American Opinions on Global Warming

Primary Investigator: Anthony Leiserowitz[1]

 

Contents

 

·      Executive Summary

 

·      Simplified Results  (summary % for each policy)

 

o      Table 1: Awareness

o      Table 2: Concern

o      Table 3: U.S. Reduce Emissions

o      Table 4: Regulate CO2

o      Table 5: Subsidize Renewable Energy

o      Table 6: Gas Guzzler Tax

o      Table 7: Business Energy Tax

o      Table 8: Gas Tax

o      Table 9: Kyoto Protocol

o      Table 10: U.S. Act Regardless

o      Table 11: International Emissions Market

 

·      Summary Chart  (% support for all National and International policies)

 

·       Detailed Results  (results broken down by Political Identification, Political Ideology, and Geographic Region – see “How to Interpret Detailed Results”)

 

o      Table 1: Awareness

o      Table 2: Concern

o      Table 3: U.S. Reduce Emissions

o      Table 4: Regulate CO2

o      Table 5: Subsidize Renewable Energy

o      Table 6: Gas Guzzler Tax

o      Table 7: Business Energy Tax

o      Table 8: Gas Tax

o      Table 9: Kyoto Protocol

o      Table 10: U.S. Act Regardless

o      Table 11: International Emissions Market

 

·      Methodology  (study methods)

 

Executive Summary

 

 

A nationally representative survey entitled “American Opinions on Global Warming” was conducted by Anthony Leiserowitz and the University of Oregon Survey Research Laboratory (OSRL) between November 2002 and February 2003 (n=673).

 

This research found that of those Americans who have heard of global warming (92%):

 

·      Over 90% think the United States should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

 

·      A strong majority (77%) support government regulation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant and investment in renewable energy (71%).

 

·      A strong majority (88%) support the Kyoto Protocol and (76%) want the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do.

 

·      While a majority favor a tax on "gas guzzlers" (54%), strong majorities oppose a gasoline tax (78%) or a business energy tax (60%) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

·      They divide evenly (40%) regarding a market-based emissions trading system, while 18% are uncertain.

 

·      Democrats and Liberals express stronger support for climate change policies than Republicans and Conservatives.

 

·      Independents and Moderates show levels of support more similar to Democrats and Liberals than to Republicans and Conservatives.

 

·      Nonetheless, majorities of Republicans and Conservatives support most climate change policies.

 

 


Simplified Results

 

 

Public Awareness and Concern about Global Warming

 

 

Table 1: Awareness

 

“Have you ever heard of global warming?”

 

 

%

Yes

92

No

8

Total

100

           

 

Table  2: Concern

 

“How concerned are you about global warming?”

 

 

%

Somewhat/Very concerned

75

Not very/Not at all concerned

24

No response

1

Total

100

 

 

 


National Policies

 

 

Table  3: U.S. Reduce Emissions

 

“Do you think the United States should reduce its emissions of the greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, etc.) that are said to cause global warming?”

 

 

%

Probably/Definitely Yes

90

Probably/Definitely No

7

No response

3

Total

100

 

 

Table  4: Regulate CO2

 

“Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas said to be causing global warming and is produced by electric power plants and motor vehicles (e.g., cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles).  Currently, carbon dioxide is not regulated as a pollutant.  How much do you support or oppose the regulation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant?”

 

 

%

Somewhat/Strongly Support

77

Somewhat/Strongly Oppose

20

No response

3

Total

100

 

 

Table  5: Subsidize Renewable Energy

 

“The United States government provides approximately $5 billion a year in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry (coal, oil, natural gas). Some people have proposed transferring these subsidies to the renewable energy industry (wind, solar, biomass, etc.) to develop cleaner forms of energy.  This would make fossil fuels more expensive and renewable energy less expensive.  How much do you support or oppose this proposal?”

 

 

%

Somewhat/Strongly Support

71

Somewhat/Strongly Oppose

17

Don’t know

9

No response

3

Total

100

 

 

Table  6: Gas Guzzler Tax

 

“In order to encourage people to use more fuel-efficient vehicles, some people have proposed a 5 percent "gas guzzler" tax on cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles that get less than 25 miles per gallon. This would add approximately $1,000 to the price of a $20,000 car. How much do you support or oppose this proposal?”

