This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including a new 19-nation survey about climate change, new national polling on climate acton, new polling about the Inflation Reduction Act in Midwest battleground states, and a novel new survey of video gamers’ attitudes about climate change.
- Pew - Climate change ranks as the global threat of greatest concern across 19 nations (Article, Full Report, Topline)
- Quinnipiac - Majorities of Americans label climate change as an “emergency”, believe that it is impacting the weather, and say the country should be doing more to address it (Release, Memo + Topline)
- POLITICO + Morning Consult - Voters are still prioritizing federal climate legislation just as much as they were before the Inflation Reduction Act passed (Crosstabs)
- Data for Progress [MI + WI] - Michigan and Wisconsin voters widely support the Inflation Reduction Act and want more climate action on the state level (MI Release, MI Topline, WI Release, WI Topline)
- Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) + Unity - Americans who play video games are generally more personally concerned about climate change than the rest of the country, making them good targets for appeals to take action (Release, Full Report)
Americans continue to lag behind comparable nations’ populations in their prioritization of climate change. In a 19-country survey conducted by Pew, more nations identified climate change as the greatest threat to their country than any other world problem. And while most Americans view climate change as a “serious threat” to the U.S., Americans are still less likely to rate it as a serious threat than residents of other major economies such as Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
The Inflation Reduction Act hasn’t dampened Americans’ appetite for stronger climate policy. Polling by POLITICO and Morning Consult finds that, since the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law, voters are just likely to say that climate legislation should be a “top priority” for Congress as they were in previous months.
The Inflation Reduction Act and clean energy are big winners in Midwest battlegrounds. Polls released this week by Data for Progress find that voters in Michigan and Wisconsin both support the Inflation Reduction Act by greater than two-to-one margins. Additionally, large majorities in both states want to see their state expand clean energy and Wisconsin voters prefer a gubernatorial candidate who prioritizes climate change, pollution, and clean energy by a two-to-one margin over a candidate who doesn’t prioritize these issues.
GOOD DATA POINTS TO HIGHLIGHT
[Climate Change] 70% of voters say they’re personally concerned about climate change [POLITICO + Morning Consult]
[Climate Change] 69% of Americans believe that the lives of future generations will be harmed by climate change [Quinnipiac]
[Climate Change + Extreme Weather] 61% of Americans say that extreme weather events in the United States over the past few years are related to climate change [Quinnipiac]
[Climate Change] 58% of Americans view climate change as an “emergency” [Quinnipiac]
[Climate Change] 58% of Americans say that the country isn’t doing enough to address climate change [Quinnipiac]
[Climate Change - International] Across 19 countries worldwide, more nations’ populations say that climate change is the biggest threat to their country than any other problem [Pew]
[Issue Priority] More Americans say that climate change and the environment is the single “most important issue” to them than any other issue besides inflation / prices and health care [The Economist + YouGov]
[Michigan] Michigan voters support the Inflation Reduction Act by a 64%-27% margin [Evergreen Collaborative + Data for Progress]
[Michigan] 66% of Michigan want the state to produce more energy from clean energy sources such as wind and solar [Evergreen Collaborative + Data for Progress]
[Wisconsin] Wisconsin voters support the Inflation Reduction Act by a 65%-29% margin [Evergreen Action + Data for Progress]
[Wisconsin] 65% of Wisconsin voters want the state to produce more energy from clean energy sources such as wind and solar [Evergreen Action + Data for Progress]
[Wisconsin] By a 62%-31% margin, Wisconsin voters prefer a gubernatorial candidate who prioritizes climate action, reducing pollution, and expanding clean energy over a candidate who doesn’t prioritize these issues [Evergreen Action + Data for Progress]
Pew asked residents of 19 countries across the globe to rate the seriousness of five potential threats to their countries: global climate change, the condition of the global economy, the spread of infectious diseases, cyberattacks from other countries, and the spread of false information online.
Climate change ranks as the top global threat in the 19-country survey, as a median of three-quarters (75%) across the 19 countries say that climate change is a “serious threat” to their country - the most of any of the five threats the survey asked about.
In nine of the 19 countries, climate change was rated as the single biggest threat. Three countries, including the U.S., rated cyberattacks as the top threat facing their country, while three rated the spread of false information online as the biggest threat, two rated the spread of infectious diseases as the biggest threat, and one named the condition of the global economy as the biggest threat.
While over half of Americans (54%) rate climate change as a “serious threat,” Americans are considerably less likely to view climate change as a serious threat than residents of other major economies such as Japan (82%), France (81%), the U.K. (75%), Germany (73%), and Canada (65%).
Residents of only two countries in the survey, Israel (47%) and Malaysia (44%), are less likely to view climate change as a “serious threat” than Americans.
The survey also finds that Americans’ relatively low prioritization of climate change is driven in very large part by the country’s unique political divide on the issue. The gap in ratings of climate change’s seriousness between Americans on the political left (85% of whom view climate change as a serious threat) and the political right (just 22% of whom rate climate change as a serious threat) is a stark 63 points.
No other nation in the survey shows nearly as large of a left-right difference in opinion toward climate change as the United States. In fact, aside from the United States, only Australia (44 points) and Canada (34) have a left-right difference as wide as 25 points.
Politically left-leaning Americans are roughly as likely to rate climate change as a serious threat (85%) as politically left-leaning residents of comparable Western nations such as Canada (80%), France (86%), Germany (83%), and the U.K. (84%). However, Americans in the political center (61%) are less likely to rate climate change as a serious threat than political centrists in any other country analyzed in the survey aside from Israel (58%).
