New CEI Poll: Four in Ten Americans Unwilling to Spend $1 Annually on Higher Gas and Electricity Prices to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change

WASHINGTON – The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a new poll today, gauging the public’s views on energy issues and climate change as Congress considers new climate regulations and mandates, on top of trillions of dollars in new federal spending. The poll, conducted by CRC Research, is an online survey of 1,200 registered voters nationwide September 23-27, 2021 with a ±2.83 percent overall margin of error.

While a strong majority of respondents said they are either somewhat or very concerned about climate change (71 percent, up from 67 percent in a poll conducted in April 2021), respondents sent a strong message that they are unwilling to pay for climate change mitigation policies out of pocket. Thirty-nine percent said they would not spend one dollar more than they already spend annually on gas or electricity to mitigate the effects of climate change. A further nine percent said they would spend as much as $10 more per year on gas and electricity on account of policies to mitigate climate change.

Other key findings in the poll include:

  • A clear majority of 56 percent said they were unlikely to “spend extra money to replace your gas-powered car with an electric vehicle,” with 41 percent “very unlikely” and 15 percent “somewhat unlikely” to do so.
  • Asked how much of their savings for education or retirement savings they would be willing to divert toward “immediate climate change spending,” 40 percent of respondents said “none” and 24 percent said “a limited amount.” Only two percent said “all” and seven percent said “a lot.”
  • Asked who should make the decision of what type of car to buy, in light of Biden-Harris Administration proposals to phase out the production of gas-and diesel-powered cars and trucks so drivers would be limited to buying Electric Vehicles, 73 percent said “You,” 13 percent said “The federal government,” and seven percent said “automakers.”
  • Asked to agree or disagree with the statement “The United States should only increase funding for climate change initiatives if other nations such as China, India, and Russia agree to enforce the same regulations and laws that the United States follows,” 47 percent responded they agree and 30 percent disagreed.  
  • When asked to rate the mean importance of climate change on a spectrum compared to other issues it rated 11th on a list of 13. Climate change trailed other issues, including jobs and the economy, immigration and border security, crime, and rising energy prices.

Overall, the poll finds Americans have soured on the direction of the country, with 57 percent of respondents saying the United States is on the wrong track and only 41 percent saying the country is headed in the right direction. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the U.S. was “strongly” on the wrong track. The poll also finds 52 percent of respondents disapprove of “the way Joe Biden is handling his responsibilities as president,” while 47 percent approve. Among those who disapprove of the President’s job performance, 38 percent “strongly” and 13 percent “somewhat” disapprove. Among those who approve of Biden’s handling of his responsibilities, 22 percent “strongly” and 25 percent “somewhat” approve. Asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling climate change, 46 percent approve and 44 percent disapprove – a result within the margin of error. 

“The latest CEI poll shows that while expressing concern about climate change is cheap, many Americans who claim to be concerned about the issue also won’t spend a single dollar annually on climate change policies,” said CEI President Kent Lassman. “While humans are undoubtedly contributing to climate change, it remains the case that costly regulations and mandates favored by climate alarmists pose a greater threat than the effects of our changing climate. Tradeoffs matter and climate mitigation policies are no exception.”

“CEI’s poll makes it clear that a large majority of Americans don’t want government to limit what kind of vehicles they can drive,” said Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment Myron Ebell. “The ongoing collusion between the Biden-Harris administration, California’s government, and the automakers to give people no choice but to buy electric vehicles is widely unpopular.”

View the full CEI poll on climate change issues here.

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