Media CenterNew Survey Shows More than Half of Americans Think U.S. Bears Responsibility to Help Other Countries Cope with Climate Change

Photo by Philip Laubner/CRS

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Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(978) 884-0003

American Catholics five times more likely than non-Catholics to say climate change
is a shared responsibility that calls for collective action


BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, Oct. 4, 2022 – According to a new survey of American attitudes about climate change, most Americans think the U.S. bears the responsibility to help other countries cope with climate change, and that immediate action must be taken to limit its impacts in the U.S. and abroad.

“These responses show that the majority of Americans feel the urgency of the global climate crisis, and the need to act on it,” said Bill O’Keefe, Catholic Relief Services (CRS)’ executive vice president of Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy. “This is good news. As one of the most influential countries in the world, U.S. leadership on climate change is critical, especially given the grave threat those CRS serves face.”

The survey, released by CRS as part of its newly launched climate change campaign, shows that three out of every four Americans agree that action must be taken immediately to limit the impacts of climate change within the U.S. At the same time, 69% express the same sentiment about taking action to lessen its impacts overseas. Meanwhile, more than half of Americans – 55% – feel the U.S. has a responsibility to help other countries cope with the effects of a warming planet. When it comes to the views of American Catholics, CRS’ survey found that they are five times more likely than their non-Catholic counterparts to express that climate change is a shared responsibility that requires a collective response.

CRS’ findings come on the heels of several recent international climate-drive emergencies, such as the unprecedented flooding in Pakistan that left a third of the country under water, killing more than 1,600 people and displacing over 33 million. The results also come ahead of this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference – commonly referred to as COP27 – the annual international climate negotiations, to be convened in November.

“We hope this information helps inform U.S. lawmakers about the willingness of Americans, especially American Catholics, to act on behalf of the poor and vulnerable overseas,” O’Keefe said. “In the words of the Holy Father, ‘Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God.’”

CRS worked with Big Village, a New York-based research company, to produce the online survey, which was conducted in August among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 2,000 adults 18 years of age or older.

Key Findings:

  • 75% of Americans agree that action must be taken immediately to limit the impacts of climate change within the U.S. In comparison, 69% express the same sentiment when taking action in other countries.
  • 55% of Americans feel the U.S. has a responsibility to help other countries suffering from the effects of climate change.
  • Most Americans – 85% – say that at least one event would motivate them to take action to combat the effects of climate change in other countries. Drought-induced famines and catastrophic, widespread flooding are top of the list of motivating events.
  • When asked what words or phrases come to mind when they think of climate change, American Catholics were five times more likely to express that climate change is a shared responsibility that requires a collective response than their non-Catholic counterparts.
  • Most Americans – 85% – have taken one or more personal steps to reduce their negative impacts on the environment, such as recycling. However, few are taking collective actions to address climate change, like supporting an organization that fights climate change (19%) or participating in a group action to call attention to the impact of climate change, such as a march, protest or boycott (11%).
  • Hispanics are 14 times more likely than non-Hispanics to volunteer that humanity’s response to climate change is insufficient when asked what comes to mind when they think of climate change.

The World Bank estimates that by 2030, climate change will push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty. However, at little more than $20 billion a year, international finance for climate change adaptation remains far below the annual $70 billion that developing countries are estimated to need.

“When climate change meets poverty, as it is in the Horn of Africa, it is a perfect storm of challenges, with millions of people at risk of going without food and water,” said Yohannes Subagadis, a CRS agricultural expert from East Africa. “As the world experiences increases in prolonged droughts, catastrophic storms, record temperatures and rising sea levels, countries must work together to protect all the people on the planet.”

CRS works with communities in dozens of countries to adapt to climate change. Climate change adaptation programs, like those funded by the U.S. foreign assistance budget, can include providing farmers with drought-tolerant seeds and helping communities living in disaster-prone areas create evacuation plans in case of powerful storm surges. CRS’ new climate change campaign aims to mobilize Catholics in the U.S., and others of goodwill, to engage in advocacy and fundraising activities in support of such programming.

“The goal of our campaign is to mobilize more people in the United States to become part of the solution overseas,” O’Keefe said. “Our time to act is running out. But there is still time.”




Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
October 4, 2022

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More