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China, Climate Change, and Clean Energy

Wind mild in the middle of a field with mountains in the brackground to portray China's clean energy | Climate Nexus Polls

With President Xi Jinping announcing last Tuesday that China would undertake a clean-energy transition to secure a net-zero (or carbon neutral) economy by 2060, new polling shows that Americans support a pragmatic partnership with China in driving the transition.

The poll–conducted by Climate Nexus, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication–reports that a clear majority of voters across the country support partnering with China to reduce emissions and transition to clean energy. American voters support a US/China climate partnership despite significant distrust of the Chinese government, further underscoring the seriousness with which Americans regard the threat of climate change and the economic opportunity in the clean energy transition. A representative subsample of voters in rust belt states (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, upstate and western New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin) returned the same results.

Here are some key findings:

  • A majority of American voters agree (by a margin of 65% to 22%) that “working with China to address climate change shows the rest of the world that the United States is a global leader, while ensuring a safe climate for Americans.”
  • A majority of American voters agree (by a margin of 58% to 25%) that “The only way that we can limit global warming to less than 1.5˚C is if the United States and China work together to address climate change.”
  • More than six in 10 (62%) voters also agree with the statement that “We can’t trust China to hold up its end of any agreements, including agreements on limiting global warming,” indicating the importance American voters hold for concrete near-term action and for procedures to measure, report and verify steps to reduce carbon pollution.
  • Close to six in 10 voters (57%) prefer to “partner” with China, rather than “compete” in order to “increase production of clean and renewable energy to limit global warming,” further underscoring the pragmatic view of American voters on engaging China.