Most in the U.S. and around the world agree climate change is as serious a crisis as Covid-19

Citizens want economic recovery actions to prioritize climate change

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, April 21, 2020 — A new Ipsos poll conducted in the United States and 13 other countries, finds that 71% of adults globally and 59% in the U.S. agree that, in the long term, climate change is as serious a crisis as Covid-19. The survey shows widespread support for government actions to prioritize climate change in the economic recovery after Covid-19, as 65% globally and 57% in the U.S. agree that it is important. The survey was conducted online among more than 28,000 adults, including 2,003 Americans, April 16-19, 2020.

Views toward climate change and the environment in relation to Covid-19

Another Ipsos poll conducted in 29 countries finds that climate change ranks as the most important environmental issue globally and in the United States. Large majorities of those surveyed both across the world and in the U.S. agree that, if their government does not act now to combat climate change, it will be failing the people of their country. That survey was conducted online February 21- March 6, 2020 among more than 20,000 adults, including 1,000 Americans.

“Even during the coronavirus pandemic, most people throughout the globe, including here in the United States, continue seeing climate change as a major threat,” said Chris Jackson, Senior Vice President, U.S Public Affairs with Ipsos. “Indeed, when asking them directly whether it’s as serious a crisis as Covid-19, more than half of Americans say yes. Likewise, a solid majority call for the government to make climate change a priority in the economic recovery after Covid-19.”

Climate change remains the most important environmental issue globally, with 37% of adults surveyed citing it as one of their top three environmental issues.

  • Other environmental issues that rank highly in importance worldwide are air pollution, dealing with the amount of waste we generate, deforestation, and water pollution.
  • Among environmental concerns, climate change is the one that has increased most over since 2018 (+ 7 points globally).
  • In the U.S., the top environmental issues after climate change (cited by 41%) are dealing with the amount of waste we generate, air pollution, water pollution, and the depletion of natural resources.
Top environmental issues today

A majority of the public globally (68%) agree that if their governments do not act now to combat climate change, they will be failing their citizens.

  • It is a view shared by 57% of U.S. adults; agreement is higher among those with a college degree (64%), those aged 18-34 (63%) and those living in the Northeast and the West (60% each)

Globally, nearly six in ten (57%) say they would be put off from voting for a political party whose policies do not take climate change seriously.

  • In the U.S., only 43% agree, but those with a college degree (53%), those aged 18-34 (50%) and residents of the Northeast (50%) are more likely to do so. 

Majorities of citizens across the world feel they are likely to make changes to their own behavior to limit personal contribution to climate change. Actions that people globally are most likely to do in the next year:

  • Avoiding products with a lot of packaging is the most popular
  • Avoiding buying new goods and instead, fixing what they have or buying used products
  • Saving energy at home
  • Recycling
  • Saving water at home  

Globally, the public is more divided when it comes to undertaking less comfortable and convenient lifestyle changes, and Americans are especially reluctant to do so:

  • Walking, cycling or using public transportation instead of driving
  • Not flying, or replacing flights with trains or buses
  • Eating less meat or replacing the meat in some meals with alternatives such as beans
  • Eating fewer dairy products or replacing dairy products  
% adults likely to make change in next year

About the Study

The findings come from two surveys conducted by Ipsos on the Global Advisor online platform.

One is a 14-country survey conducted April 16-19, 2020 among 28,029 adults aged 18-74 in Canada and the United States and 16-74 in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom. The sample consisted of approximately 2,000+ individuals in each of the 14 countries. This report for this survey is for subscriber use only and not for public release.

The other is a 29-country survey conducted February 21 - March 6, 2020 among 20,590 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Turkey and aged 16-74 in 23 other markets. The sample for this survey included approximately 1000+ individuals in each of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S.; and approximately 500+ individuals in each of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, India, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey.

The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain/UK, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. can be taken as representative of these countries’ general adult population under the age of 75. The samples in Brazil, Chile, China (mainland), Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these markets should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of these population.

The data is weighted so that each market’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data. Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 4.8 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website (

The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.


For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Senior Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected] 

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected] 


About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs