Renewable vitality affords widespread floor for Democrats, Republicans

Because the battle traces are drawn for subsequent month’s hotly contested midterm elections, some Individuals could also be comforted to know there may be at the least one space of widespread floor for Democrats and Republicans.

No matter political standing, age or gender, U.S. voters are in favor of renewable vitality, in keeping with analysis by Christine Horne, professor of sociology at Washington State College.

Horne and Emily Kennedy, a former WSU sociology professor now on the College of British Columbia, are the authors of a new study in the journal Environmental Politics that exhibits whereas conservatives and liberals are inclined to disagree on many environmental points, they each view the event of solar energy and different types of renewable vitality as financially savvy and a step in the direction of self-sufficiency.

The analysis identifies an space the place policymakers on either side of the aisle might work collectively. It additionally might have vital implications for utility corporations and different companies concerned within the manufacture and sale of renewable vitality applied sciences.

“I feel anybody who’s listening to our present political local weather could be to see there may be an space of widespread floor,” Horne mentioned. “Advertising and marketing renewable vitality as a approach to be extra self-sufficient is a message that might enchantment to each liberals and conservatives.”

Bipartisan help for renewables

Assist for renewable vitality has been rising steadily throughout the U.S. in recent times. A 2016 study by the Pew Research Center discovered 83 p.c of conservative Republicans and 97 p.c of liberal Democrats favor photo voltaic farms. Conservative states are additionally as more likely to help renewable vitality and vitality effectivity insurance policies as liberal states, in keeping with a 2016 study led by researchers at Vanderbilt University.

Whereas help for renewable vitality amongst Democrats is essentially thought to stem from environmental considerations, the reasoning behind Republicans’ help is much less properly understood.

To raised perceive help for renewable vitality amongst each conservatives and liberals, Horne and Kennedy performed in-person interviews on the properties of 64 registered Democrats and Republicans throughout Washington state.

The researchers requested examine contributors about their views on individuals who had photo voltaic panels or who engaged in different pro-environmental behaviors and their very own curiosity in putting in photo voltaic panels.

The group additionally performed a bigger, nationally consultant on-line survey that requested contributors about their views of a household of their neighborhood that not too long ago put in photo voltaic panels on their house.

Funding for the analysis was offered by the Nationwide Science Basis and a WSU New School Seed Grant.

Financially clever use of sources

Reasonably than seeing renewable vitality as tightly certain to environmentalism, the examine’s conservative respondents have been extra more likely to view it as financially clever and use of sources, Horne’s group discovered.

As an illustration, Ted, a conservative interviewed within the examine, mentioned he thinks very extremely of people that have photo voltaic panels on their house and assumes they’re sensible, frugal and self-sufficient. When requested if he thinks these individuals could also be involved in regards to the surroundings, Ted responded, “I feel if individuals thought to place photo voltaic panels on their roof, they’d not suppose that was serving to the surroundings in any respect. They’d suppose that was serving to them financially, as a result of they’re not paying an influence invoice.”

Democrats interviewed within the examine additionally seen renewable vitality as financially sensible and contributing to self-sufficiency.

Nonetheless, not like their Republican counterparts, the Democrats strongly linked renewable vitality with environmental safety, decreasing carbon emissions and serving to different individuals.

When requested if she feels answerable for decreasing her private environmental affect, Caitlyn, a Democrat, responded:

“As a result of I get pleasure from being out in nature, I feel everybody else ought to have the ability to get pleasure from it. I feel our youngsters, and our youngsters’ youngsters and everybody ought to have the identical advantages…that we’re afforded proper now. I feel that they need to all be afforded that as properly, if not much more than we’ve got proper now.”


The analysis helps clarify how politically polarized attitudes in regards to the surroundings can exist alongside bipartisan help for renewable vitality. It additionally means that efforts to encourage Republicans to put money into photo voltaic could also be simpler in the event that they emphasize self-sufficiency.

“In relation to local weather change and different environmental points, Democrats and Republicans usually disagree,” Horne mentioned. “Nonetheless, our outcomes present each teams worth renewable vitality and self-sufficiency. We would have the ability to make extra ahead progress if our insurance policies and promoting have been to deal with these areas of settlement moderately than the problems we don’t agree on.”

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