Biggest ever survey finds two-thirds of people think climate change is a ‘global emergency’

UK and Italy top poll with respondents most concerned by crisis

Joe Middleton
Wednesday 27 January 2021 19:10
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UN chief urges rich nations to spend more on helping developing countries adapt to climate crisis

The biggest ever survey on climate change has found that almost two-thirds of people think it is a global emergency.

The most popular options for tackling the crisis were conserving forests, using renewables, adopting climate-friendly farming techniques and investing more money in green businesses. The least popular course of action was adopting a plant-based diet.

The international survey canvassed the views of 1.2 million people and was conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from 7 October to 4 December 2020.

The poll showed that 64 per cent of respondents thought climate change was a global emergency, ranging from 69 per cent of under-18s to 58 per cent of over-60s.

The figure climbed to 81 per cent among those in the UK and in Italy, who topped the poll, while at least half of respondents in all countries said they thought there was a global climate emergency.

In the UK, where 21,189 people responded to the survey, young people were also more likely to think climate change was a global emergency, with 86 per cent of under-18s saying it was.

The figure was over 80 per cent both for the 18-35 and the 36-59 age groups, and although the over-60s were slightly more sceptical, 78 per cent of them believed climate change was a global emergency – the highest level worldwide for their age group.

In the US, which has recently rejoined the Paris Agreement, 65 per cent of respondents thought climate change was a global emergency.

The poll was conducted in 50 countries by distributing questions through adverts in popular mobile gaming apps.

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More than 30 million invites to the survey were issued to people when they played a popular mobile game – such as Words With Friends, Angry Birds, Dragon City or Subway Surfers.

The findings were weighted by polling experts at Oxford University in order to be as representative as possible for each country.

Cassie Flynn, the UNDP’s strategic adviser on climate change, told The Guardian: “The voice of the people is clear – they want action on climate change.

“If 64 per cent of the world’s people are believing in a climate emergency, then it helps governments to respond to the climate crisis as an emergency.

“The key message is that, as governments are making these high-stakes decisions, the people are with them.”

Professor Stephen Fisher, from the department of sociology at Oxford University, said that the survey shows “that most people clearly want a strong and wide-raging policy response” to climate change.

Additional reporting by PA

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