Motivating climate change solutions in Indiana

Documenting Hoosiers’ perceptions of a climate resilient future

Decorative: graphic of the earth with a recycling symbol
Image courtesy of annca on pixabay

The Problem

Across Indiana, Hoosiers’ views on environmental change are shifting as the state experiences the impacts of global warming, including more extreme precipitation and high heat. To chart a path toward a more resilient future, Indiana residents must first be able to imagine it. From energy to water, a full analysis of perspectives and attitudes will help inform strategies to spur systemic change and enable a sustainable future.

The Project

To help identify potential pathways to a climate resilient future supported by the public, IU Associate Professor Shahzeen Attari and her colleagues surveyed Hoosiers about their views on Indiana’s current and future energy mix and energy policy at the state level. In a separate study, the team asked survey participants about their reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, identifying similarities and differences in response to the two crises. Attari’s team also conducted a survey of Gen Z students at Indiana University on their views of the future. By asking young leaders about their perspectives on global challenges, the team is providing critical insight into generational attitudes that could help shape policy solutions moving forward.

Through conducting these studies, the researchers found:

  • a majority of Hoosiers want a decarbonized energy mix in 2050 that relies mostly on solar and wind and less on fossil fuels.
  • one solution to mitigating climate change, deploying more low-carbon energy sources, has widespread support and less partisan division than climate change itself.
  • strong levels of support exist across three key political groups—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—for decarbonization policies, such as implementing a carbon fee (68%), supporting net metering (94%), pursuing a Green New Deal (79%), and establishing a renewable portfolio standard (92%).
  • similarities in how people evaluate the threat of COVID-19 and climate change. For example, doubting the severity of COVID-19 (e.g., believing that the risk was exaggerated) was highly correlated with similar doubts about climate change, suggesting that mistrust of risk communicators might reflect a deeper worldview.

The Path Forward

Forthcoming studies will investigate the attitudes of young Hoosiers about climate change and the feasibility of replicating other international climate actions around the globe. In addition to these studies, Attari’s team is working on an expert elicitation of climate experts in India and the United States to identify potential pathways for climate solutions.