Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Economy

Poll: Americans Broadly Skeptical of Climate Pledges

But they do want corporations to step up.

A BP sign.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

From BP to Shein, businesses are promising that they’re greener than ever. But Americans are skeptical these pledges are anything but greenwashing, a term for deceptive advertising practices around sustainability that was formally added to the dictionary last year. Perhaps with good reason, too: Of 702 companies that have made net-zero targets and were scrutinized by Net Zero Tracker, two-thirds hadn’t actually offered details on how they plan to reach those goals.

A majority of Americans (64%) think corporations’ pledges around climate change are just for appearances and that they won’t stick to their promises, the inaugural Heatmap Climate Poll, published Thursday, found. But Americans do want corporations to step up: Sixty-seven percent of Americans feel that large corporations have an important role to play in mitigating the effects of global warming.

Heatmap's findings were consistent across political parties. Sixty-three percent of Democrats distrusted climate pledges, compared to 61% of Republicans and 69% of independents. The findings were also fairly consistent across incomes, geographies, and education levels.

They are also optimistic about future action. When Americans consider which entity will have the greatest positive impact on the climate in the next five years, big businesses and corporations were ranked second, just behind individuals and ahead of the federal government. A plurality of Republicans ranked corporations first.

This comes as something of a surprise considering the hard line the Republican Party has taken recently against corporate environmental, social, and governance practices — otherwise known as ESG. Conservatives argue businesses are being unfairly pressured to make overtures to climate activists. Still, a plurality of Republicans are optimistic about corporations’ ability to make a difference on climate change.

Americans also expressed a high level of concern around pollutants, the majority of which are generated by industry, agriculture, and big business. Over 40% of respondents individually ranked air pollution, water pollution, and plastic pollution as “an extremely serious problem”; 39% said the same for toxic waste (the Heatmap Climate Poll was conducted shortly after the toxic chemical spill caused by a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio).

The impression that businesses are powerful climate actors also carried over into concerns about their potential to serve as obstacles to renewable and sustainable solutions to address climate change. Forty-one percent of Americans (including 37% of Republicans and 43% of Democrats) characterized lobbyists and special interests having too much power in Washington as being an “extremely serious problem.” Just under a third of Americans (30%, including 19% of Republicans and 40% of Democrats) felt that big corporations standing in the way of the government taking action we need on climate change is another “extremely serious” barrier.

The Heatmap Climate Poll of 1,000 Americans adults was conducted via online panels from Feb. 15 to 20, 2023. The survey included interviews with Americans in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.02 percentage points. Read more about the topline results here.

Blue
Jeva Lange profile image

Jeva Lange

Jeva is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Her writing has also appeared in The Week, where she formerly served as executive editor and culture critic, as well as in The New York Daily News, Vice, and Gothamist, among others. Jeva lives in New York City. Read More

Read More
Economy

American Solar Is in a Trade War With Itself

Manufacturers and installers have different opinions on tariffs.

A solar panel worker.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The American solar industry is in a tizzy over tariffs. On one side are the companies that develop, finance, and install solar systems. On the other, the American (or American-located) companies that manufacture them.

China’s solar panel industry has been a combination of boon and bugaboo for American renewable energy efforts for years. On the one hand, the solar development sector has benefitted from the cheap panels they have happily put up on roofs and in fields across the country, underpinning the massive growth of solar power in the past decade.

Keep reading...Show less
Electric Vehicles

A Dumbphone on Wheels

Simpler electric vehicles would not only be cheaper — they’d last longer too.

A man charging a very old car.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

If you haven’t heard, the dumbphone is back. Vexed by their emotionally ruinous smartphone addiction, plenty of people, including those of the tech-savvy younger generations, are turning their backs on iPhones and Androids to embrace internet-free cellphones that walked right out of the 1990s.

The impossibility of TikTok is not the dumbphone’s only winning feature. Flagship smartphones are expensive and delicate. Despite Apple’s soft cooing about the iPhone’s beautiful facade, you must shield that design behind a plastic case at all times, lest you drop your $1,200 investment and ruin it. Dumbphones, though, are rugged and cheap. They do their job without fuss or pretense. They are an appliance, and they know it.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Electric Vehicles

AM Briefing: Biden’s Schedule for Offshore Wind Auctions

On the new auction schedule, Tesla earnings, and the Mercedes G-Class EV

Biden’s Plan to Jumpstart Offshore Wind
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: A Saharan dust storm turned skies red in Greece • More heavy rain is expected in China’s flooded Guangdong province • Red Flag fire weather warnings are in place across much of New Mexico.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Key takeaways from Tesla’s quarterly earnings report

Tesla reported first quarter earnings yesterday. The electric car company’s profits fell 55%, and revenue fell 9%. But shares rose more than 10% in after-hours trading following the shareholder update and earnings call. Here are a few things we learned from the report:

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow