America’s Attitudes and Actions on Climate Change
1. Most Americans believe climate change is happening, fewer are convinced its human-driven
Three quarters of Americans believe climate change is happening, and half believe the pace of it is increasing. But Americans are less convinced that climate change is caused mostly or entirely by humans, declining eleven percentage points in just five years. This increased doubt was just as significant for someone who graduated from college as someone with only high school education or less, and was more pronounced for younger Americans. A rising number of Democrats and Independents were also less convinced by human-driven climate change, while Republicans’ views that climate change is caused more by natural drivers did not change over the last five years.
2. Americans are acting to save money on their energy bills
Most Americans are taking actions that will save them money on their energy bills such as turning off lights, reducing heat and A/C use and buying an energy efficient appliance. But fewer are making more significant behavioral changes like using renewable energy or driving an electric car. Americans aged 18-29 are more likely than Americans over 60 to drive hybrid or electric cars (17% vs 8%), and have solar panels (15% vs 8%), while older Americans are more likely to use efficient behaviors like turning the lights off (94% vs. 79%), reducing heat or A/C use (62% vs. 55%), and using energy efficient appliances (75% vs. 56%).
3. Climate attitudes and actions may shift as more experience climate impacts
As more Americans experience extreme weather events characteristic of a changing climate like hurricanes, droughts, floods, unusual heat and wildfires their views on climate may change. The poll showed that those who have experienced extreme weather are more likely to say climate change is happening and to be concerned about it. They are also more likely to act—by moving. One in 5 Americans say they would consider moving to avoid extreme weather impacts, with the largest portions coming from the West Coast and Southwest where wildfires, drought and extreme heat plague the region. The majority who would consider moving were also younger than 45.
Americans’ Views on Climate and Energy Policy
4. Americans, but mostly Democrats, believe climate policy is important
About half of Americans still think climate policy is important. However, this view is largely partisan. Democrats rank climate change policy as the third most important issue, behind the economy and healthcare and followed by energy policy. Republicans rank climate change as the least important policy issue to them—though, three in ten still cite it as very or extremely important.
5. An increasing number of Americans are not willing to pay for climate policy
Americans are less willing to pay for a carbon fee than they were just a year ago. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans are unwilling to pay any amount of money to combat climate change. Those willing to pay a $1 carbon fee decreased by 14 percentage points in two years. Their support for the fee decreases as the impact on their energy bill grows. That said, a consistent minority is willing to pay a significant amount (even $100 or more) to combat climate change.
6. Those most supportive of expanding power lines for renewables become less supportive when told the lines would be near their homes
As the Inflation Reduction Act begins to make historic incentives for renewable power, Americans remain mixed in their support for the power lines needed to deliver that electricity to consumers. Only 56% of Americans support a proposal to build high-voltage power lines to transport renewable energy to places in need, but just 48% would do so if the power lines would be built in their neighborhood. Democrats and high-income households are more likely than Republicans and low-income households to support the build-out of power lines. But their support drops by 10 percentage points or more when told the lines would be built in their neighborhood. Support from Republicans and low-income households drops by less.
Americans’ Views on Electric Vehicles
7. 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 8 percent polled own an EV. But, 2 in 5 Americans say they are likely to purchase one, and of the few who own one more than half say they are very likely to buy another. The bulk of the owners and likely future owners are under the age of 45. Americans from the West Coast are more likely to purchase an EV than Americans from any other region.
8. Most Americans say they would buy an EV to save money
Having experienced historically high gas prices this year, more than 7 in 10 Americans say they would consider buying an EV to save money on gas. Climate change ranked second, with two-thirds saying that reducing their personal impact on climate change would be a motivating factor, barely beating out vehicle maintenance cost savings. While both Democrats (59%) and Republicans (34%) list saving money on gas as their number one reason for why they would purchase an electric vehicle, more than half of Democrats list climate change as their second reason. Just 17% of Republicans list climate change as a motivating factor.
9. Most Americans cite the cost of buying an EV as the top barrier to purchasing one.
About 8 in 10 Americans cite the cost of new electric vehicles as a reason why they would not buy one. However, as the Inflation Reduction Act provides Americans with historic EV tax credits, 6 in 10 say tax breaks would motivate them to purchase an electric vehicle. That said, Americans are also hesitant about purchasing them because of how long they take to charge and because they are afraid there are not enough charging stations. Americans’ concern over a lack of charging stations is about the same despite the region they live in and despite whether they live in an urban, suburban or rural area.
10. About half of Americans support EV tax credits and adding more charging stations
About half of Americans support financial incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, like the tax credits provided in the Inflation Reduction Act. Just about half also support the government expanding the EV charging network, which the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law heavily invests in. About a quarter, of Americans support requiring all new vehicles sold to be EVs by 2035. Around a third support setting stricter fuel efficiency standards to encourage auto companies to sell more electric vehicles. Across all of these policies, there is a significant partisan split.