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The Majority of Catholic Republicans Believe in Climate Change

The Pope's recent encyclical will fall on receptive ears.
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(Photo: petrmalinak/Shutterstock)

(Photo: petrmalinak/Shutterstock)

Last week, Pope Francis released his long awaited—and preemptively leaked—encyclical, acknowledging climate change as mostly human-induced and cause for drastic transformation on both individual and nationwide levels. It was an unprecedented move by the leader of the Catholic Church, as religiosity has long been linked to lower levels of climate concern. Fortunately, however, the Pope's message will fall on receptive ears.

Researchers at the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication have found that, among religious Republicans—and Republicans are more likely to be religious than Democrats—Catholic Republicans are "more convinced that global warming is happening and human-caused, and are more worried and supportive of climate policies, than are non-Catholic Republicans," the authors write.

In fact, the majority of Catholic Republicans (51 percent) believe global warming is indeed happening, compared to 42 percent of non-Catholic Republicans. Catholic Republicans are also more likely to think global warming is primarily caused by humans than non-Catholic Republicans, although by a smaller margin—36 percent vs. 30 percent. Not surprisingly, those percentages represent the number of Catholic Republicans who are worried about global warming versus non-Catholic Republicans, too.

The researchers also found 71 percent of Catholic Republicans express support of policies that address global warming, such as tax rebates for solar panels or energy efficient vehicles, while only 64 percent of non-Catholic Republicans do.

Their data was collected between fall 2012 and spring 2015 via six nationally representative surveys.