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Americans agree: climate change is real

November 9, 2011

Photo credit: From Janinsanfran via Flickr through a Creative Commons License

Climate change is real. And human beings have contributed to climate change.

If you listen to the airwaves, these two statements seem controversial. But in our recent public opinion poll, we found that the majority of Americans agree that climate change is real. So while 64% of Americans are “believers”, less than 18% are disbelievers. Moreover, 65% of Americans believe that human activities have contributed to climate change, while 16% disagree.

The online survey polled 1,001 individuals with 501 men responding and 500 women, between October 28 and November 2, 2011. The results are estimated to have a margin of error of +/- 3.1% at the 95% confidence level.

But climate change is also getting personal. Nearly half, of those we polled said climate change has affected them personally in the past 12 months in the form of air pollution or extreme weather and an equal number see climate change as impacting their community. Fifty-four percent believe climate change has affected people in their state, 63% believe it has affected people in their country, and 65% believe it has affected people in other parts of the world.

In this context, what do consumers expect companies to do? There’s widespread agreement – 78% agreed – that companies should decrease their greenhouse gas emissions. Interestingly, 68% agreed that companies should be required by law to decrease their emissions whereas 59% agreed that financial incentives should be the motivator – through either rewards of penalties.

As we noted in our last post on consumer expectations of CEO leadership in sustainability, Americans expect companies to take action. And managing contributing factors to climate change is no different.

These are just some of the findings in our Second Annual Public Opinion Surveys on Sustainability and Cause-Marketing. The summary reports will be available on our web site next week. Keep checking back or sign up for our newsletter to receive the free reports

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