NEW YORK — Seven in 10 New York voters believe that recovering from the economic impact of the COVID pandemic is an opportunity to take on future challenges such as climate change, according to a new survey. Conducted by The Nature Conservancy, it shows broad support for environmental initiatives such as making parks and natural areas more accessible and limiting vehicle traffic in cities.
According to Stuart Gruskin, The Nature Conservancy’s chief conservation and external-affairs officer, almost 90% support initiatives to make improving the environment a key element in reversing the devastating job losses brought on by the pandemic.
“As we are looking at climate change and the need for clean energy and meeting the state’s ambitious goals,” he said, “that is a place where job creation makes a lot of sense.”
The poll also found that more than 90% of New York voters support investing in natural and man-made infrastructure to prevent natural disasters such as flooding, storms and fires.
As New York shifts into recovery from the pandemic, Gruskin said, people are eager to be spending more time outdoors.
“They recognize that having outdoor spaces available — whether it’s nature preserves, parks or just natural areas — requires an investment, and they recognize the value,” he said.
The survey showed well over 80% of those polled support promoting equitable access to parks by directing funds to low-income communities that lack access to natural spaces.
Gruskin said three-quarters of respondents support limiting vehicle traffic on city streets, making room for play, exercise and even outdoor dining — and that support is statewide.
“Streets need to be designed for people, not just for cars,” he said. “Of course, it’s an adjustment, but people recognize that it changes the vibe in the community, and it makes it a more livable place.”
He said the poll results show New Yorkers see recovery from the pandemic not as a return to the past but as an opportunity to create a better future.
The survey is online at nature.org.