We all know that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Until people know the climate impact of the products they’re using, it will be impossible for them to demand lower-carbon goods, and it will be impossible to decarbonize the industrial sectors that are responsible for 40 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions

Paolo Natali, director of the Materials Initiative at Rocky Mountain Institute.
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The Climate Change Solution That Climate Deniers Can Get Behind

In 2013, an unlikely alliance challenged Georgia’s Republican utility commission to get more of its energy from solar power: The Sierra Club and The Tea Party. The two groups called their coalition The Green Tea Party, and have been staunch advocates for solar throughout the state ever since.

The Sierra Club threw their hat into the ring for the pro-environmental benefits of solar electricity. The Tea Party had slightly different motives, as Debbie Dooley, a cofounder of the Atlanta Tea Party wrote in Grist at the time: “The premise is simple: Those who believe in the free market need to reexamine the way our country produces energy. Giant utility monopolies deserve at least some competition, and consumers should have a choice.”

On the issue of global warming, the groups simply agreed to disagree. “That’s something we don’t get involved in,” Dooley told The New Yorker in 2015. “If you mention climate change, [the Tea Party members are] going to tune you out.

In the U.S., the right and left still hold very different views about global warming. The most recent survey data on Americans’ views on climate change—published this week by the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change—found that 73 percent of all registered voters think that global warming is happening and 59 percent think it’s caused mostly by human activities. But look closer, along party lines, and a wide valley emerges between Republicans and Democrats.

While 95 percent of the most liberal Democrats think global warming is happening, only 41 percent of the most conservative Republicans do. Just one in four conservative Republicans think that global warming is mostly human-caused. Similarly, about one in four conservative Republicans said they were worried about global warming, and only 22 percent of all Republicans think that global warming should be a high or very high priority for federal lawmakers.

But, as in Georgia, there is one place where the gap between Republicans and Democrats gets much smaller: renewable and clean energy. On this topic, the number of Republicans in support jumps significantly: 77 percent of Republicans agree with funding more research into renewable energy sources and 79 percent of Republicans are behind generating renewable energy, like solar and wind. Seventy percent support tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels. Even half of people who consider themselves conservative Republicans support those ideas.

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