Close this search box.

Getting climate, energy & environment news right.

New Polling Shows Where Young Conservatives Stand On The Environment

A popular narrative espoused by media and left-wing politicians is that conservatives do not care about the environment. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, especially for young conservatives. Now, new polling from the American Conservation Coalition (ACC) offers a picture of exactly where young conservatives stand on environmental issues. 

>>>READ: Gen Z’s Bipartisan Approach to Climate Solutions

A nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing young people around environmental action through common sense, pro-innovation, and limited-government principles, ACC was first founded in 2017 and is now more than 40,000 members strong. I first connected with the organization in 2019 when I was a recent graduate trying to find other market-based environmentalists. It was in joining ACC that I found a community of people dedicated to pursuing environmental action while prizing innovation and individualism. 

The economy or the climate? Why not both?

Subscribe for ideas that support the environment and the people. 

ACC partnered with Echelon Insights earlier this year to release a survey that polled young conservatives on climate and clean energy issues. More than 1,000 young conservatives were polled, and roughly 500 of those surveyed live in rural areas with fewer than 50,000 residents. 

The survey resulted in two important takeaways: Young conservatives overwhelmingly believe in climate change and support clean energy. 

Young Conservative Thoughts on Climate Change

“The majority think climate change is an important issue to address, but connecting the issue to high-priority issues like the economy — and showing that climate policies take economic concerns into account — is key,” ACC explained. “Talking about climate as part of a broader agenda to protect the environment brings a slightly larger coalition to the table — while many young conservatives want to see climate addressed, even more say they want the environment protected.” 

Sixty-nine percent of respondents found the issue of climate change to be very or somewhat important. Three key areas received similar scores: the economy, agriculture, and environmental conservation. It makes sense that linking these items together would be more compelling to a broader group. 

>>>READ: 2024: The Year of Freedom Conservatism

The survey suggests that young conservatives want to vote for leaders who are concerned about climate change. Seventy-one percent of respondents said that there is solid evidence of a changing climate (with 56 percent agreeing that human activities are a majority or equal contributor to the problem) and more than seven in 10 respondents said that Republicans in Congress should care about climate change. 

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed would be more likely to vote for a Republican candidate who supports clean energy expansion and addressing the climate challenge. 

However, respondents feel like their voices on this issue are not being heard in the political world. Less than half of those polled were confident that their voices are heard by government leaders when decisions about the environment and energy are made. 

Young Conservative Thoughts on Clean Energy

Seventy-six percent of respondents favor increased use of clean energy to reduce fossil fuel dependence. Of those against this growth, energy costs are the leading concern. Those supporting clean energy like it because it reduces emissions and combats climate change, but the impact on the economy was an even stronger draw. More than 90 percent of respondents rallied around the idea that providing quality jobs for Americans should be a key factor in energy decisions, with 87 percent of those surveyed wanting reduced dependence on foreign countries for energy. 

A plurality of young conservatives are also optimistic about the positive impact clean energy could have on rural areas. Chris Barnard, ACC president, writes

“The future of American energy must be affordable, reliable, and yes – clean. This sentiment cannot be contained to only our major city centers. America’s rural communities must be included in our clean energy transition and heard by elected leaders. In a crucial election year, voters are demanding it. By championing clean energy and realistic steps to reduce emissions, candidates for elected office can not only help rural communities thrive but can also win over new voting blocs.” 

It would already be difficult to argue that young conservatives do not care about the environment when a conservative environmental coalition exists and is 40,000 members strong. While there are plenty of environmentalists to be found within the GOP, young conservatives are a unique voting bloc and are increasingly calling on their government leaders to take action on climate change and work toward the expansion of clean energy. Candidates looking to gain the support of young conservative environmentalists would be wise to listen. 

Kelvey Vander Hart is a native Iowan, a member of the American Conservation Coalition, and a communications specialist at Reason Foundation.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

Copyright © 2020 Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions

Subscribe to our exclusive email designed for conservatives who care about climate.

Help us promote free market solutions for climate change.

5 Incredible Ways Economic Freedom Helps the Planet.

Sign up for our newsletter now to get the full list right in your inbox.

Thank you for signing up

Help us promote sensible solutions for both planet and prosperity.

Download Now