Poll After Poll: Americans Want Climate Action, Politics Are In the Way

Poll After Poll: Americans Want Climate Action, Politics Are In the Way

Americans want climate action, but according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week, they are divided along partisan lines when it comes to thoughts on the Biden Administration's approach to climate policy. Among Democrats, 79% think policies are taking the country in the right direction, while 82% of Republicans think the opposite.

Still, there is broad bipartisan support for climate actions and broad recognition of the connection between climate change and extreme weather. The survey, conducted before the Supreme Court ruling, which restricts the EPA’s regulatory power, found that 72% of Americans support power companies being required to use more energy from renewable sources. And among people who lived through an intense heatwave last year, 91% thought climate change made temperatures hotter.

BBC: Deadly heatwaves '100 times more likely' due to climate change, May 18, 2022.

BBC: Past seven years hottest on record, EU satellite data shows, January 10, 2022.

Why This Matters

Americans are open to climate action, and the poll proves it. But the current state of politics is preventing any real movement from happening. Not all, but many GOP politicians have sowed climate denial and resisted actions that would reduce emissions, despite recent surveys that show a growing number of Republican voters support reductions of US greenhouse gas emissions.

"You can still find common ground on ways to achieve some of these goals,” Cary Funk, co-author of the new report and director of science and society research at Pew Research Center, told Grist.

WWF: What’s Up with Climate Action In America?, April 22, 2022.

Now This: How the GOP Has Changed on Climate Change, July 16, 2021.

KCRA: NOAA | Record increases in atmospheric methane may be evidence of a climate-related feedback loop, April 11, 2022.

Reuters: 2021 saw jump in greenhouse-gas emissions, says report, January 10, 2022.

Americans Are Feeling Climate Change

There is no shortage of recent surveys demonstrating the increasing awareness of Americans of climate change’s direct impacts on their lives.

The latest survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC), which began in 2008, found that Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who don’t by more than six to one, an all-time high. And 55% think people in the US are being hurt by climate change "right now" -- the highest percentage and the first to cross the 50% threshold.

Another survey from NPR, Harvard’s School of Public Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that experiencing supercharged weather can change minds: 77% of people who were personally impacted by an extreme weather event thought of climate change as a crisis.

ABC: Extreme weather affects millions across US, June 14, 2022.

Guardian: How the climate crisis is forcing Americans to relocate, November 5, 2021.