Califor­nians want action on climate change

A new Field Poll indicates that 64 percent of Golden State residents support taking legal action to save the planet.

The poll comes out a week to the day after thousands of people congregated at Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero to hold a “Forward on Climate” rally.

Though many Californians are looking forward, the poll indicates their support also extends to laws that have already been passed. Of the 834 registered voters surveyed 70 percent still support AB 32, the 2006 law that set an ambitious statewide goal to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

However, support is down from 2007, when 79 percent of state voters backed the law and 76 percent supported taking action to combat global warming.

Though Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger helped make AB 32 a top priority for Republicans, the California GOP today is less environmentally minded. Just 37 percent believe action is needed on climate change, versus 56 percent in 2007.

Today, 54 percent of Democrats polled believe serious or immediate action is needed. The highest percentage of Republican consensus was the 30 percent who believe more research is needed.

The poll exposed other interesting breakdowns beyond political differences. It found that independent voters, those younger than 40 years old, those with a college education, and those who live in the Bay Area were more likely to believe action needs to be taken against global warming. On the other end of the spectrum reside Republicans, seniors, Central Valley residents and those with no more than a high-school education who tend to take the opposing view.

The cry for action against climate change is strongest here in the Bay Area, with 77 percent of residents surveyed supporting measures to combat the issue. The Central Valley has the lowest percentage of support, with only 51 percent supporting action.

However, Californians are able to agree on one thing: the nation and state aren’t handling the issue well. Sixty-two percent of California voters disapprove of how the federal government has handled the issue, while 49 percent see the Golden State’s response as inadequate.

The Field Poll, conducted by telephone between Feb. 5 and 13, has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.