January 27, 2014

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 second to last among 20 issues tested. 

KDP_Global_Warming

There are substantial partisan differences over the importance of dealing with global warming, according to our  survey conducted Jan. 15-19. About four-in-ten (42%) Democrats cite it as a top priority compared to 14% of Republicans and 27% of independents.

When we asked about climate change again in a survey conducted in Feb. 2013, only 34% of the public viewed new climate change policies as something that was essential for the White House and Congress to tackle last year.

Fewer Americans cite global climate change as a major threat to their country than most publics around the world.

PRC_Global_Climate

In a poll of 39 countries conducted March through May. 2013, 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.

KDP_Global_Warming

A survey conducted in October, 2013 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.

KDP_Warm_Partisan2

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, 2013 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.

KDP_Human_Activity

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, 2013 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.

KDP_Emissions_LimitA September, 2013 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.

Index to other Key Data Point fact sheets