Addressing climate change is a faith-based obligation to “protect God’s creation,” say 81 percent of American religious voters surveyed in a poll released this morning from Climate Nexus and Yale and George Mason’s respective programs on climate change communications.
According to the poll, which surveyed voters who identified as evangelical and mainline Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and religiously unaffiliated, voters of faith largely believe in climate change, are worried about it, and support providing federal funding to communities vulnerable to extreme weather in potential COVID-19 recovery funding.
“People are dying today from the impact of our neglect of God's creation,” said Dan Misleh, founding executive director of Catholic Climate Covenant.
Broadly, those polled support policies and candidates that work to address climate change, and “a majority of voters across faith groups” say that instituting policy on climate change should be a priority for Congress and the president in 2021. Over half of those polled support federal funding to promote renewable energy and associated jobs.
Eighty-seven percent of Black Protestants, 82 percent of nonwhite Catholics, 77 percent of white Catholics, 76 percent of Jews, and 57 percent of white evangelical Protestants say they are either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about climate change. This may be due to their living it: Six in ten voters believe climate change is having at least a moderate impact on extreme weather events in their state. This year’s fires in California and Colorado have broken all records, while hurricane season is two storms shy of breaking the record number for storms in one season; meanwhile, in Minnesota, yet another record has been broken by this fall’s largest early snowfall, going back 140 years.
President Trump’s first four years have illustrated an unwillingness to accept climate science, as he has actively chosen to roll back environmental protections, support the construction of new pipelines, and pushed to remove the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. In the past, Trump has called climate change “mythical” and “a hoax.” During September’s presidential debate, Trump admitted that climate change may be having impact on extreme weather (among “a lot of things”). Trump’s 2020 platform mostly seems to keep doing what he’s been doing: rolling back protections and supporting the oil and gas industries.
Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, of the two, has the more progressive stance on climate change policy: His platform includes working toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, investing in “green” efforts, and supporting the electric car economy to create new jobs. After receiving a “F” for his climate plan by the youth-led Sunrise Movement during the Democratic primaries, his platform moved further left, through coordination between the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force. On the other hand, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris repeatedly stated that the Biden campaign will not ban fracking, during the first vice presidential debate.
“We are about to have the most consequential election of our lifetimes, one that will set the nation's course on climate change,” said Rev. Susan Hendershot of Interfaith Power & Light. “Faith voters will be voting their values and those values include climate action.”