Climate Compared: Public Opinion on Climate Change in the United States and Canada


This is the key findings report for the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change and the National Survey of Canadian Public Opinion on Climate Change.

The following report summarizes results drawn from national level surveys in the United States and Canada that examine public perceptions regarding various aspects of climate change. Since 2008, the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change (NSAPOCC) has examined the perceptions and preferences of residents of the United States regarding their views on the existence of climate change and potential policy approaches to address global warming. In order to gain comparative perspective on climate change matters in Canada, the National Survey of Canadian Public Opinion on Climate Change (NSCPOCC) accompanied the most recent version of the NSAPOCC. This report provides insight into the evolution of American public opinion regarding climate matters while producing direct comparisons between the views of the American and Canadian publics on matters pertaining to climate change and its mitigation.


  1. After experiencing significant declines in the level of belief that global warming is occurring between the fall of 2008 and spring of 2010, American belief rebounded slightly in late 2010, but remained well below the levels observed in 2008.
  2. Belief in climate change among Canadians substantially outpaces belief in this phenomenon among residents of the United States.
  3. For residents of Canada and the United States that believe that climate change is occurring there is general belief that this constitutes a very serious problem.
  4. In the United States an individual’s partisan affiliation is the most important determinant of their views on the existence of global warming, with Democrats significantly more likely than Republicans to believe that the Earth is warming.
  5. Partisan affiliation is also associated with individual views on global warming in Canada, with Conservative Party supporters significantly less likely than supporters of all other parties to believe the Earth is warming.
  6. Among the cohort of Americans and Canadians who believe in climate change there is significant division on the root causes of global warming, with most believers pointing to both human activity and natural factors as contributing to increasing world temperatures.
  7. Americans remain highly divided on claims that scientists are manipulating climate research for their own interests, with most Canadians rejecting such claims.
  8. While placing the primary responsibility for addressing global warming on the federal government, a majority of both Canadians and Americans believe that state/provincial and local governments share responsibility for addressing this problem.
  9. Canadians expressed a higher degree of willingness to pay for increased production of renewable energy resources than their American counterparts.

While most Americans do not support such policy options as cap and trade and carbon taxes, a majority of Canadians indicated that they would support such policy options even if they imposed increased costs of up to $50 per month in energy expenses.