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Blog Post · November 3, 2021

Most Support California’s Leadership in Climate Change Policy

photo - Wind Turbines and Green Field

In the last several months, Californians have experienced extreme wildfires, record-breaking heat and droughts, and most recently, record-breaking rainfall and flooding. According to PPIC’s July survey, majorities of adults in California say climate change has contributed to droughts and wildfires in the state, and a strong majority say the effects of climate change have already started happening. As world leaders meet this week for the UN climate change conference, we examine Californians’ views about the state’s climate leadership and policies.

In July, most Californians expressed that the state’s climate change leadership around the world is very (43%) or somewhat (28%) important to them (likely voters: 46% very, 25% somewhat). Majorities of Democrats (90%), independents (61%), and Republicans (58%) say it is at least somewhat important that California act as a leader in efforts to fight climate change. Majorities across regions and age, education, gender, income, and racial/ethnic groups say this.

In addition, strong majorities of Californians—two in three adults and likely voters—are in favor of the state government making its own policies, separate from the federal government, to address climate change. About three in ten are opposed (31% adults, 33% likely voters). Majorities across regions and demographic groups are in favor.

While Californians support the state making its own policies, how do they feel about Governor Newsom’s specific plans to combat climate change? Overwhelming majorities of adults (76%) and likely voters (76%) are in favor of the “30 by 30” plan, which sets a goal of conserving 30% of California’s land, inland water, and ocean areas by 2030. Majorities across partisan groups as well as strong majorities across the state’s regions and demographic groups support the plan.

Most Californians (64% adults, 64% likely voters) also support the plan to ban the issuance of new fracking permits starting in 2024. However, partisans disagree, with most Democrats and independents in favor and most Republicans opposed. Majorities across regions and demographic groups support the plan, with overwhelming support among Los Angeles residents (72%), college graduates (71%), and Asian Americans (70%).

Unlike “30 by 30” and the ban on new fracking permits, Californians’ views are divided on Governor Newsom’s executive order that bans the sale of all new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. Among all adults, 49% are in favor and 49% oppose (likely voters: 48% favor, 51% oppose). An overwhelming majority of Republicans (85%) are opposed, as are 56% of independents, while 69% of Democrats are in favor. The plan only achieves majority support in Los Angeles (59%) and the San Francisco Bay Area (51%), as well as among 18- to 34-year-olds (57%), college graduates (55%), Latinos (55%), renters (54%), and men (51%).

Despite differing views on specific policies, Californians remain committed to fighting climate change. As the state explores new climate policies and proposals, PPIC will continue to track the public’s views on this critical topic.


climate change Drought Forests and Fires Gavin Newsom Political Landscape Statewide Survey Water, Land & Air wildfires