NEW DELHI: A majority of teenagers across G20 countries believe climate change is a global emergency and can mainly be dealt with by conserving forests and land, promoting renewable energy and opting for climate-friendly farming as the three top-most policy interventions, shows a poll of public opinion on climate change released by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the University of Oxford on Monday.
Published ahead of a G20 summit in Rome this weekend, and the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, next week, the poll shows people under-18 are more likely to believe this than adults, and often by large margins, such as Australia (11 percentage points), the US (10 points), and India (nine points).
In many countries such as the UK, Canada, France, Germany and Australia, making companies (polluters) pay for their pollution is more popular among adults than under-18s. However, in India, more under-18s participants believed in polluters’ pay principle.
On average across the G20 countries surveyed from October 2020 to June 2021, 65% of adults thought that climate change is a global emergency, compared with higher support among under-18s, at 70%. The UNDP report noted how the outcome shows public support for climate action is set to strengthen in the near future as climate-aware teenagers become of voting age, enter the workforce, and move into positions of greater influence.
“Our findings show that younger people within the G20 want a bold and broad set of policy responses from governments. As they come of age, political leaders cannot ignore the higher expectations of this emerging climate-aware electorate,” said Stephen Fisher, department of sociology, University of Oxford.
The most popular climate policies among under-18s in the G20 countries surveyed were conservation of forests and land (59%), using solar, wind and renewable power and using climate friendly farming techniques (both 57%).
The report underlines that it will be impossible to keep global heating to 1.5 degree Celsius as required by the 2015 Paris Agreement without bold action from G20 countries, which account for 80% of the global economy and 75% of global emissions.
Referring to perception of higher percentage of young people in G20 countries who believe that they are in a “global climate emergency”, the UNDP administrator Achim Steiner in a statement said, “Given that they are about to inherit this climate emergency, young people are sending a message to global leaders that is loud and clear: they want climate action now.”