Consumer Activism on Global Warming, September 2021

Executive Summary

Drawing on a nationally representative survey (n = 1,006), this report describes Americans’ willingness to engage in consumer activism to reduce global warming. The survey was fielded from September 10 – 20, 2021. This report builds on three previous reports from this same survey that focused on public support for U.S. domestic climate policy, public support for international climate action, and Americans’ beliefs and attitudes about global warming. Among the key findings of this report:


Individual Consumer Actions

  • 33% of Americans say they have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products in the past 12 months, and 28% say they have punished companies that are opposing steps to reduce global warming by not buying their products.
  • 41% of Americans say that, over the next 12 months, they intend to reward companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming more frequently than they do now; the same percentage (41%) say they intend to punish companies that are opposing steps to reduce global warming more frequently than they do now.
  • Asked why they might not punish companies that oppose steps to reduce global warming:
    • 71% say they do not know which companies to punish
    • 61% say they are not an activist
    • 58% say nobody has ever asked them to do so
    • 49% say their actions wouldn’t have any influence on a company
    • 47% say they can’t afford to do it
    • 45% say it would be inconvenient
    • 35% say they are too busy
    • 35% say it’s too much effort
  • Half of Americans (50%) say they would be more likely to purchase goods from a company that is lobbying Congress to pass legislation to reduce global warming, while only 15% say they would be less likely to purchase goods from such a company.
  • 38% of Americans say they would be either “extremely” (8%), “very” (10%) or “moderately” likely (20%) to switch banks or credit cards if they knew their bank or credit card company was investing in fossil fuels companies.


Consumers’ Collective Efficacy

  • 54% of Americans are at least “moderately confident” that people like them, working together, can affect what the local businesses in their community do about global warming, and nearly half (48%) are confident that people like them can affect what corporations do about global warming.


Consumers’ Expectations for Industries and Companies

  • Half or more Americans say that each of the 22 industries asked about in our survey should be doing “more” or “much more” to address global warming, including two in three or more who say fossil fuel companies (70%), airlines (69%), auto companies (68%), and trucking companies (67%) should be doing more.
  • Majorities of Americans either “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that companies should take various climate-friendly actions, including the following:
    • not advertising their products and services on television networks that spread misinformation about climate change (75%)
    • purchasing 100% clean, renewable energy to power their operations (70%)
    • not contributing to the campaigns of candidates who oppose action to reduce global warming (65%)
  • 64% of Americans say car companies should do more to encourage people to buy electric vehicles.
  • Three in four or more Americans think stopping the spread of false information about global warming should be either a “high” or “medium” priority for the U.S. government (78%), news organizations (77%), social media companies (75%), and citizens themselves (75%).