 

 

%

Somewhat/Strongly Support

54

Somewhat/Strongly Oppose

40

Don't know

3

No response

3

Total

100

 

 

Table  7: Business Energy Tax

 

“To encourage industry to be more fuel efficient, some people have proposed a business energy tax. This tax would raise the average price of most things you buy, including food and clothing, by 3 percent, or approximately $380 per person per year.  How much do you support or oppose this proposal?”

 

 

%

Somewhat/Strongly Support

31

Somewhat/Strongly Oppose

60

Don't know

6

No response

3

Total

100

 

 

Table  8: Gas Tax

 

“How much do you support or oppose a 60-cent per gallon gasoline tax, over and above existing gas taxes, to encourage people to drive less and thus reduce carbon dioxide emissions?”

 

 

%

Somewhat/Strongly Support

17

Somewhat/Strongly Oppose

78

Don't know

2

No response

3

Total

100

 

 

 


International POLICIES

 

 

Table  9: Kyoto Protocol

 

“In 1997, the United States and other developed countries made an agreement called the Kyoto Protocol to collectively reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.  The United States agreed to reduce its emissions by 7% by the year 2010.  How much do you favor or oppose this agreement?”

 

 

%

Somewhat/Strongly Favor

88

Somewhat/Strongly Oppose

10

No response

2

Total

100

 

 

 

Table  10: U.S. Act Regardless

 

“The United States currently emits about 20% of the world's total greenhouse gases. People disagree whether the U.S. should reduce greenhouse gas emissions on its own, or make reductions only if other countries do too. Which of the following statements comes closest to your own point of view? The United States should reduce its emissions...

 

 

%

...regardless of what other countries do.

76

...only if all other industrialized countries reduce their emissions.

7

...only if all other industrialized and all less-developed countries

reduce their emissions.

8

 

The United States should not reduce its emissions.

2

Don't know.

5

No response

2

Total

100

 

 

Table  11: International Emissions Market

 

“One controversial proposal to solve global warming is to create an international market in greenhouse gases. In this system, all countries agree to a global cap on emissions.  Each country then gets the right to emit a portion of this global amount.  If a country emits more than its portion, it must buy more emission rights from other countries or else pay stiff fines.  In principle, how much do you support or oppose an international market that allows countries to buy and sell

greenhouse gases?”

 

 

%

Somewhat/Strongly Support

40

Somewhat/Strongly Oppose

40

Don't know

18

No response

2

Total

100

 

 

 

Americans’ Support for National and International Policies

January, 2003


 

 

 

Detailed Results

 

Public Awareness and Concern about Global Warming

 

 

Table  1: Awareness

 

“Have you ever heard of global warming?”

 

 

%

Yes

92

No

8

Total

100

           

 

Table  2: Concern

 

“How concerned are you about global warming?”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Concerned (total)

75

86

80

62

90

79

55

80

70

75

76

Very concerned

26

42

28

13

44

21

16

29

24

24

29

Somewhat concerned

49

45

51

49

46

58

39

52

46

51

47

Not concerned (total)

24

12

20

38

9

20

44

20

27

24

24

Not very concerned

18

9

12

29

6

16

31

16

18

17

19

Not at all concerned

7

3

7

9

3

4

13

4

9

7

5

 

How to Interpret Detailed Results (for the above table)

 

Reading across: For Political ID, 86% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 62% of Republicans are concerned (total) about global warming. For Political Ideology, 90% of Liberals, 79% of Moderates and 55% of Conservatives are concerned (total).  For Region, 80% of respondents in the Northeast, 70% in the South, 75% in the Midwest, and 76% in the West are concerned (total) about global warming.

 

Reading down: A Total of 75% of all respondents said they were very (26%) to somewhat (49%) concerned, while 24% said they were not very (18%) to not at all (7%) concerned about global warming.  Among Republicans, a total of 62% said they were very (13%) to somewhat (49%) concerned, while a total of 38% said they were not very (29%) to not at all concerned (9%). 

 

*Note: Results are rounded to the nearest whole number.  Columns do not always total 100% due to a small percentage of respondents who did not answer every question. 

