From September 13-21, 2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including beliefs and attitudes about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. A description of the methodology used for the research is provided below.
The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q3,Q7,Q12-17,Q38). Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs. Subgroup variations between BIPOC and white Oregonians; rural and urban residents; and between age groups have been of particular interest to individuals and organizations and are provided in the Demographic Trends section below.
Climate Change is the 6th Most Important Issue for Oregonians
When given the opportunity to express in their own words what they see as the most important issue for elected leaders to address, 5% of Oregonians mention climate change, making it the sixth-most commonly mentioned issue, behind homelessness (38%); housing affordability (15%); crime and safety (12%); drugs and addiction (8%); and cost of living and inflation (6%) (Q3).
- Democrats and Oregonians who identify as socially or economically liberal are the most likely to mention climate change as a priority (10%, each). For these groups, climate change is the third most important issue, rather than the sixth. Only 1% of Republicans and economic conservatives mentioned climate change, and fewer than 1% of social conservatives (n=2). 2% of social moderates and Oregonians not registered with one of the two major parties, and 4% of economic moderates say climate change is the most important to address.
- College graduates mention climate change as a priority more often than people with fewer years of formal education (9% vs. 3%-4%).
“I want elected leaders to tackle climate change and think of solutions to be a greener state.”Woman, age 18-29, Washington County, Hispanic/Latina/x
“Addressing climate change and fire risk.”Woman, age 75+, Deschutes County, white
“We’re making progress on measures to mitigate the effects of climate change and mitigate the worsening effects of the use of fossil fuels, but more can and should be done.”Man, age 75+, Polk County, white
Other Environmental Concerns
Other issues related to the environment that are mentioned as important include environmental and/or natural resource stewardship and land use (3%); forest and wildfire (2%); and water and drought (1%).
Oregonians feel strongly that maintaining a quality environment to attract people and companies to Oregon is more important for economic growth (60%) than relaxing environmental protection regulations to make it easier for companies to do business (25%). 15% are unsure which approach is better (Q7).
- A similar question from August 2021 showed that more Oregonians thought that protection of the environment should be given priority even at the risk of slowing economic growth (76%), than thought economic growth should be given priority at the expense of environmental quality (23%). Taken together, these results suggest that residents clearly prioritize the protection of the environment in Oregon and may even see doing so as a part of building a sustainable economy in the state.
- In a more direct comparison, Oregonians’ preference for maintaining a quality environment has fallen slightly over the years from 75% in 1992, to 69% in 2002, and now to 60% in 2022 (Q7).
- To a lesser degree than elsewhere, socioeconomic status impacts the results of this question. For instance, 71% of those with a four-year degree or more favor an environmental approach, compared to 61% with some college experience, and 50% of those with less educational experience. Smaller differences are seen between those with incomes of $100K or more (66%) and those with lower incomes (58%-59%).
- The most notable differences in this question are seen when it comes to political views. Republicans (50%) and those who identify as economic (48%) or social conservatives (51%) are the only groups to favor relaxing environmental protections. On the other hand, Democrats (76%) and those who identify as economic (79%) or social (78%) liberals are especially likely to favor maintaining a quality environment. Those affiliated with neither party (61%) and who identify as economic (60%) or social moderates (54%) still clearly favor maintaining a quality environment.
