Public backs climate change action across the globe, massive U.N. poll finds

LONDON – The largest global poll of its kind has found that almost two-thirds of people believe climate change will remain a global emergency despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The Popular climate vote, The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Oxford University, published on Wednesday, surveyed 1.2 million people in 50 countries.

Overall, 64 percent of respondents agreed that climate change is an urgent emergency. The survey also found a significant age gap, with the majority of young people being more concerned about climate change.

“The results of the survey clearly show that urgent climate protection measures are widely supported by people all over the world,” said UNDP administrator Achim Steiner in a statement.

“But beyond that, the survey shows how people want their policymakers to manage the crisis,” he said.

Taking an unconventional approach and contacting mobile game websites and apps, the survey found that 70 percent of young people identified climate change as a global emergency, compared with 58 percent of adults over 60.

Since 2018, millions of students from New Zealand to New York have struck and demonstrated to call for global action against climate change.

The Fridays for the Future movement, which began as a solitary demonstration by Swedish teenage Greta Thunberg, grew rapidly and millions of students took to the streets to put climate change high on the agenda of leaders.

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In many participating countries, the survey was the first large-scale public opinion poll ever conducted on the subject.

In the UK, companies paying for pollution had high levels of support, while the majority of respondents in the US supported renewable energy sources.

The survey found that investing in green workplaces and more climate-friendly farming techniques was popular in Indonesia and Egypt, but overall fewer people elsewhere supported a plant-based diet.

“The peoples’ climate change vote has provided a treasure trove of public opinion data that we have never seen before,” said Professor Stephen Fisher of Oxford University. “The recognition of the climate emergency is more widespread than previously thought.”

Young protesters hold placards as they take part in a protest against climate change organized by Youth Strike 4 Climate, taking place opposite the Houses of Parliament in London in 2019.Ben Stansall / AFP via Getty Images

On Monday, United States Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned leaders that the world was facing not only a Covid-19 emergency, but “existential threats” to climate and biodiversity.

Speaking to the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos Agenda meeting, he said one crisis could inform another and called on the Covid-19 recovery plans to also help “end our war on nature, avert climate disasters and our planet restore “.

In the United States – the world’s second largest carbon emitter after China – America joined the global climate pact signed in Paris in 2015 just hours after President Joe Biden took office. Biden also canceled approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, symbolizing a move away from fossil fuels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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