Public Resource

Poll: Young Americans Want to Do More to Address Climate; Support for Civilian Climate Corps, Environmental Justice Initiatives

Student Conservation Association
05-13-2021

A broad majority young Americans understand anthropogenic climate change, but many are struggling to identify individual practices they can take to improve global sustainability, according to a survey of 15-25 year olds on climate change, environmental justice, and related public policy initiatives.

  • 38% call climate change a crisis, 31% say it’s a problem, 12% a concern, 9% a non-issue, and 8% label it fiction.
  • While 44% of young Americans are either "very" (21%) or "somewhat" (23%) optimistic the world will successfully address climate change, 47% are either "somewhat" (12%) or "very" (25%) pessimistic
  • Respodents expressed a strong desire to do their part in mitigating climate change, but many were unsure how:
    • 35% of respondents say “I can make a positive difference, but I’m not sure how”
    • 33% state “There’s little I can do, but I wish I could do something”
    • 15% indicate “There’s little I can do and I’m fine with that” – almost half (45%) of this group do not believe in climate change
    • 14% say “I can and I am making a positive difference”
  • 27% of respondents say they have reduced their usage of single-use plastics, 14% take alternate transportation, and 12% have curtailed electrical use. Another 14% have participated in a march or protest, and 10% have volunteered to create change. 67% have shared climate information on social media. (89% report they get the majority of their news from social media.)
  • 67% of respondents report they do not believe U.S. residents are equally protected against exposure to pollution and other ecological hazards and 37% characterize environmental justice in the U.S. as "extremely inequitable."
  • The survey also found significant support for many of President Biden’s environmental actions.
    • 77% approve of the president’s goal of achieving a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050
    • 69% support the White House executive order incorporating environmental justice into the missions of all federal departments
    • 61% endorse the Civilian Climate Corps, designed to employ Americans in addressing climate change, biodiversity, and conservation
    • 58% support Mr. Biden’s executive order directing the Secretary of the Interior to pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands
    • 57% favor the US decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement