But as President Obama prioritizes climate change in Paris, a declining majority of Americans, even among Democrats, believe the government should do more on this issue.
In his opening remarks, the President quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “There is such a thing as being too late.” He added:
“When it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us. But if we act here, now, if we place our short term interests behind the air that our children will breathe and the water our children will drink. Then we will not be too late for them.”
While a majority of Americans share the President’s belief that climate change is a grave threat, the number is actually declining. And far fewer Americans think the government should do more to blunt the supposed impacts of climate change.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday, 63% of Americans say climate change is a “serious problem,” 6 percentage points lower than the same poll found in June 2014.
The poll also shows 36% of Americans said climate change is not a serious problem, up 7 percentage points from June 2014.
When asked if government should do more, less, or the same, 47% said government should do “more” in response to climate change, far less than the 61% and 70% who said the same in polls taken in 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Meanwhile, 32% said government is doing the “right amount” and 18% said government should do “less.”
Leaders disagree on whether the Paris summit should result in a legally binding or non-binding agreement among nations to reduce carbon emissions, largely through switching to renewable energies.
The summit’s website states the:
“Aim (is) to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.”
The Obama administration seeks a non-binding agreement because a treaty would require approval from the U.S. Senate, which must ratify all treaties.
With still vigorous, but declining, support for more government action among the American people, a legally-binding agreement with over 190 countries would be a hard sell.