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Majority of Americans Say Climate Change a Critical Threat, For First Time

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A survey of the US public shows an overall majority of Americans (54%) consider climate change a critical threat.

Introduction

For the first time since the question was asked in 2008, an overall majority of Americans (54%) consider climate change a critical threat.

Key Findings

While the Democratic presidential candidates argue about how aggressive the Democratic nominee’s climate policies should be, there is no doubt that climate change will be an important agenda item for the Democratic primaries. A new Chicago Council Survey of the US public shows that Democrats name climate change as the most critical foreign policy threat facing the country, also for the first time. And a growing majority of Democrats say that immediate action is needed, even if the costs are significant. While the partisan difference in threat perceptions of climate change is wider than ever, Republicans have also grown more convinced that climate change is a problem that needs to be addressed.  

About the Author
Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
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Dina Smeltz, a polling expert, has more than 25 years experience designing and fielding international social and political surveys. Prior to joining the Council to lead its annual survey of American attitudes on US foreign policy, she served in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the US State Department's Office of Research from 1992 to 2001.
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