Sort by

Politicizing the Sun: Support for Renewables Runs Along Party Lines

J. Mijin Cha

Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Fmr. Rep. Newt Gingrich in a 2008 ad for Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection

What is it about renewables that divide people along partisan lines?  A recent poll found that support for renewable energy among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents was a full 30 percent lower than support among Democrats. Democratic support for renewable energy funding polled at over 80 percent, while Republican support fell to 53 percent.

Yet, it wasn’t always this way. From 2006-2009, support for renewable energy among Republicans and Democrats was over 80 percent. The only thing difference between then and now is which party is in the White House. So, it’s not that Republicans don’t support renewable energy because they are fundamentally opposed to it, they just don’t support it when there is a Democratic president. In fact, we highlighted how conservative politicians denounce renewables in public (threatening to de-fund programs, grilling Secretary Chu for over five hours, and removing opportunities for others) yet in private, they lobby for more money and support for renewable projects in their districts.

The hyper-partisan discourse surrounding renewables is not only misguided, it’s counter-productive. Study after study has shown the economic benefit to investing in a clean economy, both in terms of job creation and overall economic growth. In fact, most people recognize this.  The same poll found that overall support for renewable energy is still high with 68 percent of respondents favoring federal backing for renewable energy, higher than support for traditional fossil fuel industries.

Investing in renewable energy development is not only good for the economy; it brings us closer to energy independence and helps substantially reduce our carbon emissions. It is also a big step forward in the fight against climate change. As we pointed out earlier this week, climate related disasters cost our economy over $53 billion this year alone. We don’t have time for partisan games.

It’s not a matter of politics, it’s a matter of our economic future.