Peoples' Climate Vote Shows Global Support for Stronger Climate Action

A Himalayan settlement in the Everest region of Nepal. The impact of climate change is more intense in the mountain region than in others. Photo: Tanka Dhakal/IPS
A Himalayan settlement in the Everest region of Nepal. The impact of climate change is more intense in the mountain region than in others. Photo: Tanka Dhakal/IPS
  • by Tanka Dhakal (kathmandu)
  • Inter Press Service

According to the Peoples’ Climate Vote 2024 (PCV2024), 86 percent want to see their countries set aside geopolitical differences and work together on climate change.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) collaborated with the University of Oxford in the UK and GeoPoll on the study, which involved asking 15 questions about climate change to more than 75,000 people in 77 countries who spoke 87 different languages. The report released today (Thursday, June 20, 2024) claims to be the biggest ever standalone public opinion survey on climate change and questions were designed to help understand how people are experiencing the impacts of climate change and how they want world leaders to respond. The 77 countries polled represent 87 percent of the global population.

“The People's Climate Vote is loud and clear. They want their leaders to transcend their differences, to act now and to act boldly to fight the climate crisis,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “The survey results—unprecedented in their coverage—reveal a level of consensus that is truly astonishing. We urge leaders and policymakers to take note, especially as countries develop their next round of climate action pledges, or ‘nationally determined contributions’ under the Paris Agreement. This is an issue that almost everyone, everywhere, can agree on.”

Globally, climate change is on people's mind

Regardless of differences, people across the world reported that climate change was on their minds. According to the report, globally, 56 percent said they were thinking about it regularly (daily or weekly), and some 63 percent of those in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), who are on the frontlines of the climate change impact, are waiting for external support to adapt and mitigate.

The report shows worry around climate change is growing; 53 percent, or more than half, of people globally said they were more worried than last year about climate change. Again, worry is higher in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), where 59 percent of people experience climate change-related fear. On average, across the nine Small Island Developing States (SIDS) surveyed, as many as 71 percent said they were more worried than last year about climate change.

Climate change has an impact on people's major decisions. The report says that 69 percent of people globally said their big decisions, like where to live or work, were being impacted by climate change. The proportion so affected was higher in LDCs at 74 percent, but notably lower in Western and Northern Europe at 52 percent, and Northern America at 42 percent.

People are in favor of Fossil fuel phaseout

The survey results also show overwhelming support for a faster transition away from fossil fuels. For few years now, whenever leaders meet for climate summits, their major disagreement is the phaseout of fossil fuels, but people are not only calling for bolder climate action; they also want a transition to “green energy.”

The survey shows support by a global majority of 72 percent in favor of a quick transition away from fossil fuels. This is true for countries among the top 10 biggest producers of oil, coal, or gas, including majorities of 89 percent in Nigeria and Türkiye, 80 percent in China, 76 percent in Germany, 75 percent of people in Saudi Arabia, 69 percent in Australia, and 54 percent of people in the United States. Only 7 percent of people globally said their country should not transition at all.

People are in support for stronger climate action in 20 of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, with majorities ranging from 66 percent of people in the United States and Russia, to 67 percent in Germany, 73 percent in China, 77 percent in South Africa and India, 85 percent in Brazil, 88 percent in Iran and up to 93 percent in Italy.

Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United States—in these five big emitters, women were more in favor of strengthening their country’s commitments by 10 to 17 percentage points. This gap was biggest in Germany, where women were 17 percentage points more likely than men to want more climate action (75 percent vs. 58 percent).

Additionally, a majority of people in every country surveyed said rich countries should give more help to poorer countries to address climate change. The poorest countries—those most immediately in need of international support to address climate change—were more likely to be in favor of rich countries giving more help to poorer countries—by upwards of 30 percent—than the world’s wealthiest countries—94 percent in Bhutan and 64 percent in the United States of America. Globally, around eight in ten people said they wanted rich countries to give more support to poorer countries.

Support for climate change education in schools

The survey results showed that people want climate change-related courses in schools; four in five people or 80 percent globally, called for schools in their country to teach more about the topic related to it. The report says education is a critical part of addressing the issue of climate change. In schools, especially, young people need to be taught the impact of our changing climate and given the opportunity to learn how to adapt to it and help identify future solutions.

Large majorities in all countries wants schools in their country to do more to teach people about climate change. Significantly higher proportions of people in LDCs (93 percent) supported more education on climate change compared to 74 percent support in G20 countries.  In Haiti 99 percent people want more education on climate change in schools. But support is low in some countries, with only 29 percent in USA, 26 percent in Indonesia and 21 percent in Papua New Guinea.

Evidence to develop climate action

This is the first time the public has been asked about climate change in a way that relates to their day-to-day lives, and according to experts, this is important for upcoming discussions.

The first Peoples’ Climate Vote took place in 2021 and surveyed people across 50 countries through advertisements in popular mobile gaming apps.

Prof. Stephen Fisher, Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, said, “A survey of this size was a huge scientific endeavor. While maintaining rigorous methodology, special efforts were also made to include people from marginalized groups in the poorest parts of the world. This is some of the very highest quality global data on public opinions on climate change available.

As world leaders decide on the next round of pledges under the Paris Agreement by 2025, these results seem to have an impact as evidence that people everywhere support bold climate action.

The Peoples’ Climate Vote has enlisted the voices of people everywhere, including amongst groups traditionally the most difficult to poll. For example, people in nine of the 77 countries surveyed had never before been polled on climate change,” Cassie Flynn, Global Director of Climate Change, UNDP, said.

“The next two years stand as one of the best chances we have as the international community to ensure that warming stays under 1.5°. We stand ready to support policymakers in stepping up their efforts as they develop their climate action plans.”

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