“Relaxing environmental protection” will further degrade quality of life, safety, health, and welfare of Oregonians for the benefit of a few wealthy people (many from out of state) who profit from extraction industries.”Non-binary or gender non-conforming person, age 65-74, Washington County, Other race or ethnicity
“Never relax on environmental protection. It’s vital to get business here, yes, but to lax on the environment is to fall prey to the future of the world. We can change global warming. We cannot do it by “relaxing environmental protection regulations to make it easier for companies to do business””Woman, age 18-29, Clackamas County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native, and White
“It’s a double edge sword. And we all the one way and now it seems we went all the way the other way and we need balance. Forest fires are ridiculous in my area. It hurts the economy because tourist dollars disappear. Small business in turn struggle. We should allow more winter slash burning and forest cleanup. It’s tough to know what is exactly the right thing but more balance.”Man, age 30-44, Josephine County, Hispanic/Latino/x
“Bring back logging! Where I live that’s our main industry and it’s slowly being shut down.”Woman, age 30-44, Douglas County, White
“If the air is bad, or the water is dirty, or if you can’t go hiking due to wildfires then that’s going to impact tourism.”Woman, age 30-44, Washington County, Black or African American
“I actually think that we need to be very careful about adding more regulations which will stifle business that is already here. I think our tax structure inhibits established businesses by giving huge breaks to out of state hi-tech businesses with the net result that businesses and individuals that are in Oregon already must bear a higher burden. The state should also encourage businesses to locate in former timber and fishing towns in rural areas instead of only in Portland. Data Centers in Central Oregon are helpful, but soak up a lot of cheap electricity with few jobs after construction. Finally, many urban people in particular have lots of ideas for environmental rules that don’t affect them economically.”Man, age 65-74, Linn County, White
“There will be no economy if there is no water. Small cities are already suffering through the worst drought in centuries even as we experience a rare La Niña weather pattern for 3 years in a row. Climate change is drying the landscape and forcing small cities to make big decisions about growth and development while facing unprecedented inflation.”Woman, ages 45-54, Douglas County, White
“It’s all about balance. No one wants unregulated growth, but no one wants growth stifled by excessive regulation either.”Man, age 18-29, Wasco County, White
Half Want Stricter Greenhouse Gas Regulations
Almost 5 in 10 Oregonians think that greenhouse gas emissions regulations should be more strict than they are today (47%), with 2 in 10 Oregonians thinking that regulations are just right (21%) and 2 in 10 thinking that they should be less strict than they are today (19%) (Q12).
- More than two-thirds of college graduates think greenhouse gas regulations should be more strict (65%) but fewer than half with just some college experience (45%) and about one-third of those with a high school diploma or less (35%) agree.
- About five-in-ten Oregonians who do not have school-aged children are in favor of more strict regulations (49%) compared to four-in-ten who do have school-aged children (40%).
- Compared to people making under $100,000 per year, Oregonians with higher annual incomes are more likely to say regulations should be more strict ($100K or more: 55%; <$100: 43%-46%).
- There is a strong correlation between political ideology and perceptions of greenhouse gas regulations. Around three-quarters of Democrats and liberals say regulations should be more strict (71%-76%), while around half of Republicans and conservatives say regulations should be less strict (46%-51%). Moderates and people not registered with one of the two major parties fall somewhere in between, but a plurality says regulations should be more strict (Independent/other registration: 43%; fiscally moderate: 41%; socially moderate: 34%).
The Majority Agree We Should Create More Affordable Energy Alternatives
61% of Oregonians think our state should be doing more to create affordable solar and wind-generated energy as electric energy alternatives. Meanwhile, 17% think that Oregon is doing just about enough, 12% think Oregon is doing too much, and 10% are unsure (Q14).
- More women than men say we should do more to develop alternative energy (64%), but the majority of men agree (58%).
- College graduates feel more strongly than those with less formal education that we should be doing more to create solar and wind-generated energy (71% vs. 52%-61%).
- Political ideology is once again correlated with opinions of alternative energy development. Only 30%-35% of Republicans and conservatives think Oregon should be doing more to create affordable solar and wind energy, compared to half or more of every other demographic group. Conversely, an especially high 80%-81% of Democrats or liberals say Oregon should be doing more.
Do We Need to Have Stronger Action?
When it comes to action on climate change, almost half of Oregonians think that both strong individual action and government regulations are needed (45%). 17% say no action is needed, 15% say we mostly need stronger government limits on emissions, and 13% say stronger individual actions are needed (Q13).
- Women are more likely to think that both strong individual action and government regulations are needed (49% compared to 41% of men), whereas men are more likely to think that no action is needed (21% compared to 14% of women).
- Of others who are more likely to think that both individual and government action are needed are Oregonians who have attended some college and those who have a college degree (45%-57% compared to 34% of Oregonians with a high school degree), and Oregonians making over 100K (50% compared to 34% of Oregonians making between 50K-100K).
Does Greenhouse Gas Emissions Affect Candidate Voting Choice?
Thinking about the upcoming election in November, about 3 in 5 Oregonians say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who gives high or medium priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (62%). Meanwhile, about 1 in 5 Oregonians are more likely to vote for a candidate who gives low or no priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (19%), and another 1 in 5 are unsure (20%) (Q16).
