Information below is from the “Record-High Share of Californians Concerned About Global Warming Making Wildfires More Severe,” Jul. 29, 2019 Public Policy Institute of California press release. The entire press release can be read here.
In the wake of devastating wildfires over the past few years, seven in ten Californians (71%) say they are very concerned about wildfires becoming more severe as a result of global warming. This view is most widely held in the San Francisco Bay Area (75%), followed by the Inland Empire (74%), Los Angeles (72%), and the Central Valley and Orange/San Diego (both 69%).
Governor Newsom recently signed legislation that will provide investor-owned utilities with at least $21 billion, paid for by utility investors and ratepayers, to cover future wildfire damages. This plan is favored by 57 percent of adults (50% of likely voters). Support is highest in the San Francisco Bay Area (67%), followed by Orange/San Diego (57%), the Inland Empire and Los Angeles (both 55%), and the Central Valley (51%).
“A record-high 71 percent of Californians are very concerned about more-severe wildfires from global warming, and majorities across the state’s regions favor the new wildfire insurance fund,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.
Californians express less concern about other possible impacts of global warming, with 49 percent saying they are very concerned about more-severe heat waves and 42 percent saying they are very concerned about rising sea levels.
Majorities of Californians say the effects of global warming have already started (63% adults, 64% likely voters) and that global warming is a very serious threat to California’s future economy and quality of life (57% adults, 56% likely voters). Major state legislation enacted in 2016 (Senate Bill 32) calls for California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Strong majorities (67% adults, 63% likely voters) approve of this law. Strong majorities (71% adults, 66% likely voters) also approve of legislation enacted last year (Senate Bill 100) that requires all of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2045. Support is lower (53% adults) for California’s “cap and trade” system, which aims to provide an incentive for companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
At a time when California’s political leaders have pursued environmental policies that are at odds with those of the federal government, solid majorities (64% adults, 61% likely voters) favor the California state government creating its own policies to address global warming.
“With most Californians believing that global warming has already begun, there is strong support for the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move toward renewable energy,” Baldassare said.
Most Californians approve of specific policy proposals to address climate change. Strong majorities (74% adults, 68% likely voters) support encouraging local governments to change land use and transportation planning to reduce reliance on driving. Overwhelming majorities (75% adults, 76% likely voters) favor requiring automakers to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new cars. Notably, four major auto manufacturers and the state announced on July 25 that they had reached an agreement on higher fuel-efficiency standards for new cars, countering efforts by the Trump administration to restrict the state’s ability to set such standards.
When asked about the potential impacts of state climate change policies, nearly half of Californians (48% adults, 45% likely voters) say these policies would create more jobs for people around the state. One in five say these policies would lead to fewer jobs (19% adults, 23% likely voters) or wouldn’t affect the number of jobs (21% adults, 23% likely voters). Regarding other economic impacts, most Californians (58% adults, 60% likely voters) expect gasoline prices to increase due to state action on climate change. Also, half of adults (51%) and likely voters (50%) say they would be willing to pay more for electricity generated by renewable sources.
Findings in this report are based on a survey of 1,706 California adult residents, including 1,194 interviewed on cell phones and 512 interviewed on landline telephones. Interviews took place from July 14–23, 2019. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, according to respondents’ preferences.
The sampling error, taking design effects from weighting into consideration, is ±3.4 percent for all adults, ±5.1% for the 766 adults asked question 41 (regarding the Democratic primary) and question 44 (regarding the Green New Deal), ±3.9 percent for the 1,400 registered voters, and ±4.4 percent for the 1,085 likely voters. For more information on methodology, see page 22.
Mark Baldassare is president and CEO of PPIC, where he holds the Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Public Policy. He is founder of the PPIC Statewide Survey, which he has directed since 1998.
Image above: NASA (Joshua Stevens) – NASA Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager