Generation gaps in US public opinion on renewable energy and climate change.

Academic Article


  • The topics of climate change and renewable energy are often linked in policy discussions and scientific analysis, but public opinion on these topics exhibits both overlap and divergence. Although renewable energy has potentially broader acceptance than anthropogenic climate change, it can also face differently-based opposition. Analyses of US and regional surveys, including time series of repeated surveys in New Hampshire (2010-2018) and northeast Oregon (2011-2018), explore the social bases and trends of public views on both issues. Political divisions are prominent, although somewhat greater regarding climate change due to substantive differences and more partisan opposition. Regarding climate change and to a lesser extent renewable energy, political divisions tends to widen with education. There also are robust age and temporal effects: younger adults more often prioritize renewable energy development, and agree with scientists on the reality of anthropogenic climate change (ACC). Across all age groups and both regional series, support for renewable energy and recognition of ACC have been gradually rising. Contrary to widespread speculation, these trends have not visibly responded to events such as the US hurricanes of 2012, 2017 or 2018. Together with age-cohort replacement and the potential for changes in age-group voting participation, however, the gradual trends suggest that public pressure for action on these issues could grow.
  • Authors

    Publication Date

  • 2019
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Climate Change
  • Environmental Policy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Politics
  • Public Opinion
  • Renewable Energy
  • Sustainable Development
  • United States
  • Young Adult
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • e0217608
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 7