An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll found that liberals and independents rank climate change higher in importance, though a majority of all voters say the U.S. needs to do more to combat rising temperatures.

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The next governor of Georgia and the winner of the state’s high-profile U.S. Senate race will face consequential decisions in the years to come over climate change.

Though climate change does not rank among the top issues in this year’s races, polling of Georgia voters gives a nuanced view. Half of Georgia voters in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll last month said that the nation needs to do more to address it.

A majority also supports the Democrats’ sweeping federal climate and health care law, which includes $370 billion in climate spending. The law uses a mix of tax breaks and other incentives to promote electric vehicles, solar energy and battery manufacturing — industries Georgia has invested in heavily. A large chunk is earmarked to reduce air pollution and boost climate resilience in low-income communities.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp seldom utters the words “climate change,” though he’s recruited and embraced electric-vehicle factories, a sprawling solar panel plant and other green technologies as the jobs of the future. His administration, meanwhile, has established long-term plans to help coastal communities prepare for rising sea levels, stopping short of more ambitious efforts seen in neighboring states.

Kemp has condemned the Democrats’ climate bill as overspending, saying he doesn’t believe “government red tape is the answer” to solving climate change.

Stacey Abrams, his Democratic opponent, has taken a more proactive stance. Abrams has spoken bluntly about the threat of rising temperatures and promised to take a hands-on approach as governor with “aggressive planning and targeted investment.” Her platform calls for the appointment of a chief resilience officer in the governor’s office to coordinate policy across agencies, and government financing for infrastructure upgrades.


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