The votes are in from a massive climate change survey that covered 50 countries with over half of the world’s population, with the majority of respondents calling for wide-ranging action to address the climate crisis.
Organised by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and University of Oxford, the Peoples’ Climate Vote was conducted from 7 October to 4 December 2020.
In a clever innovation, poll questions were distributed in 17 languages through popular mobile gaming apps. When a person played one of the games – such as Words with Friends, Angry Birds, Dragon City or Subway Surfers – the poll would replace the traditional in-game advertisements.
This approach led to a unique and random sample of 1.22 million people of all genders, ages and educational backgrounds. It also meant that the Peoples’ Climate Vote captured opinions from people who are sometimes hard to reach in traditional polling, including more than half a million people under the age of 18 – a key constituency on climate change and one that is typically too young to vote in regular elections.
Oxford polling experts weighted the huge sample to make it representative of the age, gender, and education population profiles of the countries in the survey, resulting in small margins of error of +/- 2%.
The UNDP will share detailed results – broken down by age, gender and education level – with governments around the world. In many participating countries, it is the first time that large-scale polling of public opinion about climate change has ever been conducted.
It’s a pivotal year for countries’ climate action commitments, with a key round of negotiations set to take place at the UN Climate Summit in November 2021 in Glasgow, UK.
The survey asked respondents if climate change was a global emergency and whether they supported 18 key climate policies across six action areas: economy, energy, transport, food & farms, nature and protecting people.
Results show that people often want broad climate policies beyond those currently in place.
For example, in eight of the 10 survey countries with the highest power-sector emissions, majorities backed more renewable energy. Nine out of 10 of the countries with the most urbanised populations backed more use of clean electric cars and buses, or bicycles.
“The results of the survey clearly illustrate that urgent climate action has broad support amongst people around the globe, across nationalities, age, gender and education level,” says UNDP administrator Achim Steiner.
“But more than that, the poll reveals how people want their policymakers to tackle the crisis. From climate-friendly farming to protecting nature and investing in a green recovery from COVID-19, the survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate.
“It signals ways in which countries can move forward with public support as we work together to tackle this enormous challenge.”
Among the most popular policies that garnered wide-ranging support were conserving forests and land (54% public support), more solar, wind and renewable power (53%), adopting climate-friendly farming techniques (52%) and investing more in green businesses and jobs (50%).
“The survey…has shown us that mobile gaming networks can not only reach a lot of people, they can engage different kinds of people in a diverse group of countries,” says Stephen Fisher, from Oxford’s Department of Sociology.
“The Peoples’ Climate Vote has delivered a treasure trove of data on public opinion that we’ve never seen before. Recognition of the climate emergency is much more widespread than previously thought.”
The full report is available here.
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