Concern about climate change shrinks globally as threat grows, survey shows

October 28, 2022

Fewer than half of those questioned in global poll believe climate change poses a 'very serious threat'

Widespread drought

Widespread drought that dried up large parts of Europe, the United States and China this past summer was made 20 times more likely by climate change, according to a study. Photograph: Steven Senne/AP

Concerns about climate change shrank across the world last year, with fewer than half of those questioned in a new survey believing it posed a “very serious threat” to their countries over the next 20 years.

Only 20% of people in China, the world’s biggest polluter, said they believed that climate change was a very serious threat, down 3 percentage points from the last survey by Gallup World Risk Poll in 2019.

Globally, the figure fell by 1.5 percentage points to 48.7% in 2021. The survey was based on more than 125,000 interviews in 121 countries.

The Covid-19 pandemic and concerns about more immediate issues such as health and livelihoods may partly explain the drop, according to the survey’s authors.

Regions facing the highest ecological threats are on average the least concerned about climate change, with only 27.4% of those in the Middle East and north Africa and 39.1% of those in south Asia concerned about the risks.

But despite the shrinking concern, the ecological bill of climate change is growing globally.

A study of 228 countries and territories by the Institute for Economics and Peace found that 750 million people globally are now affected by undernourishment, and that climate change, rising inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine will all exacerbate food insecurity in the future.

The study also showed that more than 1.4 billion people in 83 countries face extreme “water stress,” defined as more than 20% of the population not having access to clean drinking water.

Several European countries are expected to experience critical clean water shortages by 2040, including Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal, the report found, while most of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and north Africa will be affected.

The findings come ahead of the next round of global climate talks when countries meet in Egypt in November for Cop27.

“Negotiators at Cop27 need to consider the ways in which climate change is exacerbating the impacts of ecological threats … and how the international community can mitigate them,” Steve Killelea, the founder of the Sydney-based institute, said.



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