Story at a glance

  • The United States Conference of Mayors published a survey conducted in December 2019 that asked voters ages 18-29 about policy and political issues.
  • A staggering 80 percent said that climate change is a “major threat” to humanity.
  • Young voters also thought that sustainability initiatives are best handled on a local level.

A new survey issued by the United States Conference of Mayors found that 80 percent of voters between the ages of 18 to 29 say that global warming is “a major threat to human life on earth” as humans know it, according to a Vice news exclusive

Conducted by John Zogby Strategies, a data analytics firm, the report polled 1,000 registered voters ages 18 to 29 to gauge which political issues they value in the upcoming election. It was conducted from Dec. 9 to 11 in 2019. 

When it comes to opinions on climate change, however, men and women appear to be in sync. Of the 80 percent who agree that global warming is a “major threat,” women are 82 percent of respondents, and men tick a bit lower at 76 percent of respondents. 

In terms of solutions, 58 percent of survey respondents say that “Drastic times call for bold measures” when asked the questions “Which of the following statements best describes your stance on how to address Global Warming?”

While the boomers are still trying to decide whether or not scientists can be trusted, our kids are saying, ‘Save the planet,” Shane Bemis, the Republican mayor of Gresham, Oregon and co-chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ youth engagement efforts, said

Analyzing the respondent data organized by political party affiliation, 78 percent of Democrats believe strong action is required to combat the effects of climate change and 58 percent of independents agree. Republican data is not published.  

Similarly, a whopping 74 percent of respondents felt that state and city governments should play a major role in adopting more sustainable policies rather than leave it to the federal government alone. The report authors note this and summarize it as a notable finding, saying that “a strong majority [of respondents] want cities to pave the way in curbing global warming in light of Washington gridlock.” 

A majority of young voters appear to be conscious of their carbon footprint, with a total of 60 percent of respondents actively thinking about their environmental impact either on a daily basis or when making major life decisions. 

Also on young voters' minds is the economy and health care, researchers found. About 29 percent of young people consider job prospects and the economy to be critical issues impacting their vote, followed by 25 percent who are weighing access to health care in their 2020 presidential vote. 

The report delves further into the data to find that male respondents are more likely to base their votes on economic outcomes, while women are more influenced by the need for health care. 

Overall though, the environment and finding solutions to climate change are at the center of young people’s politics. The President of the United Conference of Mayors said in a prepared statement that leaders need to show younger generations they want to work together. 

“This is a generation that understands the serious challenges that we face and is demanding that leaders take bold action,” he explains, “Mayors have made youth engagement a major priority, and this survey shows that there is a tremendous opportunity to work together to solve generational problems.”

Published on Jan 24, 2020