Climate Change Not Seen as a Serious Threat by Majority of U.S., Europe

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Pope Francis is generally popular around the world, but when he highlights the global effects of climate change Friday at the United Nations General Assembly, he may get a lukewarm reception from many Americans and Europeans.

Global climate change was the top-rated threat in a 40-nation Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2015 – a median of 46% say they are “very concerned” about climate change.

But concern about climate change is relatively low in the United States and Europe. A median of 42% among both Europeans and Americans reports being very concerned about the issue. 

And in the U.S., partisan differences are stark. A majority of Democrats (62%) say they are very concerned about climate change, compared with just 20% of Republicans.

For the most part, European and American concerns about international issues lay elsewhere. In Europe, concerns about the Islamic State (ISIS) and tensions between Russia and its neighbors are more prominent than other issues.

Among Americans, ISIS and Iran’s nuclear program loom large as threats, while climate change ranks substantially lower than in other regions. The only global issue that raises fewer concerns in the U.S. is territorial disputes between China and its neighbors.

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