Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

How Americans View Future Harms From Climate Change in Their Community and Around the U.S.

3. Climate activism

The survey finds that the share of Americans who say they have participated in one of four forms of climate activism has declined slightly since two years ago. And there’s limited belief among the public generally that climate activism changes minds or drives elected officials to act.

Recent months have seen a number of high-profile climate demonstrations including the delay of a U.S. Open tennis match due to environmental protestors and marches in New York ahead of United Nations meetings to urge world leaders to end the use of fossil fuels.

Chart shows share of Americans who have participated in a climate-related activity is down slightly from 2021

The survey asked Americans if they have done each of the following in the last year: attended a climate change protest or rally; volunteered for an activity focused on addressing climate change; donated money to an organization focused on climate change; or contacted an elected official to urge them to address climate change.

Overall, 21% of Americans say they have participated in at least one of these activities in the last year, down slightly from 24% in 2021. Two years ago, many places in the U.S. saw restrictions on public gatherings and activities due to policies aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus

Rates of participation in climate activism differ by the following measures:

Partisan affiliation

Chart shows About 2 in 10 Americans say they have participated in a form of climate activism within the past year

Democrats and independents who lean to the Democratic Party are about three times more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents to say they have participated in at least one of these activities to address climate change in the past year (32% vs. 10%).

Age

Younger adults are more likely to say they have engaged in climate activism than older adults: 30% of adults ages 18 to 29 say they have participated in at least one of four activities in the past year, compared with 17% of those ages 65 and older.

Personal concern about climate change

Those who say they personally care a great deal about climate change are much more likely than those who say they care some to have participated in at least one of four climate-related activities in the last year (36% vs. 14%).

Skepticism that climate activism changes minds or spurs political action

A relatively small share of the public (28%) believes that climate activism, such as protests and rallies, makes people more likely to support action on climate change.

Chart shows 28% of Americans say climate activism increases others’ support for action on this issue

About half of Americans (49%) say climate activism does not really affect people’s levels of support, and 21% believe it has the opposite of its intended effect and makes people less likely to support action on climate change.

Views differ by party

Democrats (42%) are more likely than Republicans (13%) to believe climate activism makes people more likely to support climate action. Within the Democratic Party, liberals (48%) are somewhat more confident than moderates and conservatives (38%) that climate activism builds public support for the issue.

Public perceptions of climate activism’s influence on elected officials

Chart shows Majority of Americans think climate activism is not too effective at getting elected officials to act

Just 11% of Americans say climate activism is extremely or very effective in getting elected officials to act on climate change; 33% say it is somewhat effective. A narrow majority of Americans (54%) say that climate activism is not too or not at all effective in getting elected official to act on climate change.

Relatively few Republicans (7%) and Democrats (16%) say climate activism is extremely or very effective at driving action among elected officials.

However, a majority of Democrats believe climate activism is at least somewhat effective at motivating action from elected officials. By contrast, 69% of Republicans believe it is not too or not at all effective.

How often Americans talk about climate change

Chart shows Democrats and young adults are most likely to say they talk about the need for action on climate change

Overall, 53% of U.S. adults say they have talked about the need for action on global climate change in the past few weeks. By comparison, 46% say they have not talked about the need to address climate change recently.

Reflecting their views about the importance of the issue generally, Democrats (72%) are far more likely than Republicans (35%) to say they have talked about the need for action on climate change within the last week.

The youngest adults are more likely than those ages 3o to 49 and those 50 and older to say they’ve talked recently about the need for action on climate change. 

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