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Energy Research & Social Science





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Renewable energy is often framed by policymakers and the media as an environmental or ‘green’ issue motivated by global climate change and the need for greenhouse gas reductions. However, some researchers studying social responses to renewables have found that factors other than opinions about climate change may be more influential in determining support for renewables. This study analyzes survey data from a study of five communities in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. experiencing wind energy development to examine the relationship between environmental beliefs, climate change opinions, and support for renewable energy. Results show that views on renewable energy comprise a distinct dimension of public views on energy, environment, and climate, suggesting that public support for renewable energy is less related to environmental beliefs than to some other factors, including beliefs about economic benefits and concerns about landscape impacts. Findings also indicate that the frequency with which individuals see nearby wind turbines are strongly related to their level of support for renewable energy, while physical proximity is not. Overall, results suggest that ceasing to frame renewable energy as an environmental issue and instead framing it in a way that invokes locally relevant social values may garner broader public support.