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Poll: Climate change needs to be solved…and soon, most Americans say

A majority of Americans — two-thirds — think people need to deal with climate in the coming years, including more than half who think action is needed right now. Most feel that their generation bears some responsibility to make sacrifices and care for the environment for future generations.

Majorities across gender, race and age groups see a need for climate change now or in the next few years, more urgent among young Americans.

Those who want to tackle climate change now may feel some responsibility, especially for future generations.

The political divide we’ve long seen on this issue remains: More Democrats than Republicans see climate change as a priority.

The percentage who want to tackle climate change soon has remained the same over the past few years.


What about those who don’t think climate change is urgent?

For a third of Americans, climate change is an issue that can be dealt with more in the future – or not at all. We followed up and asked them about possible reasons.

The top reasons chosen for why action on climate change should wait included “there are more important problems right now,” and “the impact of climate change is exaggerated.” For most Americans, we know that’s a problem like a pocketbook The economy and inflation rank as top prioritiesBefore climate change.

A small majority say that “there’s nothing we can do about climate change,” a reason cited especially among older people.


This group does not see economic benefits in mitigating climate change. Many of them see such efforts as something that will hurt rather than help the economy.

This contrasts with the more urgently addressed views of Americans as a whole and those seeking climate change. This group tends to see an economic benefit in mitigating climate change.



Who prioritizes climate change and who doesn’t?

As has been the case for years, views on climate change are marked by sharp political divisions: Democrats and liberals view the issue as more urgent, while Republicans and conservatives do not.

Republicans see climate change as having a negative impact on the economy. By nearly two to one, more Republicans see efforts to mitigate climate change as something that will hurt the economy rather than help it.


We also see some age differences: younger people see climate change as a more important issue than older people. Americans ages 30-44, a group that includes many millennials, are the age group most likely to feel that their generation has “a lot” of responsibility to care for the environment for future generations.

Seniors do not see this level of responsibility. More than a quarter of them feel they have “a lot” of responsibility to care for the environment for future generations.


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This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,582 US adult residents interviewed between April 14-18, 2023. The sample was weighted by sex, age, race, and education based on the US Census American Community Survey. Current demographic surveys, as well as 2020 presidential polls. The margin of error is ±3.5 points.

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