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People want to fight climate change more than you think

Climate change is a major threat, but what do people around the world actually think about taking action? Do most people want to fight climate change or leave it to future generations?

To understand the global perspectives on the fight against climate change, researchers from the University of Bonn, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE, and University of Copenhagen carried out an intriguing survey.

The experts interviewed nearly 130,000 people from 125 countries to understand their perception. The results shed surprising light on global attitudes.

Global willingness to fight climate change

The survey revealed a strong global agreement on the need for urgent action to fight climate change.

A vast majority would dedicate 1% of their income to tackling climate change, with most overwhelmingly backing green policies (86%) and demanding bolder leadership (89%).

Perception gap 

A surprising yet encouraging finding of the survey is the “perception gap”: people around the world underestimate how much others care about fighting climate change. This misperception, known as pluralistic ignorance, can create a sense of isolation and discouragement among individuals who do care. 

The perception gap, quantified at 26 percentage points, reveals a discrepancy: while 69% of people surveyed said they’d give 1% of their income to help fight climate change, they thought on average that only 43% of others would do the same.

Researchers warn that this misjudging the extent to which others are willing to act on an issue can significantly stifle individual motivation to participate. This creates a vicious cycle where inaction breeds more inaction.

Clear discrepancies

Furthermore, citizens in countries more vulnerable to climate change are more likely to fight it. Specifically, the study found that people in richer countries (measured by their average income) are less likely to want to donate money to fight climate change. 

Citizens of wealthy nations are less willing to give even 1% of their income compared to people in poorer countries. This might be because they worry about the cost of fixing the problem or changing their present lifestyle.

On the other hand, people in countries with hotter weather, which might already be suffering from global warming, are more likely to want to help. This suggests that when people experience the negative effects of climate change firsthand, they’re more willing to fix and adapt to it.

Knowing-doing gap 

Overall, most people from the survey agreed we need to tackle climate change, but many worry others won’t act. Researchers propose a straightforward solution to bridge this “knowing-doing gap”: open and honest communication.

Openly sharing the high level of global willingness to contribute to climate action could be a powerful motivator, driving individual and community action forward. This could also help get rid of common myths and misunderstanding related to climate change.

Understanding the shared concern for the planet can unlock a surge of collective action, where cooperative behaviors ripple outwards across communities and society.

What YOU can do to fight climate change

As discussed above, climate change poses a significant threat to our planet, impacting weather patterns, ecosystems, and human livelihoods.

However, every individual has the power to make a difference. Here’s how ordinary people around the world, like you and me, can contribute to the fight against climate change through simple, actionable steps.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Reduce your consumption of goods. Before purchasing, consider if it’s necessary or if you can do without it. Reducing waste not only saves resources but also decreases the energy spent on production and disposal.

Reuse items whenever possible. Opt for reusable bags, bottles, and containers, reducing the demand for single-use plastics and products. Reusing extends the life of products, minimizing waste.

Recycle materials like paper, glass, and plastic. Recycling helps to reduce the need for raw materials, saving energy and preventing greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and processing.

Embrace sustainable transportation

Walk or bike for short distances to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. This not only benefits the environment but also improves your health.

Use public transportation when possible. Trains, buses, and trams are more energy-efficient per passenger than individual cars.

Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Sharing rides can significantly decrease the carbon footprint of your commute.

Conserve energy to fight climate change

Switch to LED bulbs which use up to 80% less energy than traditional bulbs and last longer, reducing both energy consumption and waste.

Unplug electronics when not in use. Many devices consume energy even when turned off but still plugged in, known as “phantom loads.”

Improve home insulation to keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer, reducing the need for heating and air conditioning.

Support renewable energy

Choose renewable energy sources if available in your area. Opting for electricity from wind, solar, or hydro sources reduces reliance on fossil fuels.

Invest in solar panels for your home if possible. Solar energy can significantly reduce your electricity bills and carbon footprint.

Advocate for change

Support environmental policies by voting for leaders and initiatives that prioritize climate action. Public policy can drive large-scale environmental and economic shifts towards sustainability.

Educate others about the importance of fighting climate change. Sharing knowledge can inspire more individuals to take action.

Support organizations working towards environmental conservation and climate change mitigation. Donations, volunteering, or even spreading the word can amplify their impact.

In summary, the fight against climate change requires collective action from everyone. By adopting sustainable practices in our daily lives, advocating for positive change, and supporting renewable energy, ordinary people can make an extraordinary impact. Together, we can protect our planet for future generations.

The study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change.


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