Poll: Climate change a serious issue for three-fourths of Arizonans, majority of Republicans

By: - February 14, 2019 1:32 pm
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Nearly three-in-four Arizona voters believe climate change is a serious problem, including a strong majority of Republicans, according to a new statewide poll of environmental issues.

In all, 72 percent of likely Arizona voters polled said climate change is either very serious or somewhat serious. Only 24 percent said climate change was either mildly or not at all serious.

Among the Republican voters surveyed, 57 percent – nearly three-in-five – said climate change was very or somewhat serious, including 31 percent who find it a very serious problem; only 38 percent of Republicans said it wasn’t serious.

The Republican Party platform opposes international accords like the agreement crafted in Paris in 2015, which President Trump withdrew from in 2017, that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow the climb in global temperatures. The GOP also calls climate change “far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue.”

Attitudes in the poll are markedly different among Democrats and independent voters. More than nine-in-ten Democratic voters, 94 percent, said climate change was very or somewhat serious, including 77 percent who called it very serious. Among independents, 71 percent said it was very or somewhat serious, and 56 percent deemed it very serious.

Last year, the federal government’s climate assessment concluded that the effects of climate change, including more powerful hurricanes and deadly wildfires, are already happening – and are likely to get worse.

And if the federal government fails to address climate change, a strong majority supports state and local leaders intervening to address the problem – 64 percent of voters. That includes 90 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents. Republicans were almost evenly split, with 47 percent favoring state and local regulations and 48 percent opposing them.

The poll also shows Arizona voters oppose a proposal by Arizona Public Service to meet the growing demand for electricity by adding natural-gas-fired power plants – a proposal that the Arizona Corporation Commission put on ice last week when it extended a moratorium on new natural gas plants in the state.

A plurality of voters, 46 percent, opposed meeting electricity demand “almost exclusively” through the use of new natural gas plants, while 41 percent supported the idea. A total of 28 percent strongly opposed the idea, while only 19 percent strongly supported it.

The poll additionally found broad support for state regulators imposing stronger regulations on electric utilities to ensure they are offering energy-efficiency services to all of their customers. More than two-in-three voters, 68 percent, favored that idea, including 44 percent who strongly favored it. Only 24 percent were opposed.

“Arizonans’ support for cleaner energy comes at a time when new energy technologies – such as solar, electric vehicles and energy efficiency devices – are rapidly being developed, which is driving down costs and making it more affordable for Arizonans to take advantage of the benefits,” said Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, which commissioned the poll.

The poll was conducted by Washington, D.C.-based WPA Intelligence. The live-caller poll surveyed 504 likely Arizona voters, and 44 percent were reached on cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.