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Americans Support an International Climate Agreement in Paris

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference opens in Paris on November 30. In preparation for the negotiations, each country was asked to submit their own national action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and over 90% have done so, including the United States. President Obama is now going to Paris to press for an international agreement to reduce global warming. What does the American public think?

In our recent national survey, we asked Americans about the U.N. Summit in Paris, how much the U.S. and other countries should do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and whether the U.S. should only act if other countries do. Most say an agreement is important and countries should do more about global warming.

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Finding Common Ground at the Thanksgiving Table

Finding Common Ground at the Thanksgiving Table

Talking about global warming with those who think it is not happening can sometimes be awkward or frustrating, especially at the holiday dinner table. However, there are often more points of agreement than we may realize.

To provide some guidance on constructive ways to talk to people with opposing climate change viewpoints, we analyzed the Yale AP-NORC Environment Poll, a survey conducted among the American public (ages 18 and over) by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research late last year.

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More Americans Perceive Harm from Global Warming, Survey Finds

More Americans Perceive Harm from Global Warming, Survey Finds

We are pleased to release the first report from our latest national survey: Climate Change in the American Mind: October 2015. This report details results from our latest national tracking survey about global warming beliefs, risk perceptions, conversations, perceived ethical dimensions, and the impact of Pope Francis on American views of global warming.

Here are a few interesting findings. Since spring 2015, the number of Americans who think global warming will cause harm has increased substantially. More think global warming will harm them personally (42%, +6 percentage points since spring 2015), people in the U.S. (56%, +7 points), people in developing countries (61%, +9 points), and future generations (70%, +7 points).

Majorities of Americans say global warming is a major environmental (69%), scientific (62%), or agricultural issue (56%). About half consider it a major health (49%) or economic issue (47%). Fewer consider it to be a major moral (24%), poverty (17%), social justice (17%), national security (14%), spiritual (8%), or religious issue (7%).

The number of Americans who say they discuss global warming with family and friends at least occasionally increased by 9 percentage points over the past six months, from 26% in spring 2015 to 35% in fall.

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Five psychology insights to engage the public

We are pleased to announce a new peer-reviewed article by Sander van der Linden, Edward Maibach and Anthony Leiserowitz entitled Improving public engagement with climate change: Five “best practice” insights from psychological science appearing today in Perspectives on Psychological Science.

President Obama recently signed an executive order encouraging the federal government to use insights from behavioral science to better serve the American people. In this paper, we distill years of psychological research to identify five lessons that policy-makers can use to engage the general public on the issue of climate change and promote public support for climate policies:

1. The human brain privileges experience over analysis
2. People are social beings who respond to group norms
3. Out of sight, out of mind: Reduce psychological distance
4. Framing the big picture: Nobody like losing but everyone likes gaining
5. Playing the long-game: Tapping the potential of human motivation

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Protecting the Environment Improves the Economy, Provides Jobs, Majorities Say

Some politicians argue that taking action to protect the environment will harm the economy and cost jobs. However, a recent national survey finds that only 15% of Americans agree with this argument. Instead, a large majority of Americans (60%) say that in the long run, protecting the environment actually improves economic growth and provides new jobs, while another 22% say that protecting the environment has no impact on economic growth or jobs. In other words, 82% of Americans say that environmental protection is either good or neutral for economic growth, while only 15% think environmental protection harms the economy.

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The Francis Effect

We are pleased to announce the release of a special report from our new study: The Francis Effect: How Pope Francis changed the conversation about global warming. Today more Americans and more American Catholics are worried about global warming than six months ago and more believe it will have significant impacts on human beings.  Some of these changes in Americans’ and American Catholics’ views can be attributed to the Pope’s teachings, as 17 percent of Americans and 35 percent of Catholics say his position on global warming influenced their own views of the issue.

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