A new survey shows strong bipartisan support in the US for staying in the Paris climate agreement that formally commits its 193 signatories to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avert dangerous climate change. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll of 2,061 Americans finds that 71 percent agree that the US should participate in the pact, including a majority of Republicans (57 percent), Democrats (87 percent) and Independents (68 percent).
President-elect Donald Trump has previously stated that he believes climate change is a hoax and that he intends to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal as soon as he takes office. However, in a potentially major reversal if he holds to it, Trump told New York Times reporters during a visit to the Midtown Manhattan newsroom that human activity is connected to climate change and that he would keep an open mind on the landmark climate accord.
On the link between human activities and climate change, Trump said that “I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much.” And when pressed on the Paris climate deal, Trump said that “I’m looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it.”
While this is a stunning reversal on his previous positions regarding man-made global warming, it remains to be seen whether Trump will change his policies that currently advocate for more oil, coal and natural gas at a time when many climate experts are warning that we have no carbon budget left and that we must keep remaining hydrocarbon reserves in the ground to sustain a livable climate. Trump’s new stance accepting human-induced climate change also goes against the climate deniers and fossil fuel industry insiders placed on his transition team and cabinet.
The survey’s lead author Dina Smeltz, a senior fellow on public opinion and foreign policy at the Chicago Council, told The Washington Post that “an increasing percentage of Republicans now say that some gradual action should be taken” to address climate change concerns and that the American public “has been growing in their support for mitigating climate change.”