 

National Policies

 

Table  3: U.S. Reduce Emissions

 

“Do you think the United States should reduce its emissions of the greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, etc.) that are said to cause global warming?”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes (total)

90

94

91

87

96

91

84

95

88

91

88

Definitely yes

58

71

62

44

75

59

42

66

57

57

54

Probably yes

32

23

29

43

21

33

43

29

31

34

34

No (total)

7

4

6

12

3

6

14

5

9

6

9

Probably no

6

3

5

9

2

6

10

3

7

4

8

Definitely no

2

1

1

3

1

1

5

2

3

1

1

 

 

Table  4: Regulate CO2

 

“Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas said to be causing global warming and is produced by electric power plants and motor vehicles (e.g., cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles).  Currently, carbon dioxide is not regulated as a pollutant.  How much do you support or oppose the regulation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant?”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Support (total)

77

84

81

69

86

84

62

85

75

79

71

Strongly support

34

43

43

20

48

36

18

46

28

36

29

Somewhat support

43

41

38

49

38

48

44

39

47

43

42

Oppose (total)

20

13

16

30

12

14

36

14

21

19

27

Somewhat oppose

14

10

12

19

10

11

23

10

14

12

21

Strongly oppose

6

3

5

10

2

4

13

5

7

7

5

 

 

Table  5: Subsidize Renewable Energy

 

“The United States government provides approximately $5 billion a year in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry (coal, oil, natural gas). Some people have proposed transferring these subsidies to the renewable energy industry (wind, solar, biomass, etc.) to develop cleaner forms of energy.  This would make fossil fuels more expensive and renewable energy less expensive.  How much do you support or oppose this proposal?”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Support (total)

71

82

76

58

82

79

52

72

67

75

73

Strongly support

29

45

31

12

49

27

14

33

29

27

31

Somewhat support

42

37

45

46

33

52

39

39

38

49

42

Oppose (total)

17

12

12

26

12

11

29

11

21

12

22

Somewhat oppose

11

9

7

16

11

7

16

3

15

7

18

Strongly oppose

6

2

5

10

1

4

13

8

6

5

4

Don't know

9

4

9

13

3

8

15

13

8

9

5

 

 

Table  6: Gas Guzzler Tax

 

“In order to encourage people to use more fuel-efficient vehicles, some people have proposed a 5 percent "gas guzzler" tax on cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles that get less than 25 miles per gallon. This would add approximately $1,000 to the price of a $20,000 car. How much do you support or oppose this proposal?”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Support (total)

54

67

56

38

67

60

33

65

50

52

49

Strongly support

23

34

17

15

40

19

15

28

22

18

30

Somewhat support

30

33

39

23

27

42

18

38

28

34

20

Oppose (total)

40

28

36

56

29

33

59

27

42

41

46

Somewhat oppose

14

13

12

17

14

14

16

5

15

19

14

Strongly oppose

26

15

25

39

15

19

43

22

27

23

32

Don't know

3

3

4

3

1

4

5

5

4

4

1

 

 

Table  7: Business Energy Tax

 

“To encourage industry to be more fuel efficient, some people have proposed a business energy tax. This tax would raise the average price of most things you buy, including food and clothing, by 3 percent, or approximately $380 per person per year.  How much do you support or oppose this proposal?”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

4

%

Support (total)

31

35

36

25

37

35

23

42

22

25

38

Strongly support

7

11

7

2

13

6

2

9

5

4

11

Somewhat support

25

25

29

23

24

30

21

33

18

25

27

Oppose (total)

60

57

54

67

53

58

68

47

69

61

55

Somewhat oppose

23

29

18

20

30

24

16

16

29

21

22

Strongly oppose

37

28

35

46

24

34

52

31

40

40

33

Don't know

6

5

6

5

7

4

6

7

5

7

4

 

 

Table  8: Gas Tax

 

“How much do you support or oppose a 60-cent per gallon gasoline tax, over and above existing gas taxes, to encourage people to drive less and thus reduce carbon dioxide emissions?”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Support (total)

17

24

16

10

29

14

10

21

12

19

15

Strongly support

8

13

7

4

16

5

5

9

6

8

9

Somewhat support

9

12

9

7

13

10

5

13

6

11

6

Oppose (total)

