Poll: Early primary state voters support the end of oil

The oil industry should be terrified

by Jack Shapiro

November 19, 2019

We can create a better future for our country and for the world — and if we look around we’ll see we have more allies than we think.

© Stefano Montesi / Greenpeace

Just a few years ago, the climate crisis was hardly on the political map. Notoriously, it was barely mentioned in any of the presidential debates in 2016. But in the past few years, the signs of a changing world are everywhere we look. From record breaking fires raging in California to flooded farmers’ fields across the Midwest, hotter temperatures and record-breaking storms are threatening people’s homes, jobs, lives and livelihoods.

The good news is that no matter how deep the radio silence has been from the media and our political system, climate justice organizers have been working, and public opinion and action has started to shift.

Masses of young people are striking in the streets. The Green New Deal has picked up tremendous support. Exxon is on trial for lying about what they knew about climate change and its terrible impacts. Pushed by public opinion, waves of grassroots leaders are running for and winning all levels of public office. And, the top Democratic presidential candidates have released robust climate plans.

What’s more, people are recognizing exactly who is to blame and what to do about it. Oil companies created this crisis, and they need to be held accountable.

A new Greenpeace commissioned poll from Civis Analytics says that two-thirds of voters in the first four primary states support ending fossil fuel extraction. And of those in favor of ending the era of coal, oil, and gas, fully half support starting right away. 

Phasing out oil and gas and holding the fossil fuel industry accountable for the damage they’ve caused are key ingredients if we’re going to do what the science demands, and take the ambitious steps needed to mitigate the climate crisis in the next ten years. 

A world free from fossil fuels is possible. A truly just transition to a renewable and regenerative economy would protect the health and prosperity of every community, creating the conditions we all need to flourish, no matter the color of our skin, gender, religion, or who we love. These ideas also have public support: in the same Greenpeace commissioned poll, 55% of voters agree that the government should guarantee jobs for fossil fuel workers transitioning to a renewable energy economy.

The oil industry is afraid of that future, and will do anything to stop it from coming to pass. They’ll spend their millions on lobbyists, greenwashing ads about how “clean” they are, and bought and paid for politicians. But their reckoning starts now. 

Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, said in a recent VICE interview, “When you tell people that oil companies are being sued because they lied, that they knew about climate change 40 years ago, they wrote it all down, they called it potentially catastrophic, they were really worried about it, but then instead of doing the right thing they ran this massive disinformation campaign… the intensity of the dislike for oil companies essentially doubles.”

Despite the awful rhetoric we hear, the country has far more in common than we believe. Most of us do our best to make a bright future for the people we love and are anxious that environmental changes will make it even harder for our families and our loved ones to thrive. 

We can create a better future for our country and for the world — and if we look around we’ll see we have more allies than we think.

Jack Shapiro

By Jack Shapiro

Jack Shapiro is the Project Lead for Greenpeace USA's Climate Leadership project, focused on the intersection of climate change, policy, politics, and organizing.

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