January 31, 2023
Climate Change in the American Mind is a joint program of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication
Drawing on a representative sample of the U.S. adult population (n = 1,085; including the 938 registered voters whose data are included in this report), these findings describe how registered voters view a variety of domestic climate and energy policies. The survey was fielded from December 2 – 12, 2022.
It is important to note that this survey was conducted just after the 2022 U.S. congressional elections, which resulted in the Republican Party taking the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Democratic Party increasing their majority in the U.S. Senate.
This executive summary presents the results for all registered voters, while the main text of the report also breaks the results down by political party and ideology.
Global Warming as a Voting Issue
- More than four in ten registered voters (45%) who voted in the 2022 election say global warming was either “the single most important issue” (2%) or “one of several important issues” (43%) to them when they decided how they would vote.
Global Warming and Clean Energy as Government Priorities
- 52% of registered voters say global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress.
- 65% of registered voters say developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress.
Support for Policies to Reduce the Pollution that Causes Global Warming
Majorities of registered voters support a range of policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy. These include:
- 79% support funding more research into renewable energy sources.
- 78% support providing federal funding to make residential buildings in low-income communities more energy efficient.
- 76% support providing tax incentives or rebates to homeowners, landlords, and businesses to purchase appliances that can be powered without burning fossil fuels.
- 75% support providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels.
- 74% support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
- 66% support transitioning the U.S. economy (including electric utilities, transportation, buildings, and industry) from fossil fuels to 100% clean energy by 2050.
- 64% support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a tax on the carbon they produce and using the money to reduce other taxes by an equal amount.
- 62% support requiring electric utilities to produce 100% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2035.
Support for Conservation and Restoration Policies
Majorities of registered voters support a range of conservation and restoration policies. These include:
- 84% support federal funding to help farmers improve practices to protect and restore the soil so it absorbs and stores more carbon.
- 78% support creating a jobs program to hire unemployed coal workers to close down old coal mines.
- 78% support creating a jobs program to hire unemployed oil and gas workers to close down abandoned gas wells.
- 68% support increasing federal funding to low-income communities and communities of color who are disproportionately harmed by air and water pollution.
- 79% support generating renewable energy on public land in the U.S.
- 59% support expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast.
- 56% support drilling for and mining fossil fuels on public land in the U.S.
Building climate-friendly energy production and distribution infrastructure
Many registered voters support building a range of climate-friendly energy production and distribution infrastructure in the U.S. and in their local area. These include:
- Solar farms: 66% support building in the U.S.; 61% support building locally.
- Wind farms: 65% support building in the U.S.; 57% support building locally.
- Electric vehicle charging stations: 59% support building in the U.S.; 58% support building locally.
- High-voltage power lines to distribute clean energy: 58% support building in the U.S.; 54% support building locally.
- Nuclear power plants: 44% support building in the U.S.; 35% support building locally.
Declaring Climate Change a National Emergency
- 55% of registered voters support a U.S. president declaring global warming a national emergency if Congress does not take further action.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA)
On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. The law aims to curb inflation, reduce prescription drug prices and the cost of health insurance, modernize the Internal Revenue Service, and invest in U.S. clean energy production. The law will be paid for by closing tax loopholes.
- 43% of registered voters have heard either “a lot” or “some” about the IRA.
- Among registered voters who have heard of the IRA, the most common associations are skepticism, climate/clean energy, and economic benefits.
- After reading a short description of the IRA, 68% of registered voters support it.
- 41% of registered voters think the IRA will increase innovation in clean energy technologies.
- Relatively few registered voters think the IRA will accomplish its other intended goals including reducing global warming (34%), the cost of health care (27%), inflation (24%), electricity power outages (21%), gas prices (20%), or the cost of electricity (18%).
- Fewer than half of registered voters think the IRA will help future generations of people (42%), low-income communities and communities of color (36%), the health of Americans (35%), the economy and jobs in the U.S. (35%), their family (26%), them personally (22%), or national security (17%).
Who Should Act?
- 66% of registered voters say corporations and industry should do more to address global warming.
- Additionally, about half or more also say the following should do more to address global warming: citizens themselves (60%), the Republican Party (60%), the U.S. Congress (58%), their local government officials (54%), their governor (53%), the Democratic Party (53%), the media (51%), President Biden (50%), and they themselves (48%).
- Only 12% of registered voters think the U.S. government is responding well to global warming.
Political Actions to Limit Global Warming
- 49% of registered voters say they would sign a petition about global warming if a person they like and respect asked them to, although only 16% say they have signed such a petition in the past year.
- Fewer say they would take other actions if a person they like and respect asked them to, including 31% who would donate money to an organization working on global warming (compared with 11% who say they have actually done so in the past year), 30% who would volunteer their time to an organization working on global warming (compared with 5% who say they have done so in the past year), and 26% who would contact government officials about global warming (compared with 8% who say they have done so in the past year).
- 25% say they would support an organization engaging in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse, 14% say they would personally engage in non-violent civil disobedience, and 4% say they would be willing to get arrested as part of such an action.
- 1% say they are currently participating in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming, while 7% say they would “definitely” join such a campaign and 19% say they would “probably” join one.
- 42% of registered voters are at least “moderately confident” that people like them, working together, can affect what the federal government does about global warming; 35% are at least “moderately confident” that people like them, working together, can affect what corporations do about global warming.
Educating Students About Global Warming
- 75% of registered voters say that schools should teach children about the causes and consequences of global warming, and potential solutions.
Table of Contents
Report Summary / Reading Notes
1. Global Warming as a Voting Issue
2. Global Warming and Clean Energy as Government Priorities
3. Support for Policies to Reduce the Pollution that Causes Global Warming
4. Special Section: The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)
5. Who Should Take Action to Address Global Warming?
6. Political Actions to Limit Global Warming
8. Educating Students About Global Warming
CitationLeiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Carman, J., Lee, S., Verner, M., Ballew, M., Ansah, P., Badullovich, N., Myers, T., Goldberg, M., & Marlon, J. (2023). Climate Change in the American Mind: Politics & Policy, December 2022. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Funding SourceThe research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the Grantham Foundation.