Two-thirds of New Jerseyans are concerned about the impact that climate change will have on them, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll conducted in collaboration with the New Jersey Climate Change Alliance at Rutgers University. The Alliance is facilitated by Rutgers University through the Rutgers Climate Institute and the Environmental Analysis and Communications Group at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
Thirty-seven percent say they are “very concerned” about the effects of climate change on their life or family members and the people around them. Another 30 percent are “somewhat concerned,” and the remaining third is “not very” (15 percent) or “not concerned at all” (18 percent).
Moreover, New Jerseyans have varying levels of knowledge about different aspects of climate change. Almost four in ten say they know “a lot” about its causes (37 percent) and its impact on the environment (38 percent); a third (32 percent) say the same about climate change’s effect on the future, and one in five (22 percent) say the same about how to prepare. About three in ten say they know only a “little” or “nothing at all” about the first three components; four in ten have little or no knowledge about how to prepare.
Residents are most likely to say they “frequently” get information about climate change from the mass media (53 percent), followed by social media (29 percent) and other people (18 percent). Just one in ten cite “frequently” getting news from their local community organizations or state government.
On the policy side, more favor the state government combating climate change by offering incentives (45 percent) to reduce greenhouse emissions rather than imposing limits (29 percent). Yet when asked who should pay to make New Jersey more resilient to the impact of climate change, 62 percent want the fuel producers and heavy users that cause the most greenhouse gas emissions to pay a “major share” of the cost; another 22 percent say they should pay a “minor share.” Forty-three percent believe state government should pay a “major share” from the taxes it collects; another 35 percent say they should pay a “minor share.”
Residents are largely in favor of helping low-income households meet energy efficiency standards. Eight in ten support (50 percent “strongly,” 29 percent “somewhat”) requiring affordable and low-income rental homes to meet energy efficiency building standards. The same number supports (50 percent “strongly,” 30 percent “somewhat”) requiring utility companies to provide financial incentives to help low-income customers cover the cost of energy-saving improvements to their homes.
“These results underscore the challenges that New Jersey and other states face when addressing climate change,” said Jeanne Herb of the Rutgers Bloustein School of Policy and Planning New Jersey Climate Change Alliance at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Most New Jerseyans show some concern about climate change but are uncertain of how to address it both personally and through public policy.”
Results are from a statewide poll of 1,008 New Jersey adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from March 29 through April 9, 2019. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.