Two-thirds of Americans think government should do more on climate

June 23, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 23, 2020) - A majority of Americans (63%) continue to say they see the effects of climate change in their own communities, and 65% believe that the federal government is doing too little to reduce the impacts of climate change, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

At a time when partisanship colors most views of policy, broad majorities of the public - including more than half of Republicans and overwhelming shares of Democrats - say they would favor a range of initiatives to reduce the impacts of climate change, including large-scale tree planting efforts (90%), tax credits for businesses that capture carbon emissions (84%) and tougher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles (71%.)

The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted April 29 to May 5, 2020 among 10,957 U.S. adults using the Center's online American Trends Panel, finds that partisans remain far apart on several overarching questions about climate change. Much larger shares of Democrats than Republicans say human activity is contributing a great deal to climate change (72% vs. 22%), that it is impacting their own local community (83% to 37%) and that the government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change (89% to 35%).

However, there is bipartisan support for several policy options to reduce the effects of climate change. Large shares of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (92%) and Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (88%) favor planting about a trillion trees around the world to absorb carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans also support providing a business tax credit for carbon capture technology that can store carbon emissions before they enter the atmosphere (90% and 78%, respectively). Partisan divides are wider on policies related to tougher restrictions on power plant emissions, taxing corporations based on the amount of carbon emissions they produce and tougher fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles and trucks. Still, about half or more Republicans say they would favor each of these policies, including 64% who back tougher emission standards for power plants.

While partisanship remains the predominant dividing line in many views of climate and the environment, there are meaningful differences within party coalitions. In particular, Republicans and Republican leaners who describe their political views as moderate or liberal (roughly a third of all Republicans and leaners) are much more likely than conservative Republicans to see local impacts of climate change, support policies to address it and say the federal government is doing too little in areas of environmental protection. Further, younger generations and women in the GOP tend to be more critical of government action on the environment than their older and male counterparts. Republican women also are more supportive of polices aimed at reducing the impacts of climate change than GOP men.

Other key findings include:
-end-
These are among the findings from the new report, which is based on a survey of 10,957 U.S. adults conducted online April 29 to May 5, 2020, using Pew Research Center's American Trends Panel. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 1.4 percentage points.

Read the full report: https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2020/06/23/two-thirds-of-americans-think-government-should-do-more-on-climate

Methodology: https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2020/06/23/government-and-climate-methodology/

Survey topline: https://www.pewresearch.org/science/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2020/06/PS_2020.06.23_government-climate_TOPLINE.pdf

For more information or to arrange an interview email Haley Nolan at hnolan@pewresearch.org.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does not take policy positions. The Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder. Subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters or follow us on our Fact Tank blog.

Pew Research Center

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