Climate change poses a greater threat than COVID-19 – survey


A new study conducted by YouGov and international non-profit, The Climate Group, has revealed that more Americans think climate change poses a serious and long term threat to society than COVID-19.

Over 1,000 adults across the US have been surveyed to find out how COVID-19 has impacted views on tackling climate change.

Of the surveyed, 55% say climate change poses a greater threat than COVID-19, whilst 44% say the pandemic poses a huge threat to society compared to climate change over the long run.

Nearly seven in ten respondents (69%) think climate action is just as, if not more, important now compared to before the virus outbreak.

Political trust

Up to 35% of the survey participants say they now trust the federal government less in their ability to tackle the climate crisis compared to before the pandemic.

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However, more Americans trust their state governments in dealing with the climate crisis, more than they trust the federal government.

Almost double the number of respondents say they trust their state government to tackle the climate crisis compared to the federal government (19% versus 10%).

This is particularly the case in California and New York, where both states are known to have set net zero targets and are rolling out pro-climate policies. Here, triple the number of residents say they trust their state government more than the national government to take climate action.

Climate justice

The survey revealed that 47% of Americans acknowledge that climate change will impact some groups more negatively than others.

Those on low incomes (62%), people with health conditions or disabilities (59%) and those in developing countries (59%) were cited as being the groups of people whom Americans believe will be most negatively impacted by global warming.

Two in five (40%) think Black, Indigenous and People of Color will be adversely affected, while one in ten (11%) think women will be worse off.

Green recovery

Up to 58% feel there should be some form of green strings attached to economic recovery post pandemic, whilst only 18% say the government shouldn’t worry about addressing climate in recovery plans.

Nearly a third (31%) think financial support should be prioritised for businesses that are cutting greenhouse gas emissions and creating green jobs.

Business action

One in five (20%) think big US companies are doing enough to tackle climate change while over half (55%) feel the opposite.

A similar number (56%) think they should be addressing climate change with the same, if not greater, sense of urgency as COVID.

Helen Clarkson, the CEO of the Climate Group and organisers of Climate Week NYC, said: “Americans agree that we need to continue to fight climate change at the same time as tackling a global health pandemic. The single biggest opportunity to grow back our economies out of a global recession and secure our future comes from investing in climate-forward policies.

People don’t want to go back to the way things were. And we know from our partners, including over 350 multinationals and more than 200 states and regions from around the world, that their commitment to climate overwhelmingly remains, but there’s a clear demand for more action and accountability. Climate Week NYC will provide that critical opportunity to bring together CEOs and policymakers to focus on what they can collectively do to rebuild a greener, fairer future.”