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Climate Activism: A Six-Americas Analysis, December 2020


3. Individual and Collective Action to Reduce Global Warming

3.1. Three in ten Americans would join, or are already participating in, a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming.

Only one percent of Americans say they are currently participating in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming. However, about three in ten Americans say they either would definitely participate (9%) or probably participate (20%) in such a campaign.

While only four percent of the Alarmed and one percent of the Concerned say they are currently participating in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming, more than half of the Alarmed (58%) and about one in three of the Concerned (35%) say they either definitely or probably would participate in a campaign as do 14% of the Cautious and seven percent of the Disengaged. The large number of Americans who are willing to participate in a climate campaign but are not yet doing so is an important opportunity for advocacy groups.

 

3.2. Many Americans are willing to take political actions to reduce global warming.

About three in ten Americans say that, if asked by a person they like and respect, they would volunteer their time to an organization working on global warming (31%), donate money to such an organization (30%), write letters, email, or phone government officials about global warming (30%), or meet with an elected official or their staff about global warming. Fewer Americans have actually taken these types of actions in the past year (see Sections 3.1, 3.3, and 3.4), indicating the potential to mobilize more Americans to advocate for climate change policies.

One in four Americans (25%) say they would support an organization engaging in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse, and 15% say they would personally engage in non-violent civil disobedience.

With the exception of engaging in non-violent civil disobedience, which 31% of the Alarmed say they would do, about half or more of the Alarmed say they would participate in each of these activities. About one in three members of the Concerned said they are willing to participate in most of these activities, with the exception of supporting an organization that engages in non-violent civil disobedience (28%) or personally engaging in non-violent civil disobedience (15%). The Cautious, Disengaged, Doubtful, and Dismissive are less willing to participate in these activities.

 

3.3. Few Americans have taken political actions to reduce global warming.

Thirteen percent of Americans (including 35% of the Alarmed) say they signed a petition about global warming “often” or “occasionally” over the past 12 months. One in ten Americans (10%; including 24% of the Alarmed) donated money to a political candidate because of their views on global warming, nine percent of Americans (including 21% of the Alarmed) donated money to an organization working on global warming. Beyond signing petitions and donating money, six percent of Americans (including 15% of the Alarmed) volunteered their time to elect a political candidate because of the candidate’s views on global warming and six percent of Americans (including 12% of the Alarmed and 10% of the Disengaged) attended a protest in support of racial justice over the past 12 months.

 

3.4. Few Americans have urged an elected official to take action to reduce global warming during the past 12 months.

Only about one in ten Americans (9%) say they have contacted an elected official during the past 12 months to urge them to take action to reduce global warming. However, about one in four of the Alarmed (24%) say they have done so.

 

3.5. Many Americans have engaged in consumer activism on global warming. 

More than one in three Americans (36%), including about two in three of the Alarmed (65%), have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products. Similarly, 30% of Americans, including 60% of the Alarmed, have punished companies that are opposing steps to reduce global warming by not buying their products.