Is Energy Efficiency Catching On?

February 14, 2013
By

Public Policy PollingNRDCIf you listen to the Natural Resources Defense Council, energy efficiency is the next big thing, with more and more people warming up to the idea.

The organization, along with Public Policy Polling, surveyed 1,218 registered U.S. voters following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, and found a majority agreed with the president’s comments about climate change, that something must be done about it, and that they support the president taking action if Congress does not act.

“Going into the speech, there was a real desire of Americans to hear President Obama speak on climate change and use his power to combat it,” says Frances Beinecke, president of the NRDC. “It’s interesting how energy efficiency is catching on.” She cites more than 3-to-1 support in reducing power plant emissions of greenhouse gases.

Beinecke favors action to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants, which produce about 40 percent of the our electricity and are among the largest sources of greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. Beinecke says the best tool to combat that is the Clean Air Act, which the EPA can use to regulate emissions.

Energy conservation can also greatly reduce the greenhouse gases emitted by power plants, while enabling our homes and businesses to run more efficiently and save us money in energy costs. “Efficiency is absolutely essential to the solution, because it’s the most cost-effective way to fight climate change,” she says.

Greater efficiency also promotes greater energy productivity, which in turn stimulates the economy.

Some results from the poll:

  • 67% approved of what Obama said in his speech.
  • 57% said addressing climate change should be a priority.
  • 62%  said we must do more about climate change for sake of our children and future generations.
  • 65% say climate change is a serious problem.
  • 60% support the president using his power to reduce carbon pollution.
  • 58% said storms like Hurricane Sandy, drought, wildfires and other extreme weather events are the effects of climate change, while 36% believe they aren’t.

More women than men responded favorably to Obama’s comments about climate change, the effects and the importance of doing something about them.

And the results did not cross party lines. While about 90 percent of Democrats and more than 50 percent of Independents approved of Obama’s speech and said that something should be done about climate change, around 70 percent of Republicans did not approve of the speech and said climate change action was not important. These results were consistent across several of the questions.

Surveys last year suggested that a majority of Republicans now believe in climate change and that something should be done about it, which may be due to the prolonged drought in the Midwest and Southwest.

Interestingly, in a question on what people worry about the most in climate change, more Democrats (40 percent) cited extreme weather events and more Republicans (28 percent), cited the economy. For the entire poll results, click here.

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