Natural gas is viewed more favorably than other fossil fuels around the world, although sentiment is largely divided along ideological lines, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

Natural Gas Support

The survey was conducted between October 2019 and March in 20 countries including the United States, Canada, Brazil and Russia, along with several countries across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

A median of 69% of respondents favored expanding use of natural gas, said survey authors Brian Kennedy, Alison Spencer and Cary Funk.

“Public support for expanding use of natural gas stands in contrast to the much smaller shares of adults who express support for expanding oil (median of 39%) and coal (median of 24%),” they said.

Support for expanding the use of gas ranged from a high of 88% in South Korea to a low of 38% in the Netherlands, researchers said.

Enthusiasm for renewable power was more universal, with a median 93% and 87% of respondents saying they favor more solar and wind power, respectively.

Majorities across all 20 countries also supported prioritizing renewables over fossil fuels.

The debate around natural gas and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has intensified in the United States and globally, amid growing demand to take action on climate change.

Ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. general election, Democratic challenger Joseph R. Biden Jr. has repeatedly said that he would not ban fracking, and that fossil fuels will still play a role even under the low-carbon future he envisions.

President Trump, meanwhile, has campaigned and governed on a deregulatory agenda based on removing red tape for oil and gas drilling and infrastructure.

“In most publics surveyed by the Center, there’s a significant divide by political ideology in views of natural gas, with those on the right usually more supportive than those on the left,” Pew researchers said.

“For instance, in Germany, 76% of those who place their views on the ideological right support using more natural gas, compared with 48% of those on the left.

“The ideological gap is largest in the U.S., where 88% of conservatives — and fewer than half of liberals (45%) — support expanding the use of natural gas.”

In a separate Pew survey conducted in May 2020, “just 21% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents in the U.S. favored more hydraulic fracturing, compared with 56% of Republicans and GOP leaners.”