Discussions surrounding the likelihood of success at this year's climate talks in Paris have varied depending on what news source you frequent. Regardless of the actual outcome, the progress we have made is monumental. The three largest contributors of carbon emissions, China, U.S., and India have joined the discussion by committing to reductions, generating an immediate discourse that expands far beyond where we were this time last year.
These monumental strides may attribute to the latest findings in Yale's report on American attitudes toward the Paris talks scheduled to begin next week. They found that 71% of America's recognized the importance of these negotiations reaching an agreement, with an additional 64% of Americans agreeing that the U.S. should do "more" or "much more" to address climate change. That's a huge leap in public opinion from Lima, Peru (COP20).
What managed to garner such a shift in support? As we have learned from Pope Francis, who increased climate support among Americans by 9% from a single visit to the states, it's safe to say that leaders speaking out on climate change offered the American public something they might not have had before – climate conviction.
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference opens in Paris on November 30. In preparation for the negotiations, each country was asked to submit their own national action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and over 90% have done so, including the United States. President Obama is now going to Paris to press for an international agreement to reduce global warming. What does the American public think?
In our recent national survey, we asked Americans about the U.N. Summit in Paris, how much the U.S. and other countries should do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and whether the U.S. should only act if other countries do.
A large percentage of Americans (71%) say it is important to reach an agreement in Paris this year to limit global warming and 43% say reaching an agreement is very or extremely important. A large majority of Democrats say an agreement is important (85%), as do nearly 2 out of 3 Republicans (64%). In contrast, only 3% of Democrats and 24% of Republicans think reaching an agreement in Paris is “not at all” important.