As Congress makes big budget decisions, new polling shows bipartisan support for climate innovation investment

Every Spring, Congress starts the process of deciding on next year’s federal budget, which contains funding for agencies and departments that help drive climate and clean energy progress.

Stepping up investment in climate innovation – the creation of new or enhanced climate solutions that lower pollution, create jobs and cut energy costs – should be a priority for next year’s budget. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act injected new funding for climate innovation this year, including for projects to pilot carbon removal technology, battery storage and low carbon fuels, but we need innovation funding to continue growing in the coming years.

Despite the escalating challenges brought on by climate change, recent EDF analysis found that the U.S. is still under-funding key climate solutions and technologies, including clean transportation, clean industry and manufacturing, and some renewable energy programs in the Department of Energy. Meanwhile, other countries have raced to increase the pace and scale of their innovation investments, competing with American leadership in clean energy technology.

Lawmakers have an opportunity to help get the country on track by ramping up U.S. investment in climate innovation in next year’s budget. And recent national polling by Morning Consult, commissioned by EDF, makes clear that a bipartisan majority of voters support bolstering federal funding.

Here are six key takeaways from the polling:

  1. Nearly 3 in 4 U.S. voters believe it’s important for the federal government to invest in new climate technologies that can improve the United States’ ability to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades – including majorities of Republicans (59%), Independents (70%) and Democrats (90%).
  2. A bipartisan majority of voters (70%) also thinks it’s important for the federal government to slash climate pollution now using policies such as tax incentives and regulations to ramp up existing technologies — a finding that aligns with previous polling showing voter support for the major climate and clean energy investments currently in the Senate.
  3. The majority believes that increased investment in climate innovation will have a mostly positive impact on a range of benefits, including growth of the clean energy industry, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the health of U.S. communities and U.S. job growth. Clearly, voters are recognizing innovation as more than just behind-the-scenes R&D, but an opportunity to boost the economy and public health.
  4. When it comes to investing in climate innovation, 79% of voters think it’s important that the U.S. relies on American-made materials and manufacturing processes, including strong majorities in every region of the U.S. The way to achieve these outcomes is to boost climate technology supply chains and manufacturing in the U.S., like how Ford is investing in job-creating, electric vehicle plants and battery plants in Kentucky and Tennessee.
  5. A strong majority of voters agree that both businesses and government have important roles to play in supporting climate innovation. Businesses have a key role to play alongside the federal government in deploying capital, increasing market demand for innovation, and scaling climate solutions across industries and supply chains. Companies can also support policy progress by using the most powerful tool they have to fight climate change: their political influence.
  6. Voters support investment throughout the pipeline of the technology innovation process. Specifically, a majority agree it’s important for the U.S. to invest in R&D of new climate technologies (76%) as well as invest in testing and scaling them up (73%). While the latter stages of the innovation process beyond early-stage R&D have historically received less funding support, they are critical for ensuring new technologies and solutions can benefit communities and succeed at wide scale on the market.

Past experience has shown us that governments play a pivotal role in fostering innovations that benefit us all, often with a high return on investment. In fact, reviews of six clean energy R&D programs found that for every $1 of cost, R&D programs yield $33 in benefits — including economic growth, reduced energy costs, improved public health, and increased energy security. We can thank federal innovation efforts for helping to drive down the costs of solar energy, wind energy and electric vehicle batteries significantly – key technologies that are rapidly growing on the market, producing good-paying jobs and improving air quality today.

With ample evidence of past success, strong bipartisan support from voters and a massive global market opportunity at hand, the choice for lawmakers should be obvious: climate innovation is an essential investment in our future.

Learn more about the polling here.

Learn more about climate innovation here.

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