Drought has reduced the water level at this lake in Sonoma, Calif. (David McSpadden / CC BY-ND 2.0)

A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that two-thirds of Americans say the United States should join an international treaty to limit the impact of global warming. Most of those who say otherwise identify as conservative.

Additionally, 63 percent of Americans — including a slim majority of Republicans — said they would support domestic policy aimed at limiting carbon emissions from power plants. Seventy-five percent of those polled said global warming was already having serious effects or that it would in the future. Nine in 10 Democrats agreed, compared with 58 percent of Republicans. One-third of Republicans said they believed the phenomenon’s effect on the environment would be inconsequential.

The New York Times reports:

Public support for international and domestic measures to address climate change may provide a lift for American negotiators attending the major United Nations climate change conference that began in Paris on Monday. But the stark partisan divide on climate policy will still make it difficult for President Obama and his successors to put in place the energy and climate policies that will be needed to support a robust international agreement, the goal of the Paris talks.

Republicans in Congress and many Republican governors oppose Mr. Obama’s proposal to limit emissions from power plants, for example, complicating his ability to meet targets he has set to comply with United Nations climate goals. And the Obama administration has made it clear that any agreement it would sign in Paris would not take the form of an internationally enforced treaty that would require Senate ratification.

Still, the shift in public opinion has many advocates of strong climate change measures hopeful that the Paris talks could provide a turning point.

“If you just look over the past five or six years since Copenhagen, there’s been a shift,” said David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute, referring to the largely inconclusive global summit meeting that took place in Denmark in 2009. “There’s much more awareness of issues like sea level rise, water scarcity and climate instability.”

Read more.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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