Democrats and Republicans may not always agree, but when it comes to renewable energy, both parties agree on its environmental (and financial) potential.

Democrats and Republicans have never been the best of friends on issues that concern the American people, but there is common ground in the area of renewable energy. The two parties apparently view renewable energy, and the self-sufficiency that comes with it, as a necessity for all Americans. This unusual agreement is the subject of a study published in the journal Environmental Politics.

A Change of Opinion?

The study was published by Christine Horne, a professor of sociology at the Washington State University, along with Emily Kennedy, also a professor of sociology but at the University of British Columbia.

The researchers conducted local and national surveys, concluding that both Democrats and Republicans see solar power and money-saving as necessary for self-sufficiency. The idea that conservatives and liberals both agree on renewable energy means that companies manufacturing renewable energy technologies and other utility necessities will have a good chance at getting political support.

A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that 83 percent of Republicans and 97 percent of Democrats “love” solar farms, showing that Democrats and Republicans have agreed on renewable energy for a little longer than we realize. The same study is consistent with another conducted by Vanderbilt University in the same year.

Where is the Common Ground?

Since Republicans are known to show little support for environmental concerns, the reasons for the party’s current support are largely unknown. To get to the bottom of this, Horne and Kennedy conducted face-to-face interviews with almost 70 Democrats and Republicans in Washington State.

The respondents were asked to report on their assessment of residents who installed solar panels on their roofs and also did other things that promoted environmental safety.

Most of the respondents saw people who had solar panels or other forms of renewable energy as financially savvy, but not necessarily “environmentalists.” They considered such people as financially “smart, frugal and self-sufficient.” They gave more thought to the money saved from energy bills as more important than any fears associated with climate change.

However, there is a thin line of difference. Republicans are more influenced with financial savings and self-sufficiency when it comes to renewable energy, while Democrats are more concerned with environmental protection, lower carbon emissions and humanitarian activities.

The study reveals that Democrats and Republicans may not always agree with the environment, but they do in support of renewable energy. The research also indicates that Democrats can get Republicans to do more with solar energy if they emphasize its potential for self-sustenance.

“Our results show both groups value renewable energy and self-sufficiency,” Horne said. “We might be able to make more forward progress if our policies and advertising were to focus on these areas of agreement rather than the issues we don’t agree on.”

 

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