- Oregonians with college degrees are almost twice as likely as Oregonians with HS degrees to say they will vote for a candidate who gives high priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (51% to 25%).
- Other groups who are more likely to say they will vote for a candidate who gives a high priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions are Oregonians without school-aged children (35% to 33% of Oregonians with school-aged children) and Oregonians who make over 100K (42% compared to 35%-36% of Oregonians who make less than 50K-100K).
- Oregonians who own their home are almost twice as likely as Oregonians who rent to say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who gives no or low priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (25% to 12%).
- Oregonians who make 50K+ are more likely than Oregonians who make under 50K to vote for a candidate who gives no or low priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (22%-25% to 14%).
Will It Make Oregonians More or Less Likely to Vote?
Most Oregonians say the issue of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not make them more or less likely to vote in November (54%), although about one-third say it will make them more likely to vote (32%) (Q15).
- Democrats are nearly evenly split between those who say the issue of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will make them more likely to vote (46%) and those who say it will not affect whether or not they vote (49%). Republicans and other Oregonians are more likely to say they won’t be more or less likely to vote (55%-65%), although around a quarter say they’re more likely to vote (23%-27%).
- Oregonians who have attended at least some college (56%-59%) are more likely than those with a high school diploma (46%) to say the issue of greenhouse gas emissions won’t influence the probability they will vote. Those who have graduated from college do say this issue makes it more likely they will vote at a higher rate than those with less education experience (38% vs. 29%-32%). One-in-five Oregonians with a high school diploma or less say they aren’t sure (20%).
- Similar to higher levels of formal education, Oregonians with higher annual incomes are more likely to say their voting behavior will not be influenced by this issue (59%-60% of those making $50K+ vs. 48% of those making less than $50K). Those with lower annual incomes are more likely than their counterparts to say they aren’t sure if the issue of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will impact the likelihood they will vote (16% vs. 4%-5%).
- Oregonians without school-aged children (57% to 46% of Oregonians with school-aged children), and Oregonians who make 50K-100K+ (59%-60% compared to 48% of Oregonians who make below 50K).
Many Oregonians view greenhouse gas emissions as an issue worth considering, but opinions differ on its importance compared to other issues, as illustrated by their word-for-word responses (Q17, Q38):
“Our future generations are depending on our actions today.”Woman, age 30-44, Tillamook County, Hispanic/Latina/x
“Climate change is real, and it’s for the worse; so yes, government should do something to combat climate change. However, we shouldn’t destroy our present economy while trying to mitigate climate change.”Man, age 65-74, Marion County, white
“Greenhouse gas is a small issue on the big scale of government action.”Woman, age 65-74, Multnomah County, Native American, American Indian or Alaska Native
“As a 20-something, there is huge amount of uncertainty about my future that stems from greenhouse gas emissions and the effects they have on the climate. Living through forest fires and extreme weather events, on top of knowing how the climate crisis will likely progress to a point of no return in future decades, has made me reconsider how and when I travel, what I buy (food/clothing), what I eat, and most importantly, if I want to have children. For these reasons, addressing greenhouse gas emissions and other strategies related to curtailing the climate crisis is one of my very top priorities as a voter.”Non-binary or gender non-conforming, age 18-29, Columbia County, white
“‘Greenhouse Gas’ is a scam foisted on us by rich city dwellers who want to have power over everyone else.”Man, age 65-74, Washington County, white
“I think Oregon needs to focus more on making big businesses and corporations focus on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and if they can be more green the citizens of Oregon can continue to live their normal life with no change.”Man, age 18-29, Coos County, white
“The degrading climate affects everyone locally and globally, and affects public health, agriculture, and economics. Climate deniers encourage self-interested short-term thinking which is a barrier to progress on GHG emissions.”Man, age 65-74, Benton County, Asian
Identifying what unites us, understanding what divides us.
Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, urban and rural Oregonians, and age groups. Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives.
OVBC surveys currently use aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.
- Urban Oregonians are more likely than rural Oregonians to support significant action toward addressing climate change.
- The issue of reducing greenhouse gases makes urban Oregonians more likely to vote in the upcoming election than rural Oregonians (36% to 27%), whereas rural Oregonians are more likely to say that their voting behavior will not change (56% to 49% of urban Oregonians)(Q15).
