In a landmark survey conducted by APCO Worldwide in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), global opinions on climate change have been unveiled, shedding light on the urgency and division surrounding the issue.
With climate change ranking as the top concern for 40% of respondents worldwide, the survey highlights the need for a unified approach as the international community grapples with the issue at the ongoing COP28 UAE.
The survey exposes a world marked by division when it comes to tackling this paramount global emergency. Notably, 40% of individuals worldwide unequivocally prioritise climate change as their foremost concern, underscoring its pervasive influence on a global scale.
Key findings of the survey include a consensus on the vital role of business and technology in meeting Paris Agreement targets, a demand for clearer frameworks on climate action, and the understanding that employee loyalty is linked to corporate climate responsibility.
Garnering financial and technological resources
The survey also highlights the complexity of communication surrounding climate change, revealing that fewer than half of the public comprehends the associated terminology.
“As the science tells us, it’s becoming increasingly urgent to do something about climate change together, as citizens of the planet,” APCO Founder and Executive Chair Margery Kraus said. “But it is also clear our efforts to do so are falling far short. Now comes the hard part: garnering the financial and technological resources to implement change and communicating effectively to motivate buy-in from all stakeholders. This survey shows we need a more honest and open debate across all parts of society if we are to tackle the greatest challenge of our time.”
As governments and companies face a critical moment to reshape their economies and business models to meet climate targets, the survey underscores a considerable opportunity to engage the public and make climate-related actions more inclusive to non-experts.
The imperative for transparent frameworks to communicate company performance on climate-related issues becomes evident, as support for climate-related actions significantly increases with better public information.
Common and transparent framework
Despite an overall level of optimism regarding the achievability of global net-zero targets by 2050, regional disparities exist. The developing world displays more optimism, while Europe lags behind.
The survey identifies international organisations and non-governmental organisations as perceived leaders in climate action. The concept of avoided emissions gains strong support, contingent on an objective standard of measurement.
Crucially, the survey delves into public sentiments on trade-offs in government spending. While strong support exists for increased spending on climate-related initiatives, preferences vary when presented with potential scenarios. Notably, informed individuals consistently show greater support for various trade-offs compared to their uninformed counterparts.
In the midst of COP28, these insights underscore the importance of public sentiment in shaping government and business actions. As the world navigates the challenges of climate change, an open debate, along with clear communication and strategic vision, is deemed essential to tackle this global crisis effectively.
Dominic Waughray, executive vice president at WBCSD, underscored this need, stating, “the consumer signal identified by this survey is clear: a common and transparent framework that helps society to easily recognise and reward ambitious climate-related business performance and accountability would be greatly welcomed.”
The survey calls for a more inclusive dialogue across society to foster a united effort in addressing the greatest challenge of our time.
Global optimism: 55% believe achieving net zero targets by 2050 is feasible, varies by region
Regional disparities: Developing world more optimistic on net zero targets than Europe
Public perception: International organisations and NGOs seen as doing enough, scepticism towards large companies and governments
Embracing avoided emissions: Strong public support with objective standard of measurement
Trade-off dilemmas: Limited support for reduced health care spending, highest backing for increased climate investments with defence spending trade-offs
Informed perspectives: Greater support across trade-off scenarios from informed individuals
Employee influence: Informed workers more likely to support increased company climate investments, even at the cost of lower salary increases