Climate 05 Mar 2024

Why global support for climate action is ‘systematically underestimated’

Person holding cardboard sign that reads "We need a change"

A recent study published in Nature Climate Change sheds light on the global perception of climate action and the willingness of individuals to contribute to combating climate change. The research, based on a survey of nearly 130,000 people across 125 countries, reveals a striking trend: while there is widespread public support for climate action, people tend to underestimate the commitment of their peers.

The study found that an overwhelming majority of respondents, 86%, support pro-climate social norms, and 89% desire more aggressive actions from their governments to address climate change. Moreover, 69% express a willingness to contribute 1% of their income towards climate change mitigation efforts. However, despite this enthusiasm, respondents consistently underestimate the willingness of others to take similar action, creating what researchers term a "perception gap."

Interestingly, the study suggests that support for climate action is more pronounced in poorer, hotter, and more vulnerable countries. In contrast, richer nations, although still supportive, exhibit slightly lower levels of willingness to contribute financially. The researchers attribute the perception gap to media portrayal and a focus on climate change sceptics, emphasizing the need for more accurate communication to harness global support for climate action.

You can read the full study here.

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