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Americans support CO2 limits on coal-fired power plants

Each year in the United States about 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions – the primary cause of global warming – comes from electric power plants, especially those powered by the burning of coal.

This June, the EPA is expected to propose new limits on CO2 emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. These regulations are likely to face fierce resistance from the coal industry.

What do Americans think about these regulations?

Our new survey this month finds that – by nearly a two to one margin – Americans support setting strict limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired plants, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies increases.

Most Democrats support setting such limits, over half of Republicans oppose it, while Independents are evenly divided.

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Scientific and Public Perspectives on Climate Change

97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and human caused, at least in part.  However, fewer than half of Americans believe in human-caused global warming and only 15% understand the degree of consensus in the scientific community.

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What Comes to Mind When You Think of the Term “Global Warming?”

In the past decade, the images and feelings Americans associate with the term “global warming” have shifted dramatically.  We recently published an article in the journal Risk Analysis that identifies and analyzes these shifts in the connotative meaning of “global warming.”

The graph below summarizes how Americans’ associations to “global warming” changed from 2003 to 2010 (more data can be found in the paper).

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Nuclear Power in the American Mind

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. The nuclear meltdowns, plant explosions, and release of radioactive material at Fukushima refocused world attention on the risks of nuclear power and caused many ripple effects, including shifts in public perceptions of this technology.

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Do Americans support or oppose subsidies for fossil fuels?

In his new proposed federal budget, President Obama today called on Congress to repeal more than $4 billion a year in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, arguing that these “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies…impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to address the threat of climate change." As of November 2011, a large majority of Americans (70%) also opposed federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry (coal, oil, and natural gas), including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

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Are Americans Angry at Wall Street Bankers? Do They Support the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests?

December 17, 2011 marked three months since the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Acknowledging the impact of social movements across the world (from the Middle East to Wall Street), Time Magazine named “The Protester” as its 2011 Person of the Year.  In this Climate Note, we examine what Americans from different political parties think about the Occupy Wall Street protests and how angry they are at Wall Street.

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Do Americans support an international treaty on climate change?

On December 11 at the Durban (South Africa) Conference on Climate Change, the world agreed  to extend the Kyoto Protocol and begin negotiations on a new global treaty that will require all countries (developed and developing) to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In a national survey completed in November 2011, we found that a large majority of Americans (66%) support signing an international treaty requiring the US to cut emissions 90% by 2050.

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Do Americans connect climate change and extreme weather events?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today released a special report on the influence of climate change on extreme weather events. In the United States, Americans have endured a record-setting series of extreme weather events in 2011, including the Mississippi floods, record high summer temperatures, and severe drought in Texas and Oklahoma. In a November 2011 national survey, we found that a majority of Americans believe global warming made the following events worse:

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Partisan Views of Climate Change

Americans’ Knowledge of Climate Change reports results from a national study of what Americans understand about how the climate system works, and the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to global warming. Among other findings, the study identifies a number of important gaps in public knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change.

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American Support for Regulating CO2 as a Pollutant

On Thursday, June 10, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on a resolution to take away the EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, which President Obama has threatened to veto. As of June 1, however, large majorities of registered voters, including Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, supported regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

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