Nearly two-thirds of Californians believe global warming is having an impact on the state's persistent drought, sharing Gov. Jerry Brown's environmental concerns as he presses for tougher climate change standards, according to a new statewide poll released Wednesday.
The Public Policy Institute of California found that 79 percent of residents agree that global warming is either a very serious or somewhat serious threat to California's quality of life. And across racial groups, 69 percent of Latinos are most likely to say the effects have already begun, followed by 63 percent of blacks, 60 percent of Asians and 58 percent of whites.
Democrats were more likely than independents and Republicans to call the threat very serious.
"The threat of global warming to the state's future is a shared belief among inland and coastal residents and Californians across racial and ethnic groups," said PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare. "But there are persistent partisan divisions on climate change."
Brown, a Democrat, recently returned from a climate summit at the Vatican where he said the world may have reached a tipping point on global warming and that humanity must reverse course or face extinction. Brown, a onetime Jesuit seminarian, has made climate change a central theme of his tenure in his second stint as California governor.
A solid majority of Californians, including 63 percent of likely voters, said they favor AB32, a landmark state law that requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Polls conducted since the law passed in 2006 have shown that most Californians favor it.
Nearly 70 percent of Californians said they favor stricter limits under a new bill, SB32, which would aim to bring greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.
The Legislature is also considering Brown's plan to set what the administration calls the most aggressive carbon reduction benchmark in North America. The proposal, SB350, would increase statewide renewable electricity use to 50 percent, have drivers use half as much gasoline, and make buildings twice as efficient as they are now.
While 82 percent of adults favor the electricity goal, support dips to 70 percent for increasing buildings' energy efficiency.
The poll found 64 percent of likely voters favor using tax credits and other incentives to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, and large majorities also favor building more solar power stations.
In the wake of an oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast in May, support for coastal drilling has fallen to 38 percent, the lowest point since the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Most adults, 56 percent, also opposed increased use of fracking to extract oil and natural gas from underground rock formations.
The telephone poll of 1,702 California adults was conducted July 12-21 and had a sampling error margin of 3.7 percent. The error margin was 4.5 percent for the subgroup of 1,064 likely voters.