A recent survey of over 10,000 citizens in 76 countries across five continents concluded that the global public want their leaders to act to prevent further climate change.
In a one-of-a-kind survey, the World Wide Views on Climate and Energy (WWViews on Climate and Energy) engaged over 10,000 citizens in 97 debates in 76 countries across five continents earlier this year, in an effort to give voice to the opinions of the millions of citizens who are concerned with the environment and climate change, but have no clear voice to make themselves heard. The initiative’s aim was to introduce “the views of citizens into the negotiation process and surrounding debates” allowing policymakers an opportunity to know what the informed public want.
WWViews on Climate Change and Energy initiated 97 debates around the world, inviting thousands of citizens to participate. Each participant was provided balanced information on the issues, and allowed to discuss the issue with fellow citizens and vote individually on questions presented to them.
All of this took place on June 6, 2015, and the report is now in, with one very clear conclusion:
“…there is strong public support for political action in order to agree on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.”
“We were delighted to co-initiate this debate and citizen consultation and bring the voice of the ordinary woman and man into the climate negotiations,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, on the WWViews on Climate and Energy. “Many cities, companies and NGOs are voicing their support for a transformational agreement in Paris. The view of citizens is also crystal clear – they see the threats and they see the opportunities: the vast majority wants 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.”
The first two questions asked sum up much of what follows (which can be read in full by way of the various resources provided by WWViews on Climate and Energy):
- How concerned are you about the impacts of climate change?
- How urgently should the world react to tackle climate change?
A total of 69.5% of respondents from developed countries were “Very concerned” and 28.87% “Moderately concerned,” whereas in developing countries, 79.94% of respondents claimed they were “Very concerned.” Conversely, the second question received a reverse in priority for its first two answers:
- The world should decide in Paris to do whatever it takes to limit temperatures exceeding 2 degrees Celsius warming
- The world should take ambitious action, but not whatever it takes
70.19% of developed country respondents confirmed they thought that their leaders should “do whatever it takes” at Paris, whereas only 61.89% of developing country respondents agreed, with 26.32% of developing respondents preferring “ambitious action, but not whatever it takes.”
The questions often returned to the actions citizens believed should be taken in Paris by their countries’ leaders: 67.5% of all respondents said that there should be “a global long-term goal for zero emissions at the end of this century” signed at Paris, and that “it should be legally binding for all countries.” Furthermore, 71.26% of all respondents thought that there should be a Paris agreement for “national short-term goals” and that “it should be legally binding for all countries.”
Maybe the most interesting finding from the survey was the answers and their regional spread to the question, “Should your country take measure to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions?”
While 79% of the all the respondents believe their countries should take responsibility, it should come as very little surprise that Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) are more supportive than the global average, considering they are made up of countries facing the most immediate threat of climate change — ie, global sea level rise.
“We are very excited that World Wide Views on Climate and Energy is being organized and happy to collaborate with such an important initiative,” Figueres continued. “Bringing forward the views and the voices of citizens from across the globe can only contribute to a positive new universal climate agreement in Paris in December. In supporting this unique and novel approach, we believe we are also making an important contribution to Article 6 of the Convention as it relates to education and public awareness.”
World Wide Views on Climate and Energy is co-initiated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DBT), Missions Publiques (MP), and the French National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP), with the support of the French Government, host of the upcoming COP21.