COP26 - Myth-busting the global climate of opinion

In a continued quest to bring the voice of global citizens to the debate surrounding climate change and sustainability, Jessica Long and Pippa Bailey were invited to present in the Blue Zone at COP26 in Glasgow, where they shared Ipsos data from across the globe to help bust three myths.

The author(s)
  • Jessica Long Head of ESG Consulting Practice, Strategy3, UK
  • Pippa Bailey Climate Change & Sustainability Practice, UK
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The first ‘myth vs. fact’ looked to understand whether the very real and present challenge of Covid-19, with the associated personal and financial hardships, has eclipsed concern about the environment. Actually, Covid-19 has not dented climate concern, in fact the most recent data from our 2021 Global Trends Report shows that 83% of global citizens agree that “we are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly” (an increase from 2020). We can even see that the climate emergency is the number 1 value that unites the planet and 71% (Earth Day Survey 2020) think the climate crisis is just as important as COVID in the long-term.

The second ‘myth vs. fact’ was that “younger people are more worried about climate change than older people”. This is a myth because concern about climate change is high across all generational cohorts (70%+). What does set younger citizens apart is that they are angrier about climate change (and so they should be), but they also tend to be a little more fatalistic, with one in five young people globally (<35 yrs) believing it is too late to fix climate change versus only one in ten of those aged 50+ yrs (Ipsos' Global Advisor 2021). This fatalism is likely to be driven in part by a higher level of exposure of younger people to more negative and alarmist communications about climate change. But we do see that those aged 18-24 yrs are more likely to be putting pressure on decision bodies through protests, petitions and boycotts.

The final ‘myth vs. fact’ uncovered whether “the citizen Say-Do gap is the biggest challenge; (i.e.: people know what to do but aren’t willing to pull their weight)”. The data shows that people think they are doing enough already, and we observe very little change in the behaviours that they could take to reduce their own contribution to climate change over the past 7 years. Alongside this we also see the challenge of the ‘believe-true gap’ – that global citizens overestimate low impact changes and underestimate high impact changes. They also don’t believe government or private companies are doing enough. People therefore feel like they are doing enough already but need more help in understanding impactful actions that they could take.

Concluding their speech, they shared three key points and food-for-thought:

  • Government and industry have been given a mandate to act and need no permission to ask.
  • The media must provide solution-orientated framing to engage the public.
  • Government and industry must seek a frictionless approach to engage the public and ensure they lead and educate in tandem.

Jessica had the opportunity to further discuss these myths and answer journalists' questions on BBC World News:


COP26 provided a great opportunity for Ipsos to share the perspective of citizens across the globe – the full presentation can be watched below. This communication is vital because brands, businesses, and governments need to have a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in order to shape strategy, action and education to bring about positive outcomes for the environment.


Discover more on sustainability & Ipsos’ involvement at COP26

The author(s)
  • Jessica Long Head of ESG Consulting Practice, Strategy3, UK
  • Pippa Bailey Climate Change & Sustainability Practice, UK

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