78

72

76

85

69

80

85

71

84

73

81

Somewhat oppose

25

30

25

21

29

32

13

26

29

20

24

Strongly oppose

53

43

51

64

40

48

72

46

55

53

57

Don't know

2

2

5

1

1

3

2

4

1

4

1

 

 

 

 

 

International POLICIES

 

Table  9: Kyoto Protocol

 

“In 1997, the United States and other developed countries made an agreement called the Kyoto Protocol to collectively reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.  The United States agreed to reduce its emissions by 7% by the year 2010.  How much do you favor or oppose this agreement?”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Favor (total)

88

94

88

83

97

92

76

96

83

90

86

Strongly favor

53

62

57

43

71

56

37

62

52

61

33

Somewhat favor

35

32

30

40

26

37

39

34

30

29

53

Oppose (total)

10

4

10

15

2

6

21

4

15

7

11

Somewhat oppose

5

3

6

7

2

4

10

1

9

3

5

Strongly oppose

5

1

4

9

0

1

12

3

6

4

5

 

 

Table  10: U.S. Act Regardless

 

“The United States currently emits about 20% of the world's total greenhouse gases. People disagree whether the U.S. should reduce greenhouse gas emissions on its own, or make reductions only if other countries do too. Which of the following statements comes closest to your own point of view? The United States should reduce its emissions...

 

…regardless of what other countries do.

…only if all other industrialized countries reduce their emissions.

…only if all other industrialized and all less-developed countries reduce their emissions.

…The United States should not reduce its emissions.

…Don’t know.”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Regardless of other countries

76

83

84

65

93

80

55

80

72

80

71

Only if all industrialized

7

5

3

11

1

6

12

7

7

4

11

Only if all other countries

8

4

4

13

1

5

17

6

11

5

7

US should not reduce

2

1

1

4

1

1

5

1

2

3

1

Don't know

5

4

5

5

2

5

9

5

6

5

5

 

 

Table  11: International Emissions Market

 

“One controversial proposal to solve global warming is to create an international market in greenhouse gases. In this system, all countries agree to a global cap on emissions.  Each country then gets the right to emit a portion of this global amount.  If a country emits more than its portion, it must buy more emission rights from other countries or else pay stiff fines.  In principle, how much do you support or oppose an international market that allows countries to buy and sell

greenhouse gases?”

 

 

Total

Political ID

Political Ideology

Region

Dem

Ind

Rep

Lib

Mod

Con

NE

S

MW

W

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Support (total)

40

49

33

39

51

41

30

41

46

34

39

Strongly support

13

12

16

11

15

15

9

14

9

17

12

Somewhat support

27

37

17

27

36

26

21

27

37

17

27

Oppose (total)

40

34

44

41

38

37

47

37

36

43

43

Somewhat oppose

16

20

20

11

22

17

12

16

17

18

13

Strongly oppose

23

14

25

30

16

21

35

21

19

25

31

Don't know

18

15

21

19

10

20

23

22

16

19

16

 

 

 

 

Methodology

 

These results come from a national survey entitled “American Opinions on Global Warming,” which examined American risk perceptions, knowledge, policy preferences and behaviors regarding global climate change.  From November 2002 to February 2003, 673 adults (18 and older) completed a mail-out, mail-back questionnaire, for a response rate of 55%.  The results represent a random sample of residential addresses from all 50 states and are weighted to bring them in line with actual population proportions.  All policy results derive from the subset of Americans who have heard of global warming (92%).  For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is +/- 4%.  The study was conducted by the University of Oregon Survey Research Laboratory and funded by the National Science Foundation. 



[1] Address correspondence to Anthony Leiserowitz, Decision Research, 1201 Oak Street, Suite 200, Eugene, OR 97401; tel.: (541) 485-2400; fax: (541) 485-2403; ecotone@uoregon.edu  Anthony Leiserowitz is a research scientist at Decision Research and a courtesy professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon. 

Cite as: Leiserowitz, A. (2003) American opinions on global warming. Retrieved (date), from Decision Research web site: http://www.decisionresearch.org/Projects/Climate_Change/