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California Global Warming and Energy Top 10 Issues

Californians Top Issues About global Warming and Energy

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Californians continue to name air pollution as the state’s most important environmental issue, but public attention to global warming continues to increase. Three in 10 Californians (29%) think that air pollution is the most important environmental issue, while 11 percent think that global warming is the top issue. Air pollution has been the top environmental issue for Californians since we first asked this question in June 2000.


  • Air pollution (29%) tops the list of the most important state environmental issues across all regions. The share of Californians naming global warming (11%) and the water supply (8%) as the biggest environmental issues in the state is increasing.
  • Two in three residents believe the effects of global warming have already begun and growing proportions say this poses a very serious threat to the state’s future economy and quality of life.
  • Majorities of residents are very concerned about more severe droughts and increased air pollution due to global warming in California, while 37 percent are very concerned about increased flooding. The percentage of residents who are very concerned about droughts has increased sharply in two years.
  • Residents are highly supportive of measures to address global warming, including the tailpipe emissions law (84%) and the law to roll back greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (78%). Two in three believe California should make its own global warming policies, separate from the federal government.
  • To reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, Californians strongly favor requiring automakers to improve the fuel efficiency of automobiles. Republicans and Democrats are divided over allowing more oil drilling off the coast.
  • Overwhelming majorities of residents favor spending more government money on alternative fuels and energy development; they are split along party lines over building more nuclear power plants.


When do Californians believe the effects of global warming will begin? Two in three Californians (66%) think they already have. This is a 3-point increase from last July and a 9-point increase from July 2005. Californians are somewhat more likely than Americans nationwide (60%) to think global warming has already begun, according to a March Gallup poll. Significant partisan differences exist in views of global warming, with more than three in four Democrats (77%) and seven in 10 independents (69%) thinking the effects of global warming have already begun, whereas nearly half of Republicans (47%) hold this view. Latinos (72%), blacks (66%), and whites (65%) are more likely than Asians (59%) to think the effects of global warming have already begun.
Eight in 10 Californians believe global warming will be a very (54%) or somewhat serious (28%) threat to California’s future economy and quality of life.

This is the first time a majority of Californians are saying that the threat of global warming is very serious...


Majorities of Californians are very concerned about droughts that are more severe (60%) and increased air pollution (55%), while 37 percent are very concerned about increased flooding. Since 2005, more Californians have become very concerned about increased flooding (27% to 37%) and even more about the possibility of more severe droughts (41% to 60%). The percentage of Californians who are very concerned about increased air pollution is three points higher than in 2005 (52% 2005, 55% today).

The percentage that is very concerned about more severe droughts due to global warming is much higher among Democrats (69%) and independents (58%) than among Republicans (42%). Latinos (70%) are far more likely than Asians (55%), whites (55%), and blacks (51%) to be very concerned about droughts, and women (65%) are more likely than men (55%) to hold this view.


California was an early leader in state-level efforts to curb the effects of global warming, having passed legislation in 2002. Since then, policymakers have been active in proposing new laws on this issue. In recent years, as public concern about the effects of global warming has risen, we find that large and growing proportions of residents are in favor of California making its own policies, separate from the federal government, to address global warming (54% July 2005, 65% July 2006, 67% today). Majorities of Democrats (74%), independents (72%), and Republicans (59%) hold this view today.


To reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, how do Californians feel about requiring automakers to significantly improve the fuel efficiency of cars sold in America? More than eight in 10 residents (85%) and likely voters (88%) favor this proposal and 75 percent of Californians and eight in 10 likely voters (82%) would be in favor even if it increased the cost of buying a new car.


Aside from increasing fuel efficiency or increasing the U.S. supply of oil, alternative energy development might also reduce dependence on foreign oil. Where do Californians stand on this issue? Eight in 10 Californians (84%) and likely voters (85%) favor spending more government money to develop renewable energy such as solar, geothermal, and wind power. Similar percentages of Californians (83%) and likely voters (87%) were in favor of this proposal last July. Californians’ views are similar to Americans nationwide (81% favor, 17% oppose), according to a March Gallup poll. SOURCE: PDF of California Environment Survey 2007

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| global warming | energy | Social Responsibility | governance |


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