Americans’ Attitudes and Actions on Climate Change

1. Belief in human-driven climate change rebounded from last year, while Republicans under 45 drove a small increase in overall Republican belief

After a several year decline in support for the statement that climate change is primarily driven by human activities, support rebounded in 2024, with 54 percent of respondents agreeing that humans are the primary driver. The increase was most pronounced among Democrats, with a 7-percentage point bump in just one year. Notably, 40 percent of young Republicans said they believe climate change is primarily human-driven, up from just 26 percent in 2017. Belief among older Republicans didn’t change.

2. After experiencing climate impacts, more believe in climate change and the need to respond

As more Americans experience extreme climate events like hurricanes, droughts, floods, unusual temperatures and wildfires, their views on climate may change. The gap in belief between those who have experienced extreme climate events and those who haven’t widened from last year’s poll. In 2023, there was a 19-percentage point difference in climate change belief and 11-percentage point difference in it being primarily human-driven. This year, the gap was 33 percentage points and 22 percentage points, respectively. More than half of those who experienced extreme climate events directly attributed that experience to influencing their views. Those who experienced extreme climate events were also more likely to consider climate change an important issue this election season, and want actions to be taken to reduce emissions and provide communities with funding to adapt.

3. Climate change may spur some migration, as most Americans experience extreme climate events

Extreme climate events are mounting for Americans throughout the country. Three-quarters of Americans, regardless of where they live, say they experienced unusually hot or cold days this year. About half experienced extreme storms, 43 percent experienced flooding, 35 percent experienced droughts and water shortages, and a quarter experienced a wildfire. To avoid these extreme climate events, 1 in 5 Americans say they would consider moving. About a third of those living in the West South Central United States (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma) would consider moving, more than most other regions in the United States. About a quarter of those on the West Coast would consider moving to escape what half said they experienced over the last year: flooding, droughts and wildfires.

4. More believe rapidly developing countries like India and China should address climate change

While in previous polls Americans believed developing countries had the least responsibility when it came to addressing climate change, that changed this year when Americans were asked specifically about rapidly developing countries like India and China. More Americans say that rapidly developing countries like India and China have an even greater responsibility to address climate change than developed countries. Republicans were more likely to say that the responsibility fell on rapidly developing countries like India and China countries (48 percent), in line with what Republican leaders have said. In fact, for Republicans, rapidly developing countries bear the greatest responsibility out of all the choices given. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that corporations and industry (80 vs 45 percent) and the federal government (76 vs 40 percent) have a responsibility to address climate change, followed by rapidly developing countries (68 percent) and then developed countries (66 percent). Individuals, Americans say, bear the least responsibility. The belief that individuals have a responsibility to act on climate change has steadily declined over time.

Americans’ Views on Climate and Energy Policy

5. Fossil fuel development is primarily supported by older Republicans

About half of Americans agree that taking steps to reduce emissions, expand clean energy, and protect our air, water, land, and wildlife are all important priorities for the next president. But the divide is sharp along party lines, with about three-quarters of Democrats supporting these policy goals. Fossil fuel development is the only priority polled that Republicans support more than Democrats. Even there, the majority of the support comes from Republicans over the age of 45, with 53 percent supporting this. Younger Republicans are closer to Democrats on this issue than they are their older Republican counterparts, with only 35 percent supporting fossil fuel development. Younger Republicans are also more supportive of clean energy expansion than older Republicans (37 vs 28 percent).

6. Most Americans support wind and solar in their communities

As the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law make historic investments in the build out of wind turbines, solar fields and power lines throughout the United States, 6 in 10 Americans say they would support wind turbines and solar farms being built in their communities. Meanwhile, about half of Republicans support wind and solar in their communities, even though only a third said expanding clean energy should be a priority for the President. There is much greater uncertainty about nuclear energy, with about a third of Americans equally opposed to, neutral about, and supportive of a nuclear power plant being built in their community. Democrats and Republicans were in line on this issue.

7. Most Americans support policies that would reduce emissions, with a large partisan divide

Democrats overwhelmingly support climate policies, such as regulations to limit emissions from power plants and vehicles, incentives for electric vehicles, and funding to help states adapt—all recently-enacted policies. The majority of Republicans—and to a lesser extent independents—do not support these policies, including funding to help states adapt. While a carbon tax remains a politically divisive policy, most Americans say they would support a tax that corporations would pay on their emissions—including about three-quarters of Democrats, half of independents, and 40 percent of Republicans. Americans on average are the least supportive of expanding U.S. natural gas exports, Democrats (37 percent) and independents (32 percent) being less supportive than Republicans (50 percent)—this as the Biden administration paused the expansion of U.S. natural gas exports earlier this year.

8. Americans are not very willing to pay for climate policy

While the majority of Americans support climate policies, including a carbon tax on companies, when it comes to paying for these policies in the form of a monthly fee on their energy use they are much less supportive. In fact, more than half of Americans are unwilling to pay any amount of money to combat climate change. Forty-five percent are willing to pay $1—more than last year, but down from prior years of the poll. That said, a consistent minority is willing to pay a significant amount (even $100) to combat climate change.

Americans’ Views on Electric Vehicles

9. Few Americans own an electric vehicle, but 2 in 5 say they are likely to purchase one

With the Biden Administration targeting half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to be electric or plug-in hybrids, the country has a long way to go—only 9 percent polled own an EV, about the same as last year. But, 2 in 5 Americans say they are likely to purchase one, and of the few who own one 81 percent say they are likely to buy another. Those under the age of 45 are more likely to own or lease an EV, or purchase an EV as their next vehicle. Americans from the West Coast are more likely to purchase an EV than Americans from the Midwest and South, and Northeast. And, while Republicans and Democrats own electric vehicles at similar rates, Democrats are about twice as likely to purchase one compared to Republicans.

10. Despite big investments in EV charging stations, two-thirds of Americans don’t know of one nearby

Despite the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $7.5 billion investment in EV charging stations and the Department of Energy showing more than 200,000 EV charging ports across the United States and Canada, two-thirds of Americans say they don’t know of charging stations nearby, regardless of whether respondents live in a rural, suburban or urban area. This, along with cost (83 percent), range (75 percent), and charging time (72 percent), are the top barriers keeping Americans from purchasing an EV. When asked why they would purchase an EV, saving money on gas topped the list again this year. Climate change ranked second, with two-thirds saying that reducing their personal impact on climate change would be a motivating factor. Democrats equally list saving on gas and climate change as their top reasons.

11. About half of Democrats support EV tax credits aimed at higher-paying jobs and expanding U.S. manufacturing

The Inflation Reduction Act provides Americans with historic EV tax credits. But, building on the Biden administration’s “Made in America” agenda, it added rules that disqualify vehicles containing components made in China. The poll shows two main motivators behind these rules—higher paying U.S. jobs and an expanded EV manufacturing industry—make the tax credits more popular among Democrats. About half support the credits when told they will lead to higher paying U.S. jobs and an expanded EV industry. Only about a third of Republicans support tax credits, regardless of what they could lead to.

12. Americans don’t want Chinese EVs, even if they’re cheaper

Despite the Biden administration’s recent move to impose a 100% tariff on electric vehicles coming from China to stave off competition, the poll showed most Americans aren’t interested in buying Chinese EVs. When told the Chinese version would be $500, $1,000, $2,000 or even $5,000 cheaper than the American-made car, the majority still said they would pay more for the American car—6 in 10 would pay $5,000 more. While Democrats are more likely than Republicans to choose the Chinese vehicle, still only about a third said this. And, Americans under 45 were more likely than older Americans to choose the Chinese vehicle.