There are obvious facts about climate change and things we don’t know exactly yet. At the same time, Americans have different information sources and different priorities in their lives. Combine these and we end up with different perspectives on climate change. One thing is clear though, as the impacts become evermore undeniable and unignorable, we have an uncertain future for all of us. So, what do Americans think about climate change now?
In a time of harsh political divisions, new research reveals that Americans can and do find common ground when it comes to climate change and environmental issues. Polling by ecoAmerica reveals strong consensus across party lines about rights to clean energy, government protection against extreme weather, and people’s ability and responsibility to address climate change. The American Climate Metrics Survey suggests that the words “climate change” may provoke division, but not climate change itself in different terms.
The first striking finding of the report is that 89% of Americans agree that clean air and water are critical rights for all people. These findings are consistent across political affiliations, with 94% of Democrats, 88% of Independents, and 86% of Republicans all in agreement. Furthermore, a resounding 94% of Democrats, 84% of Independents, and 80% of Republicans say that everyone has a right to clean energy that doesn’t pollute our natural environment. Protecting against climate pollution gets us closer to ensuring that Americans have clean air, water, and energy.
Americans also believe that it is our moral responsibility to create a safe and healthy climate for themselves and future generations. A remarkable 85% of Americans including 75% of Republicans, 84% of Independents, and 94% of Democrats share this belief. This sends a powerful message that addressing climate change itself is a responsibility that goes beyond political affiliations. Americans are broadly concerned about their own, their children’s and our climate’s future.
Almost all Americans have been touched by severe weather at this point, and this new poll also reveals that three-quarters of Americans (75%) agree that the government needs to protect people from the impacts. Government action is embraced across the spectrum by Republicans (58%), Independents (74%), and by Democrats (90%).
Americans believe in their ability to make a difference on climate change. Regardless of their political party, three-quarters of Americans feel that they can personally contribute to solutions. 85% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans say, “I can help reduce the pollution that causes climate change”. This shared sense of agency reflects a growing awareness among Americans that their actions can make a significant impact on climate solutions.
Overall, the American Climate Metrics Survey finds that 72% of Americans report being personally concerned about climate change, yet only 56% believe that others around them share that concern. This imbalance might reflect the polarization of the term — many Americans don’t realize how much others around them are also concerned.
Even in the age of climate change, where the spectrum of concern ranges from deniers to doomsayers, ecoAmerica’s research suggests that if you talk about what you personally see and feel about climate change, you’ll find others to be more receptive than you might think. It serves as a reminder that on matters as important as clean air, water, and climate responsibility, Americans can find common ground and come together to protect future generations.
ecoAmerica is moving society toward climate solutions by inspiring and empowering trusted national health, faith, and civic institutions and their millions of stakeholders across America to visibly act and advocate. We help national mainstream organizations elevate their climate leadership, providing them with strategy, tools, and resources to demonstrate visible climate leadership, empower climate literacy, engage all constituents, and build collective action and advocacy. We help our partners transform into national climate leaders to inspire others on solutions. ecoAmerica.org