Poll: Americans Want Action on Global Warming

Upcoming Senate Vote is Historic Showdown with Polluters

10-22-2003 // NWF Media Team

By a 4-to-1 margin, Americans want Congress to take action now to stop global warming, a new national survey suggests.

According to a nationwide Zogby International poll commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation, 79 percent of Americans believe the U.S. should curb its greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide that are said to contribute to global warming.

In a poll of 1,200 American adults conducted Oct. 15 to Oct. 20, nearly 67 percent said addressing global warming by requiring major industries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can improve the environment without harming the economy.

And fully 75 percent said they favor federal legislation currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate to mandate that major industries cut emissions back to year 2000 levels.

"These numbers are a clear indication of where America stands on the issue. The question now is, where does the U.S. Congress stand?" said Jeremy Symons, manager of climate change and wildlife for the National Wildlife Federation. "Americans know that requiring big industries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions is not going to hurt the economy. It will, however, be a long overdue first step in addressing one of the planet's biggest threats."

The poll comes on the heels of a bipartisan letter signed this week by 155 U.S. mayors urging Congress to join their cities' efforts to reduce the threat of global warming. The mayors represent more than 46 million people in local communities ranging in size from 700 people in LaConner, Wash. to more than four million in Houston, Texas.

The Senate is poised to take action on a bipartisan proposal, the Climate Stewardship Act, by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., that would require major industries such as electric utilities, oil companies and large manufacturers to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide to year 2000 levels, and gives them until 2010 to do it. It also creates a new emissions credit trading market to allow those who successfully cut their emissions to sell emissions credits to companies that exceed the limits.

With a margin of error of 2.8-percent, 1,201 respondents from across the nation were given a description of the McCain-Lieberman proposal and asked their opinion about it. In every region, more than 70 percent of respondents said they favored the bill.

"The American public clearly understands that we need to face up to the threat of global warming. Senators now have to choose between the public's call for action and those industry lobbyists who ignore scientific consensus and want to further delay action on this critical environmental problem," McCain said.

Momentum for the legislation is growing. Bill Reilly, former Administrator of the EPA under former President George H.W. Bush recently endorsed the bill. In addition, 23 senior economists from across the country today sent a letter to the Senate urging support for the McCain-Lieberman bill as a cost-effective first step toward reducing the consequences of climate change.

Related Resources
  • Supporting Document
    The Climate Stewardship Act (pdf)

    The Climate Stewardship Act, sponsored by Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, is a bipartisan national plan for action to begin solving one of the more serious environmental threats of our time – global warming.

  • Supporting Document
    Zogby America Poll Results (pdf)

    More than three-fourths of Americans (78%) agree that the US should reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases that are said to contribute to global warming.