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CBS News poll analysis: Amid concern about extreme weather events, most want Congress to fight climate change

Climate change and energy in 2023
The politics and economics of climate change and energy in 2023 09:57

As Americans look ahead, more than half are pessimistic about the prospect of extreme weather events and climate, particularly those who report having faced more extreme weather in their local area in recent years. They say this experience with extreme weather has led them to be more concerned about climate change. 

And climate is an issue most Americans want to see addressed by political leaders: a big majority want their representative in Congress to support efforts to fight climate change, rather than oppose such efforts.


Nearly half of Americans overall say the area where they live has experienced more extreme weather related events in recent years. People living in the West - parts of which have been hit by severe storms and flooding - are somewhat more likely than those in other regions to say they have experienced more extreme weather in recent years. Regardless of the region where they live, most Americans who tell us they have faced extreme weather in their local area say it has made them more concerned about climate change.


Who sees climate change as a high priority?

Even though many Americans are concerned about climate change, for most, it ranks below other issues as a "high" priority for Congress to address. Issues such as protecting Social Security, lowering inflation, crime, securing the border and increasing U.S. energy production (something most Republicans prioritize) are seen as more pressing right now.

Some see climate change as a more urgent issue than others. Younger Americans, in particular, place a lot of importance on tackling climate change — it's among the top priorities they want this Congress to focus on. The percentage of those ages 18-29 who say it should be a "high" priority is the highest of any other age group. 


We also continue to see partisan divides on views of climate change — splits that have endured for years — with Democrats ranking it as a far higher priority than Republicans do.  


This doesn't mean there aren't Republicans who want the issue of climate addressed in some way. Nearly half want their representative in Congress to support efforts to fight climate change, including a majority of Republicans under age 50.  


Fred Backus contributed to this report. 

This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,144 U.S. adult residents interviewed between January 4-6, 2,023. 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 to 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error is ±2.9 points.   

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