Aug 15, 2022 - Energy & Environment

New poll shows American doubts on personally affecting climate change

Traffic on Highway 20 over the East Fork Russian River at Lake Mendocino during a drought in Mendocino County, California
Traffic on Highway 20 over the East Fork Russian River at Lake Mendocino during a drought in Mendocino County, California. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Fewer Americans think their actions influence climate change than they did three years ago, an AP-NORC poll out Monday found.

By the numbers: The poll also found that Americans are less concerned about how climate change may impact them personally than they were in 2019, with 35% of U.S. adults saying they "extremely" or "very" concerned about the impact of climate change, compared with 44% in 2019.

  • 52% of Americans say their actions have an effect on climate change, compared to two-thirds saying the same in 2019.
  • A majority of Americans, 71%, believe that climate change is occurring and among those who believe climate change is happening, a majority say that it is caused either entirely or mostly by human activity.
  • Of those who say climate change is happening, 70% say it is necessary for individuals to make lifestyle changes to combat climate change.

Between the lines: Americans are less concerned about the effects climate change may have on them personally than they are worried about the impact it will have on future generations, coastal communities and low-income people.

  • 64% of Americans say they are "extremely" or "very" concerned about the effects of climate change on future generations.
  • 52% of Americans say they are concerned about the effects of climate change on coastal communities, while 47% share the same concern for low-income people.
  • 35% say they are "extremely" or "very" concerned about the effect of climate change on them personally.

Yes, but: The results of the AP-NORC poll contrast with the findings of a poll out late last month that found that nearly half of Americans think that global warming will cause harm to their families, communities and others.

  • According to the poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 51% of Americans think their family will be harmed by global warming, 52% think people in their community will be harmed and 47% think they themselves will be.
  • Plus, 13% of Americans have considered moving to avoid the impacts of global warming, per the poll.

The big picture: The June poll was conducted before Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, the most sweeping climate change legislation in U.S. history.

  • The poll found that a majority of Americans, about 64%, say that government and corporations bear responsibility to address climate change.

Go deeper: When you'll see the climate bill's impact

Methodology: The poll of 1,053 adults was conducted June 23-27 using NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is ±4.0 percentage points.

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