Who supports the clean energy transition?


The U.S. Energy Reputation Report, 2023, based on a survey conducted by Caliber that polled 5,600 people, finds several divides in the way U.S. residents perceive the transition to clean energy.

The report finds that two camps have formed; one seeking to reduce carbon emissions despite potentially higher costs, while the other just wants to reduce energy prices. However, the majority (73%) of American’s, regardless of political affiliation, age or other demographic, support the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Where age comes into play, however, the younger group (age 18 to 44) overwhelmingly (80%) support the transition, while only 58% of older people (64 and up) support the move from fossil fuels to renewables.

The report also finds disparity in views from low-income to high-income Americans, with 64% of low-income people supporting the transition because of a greater concern about stable energy bills as opposed to the importance of moving to clean energy. The report finds that 86% of high-income Americans support the transition.

The report found a similar disparity along party lines, with 87% of Democrats supporting the transition, while just 62% of Republicans are on board. In addition, Democrats appear to be better informed on the topic, with only 5% being “not sure” about their position on the topic, while 17% of Republicans and 24% of Libertarians say they are “not sure.”

President Biden’s Clean Energy Plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% to 52% below 2005 levels in 2030, reaching 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, and delivering 40% of the benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities. The Caliber study found that 70% of U.S. respondents have heard of the plan, but younger people (age 25 to 44) have higher awareness than those over 44 year of age.

Those who support the plan do so out of concern for insufficient energy supply (49%), rising energy costs (48%) and higher taxes (36%). Of those who do not support the plan, 58% do so because of rising energy costs, 53% because of concern for insufficient power supply, and 53% see rising taxes as a deterrent.

As far as those who support the plan, several demographic disparities were noted. For example, men (3/4) have a more favorable view of the plan than women (2/3).

Looking at support on the basis of political affiliation, 80% of Democrats polled have heard of the plan and of those, 88% like it, with 12% against. Of Republicans polled, 62% have heard of the plan, and 51% of those like it, and 49% against.

While more than half of the people polled like the President’s clean energy plan, there is disagreement about the ambition of the plan. A third of those disliking the plan believe it is too ambitious, but of those who like the plan, one in five still think it is too ambitious. The report authors postulate that the difference in these opinions may be because some are willing to “endure the hardship of the necessary change.”

Taking action

Another interesting finding in the study is that 60% of Americans cannot name the exact source of energy that heats or powers their homes, pointing out the importance of basic energy education. Beyond that, the report authors point to the importance that energy companies recognize the issues brought up in this study so that they can shape clear and consistent messaging that addresses concerns.

While most Americans have heard of the country’s energy plan, the authors note that there is a “knowledge gap” between different demographics, most notably among women and Republicans. It is up to energy companies, the authors contend, to be proactive by shaping messaging to raise awareness and educate about the energy plan, while also sharing information on initiatives that can mitigate financial stress.

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