Where do Americans Stand on Climate and Energy Policy?

People are finding the science of climate change increasingly convincing, and 55% of Americans support a clean electricity standard that would decrease the share of electricity coming from traditional sources.

October 26, 2021

Most Americans think climate change is happening and isn’t showing signs of slowing, according to a new AP-NORC/EPIC poll. Americans are finding the science of climate change increasingly convincing, and 52% of Americans would support a small fee on carbon to combat climate change.

Three in four Americans believe that climate change is happening and 41% think it’s caused mainly by human activities. Fifty-nine percent of Americans think the pace of climate change is accelerating while 35% say it’s staying the same. Just 6% believe it’s getting slower. While Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say climate change is getting faster, fewer than 10% in both parties say its’s getting slower.

To combat climate change, 55% of Americans would support a bill that increases the share of clean electricity sources and decreases our reliance on traditional sources like coal and natural gas. Less popular is a policy in which wealthier countries provide funding to poorer countries to develop their economies using clean energy sources rather than traditional sources. Forty-six percent express support for that while 21% oppose. Sizeable minorities neither support nor oppose each policy proposal.

When it comes to influencing views on climate change, Americans say scientists and recent extreme weather events like hurricanes, droughts, floods, unusual heat, and wildfires are having the greatest influence on their views. Few report being influenced by religious leaders or political leaders in either party. 

Video produced by The Associated Press (October 26)

The poll also included several items to gauge the public’s willingness to pay for both combating climate change as well as mitigating its consequences. The findings suggest that under several conditions, at least half of Americans are willing to pay more for energy use, with support marginally dwindling as the amount they would pay increases. Significant minorities of Americans — up to a quarter — are willing to pay as much as $100 per month more for energy depending on how those funds are used.

This nationwide poll was conducted by The AP-NORC Center and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) from September 8-24, 2021, using TrueNorth®, which combines a sample from AmeriSpeak, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago, with a non-probability panel sample. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 5,468 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 1.7 percentage points.

  • Suggested Citation: AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.  (October, 2021).“Where do Americans Stand on Climate and Energy Policy?” [apnorc.org/projects/where-do-americans-stand-on-climate-and-energy-policy]

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