Growing global concern over the climate is a message to world leaders

This week, Glocalities and Global Citizen released the deepest and widest-ranging study ever of what people think about current environmental and climate hazards. The results? That 78% of the world’s people (up from 71% in 2014), across all demographic groups, increasingly feel the collective threat of human-caused damage to the planet.

Through 247,722 interviews, conducted over a six-year period and in 20 countries, the researchers measured people’s values ​​on environmental concerns and climate change. Concerns about human-caused damage to the planet have been seen across all age groups, genders, and educational and socio-cultural backgrounds, with climate change ranking as the most important global environmental concern of our time, followed by water and air pollution.

Worryingly, North America is the only continent where environmental concerns have declined since 2019, despite growing concern among young people. This could be the result of the growing polarization between the values ​​of political groups on this subject, particularly in the United States.

Other findings include that people who care about the planet have more trust in the United Nations than people who don’t (48% vs. 33%), and have more confidence in science than people who don’t. are not concerned (77% against 63%) . Those affected trust the United Nations (48%) more than the government (34%) – a result that highlights an opportunity for world leaders to work together to solve the climate crisis.

Accordingly, this research supports Global Citizen’s calls for world leaders to take decisive action to tackle the climate crisis at the upcoming G20 summit in Rome and COP26 in Glasgow. Remember that right now, according to a recent UNFCCC report, the world is on track for 2.7°C warming by the end of the century, putting us farther away from the 1.5°C target that scientists and experts say is necessary to avoid it. catastrophic effects of climate change.

As the world’s biggest polluters, G20 countries must agree to urgent action to keep global warming below 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures. To do this, they must reduce their fair share of emissions to enable the world to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. Achieving this will require phasing out fossil fuels and ending their subsidies, stopping the construction of coal-fired power plants, protecting 30% of the planet’s land and seas by 2030, and more. G20 governments must also ensure a just transition to support the livelihoods and well-being of ordinary people and communities who currently depend on fossil fuels to meet their needs.

Moreover, the world’s richest economies have a responsibility to finally deliver on their promise to provide $100 billion each year in climate finance for developing countries. At present, the plan to reach $100 billion for developing countries by 2023 is too slow – this promise must materialize much sooner, and any shortfall must be made up so that in total 500 billion dollars are dedicated to climate finance by 2025. Half of this financing for climate change adaptation in the most vulnerable countries must be allocated to adaptation, and the other half to stopping climate change. climate change.

The study’s findings of a sense of growing levels of collectively felt threat are giving growing momentum for climate action across the world’s population, and should be heard and responded to by world leaders at G20 meetings. next week and at the COP.

The full report can be downloaded from

Teresa H. Sadler