Climate change concerns grow, but few think Biden’s climate law will help, AP-NORC poll finds

Like many Americans, Ron Theusch is increasingly concerned about climate change.

Theusch, a resident of Alden, Minnesota, has noticed increasingly drier and milder winters, punctuated by brief periods of severe cold — symptoms of a warming planet.

As he thinks about that, he thinks about future generations. “We have four kids in their 20s,” said the 56-year-old truck driver and moderate Democrat. “It’s like, what will our grandchildren’s world be like?”

A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that 45% of adults in the United States say they have become more concerned about climate change in the past year, including about 6 in 10 Democrats and a quarter of the Republicans. .

President Joe Biden’s signature climate change policy, the Inflation Reduction Act, aimed to allay some of these fears, investing billions in incentives for consumers and businesses to switch to clean energy sources. Biden has identified this climate agenda as a major presidential success during his re-election campaign. But the poll shows that while the law has already affected some Americans, it is not widely known among the general population — and may not be the electoral boost Biden is looking for.

About a quarter of Americans say tax credits for renewable energy projects like wind have so far benefited people like them, with similar figures for incentives for companies to produce clean energy technologies in the U.S. instead from abroad, and tax credits for individuals to add solar panels on their homes, or subsidies and tax breaks for electric vehicles and energy-efficient appliances such as heat pumps. These numbers are quite substantial for a law passed less than two years ago, with benefits largely dependent on major purchases such as cars or home improvements.

Promoting electric vehicles has also been a major focus for the Biden administration, with 15% of American adults saying electric vehicles have had a good impact on them personally.

“I completely agree with this law because it has done so many things for the people,” said Charles Lopez, a 65-year-old liberal Democrat from the Florida Keys. “They help everyone… I’m not ready for a fully electric car yet, but I will get there when there are enough charging stations.”

But the people who have benefited from the law are disproportionately Democrats. And while only about 1 in 10 American adults think the individual tax credits and subsidies have hurt people like them, these provisions of the law are not yet registering with the majority of Americans — about a quarter say these credits have had no impact . difference from people like them. In both cases, almost four in ten do not know enough to have an opinion about it.

“I still think that as much as we would like to see them implemented in a way that we can actually see results, in my opinion it’s not really happening,” said Sandra Sherman, a 62-year-old Vero resident. Beach, Florida, who identifies as a liberal Democrat. “While it seems like a really good idea with solar panels, in the area of ​​Florida where I live I see very few people who actually have them.”

In general, American adults are also not confident that the IRA will have an impact even over time. The survey found that only between 23% and 35% of American adults say key parts of the law will ultimately help address climate change. About two in ten think the law’s key provisions will make no difference in tackling climate change, and about a third don’t know enough about that.

“A lot of the public feeling is, ‘well, something needs to be done,’ but they don’t necessarily know what needs to be done or don’t even necessarily have strong feelings about what needs to be done,” said David Weakliem, a university student. from professor emeritus from Connecticut.

Biden still has an edge over his opponent, former President Donald Trump, when it comes to climate change in general. About four-in-ten American adults and two-thirds of Democrats have “a lot” or “some” confidence in Biden on climate change. This includes 29-year-old Jaime Said, a moderate Republican.

Biden has “talked more about it and he’s mentioned some plans of things he wants to do.” So even if he doesn’t do them, he at least thinks about them. That’s kind of going in the right direction,” said Said, a medical student in Panama City, Florida.

“I know right away that Trump won’t comment on it much,” Said added. “That’s why I don’t have much confidence that he will do anything about it.”

Only about 3 in 10 say they have “a lot” or “some” confidence in Trump on tackling climate change.

But one of Biden’s main arguments for the IRA – that it will help the US economy and American workers – does not seem to be gaining traction. According to the poll, only about 2 in 10 Americans say the law has done more to help the U.S. economy, while about a quarter think the law has done more to hurt the economy, and about half think it has made no difference has made or does not. knows enough to say.

And overall, a majority of Americans say the federal government is currently doing “too little” to address climate change. They generally agree that it is important for the government to support climate solutions. About half say it is extremely or very important to limit the use of products and technologies that harm the environment, and almost half say it is important for the government to implement stricter environmental laws and regulations. About four-in-ten say it is important for the government to build a national network of public electric vehicle charging stations, which is another priority of the Biden administration.

Most say it is extremely or very important that the federal government invest in new, environmentally friendly technologies, and most, like 38-year-old Julio Carmona, a health program worker who lives in Stratford, Connecticut, and identifies as a moderate Democrat, say the same about enforcing current environmental regulations.

“We can all do our part when it comes to saving energy, recycling and all those other things,” Carmona said. “But if the big companies don’t do it, I think for me this is where the government should start.”


The survey of 1,204 adults was conducted April 4-8, 2024, using a sample from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for all respondents.


Alexa St. John is an Associated Press climate solutions reporter. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, @alexa_stjohn. Reach her at

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