October 25, 2022
A majority of the public think the federal government is not doing enough to combat climate change. There is support for providing consumers with rebates to purchase energy efficient appliances or tax credits to install solar panels, though few expect to do so personally in the next few years. More than half of the public think it is important for the government to restrict companies’ greenhouse emissions and provide incentives for the companies to do so. There is less support for incentivizing or restricting individuals’ greenhouse emissions.
Sixty-one percent of adults have heard nothing or only a little about the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes provisions to incentivize climate-friendly behaviors. Only a third think the legislation will help with climate change. Few say it will play a major role in whether they install solar panels, purchase an electric vehicle or install an electric vehicle charging station, or apply for a green energy job in the next three years.
The public is largely in agreement that climate change is happening and caused at least to some degree by human activity. The energy industry and private companies are seen as more responsible for climate change than the energy consumption of individuals.
Half of the public approves of the way Joe Biden is handling climate change, and half disapproves. Democrats are more likely to approve than disapprove (78% vs. 20%), whereas Republicans are more likely to disapprove than approve (78% vs. 18%). Among independents, 43% approve of how Biden is handling climate change, while 54% disapprove.
While most people say the government isn’t doing enough to combat climate change, there are stark partisan differences. Democrats are more likely than independents or Republicans say the federal government is doing too little to reduce climate change and Republicans are more likely than independents or Democrats think the government is doing too much.
Overall, 74% acknowledge that climate change is happening and just 8% say it is not. Among those that say climate change is happening, most agree it is caused entirely or mostly by human activities—but Republicans and older adults express more skepticism.
About half of adults say people not being willing to reduce their energy use, people not knowing how to reduce their energy use, and the government’s lack of investment into renewable energy sources are major challenges in efforts to reduce climate change. Only 40% say people being unwilling to pay more for energy from renewable sources is a major problem in efforts to reduce climate change.
The public is more likely to pin the issue of climate change on the energy industry and private companies. About 6 in 10 cite an unwillingness of companies to reduce their energy use or make energy saving products and services more affordable. Most say that the energy industry not doing enough to supply energy from or invest in renewable sources are major problems.
Democrats are more likely to see these factors as major impediments to efforts to reduce climate change than independents or Republicans.
Regarding specific climate policies, about 6 in 10 strongly or somewhat favor the federal government reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that companies are allowed to emit, providing consumer rebates for more efficient home appliances, and providing tax credits for the installation of solar panels.
Half of the public favors the government providing tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles, and 44% favor the government funding projects to reduce inequality when it comes to who is impacted by climate change. Only 27% approve auctioning off more public space for oil drilling.
Democrats are consistently more likely to favor government policies aimed at reducing climate change, whereas Republicans are more likely to support oil drilling.
About half of the public say it is extremely or very important for the federal government to provide incentives for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, restrict companies’ greenhouse gas emissions, and provide incentives for individuals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Fewer say it is important for the government to restrict individuals’ greenhouse gas emissions.
Democrats are more likely than independents or Republicans to describe these policies as important.
Most favor the expansion of renewable energy sources—solar farms or offshore wind farms—and only about a third say the same for offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. Yet again, there are significant partisan differences. Democrats are more likely to support the expansion of renewable energy sources in the United States, while Republicans are more likely to say offshore drilling should be expanded.
Sixty-one percent of adults have heard nothing or only a little about the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the recently passed climate, tax, and healthcare law. Only 38% say they have heard some or a lot about the law.
Democrats are far more likely than independents or Republicans to believe that the Inflation Reduction Act will do more to help the U.S. economy, climate change, U.S. workers, the cost of health care, and inflation. While Republicans are just as likely to say the Inflation Reduction Act will hurt climate change as help it, most think it will have no effect.
Overall, few express plans to invest in solar panels or electric vehicles or apply for a job in a green energy industry, even though the Inflation Reduction Act includes provisions to incentivize these behaviors. Only about 1 in 10 adults say they are extremely or very likely to purchase an electric vehicle or install solar panels in the next three years.
Even fewer say they are likely to install an electric vehicle charging station in their home or apply for a job in a green energy industry in the next three years.
And the Inflation Reduction Act is not doing much to change people’s intentions to engage in any of these activities, even among adults who say they are extremely, very, or somewhat likely to do them.
Among adults who say they are unlikely to install solar panels or electric vehicles, few would be swayed by financial incentives.
The nationwide poll was conducted September 9-12, 2022 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,054 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.9 percentage points.
- Suggested Citation: AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (September 2022). “People don’t think the government is doing enough to combat climate change” https://apnorc.org/projects/people-dont-think-the-government-is-doing-enough-to-combat-climate-change/