The Peoples’ Climate Vote — the world’s biggest so far — covered over half of the global population that includes over half a million persons under the age of 18, a key constituency on climate change that is typically unable to vote yet in regular elections. It was published on Wednesday.
Detailed results broken down by age, gender, and education level will be shared with governments around the world by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which organised the innovative poll along with the University of Oxford.
In many participating countries, it is the first time that large-scale polling of public opinion has ever been conducted on the topic of climate change.
Year 2021 is a pivotal one for countries’ climate action commitments, with a key round of negotiations set to take place at the UN Climate Summit in November in Glasgow, UK.
In the survey, respondents were asked if climate change was a global emergency and whether they supported 18 key climate policies across six action areas: Economy, energy, transport, food and farms, nature, and protecting people.
Results show that people often want broad climate policies beyond the current state of play. For example, in eight of the 10 survey countries with the highest emissions from the power sector, a majority of those surveyed backed more renewable energy.
In four of the five countries with the highest emissions from land-use change and enough data on policy preferences, there was majority support for conserving forests and land.
Nine of the 10 countries with the most urbanised populations backed more use of clean electric cars and buses, or bicycles.
The innovative survey was distributed across mobile gaming networks in order to include hard-to-reach audiences in traditional polling, like youths under the age of 18.
Polling experts at the University of Oxford weighted the huge sample to make it representative of the age, gender, and education profiles of population in the surveyed countries, resulting in small margins of error of plus/minus two per cent.
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said: “The results of the survey clearly illustrate that urgent climate action has broad support among people around the globe, across nationalities, age, gender and education level.
“But more than that, the poll reveals how people want their policymakers to tackle the crisis. From climate-friendly farming to protecting nature and investing in a green recovery from COVID-19, the survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate.
“It signals ways in which countries can move forward with public support as we work together to tackle this enormous challenge.”
Policies had wide-ranging support, with the most popular being on conservation of forests and land (54 per cent public support), more solar, wind and renewable power (53 per cent), adoption of climate-friendly farming techniques (52 per cent) and more investment in green businesses and jobs (50 per cent).
The survey shows a direct link between a person’s education and his or her desire for climate action.
There was very high recognition of climate emergency among those who had attended university or college in all countries, from lower-income countries such as Bhutan (82 per cent) and Democratic Republic of Congo (82), to wealthy countries like France (87 per cent) and Japan (82 per cent).
When it comes to age, younger people (under 18) were more likely to say climate change is an emergency than older people.
Nevertheless, other age groups were not far behind, with 65 per cent of those aged 18-35, 66 per cent aged 36-59 and 58 per cent of those over 60 illustrating how widely- held this view has become.
Stephen Fisher, Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, said: “The survey — the biggest ever survey of public opinion on climate change — has shown us that mobile gaming networks cannot only reach a lot of people, they can engage different kinds of people in a diverse group of countries.
“The Peoples’ Climate Vote has delivered a treasure trove of data on public opinion that we’ve never seen before. Recognition of the climate emergency is much more widespread than previously thought. We’ve also found that most people clearly want a strong and wide-ranging policy response.”
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