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  • The Diesel Technology Forum

Survey: Americans prefer market-based approaches, choice and existing tech to combat climate change

New survey results highlight American opinions on strategies to mitigate climate change and the best approaches when it comes to fuels and technologies.

“Addressing climate change is a growing focus of governments and the private sector alike,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “It is important to understand where the American people stand on key issues now being considered in policy approaches to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions including mandates, tax policy, incentives, and technology choices.”

This research, conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies LLC for DTF, surveyed a sample of 2,500 Americans around the mid-term elections in November. They included 1,155 voters and 1,345 nonvoters.

The research asked three questions that yielded the following responses:

  • When it comes to fuel and energy policies, Americans express the strongest support for market-based approaches and consumer choice, with less support for financial incentives and tax policies focused on only new technologies. The highest levels of disapproval were for punitive financial policies, or mandates, against continued use of existing technologies.

  • Regarding the approaches to address climate change, 82 percent of Americans want to make “fuels and technologies we have today work better” and focus on those that are zero emissions. A total of 19 percent of respondents believe that there should be no further investment in fossil fuels or internal-combustion engines.

  • A total of 82 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement that “diesel engines are a major part of the problem, and we should move away from them no matter what, even if they are the best choice for a particular use.” Eighty-three percent indicated that they see diesel engines continuing to play a role in the future, particularly if they are using renewable fuels.

“It’s clear that Americans favor more of a carrot than a stick approach to setting policy and encouraging new fuels and technologies,” Schaeffer said. “As for approaches to addressing climate change, the debate is often framed in absolutes and extremes, all or none, electric vs. internal combustion, and which is the best and right approach. The American people have a more practical perspective that values a wide range of solutions and consumer choice. Americans want an inclusive approach, an all-of-the-above strategy, and aren’t comfortable with us only investing in zero-carbon emissions technologies.”

Schaeffer added, “We would be wise to apply these insights, knowing that the time and path for energy transitions is likely longer and more convoluted than anyone can predict. Near-term progress today is as important as longer-term progress tomorrow. That’s why we must continue to leverage and improve our current fuels and technologies like diesel and other internal-combustion engines that are widely in place and can utilize renewable fuels, while also investing in future technologies like electrification, hydrogen, and other approaches that may emerge.”


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