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AP-NORC/EPIC Poll on Climate and Energy Policy

A group of solar panels
Respondents in a 2021 poll were increasingly convinced about the science of climate change
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    Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago
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In a 2021 poll, most Americans said they believed climate change was happening and wasn’t showing signs of slowing. The AP-NORC/EPIC poll found that Americans found the science of climate change increasingly convincing, and 52 percent of Americans said they would support a small fee on carbon to combat climate change. 

Three in four Americans believed climate change was happening, and 41 percent thought it was caused mainly by human activities. Fifty-nine percent of Americans thought the pace of climate change was accelerating, while 35 percent said it was staying the same. Just 6 percent believed it was getting slower. While Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say climate change was getting faster, fewer than 10 percent in both parties say it’s getting slower. 

To combat climate change, 55 percent of Americans said they would support a bill that increased the share of clean electricity sources and decreased reliance on traditional sources like coal and natural gas. Less popular was a policy in which wealthier countries provided funding to poorer countries to develop their economies using clean energy sources rather than traditional sources. Forty-six percent expressed support for that, while 21 percent opposed it. Sizeable minorities neither supported nor opposed each policy proposal. 

When it comes to influencing views on climate change, Americans said scientists and recent extreme weather events like hurricanes, droughts, floods, unusual heat, and wildfires were having the greatest influence on their views. Few reported being influenced by religious leaders or political leaders in either party.  

The poll also included several items to gauge the public’s willingness to pay for combating climate change and mitigating its consequences. The findings suggested that under several conditions, at least half of Americans were willing to pay more for energy use, with support marginally dwindling as the amount they would pay increased. Significant minorities of Americans—up to a quarter—were willing to pay as much as $100 per month more for energy depending on how those funds were used. 

The nationwide poll was conducted September 8-24, 2021, by The AP-NORC Center and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), using TrueNorth®, which combines a sample from AmeriSpeak®, the probability-based panel of NORC, with a non-probability panel sample. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 5,468 adults.

For further findings, go to the AP-NORC website.

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