80% of citizens see threats and opportunities of climate change: new global survey

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11 June 2015

LONDON: Almost 80% of global citizens are “very concerned” about the impacts of climate change and want their own countries to take measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions “even if many other countries do not”. More than two thirds of those surveyed believe climate change is also an “opportunity to improve our quality of life”.

The findings are part of the largest ever citizen consultation on climate change, led by more than 100 partners of the World Wide Views Alliance (WWV), which involved 10,000 citizens across 75 countries.

“This is a fascinating and well-timed survey ahead of COP21,” comments Damian RyanHead of International PolicyThe Climate Group. “It underlines that the world’s citizens, importantly in both developed and developing countries, support bold climate action because of the opportunities and benefits it will bring to their lives.

“This should give governments the confidence that their populations have their back in delivering an ambitious new climate deal in Paris. It also sends an unequivocal message to negotiators that they need to pivot from a focus on perceived burdens of a deal to the real opportunities that it can unleash.”


Companies already know Paris will be a pivotal step to building a new, prosperous future. In our own ‘climate barometer’ survey, last month businesses expressed 33.2% confidence in delivering a strong outcome at COP21 and in global actions toward the low carbon economy. Interestingly, governments expressed an even higher confidence – as high as 38.7%.

The WWV consultation shows citizens are well aware that climate change is a global problem that requires a global answer. About 70% of them thinks climate change is “primarily a global responsibility” – with almost half believing it to be the “responsibility of citizens and civil society initiatives”, and less than one third agreeing it is a duty of national governments.

More than 70% of the people surveyed also think the outcomes of the UN climate negotiations since 1992 have not done enough to tackle climate change. More than half of the citizens demand subsidization for low carbon energy, and almost 90% of them support a carbon tax – with the majority asking for it in all countries, but with gradually increasing costs in countries that do not reduce their emissions.


Education is another fundamental tool to solving climate disruption: 78% of the respondents indicate it as the most important instrument to reducing levels of GHG emissions, followed by protection of tropical forests at 41%. Almost half believe we should stop the exploration for all fossil fuel reserves.

Almost all respondents think climate change should be a national priority, but they are split in half over how effectively their respective governments are dealing with it. A promising result is that 79% believe their own country should take measures to reduce GHG emissions even if many other countries do not.

A majority 68% believe a Paris agreement should include a global long-term goal for zero emissions at the end of this century, and that it should be legally binding for all countries. An overwhelming 92% also think countries should agree in Paris to update their climate action commitments every five years, with all countries reporting their emissions and reporting on the progress of their contributions, with the UN called to review them.

“Many cities, companies and NGOs are voicing their support for a transformational agreement in Paris,” commented Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “The view of citizens is also crystal clear: they see the threats and they see the opportunities.”

The vast majority want action now, and they want action that is sustained over the long term to bend the emissions down to zero by the end of the century, along with support for developing countries for their efforts.”

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