A review of recent public opinion polls reveals that the public, when asked only about climate change, will agree overall that it’s a serious problem that demands action. When asked to rank climate change against other concerns, however, it comes well down the list. The implication is that the public really isn’t worried about climate change. Certainly the high level of public support that would be needed to implement an aggressive and highly disruptive transition to low-carbon energy, such as that called for by the Paris Agreement, does not exist. The climate change lobby is in fact losing the public support battle.
As illustrated in the inset, politicians pay a lot more attention to the results of climate change opinion polls than they do to climate change science. And since politicians are responsible for setting climate change policy a review of what climate change polls tell them becomes important. In this post I review the results of climate change polls from four countries – the US, the UK, Canada and Australia – along with two global polls. We begin with the global polls.
The Pew global poll
This poll was conducted in 2015 by the Pew Research Center, and republished in April this year. Responses were received from 43,435 people in 40 countries. The three main questions posed and the responses to them are summarized below:
Q32. In your view, is global climate change a very serious problem, somewhat serious, not too serious or not a problem?
Majorities in all 40 nations polled say climate change is a serious problem, and a global median of 54% believe it is a very serious problem.
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