Feb 25, 2022 - News

Georgians want the state to take a stand on climate change

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Roughly 60 percent of Georgians want state leaders to set goals to reduce the effects of climate change, according to a recently released poll by Georgia Tech.

Why it matters: Some local governments like Atlanta have created climate strategies but Georgia has no state-level plan to curtail carbon emissions and address a global problem.

Driving the news: Commissioned for use by climate researchers, the survey was designed by Georgia Tech and University of Georgia professors affiliated with Drawdown Georgia, an initiative that lays out policy ideas the state could use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Details: According to the survey, 74% of Democrats and left-of-center independents, 52% of independents and 45% of Republicans and right-of-center independents want a carbon reduction plan.

  • Most respondents also support clean energy plans like solar power, wind farms and energy efficiency and backed government funding to boost those technologies.
  • Only one-third of the people polled say they support building new coal-fired power plants, the undisputed heavyweight champion of belching carbon into the atmosphere.

Yes, but: The survey also found low levels of familiarity with clean energy options — only 4% knew solar panels also work on cloudy and rainy days, not just in full sunlight.

  • Households with incomes less than $20,000 spent between 14% and 21% of their monthly earnings on energy, compared to 2% for households earning more than $150,000.
  • A household is considered “energy-poor” when it spends more than 6% of its income on energy, according to the survey.

The big picture: Past research by the federal government, climate scientists and advocates project temperatures in metro Atlanta will increase, a phenomenon that will hit people living on low-incomes who can’t afford high energy bills the hardest.

  • Sea levels along Georgia’s coast could rise by 6 inches over the next 50 years, inundating communities and wetlands vital for marine life.

Flashback: Poll after poll, including a 2021 UGA School of Public and International Affairs survey, have found strong support for addressing climate change and even paying more to do so.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that the organization is called Drawdown Georgia, not Project Drawdown Georgia.


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