According to a poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, 72% of those polled feared climate change would harm them personally at some point in their lives.
The survey covered more than 16,000 people in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region and represented people’s views on the threat of climate change, their willingness to make personal sacrifices to deal with it. and their perceptions of international efforts to curb global warming.
The poll was carried out in the spring, but its publication comes after a series of extreme weather events – ranging from devastating flooding in Germany, China and the United States to suffocating heat waves in the northern hemisphere – have struck several continents in recent months.
Most countries have seen a sharp increase in the number of people who have expressed “great concern” that climate change will affect them personally in their lifetime.
In Germany, for example, 18% of respondents said they were “very concerned” in 2015, up from 37% this year. Australia saw a comparable increase, with 34% of people saying they were “very concerned” about climate change, an increase of 16 points from 2015.
Only Japan has seen a significant drop in the number of those very concerned about climate change. Pew researchers found an 8 point decrease, to 26%, from 2015.
In the United States, those views have not changed significantly since 2015, they said.
Public concern over climate change will be a key factor in negotiations between nations at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in November, where world leaders are expected to set aggressive emissions targets to tackle global warming. climate in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
The Pew report found that 80 percent of those polled were ready to make changes in the way they live and work to help reduce the impacts of climate change. Reviews of the current efforts were more mixed, however, with just 56 percent of people responding that society is doing a “very” or “fairly good” job in dealing with global warming.
The survey also revealed ideological differences in people’s willingness to make personal sacrifices to tackle climate change. Those on the left were generally more willing to adjust their lifestyles to reduce the impacts of global warming, with 94% of those identifying with the ideological left in the United States saying they would be willing to do “a little bit. “or” a lot of “changes in the way they work and live, against 45% who identify with the ideological right.
Similar differences were found in Australia, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, although the biggest ideological gap is that of the Americans.
The survey respondents covered the United States, Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the ‘Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
In the study, young people tended to be more concerned about global warming than older adults. In the United States, 71% of people aged 18 to 29 were “very” or “somewhat concerned” that climate change would affect them personally in their lifetime, compared with 52% of those aged 65 and over. more.
Similar differences between age groups were observed in Australia, New Zealand, France and Canada. The largest age gap was seen in Sweden, where 65% of 18-29 year olds expressed concern about being personally impacted by climate change, compared to just 25% of adults aged 65 and over.
Young activists have led climate protests around the world and pushed leaders to take more aggressive action to tackle global warming. But while young people are an integral part of the solution, they are also among the most affected by climate change.
A separate preprint study under review by the journal Lancet Planetary Health has linked government inaction on climate change to psychological distress and climate anxiety among young people. In the survey, which involved 10,000 children and young people in 10 countries, 74% of those polled said they thought “the future is frightening”.
Forty-five percent of the young people in the study said that climate anxiety and distress affects their daily lives and functioning, and nearly two-thirds of those polled said governments were not doing enough to protect them from harm. climate change.
“It’s shocking to hear how so many young people around the world feel betrayed by those who are supposed to protect them”, Liz Marks, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Bath in the UK and co- Lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Now is the time to face the truth, listen to young people and take urgent action on climate change. “