May 7, 2020 - Energy & Environment

How a climate-change outfit shifted to coronavirus

Amy Harder, author of Generate

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In the age of the coronavirus, makers of one thing are suddenly turning to make other things to help fight the pandemic.

Driving the news: Automakers are making ventilators, oil and liquor companies are making hand sanitizers, and a climate-change communications group within Yale University has adapted its survey expertise to the pandemic.

What they’re saying: “We saw this as an opportunity to be more than just passive bystanders or victims of this,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of Yale’s Program on Climate Change Communication.

Where it stands: The group issued its first covid-related survey on April 17, and since then has released:

  • Another survey more focused on our emotions during the pandemic.
  • A survey looking at how Americans want politicians to listen to scientists.
  • A research paper looking at government calls and mask-wearing.
  • Another paper on how social norms motivate people in this crisis.

What’s next: “We’re going to continue having some focus on covid, but we’re also going to get back to what is our primary job,” Leiserowitz said. His group has the latest installment on its long-running project “Climate Change in the American Mind” coming in the next couple weeks.

What we’re watching: Email me at with more examples of climate and/or energy organizations/companies shifting focus to the coronavirus.

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