By Seth Borenstein and Emily Swanson
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON»Americans want their local officials to take on the challenge of battling global warming now that President Donald Trump is withdrawing the nation an international climate change agreement.
That’s according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. The poll finds 57 percent of Americans say they favor local governments picking up the slack to try and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their own, with only 10 percent opposing it. About 55 percent of Americans say their own local and state governments should be doing more to address global warming, with only 10 percent saying they should be doing less.
And more Americans oppose than favor Trump’s effort to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris accord, in which nearly 200 nations agreed to self-imposed cuts or limits on emissions of heat-trapping gas pollution. Forty-two percent of those surveyed said they oppose getting out of the Paris agreement, while 28 percent favored the withdrawal and 28 percent had no strong opinion. Among Democrats 64 percent want to stay in the Paris agreement. More Republicans favored withdrawing, 46 percent, than staying in, 22 percent.
Martha Oberman, an online businesswoman from Texas who sells collectibles, called Trump’s decision to get out of the Paris agreement “horrible, short-sighted.”
“If we’re not going to get (action) from the top, you have to start at the bottom at the local level and work its way to the top,” Oberman said.
Local governments can get things done, said Antonio Torres, a former chef in central Florida. He’d like to see local governments bring more solar energy use online.
That rings true with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who leads two committees of mayors who are fighting climate change. One of her groups has 115 cities committed to the goal of having their cities operating entirely on renewable energy by 2035. Salt Lake City is hoping to beat that goal by a few years.
“We’re leading the conversation because we have to now,” Biskupski said. “Here we are with the president coming out against supporting the Paris agreement. Now we really ramped things up with the mayors across the country.”
Overall, 72 percent of Americans say they believe climate change is happening and 63 percent think human activity is at least partially responsible. Eighty-two percent of Democrats and 43 percent of Republicans say they believe in at least partially human-caused climate change. The poll was conducted before hurricanes battered Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.