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Taking Action on Climate Change

An AP-NORC Poll conducted in August 2019 examines beliefs about the impact individuals can have on climate change and actions they may be taking to reduce their own carbon footprint.

​Two-thirds of Americans think their own behavior can impact climate change and half say individuals have a responsibility to address climate change.  Most take at least some action to reduce their personal consumption of carbon-based energy.

People who do take these actions aren't necessary all doing so because of climate concerns. Previous research by The AP-NORC Center1 suggests that many Americans take actions such as adjusting the thermostat or turning off unneeded lights in order to save money, rather than to help the environment. 

Those who believe they can personally help mitigate climate change are more inclined to reduce their use of air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. They are also more likely to make an effort to reduce their gasoline consumption.

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Question: How often do you do the following things?/In general, do you think your actions have an effect on climate change?
Source: AP-NORC poll conducted August 15-19, 2019 with 1,058 adults nationwide.


Women are also more likely to say that they eat vegetarian meals than men (23% vs. 11%). Urban Americans are more than twice as likely to say that they often take public transportation as Americans in suburban or rural locations (30% vs. 14%).

Most Americans say corporations and industry, federal and state governments, and other industrialized countries have a great deal or a lot of responsibility to deal with climate change. Fifty percent think people are very responsible for addressing climate change.

Americans who think they can personally affect climate change are particularly likely to say individuals are responsible for addressing the issue. They are also twice as likely to say that the U.S. federal government should have a lot of responsibility for addressing climate change.

Some other differences emerge. Americans age 18 to 29 are less likely to say individual people should have a lot of responsibility compared to Americans 60 and older. In addition, women, those who are more affluent or better educated, and Democrats are more inclined to believe humans have a responsibility to deal with the problem.

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Question: How much responsibility does each of the following have for addressing climate change? / In general, do you think your actions have an effect on climate change?
Source: AP-NORC poll conducted August 15-19, 2019 with 1,058 adults nationwide.


The nationwide poll was conducted August 15-19, 2019, 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 1,058 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points for all respondents. The margin of sampling may be higher for subgroups. 

1. http://www.apnorc.org/projects/Pages/american-attitudes-about-global-warming-and-energy-policy.aspx