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Climate emergency recognised by two-thirds worldwide

Copyright: sangoiri / 123RF Stock Photo. Climate emergency concept.
Image credit: sangoiri / 123RF Stock Photo

A poll of 1.22 million people worldwide found almost two-thirds considers there to be a climate emergency. 

The survey, conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the University of Oxford, covered people in fifty countries. The UNDP touted the poll as “the largest survey of public opinion on [climate change] ever conducted.” Globally, 64 percent described the climate crisis as an emergency. Of those surveyed in India, 59 percent identified a climate emergency.

Globally, almost half of respondents were aged fourteen to eighteen, but there was not a major generational divide in acknowledgement of the crisis. 69 percent of those aged fourteen to eighteen agreed that climate change is an emergency. 58 percent of those aged over sixty concurred. Even the lowest percentage of people who agreed that there is a climate emergency was fifty percent, in Moldova.

“The results of the survey clearly illustrate that urgent climate action has broad support amongst people around the globe, across nationalities, age, gender and education level,” said UNDP administrator Achim Steiner. He added “from climate-friendly farming to protecting nature, and investing in a green recovery from COVID-19, the survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate. It signals ways in which countries can move forward with public support as we work together to tackle this enormous challenge.”

Professor Stephen Fisher of the University of Oxford said “the Peoples’ Climate Vote has delivered a treasure trove of data on public opinion that we’ve never seen before. Recognition of the climate emergency is much more widespread than previously thought.”

India stands to lose much due to the climate emergency. As previously reported by Health Issues India

“For India, the ramifications of climate change will be far-reaching and disastrous…extreme temperature rises will lend themselves to agricultural devastation and groundwater depletion; increasingly severe patterns of inclement weather; and mass displacement owing to natural disasters such as flooding caused by rising sea levels. In a nation reeling from deadly heatwaves, water scarcity, and the submerging of megacities due to extreme rainfall, climate crisis warnings have rarely been any more salient and calls to action never more commanding. 

“Failing to adhere to this will have even more disastrous consequences. A 3℃ rise would displace as many as 600 million people and cost India 2.8 percent of its gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. 

“This makes it a matter of necessity that we rethink energy infrastructure. India is increasing its efforts to increase its green energy capacity, which is projected to account for half of its total energy capacity addition by 2030. Yet, by 2050, net-zero emissions will require significant investments.”

In terms of policy, India is doing many things right. In fact, last year, the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) ranked India as one of the ten best performers on tackling the climate emergency for the second year in a row. Recent developments such as the development of the Arctic Policy and earlier steps such as its involvement in the Paris Climate Accord signify the country’s commitment to fighting the environmental crisis. But the country still has work to do. With a shattering consensus that there is a climate emergency and support for broad climate policies, the time to act has long since been upon us and no delays to building on existing efforts can be tolerated.

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