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Renewable energy policy and public support

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July 3 2017  see full ScienceDaily article here

….The good news from the results of their repeated survey experiment: Public support for renewable energy in the U.S. is very strong. According to their baseline figures, the vast majority of people in the country support renewable energy portfolios in their states, in which a certain amount of the states’ electricity comes from a renewable source…

…As Americans favor cheap electricity, the greatest factor would be cost. Even a $2 increase in monthly electric bills would likely cause support for renewable energy to drop by 13 percent, shifting 13 states away from renewable energy policy. A $10 increase would likely result in the majority of states taking an opposing view, the researchers found.

Meanwhile, substantial job creation would be enough to flip opponents of renewable energy into supporters — and the more jobs, the better…

…”People tend to forget that when we talk about renewable energy it has benefits for air pollution, and so when you remind people of that it’s likely to increase their support because reducing air pollution is a local benefit,” said Stokes. And the key, according to the researchers, is the local benefit, because people don’t connect to broad concepts such as climate change on a personal level, often viewing it as a global and future phenomenon.

We’ve found that climate change is not an effective frame to gauge people’s opinion about renewable energy,” she said, “so whether it’s Democrat or Republican talking about climate change, no matter how we frame it, if we talk about climate change it doesn’t move people.” The term has become synonymous with partisanship, Stokes said, and less about the actual issue at hand….

…”So the idea is that by ensuring that these policies actually reduce air pollution, increase jobs and get Republican support, and communicating all that to the public, we would find majority support — even from some of the most coal-dominated states — for these policies,” Stokes said. “That’s pretty impressive.”

Leah C. Stokes, Christopher Warshaw. Renewable energy policy design and framing influence public support in the United States. Nature Energy, 2017; 2: 17107 DOI: 10.1038/nenergy.2017.107

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