Poll: Half of Americans Think U.S. Not Doing Enough to Combat Climate Change

September 23, 2014
Chicago, IL
Half of Americans (50%) say the U.S. government is not doing enough to deal with the problem of climate change, according to new survey results from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. This is up five percentage points from 2012, when a plurality (45%) said the government was not doing enough. Three in ten (31%) say the government is doing about the right amount, while two in ten (19%) say it is doing too much.

Some of the actions Americans would endorse include increasing tax incentives to encourage the development and use of alternative energy sources, such as solar or wind power (73%) and requiring automakers to increase fuel efficiency even if this increases the price of cars (69%). A large majority of Americans (71%) also support the U.S. participating in a “new international treaty to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Key findings on partisan differences include:
  • Critical Threat: 35 percent of Americans say climate change is a critical threat, while four in ten (38%) say it is important, but not critical. Self-described Democrats are far more likely to see climate change as a critical threat to U.S. vital interests (51%) than Independents (35%) and Republicans (12%).
  • Important Goal: Four in ten Americans (41%) say limiting climate change is a very important goal for the United States. More than half of Democrats (54%) say that limiting climate change is a very important goal versus 40 percent of Independents and 22 percent of Republicans.
  • Government Role: Democrats (66%) and Independents (51%) are much more inclined than Republicans (35%) to say the government is not doing enough to combat the problem.
  • Support for International Treaty: Majorities of Republicans (54%), Democrats (86%) and Independents (70%) support the U.S. participating in a new international treaty to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This data is pulled from the 2014 Chicago Council Survey report, Foreign Policy in the Age of Retrenchment, which finds solid public support for the United States having an “active” role in world affairs. Additional polling information is available on The Chicago Council’s data-related blog, runningnumbers.org. For updates follow #2014CCS, @ChicagoCouncil and @RoguePollster.

The 2014 Chicago Council Survey was made possible by generous support from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the United States-Japan Foundation and Chicago Council Chairman Lester Crown.

Data was collected between May 6 to May 29, 2014 among a national sample of 2,108 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ± 2.1 percentage points. The full dataset from this year’s study will be made available on the website in January 2015.