Data Dive: How people around the world feel about climate change

In five points, we uncover opinions on everything from anxiety about severe weather to who bears responsibility for fixing ‘global boiling.

The author(s)
  • Melissa Dunne Public Affairs
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It’s happening again.

After people everywhere from Australia to India to America saw floods, fires and furious storms wreak havoc in 2022, Mother Earth is in for another devastating weather year.

The frequency and intensity of climate-change related disasters has become so commonplace it looks like some are now seeing it as the new normal.

But what’s occurring is far from normal.

June 2023 was the hottest June ever recorded since record-keeping began in 1850, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

And as summer in the Northern Hemisphere wears on, the records just keep melting away.

July 2023 was recently declared the hottest month ever recorded, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

 And while data for August is still being calculated, it’s been yet another month filled with both oppressive heat and deadly wildfires. 

Forget global warming, it’s been so sweaty lately the head of the United Nations warns we’re now in the era of “global boiling.”

Below, we look at what recent Ipsos Global Advisor polling reveals about how worried people are about climate change and what should be done about it.

  1. Drastic times may call for drastic measures
    There’s no silver bullet, but the vast majority are open to seeing less plastic.

    Plastic is everywhere and everything from the making to the disposing of it emits greenhouse gases which ultimately contributes to climate change, points out the Center for International Environmental Law.

    Our polling across 34 countries in August/September 2022 finds strong support for a global treaty that would ban unnecessary single-use plastics (75%, on average across 34 countries), as well as for a ban on plastics that can’t be easily recycled (77%).

    “It’s not unusual to see alignment on attitudes of people around the world on certain sustainability issues, but the fact that so many are aligned on the need for strong, co-ordinated intervention on single-use plastics is a little surprising,” says Stuart Clark, Director, Public Affairs, Ipsos in Australia. “It stands out as an issue that many feel is both urgent and can be tackled successfully if we work together.”Ipsos | Data dive | climate change

  2. The young will inherit the (boiling) earth
    Many are clearly worried about plastics in general and, more specifically, some are also clearly concerned about the possible impact the changing climate could have on their lives in the years ahead.

    Our polling conducted during the sweltering summer of 2022 found Gen Zers and younger Millennials, in particular, are anxious about the possibility of being displaced from their home as a result of climate change at some point between 2022-2047.Ipsos | Data dive | climate change

  3. Inflation continues to loom larger
    Even amid record-breaking heat, cost-of-living concerns have more people hot under the collar these days.

    Despite the wild weather, worry about climate change and threats against the environment didn’t budge year over year. The extraordinary seems to have become ordinary.

    Almost one in five (18%, on average across 29 countries) considered climate change a top concern for their country in August 2023 (versus 17% who said the same in August 2022). And 8% worried about threats against the environment in August 2023 (vs. 9% in August 2022).Ipsos | Data dive | climate change

  4. We’re all in this together
    While climate change is just one of many issues, almost three in four (71%, on average across 29 countries) believe if everyone made small changes in their everyday lives this could have a big impact on tackling climate change.

    Yet, as our Earth Day 2023 polling finds, that doesn’t mean people are letting governments and companies off the hook.

    Almost three in five (59%) say that if businesses don’t act now to combat climate change then they are failing their employees and customers.

    And 62% believe developed countries should pay more to solve the problem, with Peruvians and Colombians most in favour of the idea.Ipsos | Data dive | climate change

  5. The future’s not ours to see … or is it?Back in 2019 few would’ve predicted a global pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine and soaring prices were just over the horizon. The future is impossible to perfectly forecast.

    Yet, after a series of serious weather events in 2022, 57% on average globally predicted (likely correctly) that 2023 will be the hottest year on record. And after coming off a particularly brutally hot summer last year, it makes sense that people Spain were the most likely to predict this year will be the hottest yet.  Ipsos | Data dive | climate change

The author(s)
  • Melissa Dunne Public Affairs