WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are less concerned today about how climate change will affect them personally — and how their personal choices will affect the climate — than they were three years ago, a new The poll shows, although the majority still believe climate change is happening.

A June Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, conducted before Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, showed a majority of US adults think the government and corporations have a greater responsibility to address inflation. in the climate. The new law will invest nearly $375 billion in climate strategies over the next decade.

Overall, 35% of US adults say they are “extremely” or “very” concerned about the impact of climate change on them personally, up from 44% in August 2019. Another third saying they were a little worried. Only about half said their actions had an impact on climate change, compared to two-thirds in 2019.

Black and Hispanic Americans, women and Democrats are more likely to be deeply concerned about how climate change will affect them personally and how their personal choices will affect the climate.

Several climate scientists told The Associated Press that the changes are worrisome but not surprising given that individuals feel overwhelmed by a variety of issues, now including an economy plagued by inflation after in more than two years of pandemic. In addition to taking precedence over other issues, climate change or the environment are discussed as priorities by fewer Americans today than just a few years ago, according to the poll.

Diane Panicucci of West Warwick, Rhode Island, believes climate change is happening and it needs to be addressed. But for him, it is a low priority compared to other issues, including inflation and the cost of food and drugs.

“There’s a lot of chaos in this country right now,” the 62-year-old said. “People are suffering.”

Panicucci added solar panels to his house, and he no longer drives. He believes that individuals should do what they are told will help, but “it doesn’t start with something small. It should be bigger,” he said.

While the climate crisis requires an “all-in-one approach,” it’s “reasonable” that individuals don’t feel they have the bandwidth to tackle climate action “at all,” said Kim Cobb, director of Brown University’s Institute for Environment and Society.

About two-thirds of Americans say the US federal government, developed countries abroad and corporations and industry have a major responsibility for addressing climate change. Few – 45% – said that of individual people.

Jack Hermanson, a 23-year-old software engineer, feels strongly that corporations are the “major contributors” to emissions and that the government is complicit in that behavior.

“I don’t know if that’s fair enough to say that individuals need to work and fix the climate,” the Denver resident said. “I would say that my individual actions mean nothing at all.”

US household greenhouse gas emissions are not as large as those from cars, trucks and other transportation, power generation and industry. A 2020 University of Michigan study of 93 million US homes estimates that 20% of US greenhouse emissions come from home energy use, with the wealthiest footprint among Americans over 25. % higher than low-income residents.

But like many others the AP spoke to, that difference didn’t stop Hermanson from trying. He’s been a vegetarian for four years, and he tries to ride a bike or take public transportation, buy products with minimal packaging and recycle.

Among Americans who believe in climate change, 70% say it is necessary for individuals to make major lifestyle changes to combat the issue. Most think that individuals bear at least some responsibility.

Individuals can believe that they personally have no direct impact while also recognizing that collective action is important in combating climate change, said Shahzeen Attari, who studies human behavior and climate change at Indiana University.

The poll shows that about 6 in 10 Americans say they drive less, reduce their use of heat or air conditioning and buy used products instead of new ones. Nearly three-quarters use energy-efficient appliances. Among those who took the measures, most said the main reason was to save money, rather than to help the environment.

Fewer – about a quarter – say they use an electricity supplier that gets power from renewable sources, and only about 1 in 10 live in a home with solar panels or drive a hybrid or electric car.

Brad Machincia, a 38-year-old welder, said he would not switch from his gas car to an electric vehicle. While he said he grew up in a West Virginia household that used renewable energy sources, he did not adopt those practices for his family in Christiansburg, Virginia. Climate change used to be a concern for him, but at this point, he feels like it’s “beating a dead horse.”

“There’s nothing we can do to fix it,” he said.

Individuals need to feel empowered to make climate-driven decisions that not only help reduce emissions but also improve their lives, said Jonathan Foley, executive director of climate nonprofit Project Drawdown. . Foley thinks the findings show that efforts to engage Americans need to move away from doomsday scenarios, include different messengers and focus on ways that climate solutions may intersect with other priorities of the American people.

Julio Carmona, a 37-year-old finance clerk, said he recently switched his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to solar energy because the switch would help reduce his carbon footprint and his costs. , although moderate.

“I thought it was a smart thing for us to do for a long time,” he said. “I just want to do my part, whether it’s possible or not.”


AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.


The poll of 1,053 adults was conducted June 23-27 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the US population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4 percentage points.


The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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