46 Percent of Americans Satisfied With Action to Preserve the Environment, Far Below Global Average

Just under half of Americans are satisfied with their government's efforts to preserve the environment in the United States, a figure significantly below the global average.

While 46 percent of Americans agree with federal conservation efforts, 62 percent of people across the world said in 2018 that they were satisfied with measures their national governments have taken to preserve the environment. The global average denotes a slight increase from the 60 percent who expressed this opinion in 2017; however, dissatisfaction has grown in the United States.

The satisfaction rate in U.S. environmental protection efforts was the same in 2018 as in 2016, and just a percentage point down from 2017, according to the figures from Gallup, which were published Tuesday. Dissatisfaction with U.S. environmental protection was also the same as in 2017, at 52 percent. American dissatisfaction on the measure jumped sharply from 2014 to 2015, rising from 38 percent to 49 percent. It peaked at 54 percent in 2016.

While the majority of Americans are unhappy with preservation efforts their government is taking, people living in many other countries were much more positive about policies implemented by their elected leaders. Respondents in Southeast Asia indicated 78 percent satisfaction, and those in South Asia reported 73 percent satisfaction.

Despite the majority of the global public supporting action to protect the environment, commitments to address climate change have not kept pace with the measures needed to prevent global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres underscored the urgency of addressing climate change in remarks Monday.

"Glaciers are melting and corals are bleaching. Droughts are spreading and wildfires are burning. Deserts are expanding and access to water is dwindling. Heatwaves are scorching and natural disasters are multiplying," he said, urging fast action and funding to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. "Adaptation has therefore become a top priority and an essential condition for increasing the resilience of countries and communities and avoiding human suffering."

By the end of Monday, 65 countries had said they would aim to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, a target which a 2018 IPCC report said the world would need to reach to limit global temperature increases to the 1.5 degree target. Countries previously agreed to pursue carbon neutrality at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, with limited success to date. Dozens of businesses also said they would seek to act in accordance with the Paris agreement targets, but few concrete commitments were pledged.

"While countries were expected to come to the summit to announce that they would enhance their climate ambition, most of the major economies fell woefully short. Their lack of ambition stands in sharp contrast with the growing demand for action around the world," World Resources Institute President and CEO Andrew Steer said in a statement following Monday's pledge.

Climate protest
A policeman climbs atop a ladder to talk with one of the protesters advocating for new policies to combat global climate change as activists close an intersection in Washington, D.C., on September 23. Win McNamee/Getty Images