- Urban Oregonians are more likely than rural Oregonians to think that both individual and government action are needed to address climate change (48% to 40%)(Q13).
- Urban Oregonians are more likely to think that regulations should be more strict than rural Oregonians (58% to 41%), whereas rural Oregonians are more likely to think that regulations should be less strict (24% compared to 14% of urban Oregonians)(Q12).
- Urban Oregonians are almost twice as likely as rural Oregonians to say they will vote for a candidate who gives high priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (49% to 28%), whereas rural Oregonians are almost twice as likely as urban Oregonians to vote for a candidate who gives no or low priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (24% to 13%)(Q16).
- BIPOC Oregonians and rural Oregonians are more likely to be unsure when it comes to Oregon’s role in creating affordable energy.
- BIPOC Oregonians are more likely than white Oregonians to say they are unsure about Oregon’s role in creating affordable energy (13% to 9%)(Q14).
- Rural Oregonians are almost twice as likely as urban Oregonians to say they are unsure about Oregon’s role in creating affordable energy (13% to 8%)(Q14).
- White Oregonians are more likely than BIPOC Oregonians to prefer a political candidate who gives low or no priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (20% compared to 13%) (Q16).
- About one-in-four BIPOC residents are undecided as to whether, or how, a candidate’s stance on greenhouse gas emissions will influence their vote (26%). Fewer white Oregonians are undecided (17%), but they are split as to which stance they prefer.
- BIPOC and white Oregonians alike say the issue of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is unlikely to influence whether they vote in November, although this is especially true for white residents (BIPOC: 44%; white: 58%) (Q15).
- When it comes to addressing climate change, Oregonians are sometimes divided by age.
- Oregonians aged 18-44 are almost twice as likely as Oregonians aged 55-75+ to think that mostly stronger government limits on emissions are needed (19%-22% to 10%-11%), whereas Oregonians aged 55-75+ are more likely to think that both strong individual action as government regulations are needed (49%-54% compared to 36% of Oregonians aged 18-29)(Q13).
- The issue of reducing greenhouse gases makes Oregonians aged 18-29 more likely to vote in the November election than Oregonians aged 45-75+ (39% to 26%-30%), whereas Oregonians aged 30-75+ are more likely to say that their voting behaviors will not change (46%-70% compared to 34% of Oregonians aged 18-29)(Q15).
- Oregonians aged 30-54 are more likely than Oregonians aged 65-74 to think that regulations are just right (33%-34% to 16%)(Q14).
- Oregonians aged 45-75+ are almost twice as likely as Oregonians aged 18-29 to think that regulations are too strict (21%-25% to 12%)(Q14).
- Oregonians aged 65-74 are more likely than Oregonians aged 30-64 to say they will vote for a candidate who gives high priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (43% to 31%-35%)(Q16).
- Oregonians aged 45+ are almost twice as likely as Oregonians aged 18-44 to vote for a candidate who gives no or low priority to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (20%-23% to 10%-13%)(Q16).
- By race/ethnicity, age, and area of the state there’s broad agreement that Oregon should maintain a quality environment rather than relaxing environmental protections. That said, there are some differences in opinion comparing urban and rural Oregonians (Q7).
- There are no differences by race or ethnicity when it comes to favoring maintaining a quality environment in Oregon: 61% of white Oregonians and 57% of BIPOC Oregonians prefer doing so over relaxing environmental protections.
- Similarly, there are no meaningful differences for this question by age: between 54%-64% of Oregonians in each age cohort favor maintaining a quality environment.
- By area, urban Oregonians have the strongest preference for maintaining a quality environment (68%). A slight majority of rural Oregonians also favor an environmental-minded approach (52%), the remainder are split between favoring relaxing protections (26%) and being uncertain (22% vs. 12%-14% of others).
Methodology: The online survey consisted of 1,572 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.
Statement of Limitations: Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error for the full sample ±2.47%. Due to rounding or multiple answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%.
 Survey conducted August 9-17,2021; N= 1,154
 Survey conducted July, 1992; DHM Research; N= 1,316
 Survey conducted November, 2002; DHM Research; N= 1,200