Climate Change: Key Data Points from Pew Research
The American public routinely ranks dealing with global warming low on its list of priorities for the president and Congress. This year, it ranked at the bottom of the 21 tested.
In the Pew Research Center’s annual policy priorities survey, released Jan. 24, just 28% say dealing with global warming is a top priority for the president and Congress this year, little changed from the 30% that said this when Obama first took office in 2009. Nearly four-in-ten Democrats say global warming should be a top priority, compared with just 13% of Republicans. About three-in-ten independents (31%) say this as well. (See our interactive chart, Twelve Years of the Public’s Top Priorities).
When we asked about climate change again in our February survey, only 34% of the public viewed new climate change policies as something that is essential for the White House and Congress to tackle this year.
Fewer Americans cite global climate change as a major threat to their country than most publics around the world.
In a poll of 39 countries conducted March through May, a median of 54% of those surveyed cited global climate change as a major threat to their countries, putting it at the top of the list of items tested. In contrast, 40% of Americans said climate change was a major threat.
Two-thirds of Americans say there is solid evidence that the earth has been getting warmer over the last few decades.
A survey conducted in October found that 67% of Americans believe there is solid evidence that the earth has been getting warmer over the last few decades, a figure that has changed little in the past few years.
There are sharp partisan divides about whether there is solid evidence of warming.
In 2009, 35% of Republicans, 53% of independents and 75% of Democrats said there was solid evidence of rising temperatures on earth. Today, half of Republicans (50%), 62% of independents and 88% of Democrats say this, according to our October survey.
Among Americans who believe there is solid evidence of global warming, more attribute it to human activity than natural patterns. But there is a big partisan gap on this question.
Currently, 44% say there is solid evidence of global warming and it is mostly due to human activity; 18% say it is mostly because of natural environmental patterns, according to our October survey. Two-thirds of Democrats (66%) say that warming is mainly because of human activity, up nine points from earlier this year. Fewer independents (43%) and Republicans (24%) than Democrats say that human activity is the primary cause of global warming.
Nearly two-thirds of the public favors stricter emissions limits on power plants.
A September survey found that 65% of Americans favor stricter emissions limits on power plants, including 74% of Democrats, 67% of independents and 52% of Republicans.
Read more Pew Research reports on Climate Change.
Other Key Data Point fact sheets:
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