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The year 2021 marks a crucial juncture for charting the future of climate action. And for this all eyes were set on two events in particular – the G20 Summit followed by the 26th UN Climate Change Conference or COP26. Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Rome and Glasgow from 29 October to 2 November and attended both these important summits. The Group of 20 made up of 19 countries and the European Union, account for over 80% of global GDP, 60% of the world’s population, and more than 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions.In the run-up to the G20 Summit and COP26 the UNDP and the University of Oxford have publishing the G20 Peoples’ Climate Vote. According to this report, on average 70 per cent of young people in G20 countries believe that we are in a global climate emergency. Adults are also not far behind, with 65 percent overall believing the same. The G20 Peoples’ Climate Vote polled over 689,000 people across 18 of the G20 countries from October 2020 until June 2021 focussed on various aspects of the issue of climate change including Climate Finance Policy, Cutting emissions and climate adaptation policy. In today’s show we will discuss the significance of public perception on the issue of climate change and how will it impact the decision making process on actions which need to be taken to tackle this challenge.

G20 Peoples’ Climate Vote:

  • The world will not be able to tackle the climate crisis without bold action by the world’s largest economies.
  • The Group of 20 (G20), made up of 19 countries and the European Union, account for over 80% of global gross domestic product (GDP), 60% of the world’s population, and more than 75% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • The G20 countries also have immense impacts across sectors, including 90% of global vehicle sales, 75% of the global potential for renewables between 2010 and 2030, 60% of the world’s agricultural land, and 80% of world’s trade in agricultural products. Given the breadth of their impact, the actions that G20 governments take to tackle the climate crisis will be critical to the future of the planet.

The G20 and the Climate Emergency:

  • On average, across the G20 countries surveyed, 65% of adults thought that climate change is a global emergency, compared with 35% who disagreed.
  • Perception of a climate emergency was higher among under-18s, at 70%. This indicates broad public support for G20 leaders to take urgent action and step up on climate ambition, while also suggesting that this will continue to strengthen in the years to come.

Public Opinion and Climate Finance Policy:

  • There was majority support for more funding of green businesses and jobs in fourteen out of the eighteen G20 countries surveyed, with the greatest support among adults in the United Kingdom (74%), followed by Germany, Australia, and Canada (all 68%). Among under-18s, support was highest in Australia (73%).
  • In many countries, making companies pay for their pollution was more popular among adults than under-18s. In Japan, Mexico and the Republic of Korea there was a stark difference between these two groups (42% vs 31%, 43% vs 36%, and 41% vs 36%, respectively), indicating more public education is needed.

Public Opinion and Cutting Emissions:

  • Stopping burning polluting fuels was a popular policy in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, and France, with majority support among both under-18s and adults in these countries.
  • There were much lower levels of support elsewhere, with just 30% of adults in India and Saudi Arabia supporting this policy, compared to 36% and 32% of under-18s in these countries, respectively.
  • Promoting renewable energy was generally a more popular policy among under-18s than adults, with a generational divide as high as thirteen percentage points in the United States. Support for this policy from under-18s was also high in emerging economies, such as with 64% for Brazil and Turkey, and 62% for Argentina.
  • Similarly, there was higher under-18 support for electric vehicles and bicycles, with ten percentage point differences in Australia and Italy, suggestive of coming shifts in public demand.
  • Reducing energy waste received mixed support overall, and some significant levels of intergenerational differences. For example, in Germany 59% of adults supported this policy as opposed to 44% of under-18s, while Russia saw the opposite outcome: 32% of adults compared to 38% of under-18s.
  • Support among adults and under-18s on policies such as conserving forests and land to address climate change varied depending on the country.
  • It was ten percentage points higher among adults than under-18s in the United Kingdom, for example, whereas in Brazil, Russia and India it was higher among under-18s than adults, ten percent, nine percent and nine percent higher, respectively. Public Opinion and Climate Adaptation Policy
  • There were majority levels of support among adults in twelve of the G20 countries surveyed for building more resilient infrastructure to protect people and property from extreme weather events.
  • The policy attracted greater support in adults than under-18s, such as for the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Germany.
  • Installing more early warning systems to support disaster preparedness was a relatively popular policy in general and featured higher levels of public support among under-18s than adults in all countries. Support among under-18s was eight percentage points higher than for adults in both France and the United States, and six for Brazil and Turkey.
  • There were surprisingly higher levels of support among under-18s than adults for increasing access to insurance, which can help families, businesses, and communities rebuild after extreme weather events. Under-18s backed this policy with support higher than among adults in the United States (where there was a fourteen percentage point difference), Italy (twelve), and Brazil, France and Japan (where the generational gap was eleven points).