A recent study by Peter Andre, Teodora Boneva, Felix Chopra and Armin Falk demonstrates for the first time that a broad majority of the world’s population supports climate action and is willing to incur a personal cost to fight climate change. The findings, published in Nature Climate Change, are based on a globally representative survey conducted in 125 countries, involving approximately 130,000 individuals.
According to the study, 69 percent of the world’s population would be willing to contribute one percent of their personal income to the fight against climate change – a significant contribution to climate action. An overwhelming majority of 86 percent endorses pro-climate social norms, and 89 percent call for increased political action.
The authors view their results as “tremendously encouraging,” given that the world’s climate is a global public good, and its protection requires the cooperative effort of the world’s population. In countries particularly affected by global warming, the willingness to fight climate change is higher, while in high-income countries the willingness is lower compared to other countries:
Despite these encouraging statistics, the researchers also document that the willingness of fellow citizens to fight climate change is systematically underestimated in every single country. According to the study, the actual proportion of fellow citizens willing to contribute one percent of their income to climate action (69 percent) is underestimated by 26 percentage points globally.
Systematic misperceptions about other people’s willingness to take action against climate change can be an obstacle to the successful fight against climate change. People who systematically underestimate public support for climate action are often less willing to take action themselves, the authors explain.
“Rather than echoing the concerns of a vocal minority who oppose any form of climate action, we need to effectively communicate that the vast majority of people around the world are willing to act on climate change and expect their national government to act,” the researchers write, suggesting that more optimism about climate action could unleash positive dynamics.
The survey was conducted as part of the 2021/2022 Gallup World Poll. The countries included in the Global Climate Change Survey account for 96 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 96 percent of global GDP and 92 percent of the world’s population. To ensure representativeness within countries, each country sample was randomly selected from the resident population aged 15 years and older. Interviews were conducted by telephone (in high-income countries) or in person (in low-income countries). Most country samples include approximately 1,000 respondents, and the total sample includes 129,902 individuals. To ensure comparability across countries and cultures, the survey was professionally translated and extensively tested.
The project website hosted by IZA contains interactive maps and country rankings: https://gccs.iza.org/
The dataset is available for scientific purposes through the IDSC of IZA.