Global Climate Survey: Most Americans Feel Exposed and Vulnerable to Deterioration in their Quality of Life Due to Worsening Climate Conditions, and Demand Action

  • Veolia’s Barometer of Ecological Transformation survey shows Americans are feeling increasingly anxious and vulnerable to worsening climate conditions, but still believe it is not too late to turn the tide.
  • Americans are ready to take unprecedented action to address the challenges of climate change.

A large majority of Americans are ready to take measures to address the challenges of climate change that would have been unheard of a generation ago, including drinking recycled wastewater to adapt to ongoing water shortages, according to new survey results released recently by global environmental leader Veolia and renowned research firm Elabe.

The survey gauged American public opinion about the impacts of climate change and shows that they are no longer an abstraction for a large percentage of Americans, but something that can be seen and felt on a regular basis. Worsening storms, unpredictable weather patterns, drought, flooding and other tangible signs of a changing climate are making Americans feel increasingly anxious and vulnerable, the survey showed. 

While a previous Veolia survey, conducted in 2022 and released in January 2023, showed a growing consensus toward green solutions for climate-related challenges, the latest one reveals a deepening level of concern and openness to solutions that may have once been regarded as too extreme. Protecting public health has become a powerful lever to encourage a desire for ecology and consent to changes in behaviour or the additional costs of environmental solutions. Mitigating PFAS and other micropollutants in drinking water is just one example of the investments that will need to be made in the coming years.

The Veolia survey findings are echoed in recent government reporting, including an Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in the 2023 report conducted by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, showing that almost 20 per cent of adults in the U.S. were financially impacted by natural disasters last year, marking a nearly 50 per cent rise from 2022.

Findings like these are among the key motivations behind GreenUp, Veolia’s global strategy for leading the ecological transformation of the planet through accelerated innovation and growth. The drivers behind the GreenUp strategy uniquely position Veolia to meet the challenges raised in the recent survey.

Conducted in late 2023 and early 2024, the latest Veolia survey posed climate-related questions to 2,000 Americans selected from a broad range of demographics, including all geographic regions and age groups.

U.S. Highlights

  • 57% of Americans are certain that the costs of the consequences of climate disruption are going to be greater than the investments needed for ecological transformation
  • 61% of Americans said they feel exposed and vulnerable to a deterioration in their quality of life due to worsening climate conditions
  • 57% of Americans said they feel exposed and vulnerable to health risks due to worsening climate conditions
  • Of those, 54 per cent said they were concerned about the impact climate change was having on their mental health
  • 61% (+19% compared to 2022) of Americans expressed willingness to drink recycled wastewater in order to adapt to severe water shortages
  • 74% expressed willingness to eat food from agriculture that uses recycled wastewater for fertilizer
  • 82% expressed willingness to pay more out of their own pocket to help cover costs for eliminating micro-pollutants in drinking water supplies
  • 53% of Americans remain confident that the future of humanity is still in our hands, and that meaningful steps can still be taken to reverse and mitigate impacts