How Much Do People Care About Climate Change? We Surveyed 80,000 People In 40 Countries To Find Out

How Much Do People Care About Climate Change? We Surveyed 80,000 People In 40 Countries To Find Out ra2 studio / shutterstock

New survey results from 40 countries shows that climate change matters to most people. In the vast majority of countries, fewer than 3% said climate change was not serious at all.

We carried out this research as part of the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute annual Digital News Reports. More than 80,000 people were surveyed online in January and February of this year.

Almost seven in ten think climate change is “a very, or extremely serious, problem”, but the results show notable country differences. Lack of concern is far higher in the US (12%) as well as in Sweden (9%), Greta Thunberg’s home country. Despite disastrous bush fires at the time of our fieldwork, 8% of respondents in Australia report that climate change is not serious at all. These groups with low levels of concern tend to be right wing and older.

Four of the five countries showing the highest levels of concern (85-90%) were from the global south, namely Chile, Kenya, South Africa and the Philippines. However, in countries with lower levels of internet penetration, our online survey samples over-represent people who are more affluent and educated.

How Much Do People Care About Climate Change? We Surveyed 80,000 People In 40 Countries To Find Out Almost everyone in Chile and Kenya thinks climate change is serious. But that’s not the case in Scandinavia and the Low Countries. Reuters Institute Digital News Report, Author provided

Perhaps surprisingly, the five countries with the lowest levels of concern are all in Western Europe. In Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands, only around half (or less) think that climate change is a serious problem.

It is the first time that results from survey questions on climate change have been included in the Reuters Institute’s reports, so it is difficult to draw out historical trends. However, results in 2015 from the Pew Center based on surveys in 40 countries (with different questions and countries to those in our survey) found that 54% of those surveyed thought that climate change was “a very serious” problem.


 Get The Latest From InnerSelf


So it looks like concern for climate change may be rising globally. There is certainly strong evidence that it is increasing in some countries. In the US, in November 2019 two in three Americans (66%) said they were at least “somewhat worried” about global warming, an increase of 10 percentage points over the past five years.

In the UK, data from the CAST centre at Cardiff University showed that in 2019 levels of “worry” about climate change were at their highest recorded point. Extreme weather events, media reporting and wider publicity were mentioned by respondents as reasons for their increase in concern.

In our survey, across countries and markets, individuals who identify as left-wing tend to report higher levels of concern. This finding is even more visible in more polarised societies such as the US where 89% of those who self-identify on the left note that climate change is serious, compared to only 18% of those who self-identify on the right.

How Much Do People Care About Climate Change? We Surveyed 80,000 People In 40 Countries To Find Out Right-wingers tend to take climate change less seriously – especially in the US and Sweden. Reuters Institute Digital News Report, Author provided

We also find a similar divide in Sweden. As Sweden is widely considered one of the world’s most progressive nations, these results surprised us and we asked Martin Hultman, a researcher in climate denialism at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, what to make of them.

“These figures do not surprise me”, he told us in an email. “Since 2010, the leadership of the far-right political party Sweden Democrats has been against all types of policies to tackle climate change, including the Paris Agreement.”

“And we know that the spread of climate change denial ideas and rhetoric is widespread in Sweden – not least when digitally-born far-right media sites spread conspiracy theories about Greta Thunberg.”

TV news still dominates

Across all countries, people say they pay most attention to climate news on television (35%). Online news sites of major news organisations are the second most popular news source (15%), followed by specialised outlets covering climate issues (13%), then alternative sources such as social media and blogs (9%).

Figures from the UK, US and Australia are broadly in line with these preferences. Printed newspapers and radio are way down, with only around 5% saying each was the source they paid most attention to. In Chile, where the concern is high, specialised outlets covering climate issues (24%) as well as alternative sources such as social media (17%) are nearly as popular as television (26%).

The differences in climate news consumption are also visible among different age groups. Younger generations, more specifically the so-called Generation Z (aged 18-24), are more likely to report paying attention to alternative sources on climate change (17%) as well as TV (23%) and online news sites from major news organisations (16%). Older people, however, rely more heavily on TV (42%) and use less of the online news sites (12%) or alternative sources such as social media (5%).

Respondents from both sides of the political spectrum criticise the media for either being too doom-laden, or not bold enough, in their coverage of climate change. That said, our survey shows that almost half of our respondents (47%) think that news media generally do a good job of informing them about climate change, and 19% think that they do a bad job.

However, those who have low levels of concern are much more inclined to say that the news media are doing a bad job (46%). This might indicate a lack of trust in climate change coverage or a more general loss of confidence in the news media.The Conversation

About The Author

Simge Andı, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford and James Painter, Research Associate, Reuters Institute, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future

by Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann
1786634295How climate change will affect our political theory—for better and worse. Despite the science and the summits, leading capitalist states have not achieved anything close to an adequate level of carbon mitigation. There is now simply no way to prevent the planet breaching the threshold of two degrees Celsius set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What are the likely political and economic outcomes of this? Where is the overheating world heading? Available On Amazon

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

by Jared Diamond
0316409138Adding a psychological dimension to the in-depth history, geography, biology, and anthropology that mark all of Diamond's books, Upheaval reveals factors influencing how both whole nations and individual people can respond to big challenges. The result is a book epic in scope, but also his most personal book yet. Available On Amazon

Global Commons, Domestic Decisions: The Comparative Politics of Climate Change

by Kathryn Harrison et al
0262514311Comparative case studies and analyses of the influence of domestic politics on countries' climate change policies and Kyoto ratification decisions. Climate change represents a “tragedy of the commons” on a global scale, requiring the cooperation of nations that do not necessarily put the Earth's well-being above their own national interests. And yet international efforts to address global warming have met with some success; the Kyoto Protocol, in which industrialized countries committed to reducing their collective emissions, took effect in 2005 (although without the participation of the United States). Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

FROM THE EDITORS

InnerSelf Newsletter: September 6, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
We see life through the lenses of our perception. Stephen R. Covey wrote: “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.” So this week, we take a look at some…
InnerSelf Newsletter: August 30, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
The roads we are travelling these days are as old as the times, yet are new for us. The experiences we are having are as old as the times, yet they also are new for us. The same goes for the…
When The Truth Is So Terrible It Hurts, Take Action
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com
Amidst all the horrors taking place these days, I am inspired by the rays of hope that shine through. Ordinary people standing up for what is right (and against what is wrong). Baseball players,…
When Your Back Is Against The Wall
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I love the internet. Now I know a lot of people have a lot of bad things to say about it, but I love it. Just like I love the people in my life -- they are not perfect, but I love them anyway.
InnerSelf Newsletter: August 23, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone probably can agree that we are living in strange times... new experiences, new attitudes, new challenges. But we can be encouraged in remembering that everything is always in flux,…