Climate poll finds ‘disconnect’ with leaders in 31 nations

30 November 2023

All eyes are on Dubai this week, as delegates from across the globe head to COP28 for what has already become a United Nations Climate Change Conference steeped in controversy over fossil fuel interests. While there, though, leaders need to consider the voices of thousands of citizens who won’t be there, but whose views have been recorded across 31 countries in a new Ipsos poll on how they experience climate change.

The poll, managed on the Ipsos Global Advisor platform, found that nearly two of every three people don’t think their government is working hard to tackle climate change. The number drops to just 9% approval in Argentina and 19% in Japan. It’s China that gets the highest marks from its citizens for climate action, followed by other Asian nations: Thailand, Singapore, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The responses about climate change come from more than 24,000 people. The Netherlands (44%) received the highest rating of European governments for climate action, with Belgium and France at the lowest ratings with just 22% and 23% of people thinking they’re doing enough, respectively.

The numbers were similar on corporate action, with Sweden, Great Britian, Ireland and the Netherlands leading the way in Europe, while France, Spain, Hungary and Belgium rate poorly for how businesses are responding to the demands of climate action. The roughly 1,000 British citizens participating in the poll gave the strongest response about believing their companies pay lip service to climate action but “greenwash” the effort rather than committing to real change.

And it’s real change that is desperately needed, with the impacts of climate change affecting more people and increasing in severity. There already are severe impacts affecting their nations, according to 57% of people overall. That rises to more than 70% in Latin and South American nations – Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile – as well as among people in Turkey (79%) and South Korea (71%). The people of Sweden registered the lowest percentage on severe impacts, with just one in four saying climate change effects had become severe.

But even in Sweden, more than half of the respondents expect to see a severe climate impact in their area within the next 10 years. In other European nations, that rises to 76% of people in Spain, 75% of Italians, and 71% in France.

Not as many Europeans expect to be displaced and forced to move in the next 25 years. But 41% of those in Spain (higher than the 38% global average) expect relocation by 2048. Overall, it’s those in Turkey, Brazil and India who find it most likely, and those in the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany who think it least likely.

“As the world’s leaders gather at COP, this latest Ipsos research reveals a stark reality—with the majority of people not only witnessing the severe impacts of climate change but bracing for its escalation,” said the Paris-based Lauren Demar, Ipsos Chief Sustainability Officer.

“Our research underscores a critical disconnect,” Demar said. “There is a pervasive sentiment that both governments and businesses are not matching the public’s concerns with equivalent levels of action and transparency.” The poll also finds media outlets are perceived to underestimate the problem and fail (along with other spheres) in providing citizens with enough information.

But to be fair, the majority of people across the 31 countries (59%) don’t think that citizens in their respective homes are taking enough action, either.

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