Watch CBS News

Climate change needs to be addressed...and soon, most Americans say — CBS News poll

Poll: Most Americans want action on climate
CBS News poll: Americans want to see action on climate change 04:44

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

Majorities across gender, racial and age groups all see a need for climate change to be addressed now or in the next few years, with more urgency among younger Americans. 

People who want climate change to be addressed right now are especially likely to feel some responsibility for the next generation. 

The political divides we have long seen on this issue remain: More Democrats than Republicans see climate change as a priority. 


The percentage who want climate change addressed soon is similar to they've been over the past few years.


What about those who don't see climate change as urgent?

For a third of Americans, climate change is something that can be dealt with further in the future —  or not at all. We followed-up and asked them about possible reasons why.

The top reasons selected regarding why addressing climate change action can wait included "there are more pressing issues right now," and "the effect of climate change is exaggerated." For most Americans, we know that pocketbook issues like the economy and inflation do rank as top priorities, ahead of climate change.

 A smaller majority say "there's nothing we can do about climate change," a reason that is cited among older people in particular. 


This group does not see an economic benefit in reducing climate change. More of them see such efforts as something that would hurt, rather than help, the economy. 

This differs from the views held by Americans overall and those who want climate change addressed more urgently. This group is inclined to see an economic benefit in reducing climate change.


Who prioritizes climate change and who doesn't? 

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

Republicans also view addressing climate change as having a negative impact economically. By nearly two to one, more Republicans see efforts to reduce climate change as something that would hurt the economy, rather than help it. 


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

Seniors don't see quite this level of responsibility. Just over a quarter of them feel they have "a lot" of responsibility to take care of the environment for future generations.


This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,582 U.S. adult residents interviewed between April 14-18, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as the 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is ±3.5 points.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.