Americans as a whole are increasingly concerned about addressing the effects of climate change, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows, but Republicans remain as skeptical as ever about the need for immediate action.
The new data shows that 45 percent of Americans believe that "global climate change has been established as a serious problem, and immediate action is necessary." That's the highest since the poll began asking the question in 1999, and up from the 39 percent who felt that way in Sept. 2017.
Another 21 percent say that "there is enough evidence that climate change is taking place and some action should be taking." Taken together, two-thirds of Americans want there to be action taken on climate change.
But 30 percent of Americans remain skeptical—18 percent of the total sample say that they aren't sure if climate change is real and want to see more research, while 12 percent say "concern about global climate change is unwarranted."
These numbers are driven by a deep partisan divide that shows Democrats feeling their highest levels of urgency in the almost 20-year history the data spans. More than 7 in 10 Democrats believe climate change is "serious" and requires "immediate action," a 42-percentage-point increase from the just 29 percent of Democrats who believed that in 1999.
Just 15 percent of Republicans share that sense of urgency, the exact same portion who did so in 1999.
Meanwhile, independents are growing more alarmed about climate change, with 47 percent calling for "immediate action" compared to the 25 percent who felt that way in 1999.
President Trump has been brushed aside warnings of global climate change, questioning whether it's the result of human activity during an October "60 Minutes" interview and arguing he doesn't believe his own government's study on the coming financial impact of climate change. He also followed through on a campaign promise to withdraw from the international Paris Agreement on climate change.
The majority of Americans, 52 percent are more concerned that the "failure to address climate change will lead to greater financial costs and higher energy prices" than if the costs associated with regulations implemented to curb the effects of climate change. Thirty-five percent of Americans are more concerned about the costs associated with regulations.
The same partisan divide exists in this question too, with a clear majority of Democrats more concerned about the failure to address climate change than regulations, and a near-majority of Republicans more concerned about the economic impact of those regulations.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal interviewed 900 people between Dec. 9-12. The poll has a margin of error of 3.27 percent.