An In-Depth Look at Americans' Opinions on Climate Change

The synthesis report of the Climate Insights 2020 survey, a joint effort to examine American attitudes on climate change by researchers at Stanford University, Resources for the Future, and ReconMR, provides insight into what Americans think about climate, electric vehicles, natural disasters, and more.


Feb. 22, 2021

News Type

Press Release

In mid-2020, amid public health crises, natural disasters, and protests calling for social justice, researchers at Stanford University, Resources for the Future, and ReconMR interviewed a random sample of 999 American adults to learn about climate opinions in the United States. With so many things to worry about in 2020, the researchers wondered, would concern about environmental issues drop? 

As it turned out, Americans didn’t push climate and energy to the backburner—in fact, more Americans than ever consider climate change to be extremely personally important, and large majorities of Americans across the political spectrum want their leaders to take action to invest in clean energy and mitigate climate effects.

The survey findings, released in six reports, are now being offered in a cohesive synthesis report that provides a comprehensive portrait of where Americans stand on climate change. As President Biden signs a host of climate-related executive orders, the results from this survey provide insight into what the new administration can do with public support. 

“This survey is the newest in a series stretching back to 1997,” report coauthor Jon Krosnick said. “Overall, American opinions on climate and energy issues haven’t changed much during those years. And in some cases, the public has become increasingly ‘green’ on this issue. In the future, we will watch how opinions evolve during momentous times.” 

The synthesis report contains public opinion data and analysis on long-term trends regarding natural disasters, environmental policies, and electric vehicles. In-depth analyses explore partisan divisions and variations in opinion across the states.

To learn more, read Climate Insights 2020: American Public Opinion on Climate Change and the Environment by Jon Krosnick, social psychologist at Stanford University and RFF university fellow; Bo MacInnis, lecturer at Stanford University and PhD economist; and Jared McDonald, postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University.

For more information, check out or the Climate Insights data tool.

Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonprofit research institution in Washington, DC. Its mission is to improve environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. RFF is committed to being the most widely trusted source of research insights and policy solutions leading to a healthy environment and a thriving economy.

Unless otherwise stated, the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and may differ from those of other RFF experts, its officers, or its directors. RFF does not take positions on specific legislative proposals.

For more information, please see our media resources page or contact Media Relations and Communications Specialist Annie McDarris.


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