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Just the FACTS

Californians’ Views on Climate Change

    • A majority of Californians say the effects of global warming are already occurring.
      Nearly two-thirds of Californians (64%) say global warming’s effects have already begun, and a quarter (25%) say the effects will happen in the future. Only 8% say the effects will never occur. Since 2005, when PPIC first began asking Californians this question, majorities have said the effects have already begun. Today, majorities across regions and age, education, and income groups hold this view. Californians (64%) are about as likely as adults nationwide (59%, March 2016 Gallup Poll) to say the effects of global warming have begun.

When will effects of global warming begin to happen?

Figure 2

SOURCE: PPIC Statewide Survey, July 2016. Margin of error for all adults is +/-3.5%.

    • Four in five Californians say global warming is a serious threat to the state’s future.
      An overwhelming majority of Californians (81%) view global warming as a very serious (54%) or somewhat serious (27%) threat to the state’s future economy and quality of life. Concern about global warming has been high for more than a decade: Since PPIC first began asking this question in 2005, more than seven in ten Californians have said global warming poses a very or somewhat serious threat. Today, at least half across age and education groups see global warming as a very serious threat. Those with annual incomes below $40,000 (59%) are more likely than those with higher incomes (49%) to hold this view.
    • Democrats and Latinos tend to express higher levels of concern about global warming.
      While three in four Democrats (77%) say the effects of global warming have already begun, only 43% of Republicans say so. Indeed, one in four Republicans (24%) say the effects will never happen. Also, Democrats (71%) are about three times as likely as Republicans (24%) to say global warming is a very serious threat to California’s economy and quality of life. Half of independents (51%) hold this view. Across racial/ethnic groups, Latinos (72%) are the most likely to say the effects of global warming have already begun. Latinos (62%) are also the most likely to see global warming as a very serious threat; about half of African Americans (52%), Asian Americans (52%), and whites (49%) agree.

How serious is the threat of global warming to California’s future?

Figure 2

SOURCE: PPIC Statewide Survey series. The margin of error for all adults in July 2016 is +/-3.5%. The margins of error for subgroups are larger.

    • Most Californians support independent state efforts to address global warming.
      In PPIC surveys since 2006, strong majorities of Californians have favored the state’s landmark law limiting greenhouse gas emissions (Assembly Bill 32). Last July, 68% said they favored the more ambitious goals set by Senate Bill 32. In general, two in three Californians (67%) favor state efforts, independent of the federal government, to address global warming, while 26% are opposed. Majorities have supported independent state action since we first asked this question in July 2005. Again, partisan differences emerge, with Democrats (78%) far more likely than independents (55%) or Republicans (49%) to support state efforts. Since 2006, the share of Republicans who favor state action has fallen from 62% to 49%. Today, solid majorities across age groups favor state efforts, including 76% of Californians age 18–34.
    • Majorities support action on climate change even if it brings increased costs.
      Most Californians (56%), including majorities across age and income groups, say they would be willing to pay more for electricity generated by renewable sources to reduce global warming. When asked how state action to reduce global warming might affect gas prices, most Californians (59%) say they expect prices would increase. Majorities across parties and regions hold this view, with Latinos (68%) more likely than members of other racial/ethnic groups to have this expectation. After hearing that gas prices increased an estimated 11 cents following inclusion of transportation fuels in the state’s cap-and-trade system, just over half (52%) say they are in favor of this aspect of the system. Majorities across income groups are in favor.
    • Few Californians believe state action on climate change will lead to a loss of jobs.
      Only 20% of Californians believe that state policies to combat global warming would mean fewer jobs. Indeed, when asked about the effect on jobs, the most common response is that state action would result in more jobs (40%); 29% think there would be no effect. Across parties, half of Democrats (49%) expect more jobs, and 40% of Republicans expect fewer jobs.

Demographic breakdown of views on climate change

Figure 2

SOURCES: PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and the Environment, July 2016, and PPIC Statewide Survey series. The margin of error for all adults in July 2016 is +/-3.5%. The margins of error for subgroups are larger.


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