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Four in five people want more climate action: UN survey

Four in every five people want their country to strengthen its commitments to addressing climate change.

Climate change. — © AFP
Climate change. — © AFP

Four in every five people want their country to strengthen its commitments to addressing climate change, according to a global poll of 75,000 participants published on Thursday.

The survey by the UN Development Program, Oxford University and GeoPoll posed 15 questions by randomized telephone calls to people in 77 countries representing 87 percent of the world’s population.

The sun sets behind overhead power lines in Kuwait City as the government requested citizens to ration their electricity usage amid soaring temperatures

The sun sets behind overhead power lines in Kuwait City as the government requested citizens to ration their electricity usage amid soaring temperatures – Copyright ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES-PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE/AFP Handout

The key finding was that 80 percent of respondents want their governments to increase efforts to fight against global warming.

Poorer countries beat this drum the loudest, with 89 percent in favor, though appetite is also high in the wealthy G20 nations (76 percent), according to the survey.

China (73 percent) and the United States (66 percent) — the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters — also saw a majority of respondents in favor of climate action.

“As world leaders decide on the next round of pledges under the Paris Agreement by 2025, these results are undeniable evidence that people everywhere support bold climate action,” said Cassie Flynn, UNDP global climate director.

Heat is the leading cause of climate-related death – Copyright AFP Hector RETAMAL

A majority of respondents in 62 of the 77 countries surveyed said they supported a quick transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy.

These included China (80 percent) and the United States (54 percent), but in Russia just 16 percent of poll participants were in favor.

Worries about global warming have also increased, the survey found, with 56 percent saying they think about climate change at least once a week.

Over half (53 percent) of those surveyed said they were more worried about climate change than last year, compared with 15 percent who said they were less worried.

Leading the rise in climate anxiety is Fiji, where 80 percent are more concerned compared to a year ago, followed by Afghanistan (78 percent) and Turkey (77 percent).

Saudi Arabia saw the lowest increase in climate fears, with 25 percent more worried, followed by Russia (34 percent), Czech Republic (36 percent) and China (39 percent).

More than two-thirds of survey respondents (69 percent) said that global warming had impacted their life decisions, such as where to live or work and what to buy.

But Achim Steiner, head of the UNDP, said these concerns do not necessarily translate into electoral and consumer decisions.

“I would do more. But the others won’t. So I will not do anything,” Steiner said of what he called people’s “perception gap” on climate action.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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