WASHINGTON — Less than one-third of Americans support President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a new poll shows, and just 18 percent of respondents agree with his claim that pulling out of the international agreement to reduce carbon emissions will help the U.S. economy.
The survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research earlier this month found that a slim majority — 52 percent — worry that withdrawing will actually hurt the economy. Twenty-seven percent think it won’t have an impact either way.
But digging deeper into the numbers shows a sharp partisan divide on global warming, with Republicans more likely to align themselves with the president’s views.
Seventy-eight percent of Democrats think withdrawing from the Paris agreement will hurt the national economy. Among Republicans, just 24 percent think it will hurt, 40 percent think it will have no impact and 34 percent think it will help.
Donald Nolan is a New Jersey businessman who has spent years living and traveling overseas. He worries that Trump is undermining U.S. credibility abroad. An independent voter, Nolan said he strongly opposes pulling out of the Paris accord.
“Where I live, we’re 36 feet above sea level. It the polar ice caps melt, there won’t be any dry land here,” said Nolan, 60. “If you are pulling out of something that pretty much every other country in the world is a part of, then that is not seen as being a leader. When I lived overseas, America was always looked at as being first. But I see our position to be deteriorating.”
Overall, 44 percent of Americans are very concerned and 26 percent are moderately concerned that withdrawing from the agreement will hurt the country’s standing in the world, with that concern also dividing along party lines.
By a 46 percent to 29 percent margin, more oppose than favor the U.S. withdrawing from the agreement. Democrats are far more likely to oppose than support withdrawing from the agreement, 69 percent to 16 percent. Republicans are more likely to support Trump’s withdrawal, 51 percent to 20 percent.
Independents are mixed in their views. Twenty-five percent support the withdrawal, 36 percent are opposed and 37 percent don’t feel strongly one way or the other.
Similarly, 43 percent say they’re very or extremely concerned that the U.S. withdrawing from the agreement will hurt global efforts to fight climate change, while 25 percent are moderately concerned. Seventy-two percent of Democrats, but just 13 percent of Republicans, are very concerned about the withdrawal hurting global efforts to fight climate change.
Sixty-four percent of Americans disapprove and just 34 percent approve of how Trump is handling the issue of climate change, the poll shows. That’s similar to his overall approval rating, but there are other areas where Trump performs a bit better. For example, 43 percent approve of how he’s handling the economy and 47 percent approve of how he’s handling the threat of terrorism.
The poll shows about two-thirds of Americans think that climate change is happening, while only about 1 in 10 think it’s not. The remaining quarter aren’t sure one way or another.
Seven in 10 Americans — including some of those who aren’t sure whether climate change is actually happening — think it’s a problem that the U.S. government should be working to address. Among those who do think it’s a problem the government should address, more oppose than support withdrawing from the Paris agreement by a 60 percent to 21 percent margin.
More than half of Americans —53 percent — say climate change is a very or extremely important issue to them. Women are more likely than men to call climate change an important issue, 59 percent to 47 percent.
Bonnie Sumner, an independent voter who has lived in Colorado the last nine years, is among those who said doing something to combat climate change is important. She said her community in the Rocky Mountains is still dealing with the after effects of a devastating wildfire.
“It’s definitely gotten hotter than it used to be,” said Sumner, 72. “I try to keep up with science, not people who have money to be made by not wanting things to change.”
The poll shows that 35 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in the scientific community, 51 percent have some confidence, and 11 percent have hardly any confidence. But, again, there’s a big political divide: 53 percent of Democrats, but just 22 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of independents, say they have a great deal of confidence in scientists.
Sumner said Trump is too quick to dismiss the evidence of global warming compiled by climate scientists.
“His position, as it is with too many other things, is, ‘I know what’s best, I know better than everybody else, and this is a hoax, and this is fake news,'” she said. “I’m frightened for us, my children and my grandchildren. We only have one earth, we have to work together.”
The AP-NORC poll of 1,068 adults was conducted June 8-11 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.