climate change

Levels of concern about climate change around the world

Do people in other countries worry about climate change? A study from the Reuters Institute and the University of Oxford asked 80,000 people in 40 countries this year, and the results are fairly impressive. Globally, 69% of people consider climate change to be extremely or fairly serious.

In most countries, the number of people who say they’re not concerned is below 3%, with the United States having the highest rate of unconcerned citizens at 12%.

Among the most concerned countries were Chile and Kenya at the top, each with 90% very concerned. This perhaps reflects the problems with droughts and floods that both countries have experienced recently, although vulnerability to climate disaster doesn’t necessarily translate into concern. It didn’t in Australia, despite the fact that the poll was conducted in the middle of the fire season.

One finding that I thought was interesting was that among the least concerned were the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. This is low rates of people who are ‘extremely or very concerned’, and not necessarily lots of sceptics. But they’re not the countries I would have expected, especially the low-lying Netherlands.

The survey also looks at climate concern on a political spectrum, and where people get their news from. Those who are most concerned tend to get their news from television, while the unconcerned get it from the internet. Rates of story sharing online are different too, with very worried people and very unworried people often the most likely to share stories on social media, potentially pushing people towards extremes of opinion.



  1. Globally, 69% of people consider climate change to be extremely or fairly serious.

    That may well be true. But that doesn’t mean they see it as an issue requiring urgent attention. Many surveys have shown that, when people are asked what issues are important to them, they don’t put climate change at – or even near – the top of the list. A recent example was reported in The Times a few days ago: The MRBI poll can be seen here: (Scroll down to ‘Which one of these issues, if any, do you think should be the top priority for the next Government?’).

    The UN’s global ‘My World’ survey is however particularly compelling: As you see, nearly ten million people have responded so far and they put ‘Action taken on climate change’ last of sixteen listed concerns.

    1. How you frame the question is very important. That Times report doesn’t ask if people support action, it asks if climate change should be the top priority. Anyone who reads that and concludes that nobody wants action on climate change is likely to be looking for excuses not to do anything.

      Not sure what the question posed in the UN survey was, but if I lived in a country without universal access to running water, education or healthcare, I would not tick climate change as my first priority either.

      1. Anyone who reads the MRBI survey and concludes that nobody wants action on climate change has misread it. It unambiguously found that few (only 8%) of respondents regard action on climate change as a top priority. Very different.

        Respondents to the UN survey are asked to put the sixteen issues into order of importance. Nearly all respondents, irrespective of whether or not they had access to running water etc., put action on climate change at the bottom of their list. Essentially none put it at or even near the top. Scroll down for detail.

        PS: my reply to you on the ‘Ten developing countries’ thread has gone into Moderation – probably because I included too many links. Can you release it or shall I repost it – maybe with some of the links either cut out or in a separate post?

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