What does the world think about the climate emergency?

This op-ed by Murat Suner is published in THE BEAM #13.


Do you feel the impacts of the climate emergency at all? Do you want to see faster and greater action to slow down global warming and mitigate its damage?

Your answer probably depends on where and how you live, what your level of education is and how old you are. Although numbers are only a part of the problem, let’s look at some of them first.

In early 2021, UNDP published the People’s Climate Vote, the world’s largest survey of public opinion on climate change. 1.2 million people from 50 countries, covering 56% of the world’s population, responded.

So what did the “world” think about the emergency and what to do about it?

Overall, 64% of people said that climate change is an emergency; this on its own is a clear and compelling call for decision-makers to step up their ambition.

Does it matter where you live?

If you live in a small island developing state (SIDS), i.e. a country with a low coastline, your likelihood of viewing the climate crisis as an emergency increases to 74%. If you are a citizen of a least developed country, it drops to 58%.

Support was highest in SIDS (74%), followed by high income countries (72%), middle income countries (62%) and LDCs (58%). Regionally, the pro- portion of people citing climate change as a global emergency was high across the board.

What about people’s socio-economic background?

The most crucial socio-demographic factor influencing belief in the climate emergency and climate action is a person’s educational background. If you have been privileged to enjoy higher (post-secondary) education, your belief in the climate emergency and the call for climate action will be above 82%, whether you live in Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, France, or Japan.

What does humanity think about the urgency of action?

Of those who said climate change is a global emergency, 59% said the world should do whatever is necessary to urgently respond. 20% said we should act slowly, while 10% thought the world was already doing enough.

Humanity is further along than governments admit

It seems certain, then, that people around the globe are demanding much more climate action than our decision-makers are pledging and implementing.


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