Two-Thirds of Young Republicans Fear for Environment Amid Large Surge in GOP Climate Change Concern: Poll

A recent surge in environmental concern among young Americans shows a growing number of Republicans who say they're worried human behavior and man-made pollution are damaging planet Earth.

President Donald Trump declared himself an "environmentalist" to reporters at the G7 summit Monday, but he quickly said he could not afford to sacrifice jobs and the economy in order to fight climate change. A new survey of global attitudes toward the environment released this week shows 67 percent, two-thirds, of young Republican voters are worried about human damage to the environment. The Amsterdam-based Glocalities polling data reveals an 18 percent spike in 18 to 34-year-old GOP supporters who say they fear the effects of climate change.

The survey of 189,996 respondents from 20 countries between 2014 and 2019 found that a majority of U.S. Republican Party voters today, 58 percent, say they are concerned about human-caused damage to the planet.

The 2014 to 2019 rise in concerns about man-made pollution, greenhouse gases and their effect on the environment is most sizable among Republicans. The U.S. overall has seen an 8 percent increase from 61 to 69 percent over the past five years in people expressing climate change worries. The Glocalities survey also showed a 10 percentage increase among U.S. Republicans who reported trying "to live eco-consciously."

About 17 percent of Republicans explicitly said they have no worries about the effects of climate change. That number is reduced to just 11 percent of young Republicans between the ages of 18 and 34 years old.

The release of the survey data comes as the Trump administration on Thursday proposed reversing restrictions on methane gas, the main component of natural gas, which scientists consider the second most significant contributor to climate change behind carbon dioxide. According to The New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency plans to eliminate federal tech requirements to repair and monitor methane leaks at pipeline or other energy facilities.

The surge in Republican concern over the environment follows overall U.S. trends, which have seen steady increases in people who say protection of the environment should be given priority -- even at the risk of curbing economic growth. Gallup data shows 65 percent of Americans agree the environment deserves priority over the economy, although the data does not account for jobs and economic growth possible through "green" energy.

On Monday, Trump bragged "I know more about the environment than most people," before telling reporters at the G7 summit in France that jobs and the economy must take precedent.

"I want clean air. I want clean water. I want a wealthy country. I want a spectacular country with jobs, with pensions, with so many things. And that's what we're getting," Trump said.

"At the same time, it's very important to me ... we have to maintain this incredible place that we've all built," Trump continued. The U.S. has "become a much richer country. And that's a good thing, not a bad thing. Because that wealth allows us to take care of people."

Earlier this year, Oregon Republican state lawmakers literally fled the state in order to avoid a vote on a climate change bill.

A United Kingdom poll released last month found that British residents are more concerned about protecting the environment than they are about affordable housing or terrorism.

young republicans environment concern climate
Supporters of US President Donald Trump wait for him to arrive to address the Turning Point USAs Teen Student Action Summit in Washington, DC, on July 23, 2019. NICHOLAS KAMM/Contributor/Getty Images