Additionally, the 22% of right-leaning Americans who view climate change as a serious threat is by far the lowest of any political faction analyzed in the survey. In fact, in every other country analyzed besides Israel (37%), Canada (46%), and Australia (47%), the majority of those on the political right acknowledge that climate change is a serious threat to their country.
The latest national poll from Quinnipiac finds that Americans feel the need for urgent action on climate change. Nearly three in five (58%) agree that climate change is an “emergency”, and nearly three in five (58%) also say that the country needs to do more to address climate change. Meanwhile, just 15% say the country is doing enough and 21% say the country is doing “too much” to address climate change.
The poll also provides further evidence that most Americans draw a link between climate change and extreme weather. Just over three in five (61%) believe that “extreme weather events in the United States over the past few years are related to climate change,” while only about one-third (34%) deny that there is a connection.
Additionally, Quinnipiac’s polling suggests that President Biden’s recent action on climate change through the Inflation Reduction Act has likely helped to boost his job approval. While the poll doesn’t allow us to isolate what exactly has led to an upswing in Biden’s numbers amid a fairly good month of news for the administration (gas prices falling, student loan debt relief, etc.), Quinnipiac finds a marked increase in Biden’s overall approval rating between July (31% approve / 60% disapprove) and August (40% approve / 52% disapprove).
When asked to rate Biden’s performance on five specific issue areas, climate change (44% approve / 49% disapprove) now ranks only behind responding to the coronavirus (50% approve / 45% disapprove) as the issue on which voters are most likely to rate Biden’s performance positively.
Another indication that climate action has helped to improve Biden’s standing is that much of the bump in his approval rating is due to base consolidation. Biden’s job approval among Democratic voters, who consistently rate climate action as one of the very highest priorities for the country, increased from 71% to 83% between July and August.
POLITICO + Morning Consult
Voters are still prioritizing federal climate legislation just as much as they were before the Inflation Reduction Act passed (Crosstabs)
There’s a good amount of evidence for the “thermostatic” model of public opinion - wherein the public’s attitudes often move counter to what is happening in federal policy, as new policies provoke backlash from the policies’ opponents - but polling since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act has yet to show any dampening in support for federal climate action.
In this new poll from POLITICO and Morning Consult, the majority of Americans (62%) say that passing a bill to address climate change and its effects should be either a “top” (38%) or “important” (24%) priority for Congress.
Looking back at previous POLITICO/Morning Consult polls from the past few months, support for federal climate action has held steady since before the Inflation Reduction Act was introduced and subsequently passed.
Here are the percentages of voters in recent POLITICO/Morning Consult polls who said that passing a climate bill should be a “top” or “important” priority for Congress:
Late August: 38% top priority, 24% important priority
Mid-August: 39% top priority, 24% important priority
Late July: 37% top priority, 26% important priority
Mid-July: 36% top priority, 26% important priority
Late June: 34% top priority, 26% important priority
Mid-June: 35% top priority, 25% important priority
Data for Progress [MI + WI]
In conjunction with the Evergreen Collaborative in Michigan and Evergreen Action in Wisconsin, Data for Progress finds a resoundingly positive response to the Inflation Reduction Act in these Midwest battleground states.
When presented with brief descriptions of the bill and its major provisions, voters in both Wisconsin (65% support / 29% oppose) and Michigan (64% support / 27% oppose) support the Inflation Reduction Act by greater than two-to-one margins.
Additionally, clear majorities in both Michigan and Wisconsin agree that:
Their state’s governor should fight to secure federal climate and clean energy funds from the Inflation Reduction Act for projects in their state (71% in Michigan, 72% in Wisconsin)
Their state should produce more energy from clean energy sources such as wind and solar power (66% in Michigan, 65% in Wisconsin)
Their state should do more to address air pollution after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate pollution from power plants that contributes to climate change (61% in Michigan, 56% in Wisconsin)
And amid a heated election for governor and other statewide offices, Data for Progress and Evergreen Action find that prioritizing climate change and the environment is a clear political winner for candidates in Wisconsin this year. When asked whether they would prefer to vote for a candidate “who wants to prioritize addressing climate change, reducing pollution, and expanding clean energy production in Wisconsin” or a candidate “who does not want to prioritize” these issues, voters favor the pro-climate candidate by a two-to-one margin (62%-31%).
Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) + Unity
A novel analysis conducted by the YPCCC and gaming company Unity finds that the growing population of Americans who play video games are more likely than others to show concern about climate change and express a willingness to take action on the issue.
The poll data here indicates that video game players - who can be reached through specialized channels such as in-game advertising - are a strong target audience for climate advocates to engage.
Excerpting some of the key findings from the report:
“Seven in ten video gamers (70%) say they are either “somewhat” or “very” worried about global warming, compared with 64% of the U.S. population overall.”
“About three in four video gamers (74%) say the issue of global warming is important to them personally, compared with only about two in three U.S. residents overall (64%).”
“More than half of video gamers (59%) say they either “probably” or “definitely” would sign a petition about global warming. Many video gamers also say they would volunteer their time (49%) or donate (48%) to an organization working on global warming, contact government officials about global warming (45%), or meet with an elected official or their staff (41%). The proportion of video gamers who say they would engage in these actions is higher than the U.S. population overall, where half or fewer say they would sign a petition (51%), volunteer (32%), donate (31%), contact officials (29%), or meet with an elected official (27%).”
“A majority of video gamers (52%) say they are either “probably” (25%) or “definitely” (19%) willing to join a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming or are currently participating in such a campaign (7%). In contrast, only 27% of U.S. residents overall say they would participate in a campaign for climate action, and only about 1% say they are currently doing so.”
The Environmental Polling Consortium (EPC) is a collaborative hub for the environmental community to share and discover public opinion research.
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