Public Supports Action on Climate Change

The Copenhagen summit on climate change starts today and everyone agrees that forging a solid agreement at this summit will not be easy. And the political fate of the climate bill that passed the House and is now languishing in the Senate is far from clear. But these political uncertainties should not blind us to the fact that the American public remains fundamentally supportive of taking action to stop climate change.

Consider these just-released data from a multicountry survey conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org for the World Bank. In the U.S. component of this survey, conducted in late September, 58 percent of the public said we had not done enough to deal with the problem of climate change, compared to 28 percent who thought we’d done the right amount and just 13 percent who thought we’d done too much.

Moreover, an overwhelming 82 percent said our country has a responsibility to take steps to deal with climate change.

The public’s sense of America’s responsibility in this area includes supporting a U.S. commitment to limit greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Copenhagen agreement, if other countries are willing to do the same. An identical 82 percent support such a commitment, compared to just 15 percent who don’t.

Conservatives who urge slow or no action on climate change are fond of saying they represent the true voice of America on this issue, not progressives. As usual, they’re wrong.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Culture page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.