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California voters believe the state should be moving faster on climate change

New polling results from FM3 find California voters support a range of policies to accelerate the transition off of fossil fuels
For Immediate Release

New polling results from FM3 find California voters support a range of policies to accelerate the transition off of fossil fuels 

Sacramento, CA—Two thirds of California voters believe the state should be moving more quickly to address climate change and strong majorities support a range of policies to accelerate the transition off of fossil fuels, according to the results of a poll conducted by FM3 and released today by Environment California. 

“Californians feel the urgency of moving faster to address the climate crisis acutely, especially with a looming drought driving fears around wildfire season. In this critical moment, when the health and future prosperity of millions of California families hangs in the balance, voters want real leadership from our state and faster, more transformative change,” said Laura Deehan, state director at Environment California. 

The results of the survey come amidst mounting concern over waning climate leadership from the state of California just as the nation is speeding ahead, thanks to new commitments from the Biden administration. Three in four Californians view climate change as a serious problem facing California, with 38% calling it an “extremely serious problem.” Californians' perception of the gravity of climate change has been steadily increasing since 2012, when only 20% categorized it as “extremely serious.” 

“It’s clear from our polling that California voters understand the very real health and climate consequences that accompany fossil fuel infrastructure in California, and are supportive of the expansion of clean energy solutions,” said Miranda Everitt, research vice president at FM3. “What remains to be seen is if California leaders will take the steps needed to accelerate this transition - and what voters will have to say if they don’t.”

Other topline findings include: 

  • Californians strongly support investments in clean energy and efficiency solutions.  

    • 83% of voters support upgrading schools, libraries, and community centers to be more energy efficient and 80% support upgrades to public buildings to run on renewable energy. 

    • 73% support creating policies that prioritize clean energy for low-income households. 

    • And 62% support changing zoning codes to encourage the use of emission-free  appliances. 

    • 86% believe that providing energy efficiency rebates and incentives is an important funding priority. 

    • The California Energy Commission is expected to release a proposed decision on the state’s Title 24 building code update as early as this week, that will determine energy efficiency levels and the electrification of appliances for the next three years, until the 2025 code update. 

  • Nearly 80% of Californians believe pollution from cars and trucks is a serious problem, and half classify car pollution as an “extremely serious” or “very serious” problem. 

    • The Gov. has proposed a $1.5 billion budget investment in pollution-free vehicle programs and infrastructure in the state budget. With a larger-than-expected state budget surplus, advocates are calling for the legislature to increase this funding, in order to address air pollution in disadvantaged communities. 

  • Californians support a variety of policies to cut pollution from medium and heavy duty vehicles with broad majorities supporting policies that would cut pollution near ports and warehouses, using renewable energy at ports, and transition to a zero-emission truck and bus fleet within the next 15 years. 

    • 70% of Californians support requiring large corporations to shift to zero-emissions technologies to cut pollution in communities living near ports and warehouses — a policy priority that could be tackled by two key rulemakers, including the Indirect Source Rule, which the South Coast Air Quality Management District will vote on this Friday. 

    • 69% support transition to a zero-emission truck and bus fleet by 2035. Later this year, the California Air Resources Board will vote on a proposed Advanced Clean Fleets rule that they will vote on later this year. 

    • 65% of voters support transitioning to renewable energy at ports, including plugging ships into the renewable grid and using only zero-emission trucks. 

  • By an 11-point margin, voters see more harms from fossil fuel infrastructure than benefits. Nearly half (48%) of voters believe that the harms caused by fossil fuel plants and infrastructure outweigh the benefit compared to over a third (37%) who believed the benefits are greater.

The debate over new fossil fuel infrastructure has been a major policy debate this year in California as policymakers consider the future of gas in homes and buildings for heating and cooking. To cut climate pollution, more than 40 cities have adopted policies to require or incentivize home builders to forgo gas hookups in new construction -- a move that is critical to halting the expansion of gas infrastructure, and the first step in the larger transition to 100% clean energy in homes.

The Energy Commission is expected to put forth a proposal for the 2022 building code that will determine how far California goes on efficiency and building electrification later this week. 

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About Environment California:

Environment California is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.environmentcaliforniacenter.org