(NewsNation) — The vast majority of Americans believe climate change is real, but Republicans and Democrats remain sharply divided when it comes to the severity of the issue and what to do about it.
About 75% of Americans think climate change is happening, according to a recent AP-NORC poll, although Democrats (77%) are significantly more likely than Republicans (29%) to say it’s a very important issue.
Here’s what various polls reveal about Americans’ attitudes toward climate change.
The partisan gap has grown
The gap between Democratic and Republican views toward climate change has grown in recent years. It’s a trend that seems to be primarily driven by Democrats growing more worried about the issue.
In 2009, 61% of Democrats and 25% of Republicans said global climate change was “a major threat” to the country, according to the Pew Research Center. Almost an equal number of Republicans, 23%, said the same in 2022 compared to 78% of Democrats.
Separate data from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) also shows a starker divide in partisan attitudes.
In 2008, about one in five conservative Republicans said “global warming would start harming people now or in the next decade,” compared to 62% of liberal Democrats, YPCCC found. Last year, Republicans’ response to the same question was unchanged whereas Democrats’ concern had jumped 21 points to 83%.
Fewer think climate change is human-driven
Despite the fact most people say climate change is happening, in recent years, fewer people believe humans are to blame.
Five years ago, 60% of Americans said climate change was caused “mostly or entirely by humans,” compared to 49% who said the same in 2023, the AP-NORC survey found.
That doubt increased among college graduates and those with a high school education or less. The decline was especially pronounced among younger Americans, whose belief in human-driven climate change fell 17 points (73% to 56%) from 2018 to today.
A new Ipsos poll also showed a drop in the number of people who attribute climate change to human activity. About half (49%) of respondents in 2023 said climate change is “mostly caused by human activity,” compared to 57% who said the same just one year ago.
Support for a carbon tax has declined
While most Americans believe climate change is happening, polls suggest people have become less willing to pay for climate policy in recent years.
In 2021, about half of Americans (52%) said they would support a law by Congress that increases their monthly energy bill by just $1, AP-NORC found. This year, just 38% of respondents said they would support a $1 hike.
The willingness to pay a carbon fee falls as the cost burden rises. About 21% of Americans said they would support a carbon law that raises their monthly energy bill by $100, down from 31% in 2021.
The Ipsos poll showed a similar decline in support for mitigation efforts. In 2018, 45% of respondents said they would pay an additional $100 a year in taxes to reduce pollution. Last year, that support fell to 35%.