1. Individual Consumer Actions

Consumer Activism on Global Warming, September 2021

1.1 One in three Americans say they have engaged in consumer activism on global warming.

One in three Americans (33%) say they have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products in the past 12 months. About three in ten Americans (28%) say they have punished companies that are opposing steps to reduce global warming by not buying their products. The proportion of Americans who say they have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming or punished companies that are opposing steps to reduce global warming have waxed and waned slightly over time, and are currently at levels similar to when we first asked these questions in November 2008.

1.2 About four in ten Americans intend to engage in consumer activism on global warming more frequently in the next year.

About four in ten Americans (41%) say that, over the next 12 months, they intend to reward companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming more frequently than they do now. The same percentage (41%) say they intend to punish companies that are opposing steps to reduce global warming more frequently than they do now.

About half of Americans say they intend to take these steps about as often as they are doing now – 51% say they intend to reward companies about as often as they do now, and 49% say they intend to punish companies as often as they do now. Only about one in ten Americans say they intend to take these steps less frequently than they do now – 8% say they intend to reward companies less frequently, and 10% say they intend to punish companies less frequently.

1.3 Reasons more Americans don’t punish companies for opposing climate action.

Asked why they might not punish companies that oppose climate action, about seven in ten Americans (71%) say they do not know which companies to punish. Additionally, more than half say they are not an activist (61%) or because nobody has ever asked them to (58%). One in three or more Americans say their actions wouldn’t have any influence on a company (49%), they can’t afford to do it (47%), it would be inconvenient (45%), they are too busy (35%), or it’s too much effort (35%).

1.4 Half of Americans say they are more likely to purchase goods from a company lobbying Congress to pass legislation to reduce global warming.

When asked whether they would be more or less likely to purchase goods from a company that is lobbying Congress to pass legislation to reduce global warming, half of Americans (50%) say they would be more likely to purchase goods from that company, while only 15% say they would be less likely to purchase goods from that company. About one in three (34%) say it would make no difference either way.

1.5 Half of Americans say they are more likely to purchase goods from a company lobbying Congress to pass legislation to reduce global warming.

More than one in three Americans (38%) say they would be either “extremely” (8%), “very” (10%) or “moderately” likely (20%) to switch banks or credit cards if they knew their bank or credit card company was investing in fossil fuels companies. Four in ten (40%) report being “not at all likely” to switch banks or credit cards for this reason, and 17% report being “a little likely” to make such a switch.


Citation

Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Neyens, L., Carman, J., Marlon, J., Lacroix, K., & Goldberg, M. (2021). Consumer Activism on Global Warming, September 2021. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Funding Sources

The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Grantham Foundation.

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