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Younger Americans views' on climate change: More serious, yet more optimistic

Americans push for climate change action

By Jennifer De Pinto and Fred Backus

Many young people in the U.S. and around the world have been speaking out on the issue of climate change, and that's fine with 8 in 10 Americans who think young people should be involved with the issue.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans think the environment will be worse for next generation.

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Most Americans of all ages think climate change is either a serious problem or a crisis, and they are more likely to think so the younger they are, and they feel more of a responsibility to do something about it.

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Younger Americans also are more optimistic about the ability of the U.S. to transition to 100% renewable energy in the next 30 years or so. They are more likely than those who are older to think this is a realistic goal.

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The poll asked Americans under age 40 years of age (a group comprising largely Millennials and Generation Z) if they blame older generations for climate change. Sixty-three percent blame them a lot or some.

Some of the differences by age on this issue may be related to education.  More young Americans were taught about climate change or global warming in school.

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Being taught the subject makes a difference, even beyond age. When looking at Americans under 45, those who were taught about climate change in school have significantly different views on the subject than those who weren't. They are more likely to view climate change as serious, more likely to think humans have a hand in contributing to climate change, and more likely to do things to help protect the environment.

Republicans: Views differ by age

While large majorities of Democrats across age groups think climate change is caused by human activity and that it's a serious problem, Republicans under age 45 are far more likely than older Republicans to see things that way.  And two thirds of younger Republicans feel they have a responsibility to do something about climate change, compared to just 38% of Republicans over 45 who do.

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This CBS News Poll is being released as part of Covering Climate Now, a collaboration of more than 250 news outlets around the world providing in-depth coverage of the climate story.


The CBS News survey is conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,143 U.S. residents interviewed between September 6 and 10, 2019. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 presidential vote and registration status. The margin of error is 2.2 points.

Poll toplines

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