Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

As climate change becomes a more central issue, more and more people are recognizing the importance of reducing their carbon footprints. (Photo: South Bend Voice/cc/flickr)

Majority of Americans Agree Fighting Climate Change a 'Moral Obligation'

New poll shows majority of Americans believe human activity causes rising greenhouse gases and that people are ethically responsible to address it

Nadia Prupis

A majority of Americans believe they are "morally obligated" to fight climate change, a new poll by Reuters/IPSOS has found.

Of the 2,827 people surveyed in the poll, 66 percent said world leaders are ethically bound to reduce carbon emissions, while 72 percent believed that responsibility lay with themselves as well. In addition, 64 percent believe that rising greenhouse gases, which drive climate change, are caused by human activity.

The poll was conducted to parse the impact of moral language in the climate debate and the results suggest that an ethics-based appeal to address environmental issues may be the key to shifting the debate on the topic.

"When climate change is viewed through a moral lens it has broader appeal," Eric Sapp, executive director of the American Values Network, a grassroots organization that mobilizes faith-based communities on politics and policy issues, told Reuters.

"The climate debate can be very intellectual at times, all about economic systems and science we don’t understand," he continued. "This makes it about us, our neighbors and about doing the right thing."

The poll indicates Americans may be responding to recent comments on climate change by religious leaders, including Pope Francis, who in December urged all Catholics to take action against global warming on moral and scientific grounds as "Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness." In January, he also said that it is "man who has slapped nature in the face."

Pope Francis also criticized world leaders ahead of environmental discussions in Lima, Peru last December for their lack of initiative in addressing climate change and other calamities, calling the issue a "grave ethical and moral responsibility" and warning that "the time to find global solutions is running out."

The pope is scheduled to address Congress later this year, where he is expected to deliver a similar appeal.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'Lunacy': Democrats Risk Running Out of Time to Confirm Federal Judges

"Democrats aren't filling open seats right now in federal district courts because, for unfathomable reasons, they are letting red state senators block nominees," said one critic.

Julia Conley ·


Citing Death of Roe, Alabama Urges Judge to Reinstate Trans Care Ban

GOP officials are already weaponizing the Supreme Court's abortion ruling to attack other rights they argue are not "deeply rooted in our nation's history and tradition."

Kenny Stancil ·


Flint Residents 'Disgusted' After Court Throws Out Indictments of Top Officials

"It has become increasingly clear that the judicial system is not a viable option for a poor majority Black community facing injustice," said Flint Rising.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders, Fetterman Urge Buttigieg to Fine Airlines Over Flight Cancellations

"The American people are sick of airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute, and delaying flights for hours on end," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·


In Blow to Voting Rights, SCOTUS Saves Louisiana's Racially Rigged Electoral Map

"Black Louisianans deserve fair representation. The fight for racial justice and equality is far from over," vowed one civil rights group.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo