Poll: Big majority of Americans favor taking steps to reduce climate change


Record heat, hurricanes, wildfires all have been making news in recent years. And while not everyone agrees events like these are the direct result of climate change, they do connect to peoples’ opinions about it: a big majority of Americans feel the U.S. needs to address climate change, with those who report experiencing extreme weather more likely to say we should do so right now.

Views on climate change have long been associated with partisanship, and they still are, but age is a factor, too. Younger Americans, including younger Republicans, are even more likely to say the U.S. needs to take steps to at least try to slow it.

There’s a sense of urgency from many in the public, too. A large majority think it needs to be addressed at least in the next few years, including half who think it needs to be addressed right now.

There’s the sense that we should address climate change, and there’s also some belief that we can.

That extends down to the personal level, too. Most Americans believe humans can do something to at least slow the effects of climate change, and those who think so feel they personally have a responsibility to do something about it.

Extreme weather and climate change

People who report having experienced extreme weather in their area in recent years — which is half the country — are more inclined than those who haven’t to believe climate change is a major factor contributing to extreme weather, and more of them see the issue as one that needs to be addressed right away.

And even if people don’t experience the extreme weather themselves, such events can spark concern. When people hear about the earth experiencing the warmest temperatures on record, more than half say it makes them more concerned about climate change. Those who don’t see climate change as a factor in extreme weather are less persuaded by this, including some who don’t believe that the earth’s temperature is rising.

Younger people and the political divides on climate change

Majorities across all age groups favor the U.S. taking steps to address climate change, but it’s people under age 45 — many who say they were taught about climate change in school — who are especially likely to be in support of the country taking action.

There have long been political divisions on addressing climate change, with Democrats expressing more concern than Republicans. These continue today, to some extent. Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say climate change needs to be addressed right now. And Democrats overwhelmingly support the U.S. taking steps to reduce climate change, but Republicans are divided on that.

Divisions in the GOP on climate?

The divides within the rank and file GOP we see are along age and ideological lines. Most younger Republicans — those under age 45 — support the U.S. taking steps slow or stop climate change, while most older Republicans do not

More moderate Republicans also see climate change as more pressing than those who are more conservative.

And like the public overall, Republicans who report having experienced extreme weather in their local area are more likely to think climate change needs to be addressed.

This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,230 U.S. adult residents interviewed between April 16-19, 2024. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. The margin of error is ±2.7  points.

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