The LEAD (Leadership. Evidence. Analysis. Debate.) Conference showcases the important research conducted at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy and its research centers by bringing together key stakeholders to examine a particular policy challenge and foster dialogue on potential solutions.
Our 2014 event has origins in the recent research of McCourt Professor David Konisky and Harvard’s Stephen Ansolabehere. Over the course of ten years, Konisky and Ansolabehere designed and conducted a series of nationally representative public opinion surveys on American’s attitudes toward energy. The resulting book, Cheap and Clean: How Americans Think about Energy in the Age of Global Warming (MIT Press, 2014) presents the first comprehensive picture of how the American public understands energy, the environment, and climate change.
By testing questions like why do people favor one fuel source over another and how willing are people to tradeoff environmental harms for cheaper energy, Konisky and Ansolabehere came to a simple conclusion: Americans want energy to be less expensive, and they want it to be less harmful to human health and the environment.
When it comes to global warming, though, there is a major policy and political problem. Concern about global warming is not yet a major driver of the public’s energy and energy policy preferences. As they show in the book, the American public is reluctant to support climate legislation for its own sake, but it expresses wide support for regulation that takes on traditional pollution. Tackling the local environmental harms associated with energy thus amounts to a large first step toward reducing U.S. carbon emissions.
The Power of Opinion: How Americans’ Preferences on Energy Point a Way Forward on Climate Change will examine the opportunities and challenges presented by this research, and how policymakers can leverage these findings toward meaningful changes in energy policy.
Past LEAD Conferences