From Policy to Personal Choices: America's Shift Towards a Climate-Conscious Future

Author: Katie O'Mara

By the end of August 2023, there were 23 extreme weather events in the US that cost at least $1 billion, breaking 2020’s record with four months left to go in the year. Furthermore, between the beginning of May and the end of August, 96% of Americans received at least one extreme weather alert from the National Weather Service. For consumers, it’s becoming impossible to ignore these changes to our environment; more and more Americans are beginning to draw connections to climate change.

Climate Change: More Top of Mind Than Ever

As these connections become clearer, consumers are expecting more from institutions and are increasingly willing to support policies that will mitigate climate change impacts. In a study from Pew Research from the spring of 2023, a majority of consumers believe that large businesses and corporations (along with state-elected officials, the federal government and the energy industry) are doing too little to reduce the impacts of climate change:

These higher levels of urgency are driven by personal experience – since 2010, the share of Americans who say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming has risen from 23% to 44%. As these worries take greater priority in people’s minds, we see higher levels of support for climate-friendly policies across the political spectrum. Over three quarters of registered voters support initiatives such as: 1) funding of more research into renewable energy sources, 2) tax rebates for purchases of items like electric vehicles and solar panels, 3) federal funding to retrofit residential buildings in low-income communities, 4) national training programs to train marginalized individuals for new green jobs, and 5) training programs to move people out of the fossil fuel industry. Additionally, there is still high majority support for regulating carbon dioxide and transitioning the economy off of fossil fuels (though some of these policies are more politically charged).

Taking Matters into Their Own Hands

Along with increasing political support, consumers are showing up with their wallets. In the last several years, there has been rising adoption of technologies that are more environmentally friendly than their conventional counterparts. Residential solar installations and electric vehicle purchases have been growing over the last decade, with 40% and 48% growth respectively between 2021 and 2022. And, for the first time in 2022, heat pump sales surpassed gas furnaces. While these changes have been bolstered by incentive programs, consumers are making these investments for a more climate-friendly future.

They are also beginning to make choices about where they live based on climate impacts. According to a June 2023 survey from Morning Consult, one quarter of US adults have thought about moving because of natural disaster impacts, and over half are concerned about climate change’s effect on their housing. These considerations will influence migration patterns around the US and the world, changing populations in ways that are challenging to predict.

Among those whose homes are in harm’s way, there is a trend of proactive disaster preparedness mitigation, with homeowners rebuilding or remodeling in order to harden their homes against climate impacts. This includes actions like installing metal roofs to protect against wildfires, or whole-home battery systems that can power generators if utilities go down. However, there are few incentives for proactive preparedness by homeowners. This is a huge opportunity for financial institutions and insurers to create programs and products to help protect these investments.

Looking for Answers

With new behaviors comes uncertainty: consumers have an appetite for services that can help them make smart decisions in their purchases. New tools in this space will win consumer trust and influence consumer behavior moving forward. Two examples show how connecting consumers to better information will change the way they make decisions and plan for the future:

1. Recurrent is a company that is creating a database for used electric vehicle health, to help EV owners, potential buyers and sellers better understand the value of vehicles and the batteries within them. Their mission is to make it easier to understand the used market from all vantage points, which is critical to increased adoption of electric vehicles overall.

2. Risk Factor is an online tool created by the First Street Foundation to help people assess the risk from different environmental threats that a piece of property will face over the coming decades. Users can enter a property’s address and see how it will be impacted by flooding, wildfire, extreme heat and severe wind. The tool also estimates these risks at the ZIP Code level, so people can see how trends will impact their region and the country at large.

What this Means for Brands

  • Consumers are hungry for options that help them decrease their contributions to climate change. Brands that are creating these products and services will continue to have an edge. Consider the localized climate impact faced by your customers, and focus your efforts in a way that is empathetic to their needs.
  • The uncertainty that comes with new and increasing natural disasters is taking a toll on consumers’ current mindset and plans for the future. Brands that can help mitigate some of this uncertainty or create products and services that help consumers to navigate it will continue to gain ground.


  • Expectations for companies to lead climate change solutions are growing. Consumers will expect brands to message the goals that are set and the progress being made in terms of operations, manufacturing and products.


  • But, consumers are wary of greenwashing, so brands must focus on doing tangible climate-focused work ahead of spending time talking about it. Once the foundation is there, brands should identify the best way to tell the story using a combination of paid, earned and owned channels. Let us know if we can help!