World majority sees climate change as global emergency: UN survey
By Mario Villar
United Nations, Jan 27 (efe-epa).- A majority of the world’s citizens consider climate change a global emergency and support large-scale measures to combat it, according to the largest survey on this issue carried out to date.
The survey, released Wednesday, was conducted by the United Nations and the University of Oxford, with the participation of 1.2 million people from 50 countries, including 500,000 children under 14.
The survey asked participants if climate change constitutes a global emergency and if they were in favor of 18 key climate policies within six fields of action: energy, economy, transport, agriculture and food, nature and protection of people.
Sixty four percent of those interviewed said climate change constitutes a global emergency, even despite the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, since the survey was conducted at the end of 2020.
Overall, the four most popular climate policies are conservation of forests and land (supported by 54 percent of respondents), plus solar, wind and renewable energy (53 percent), adoption of climate-friendly agricultural techniques (52 percent) and higher investments in green businesses and jobs (50 percent.)
Meanwhile, among the least supportive, plant-based diets stand out as a way to reduce emissions, which only receives support from 30 percent of those surveyed.
With more than 1 million responses, the survey is by far the largest ever conducted on climate change. It includes results both from more economically developed countries where polls on this topic are common and nations where there have been few popular surveys on the climate crisis.
“We have never seen anything like this on this scale before,” Cassie Flynn, a climate adviser for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), told a news conference.
The unusual aspect of the survey is not limited to the size of the sample, but also includes the methods used, via mobile video games to gather citizens’ opinions.
Thus, in the place where they usually receive notifications, randomly selected users received questionnaires prepared by the UN on the climate crisis.
“The idea was to be able to reach audiences that are not usually involved in the debate on the climate crisis,” said Flynn, who recalled that the mobile games industry reaches 2.7 billion people around the world, more than cinema and music combined. She said it allowed them to reach people who usually do not respond to surveys such as minors.
The results of the survey will be passed on to all governments, in a year considered key for the implementation of more measures against global warming, which will culminate in November with the Glasgow Climate Summit, in Scotland.
The UN also seeks for public opinions to be taken into account in the recovery strategies from the COVID-19 crisis in which authorities in much of the world are working, given the fundamental impact these plans will have on a possible transition to a greener economy.
The head of UNDP, Achim Steiner, said in a statement that “regardless of its origin, citizens agree that climate change constitutes a global emergency” and are aware of the “scale of action needed, from an agricultural respectful with the climate, to the protection of the nature, and the investment in a green recovery.”
The Vote for Climate – the name given to the survey – “gives countries a clear mandate to adopt comprehensive climate measures with the support of public opinion,” Steiner said.
“The recognition of the climate emergency is much more widespread than previously thought. The results also clearly show that the majority of the population wants strong and comprehensive policy measures,” said Stephen Fisher, professor in the Department of Sociology at Oxford University, which was commissioned to carry out the survey. EFE-EPA