engaging in the correct course of action.
Most Americans want their government to pursue policies that protect the environment (in line with the 97% of climate change scientists who agree global warming is man-made), which means the first half of the battle is won.
The hard part is getting those in power to listen.