CLIMATE CHANGE

When It Comes to Influencing the Impacts of Climate Change, Corporations, Governments Outstrip Individuals, Public Says

Roughly 3 in 4 adults agree that corporations, governments and individuals have a responsibility to act

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy answer questions during a press briefing at the White House on Jan. 27, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
  • Over half of the public said both corporations and governments have “a lot” of influence to alter the impacts of climate change, compared with 34% who said the same for individuals.

  • 62% of Democrats said corporations have “a lot” of influence, while shares of 65% and 44% said the same about governments and individuals, respectively.

  • Just 14% of adults said they disagree that corporations have the responsibility to alter the impacts of climate change.

While most of the public agrees that we all have at least some influence over the impacts of climate change, over half say both corporations and governments have “a lot” of clout, compared with about a third who say the same of individuals, new Morning Consult data has found.

Fifty-two percent of U.S. adults said corporations have “a lot” of influence, while shares of 53 percent and 34 percent said the same about governments and individuals, respectively. Across the board, Democrats were more likely than Republicans or independents to attribute influence over climate change’s impacts, with 62 percent assigning a lot of influence to corporations, 65 percent to governments and 44 percent to individuals.

Republicans were the likeliest to say each of the groups had little or no influence at all. One in 5 Republicans said corporations had little or no influence, while shares of 24 percent and 32 percent said the same of governments and individuals, respectively. Roughly 2 in 5 GOP adults said governments and corporations have a lot of influence, compared to 23 percent who said so about individuals.

And while all ethnicities tended to view corporate and government influence at roughly the same rates, white adults were significantly less likely than people of color to say individuals have a lot of influence. Thirty-one percent of white respondents said individuals have a lot of influence to alter the impacts of  climate change, while 43 percent of both Hispanic and Black adults said the same. 

However, despite the differing levels of influence they accorded different members of society, respondents overall largely agreed that all have responsibility to alter the impacts of climate change. 

Asked whether they agree that each group has “the responsibility to alter the impacts of climate change,” respondents were more likely to concur “strongly” with the statement about both corporations and governments. But when factoring in those who said they “somewhat” agree, the overall percentage of agreement was roughly 3 in 4 across all options.

Fourteen percent of adults said they “somewhat” or “strongly” disagree that corporations have the responsibility to alter the impacts of climate change, while 17 percent and 16 percent said the same of governments and individuals, respectively.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they are “very concerned” about climate change and its impacts, while 29 percent said they are “somewhat concerned.” Just 1 in 10 respondents said they are not concerned at all. 

The Feb. 18-21 poll surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults, and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points. 

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