Jessai Flores, Staff Illustrator

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, or YPCCC, recently released a “Politics & Global Warming” report, finding that the majority of surveyed Americans support expanded climate policy action. 

The YPCCC’s bi-annual “Politics & Global Warming” report surveyed 1,006 Americans — 898 of whom are registered voters — in mid-September. It was published on Oct. 20. The report features the work of seven YPCCC faculty and staff members and two research affiliates, both from George Mason University. Many key questions saw significant changes in results from the previous iteration of the survey. The report comes as politicians prepare to confront climate change at the United Nations Climate Change Conference and in Congress.

“Public support for climate change by the government is growing,” said Jennifer Marlon, YPCCC research scientist. “In the past, it has been growing especially strong among Democrats. We even see that support is starting to grow among moderate Republicans as well now.”

Overall, the report found that 60 percent of registered voters consider global warming either a “high” or “very high” priority for Congress and the president. Ninety-four percent of Democrats voiced this opinion, in contrast to 17 percent of conservative Republicans. This statistic increased by eight percent overall from the YPCCC’s March 2021 survey, when only 12 percent of conservative Republicans answered in this manner. In the spring survey, 35 percent of liberal/moderate Republicans voiced this opinion, while 45 percent of the same demographic do now. 

Marlon emphasized that while the report’s data visualizations present the populations of each political categorization as equal, they do not accurately reflect the weight of each population in the United States, as the numbers of Democratic, Independent and Republican voters vary.

“Despite the partisan gridlock in Washington D.C., a strong majority of Americans support action on a number of these items,” YPCCC Director Anthony Leiserowitz said. “There’s even bipartisan consent for a number of these policies.”

These policies include supporting efforts to make existing buildings energy efficient through rebates and taxes, funding research on renewable energy and regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. All of these ideas enjoyed gains in voter support over the past six months.

The report is part of the YPCCC’s larger Climate Change in the American Mind project and the Politics & Global Warming series — which has been published for over a dozen years. This specific survey was published 11 days before the beginning of the United Nations Climate Change Conference and in the midst of political attention focused on the Biden administration’s efforts to pass a climate action bill. 

While the report found that many are concerned about climate change, that concern does not necessarily translate to increased engagement in political responses to global warming.

“​​Relatively few registered voters have engaged in political actions to reduce global warming over the past 12 months, including 19% who say they have signed a petition about global warming at least ‘once’ and 15% who say they have donated money to an organization working on global warming at least ‘once,’” the report reads. “Fewer (6%) have volunteered their time to an organization working on global warming at least ‘once’ in the past year. Liberal Democrats are the most likely to say they have engaged in these actions while conservative Republicans are the least likely.”

The YPCCC is a program in the Yale School of the Environment.

Hamera Shabbir covers golf and fencing for the Sports desk and the School of the Environment for the Science and Technology desk. Originally from California's Central Valley, she is a sophomore in Branford College majoring in Environmental Studies.