Images of clean rivers and clear skies have spread across the world in recent weeks, as the coronavirus epidemic has put the economy on pause, reducing levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Nevertheless, this won’t likely last, and ambitious climate action will still be needed. That’s clear for most people, according to a recent survey, which showed most believe that climate change is a crisis as serious as the coronavirus epidemic.
Ipsos carried out a survey between February and March in 29 countries, which showed that 71% of the respondents agreed with the statement of climate change being as serious as the coronavirus crisis.
Participants from China were the ones to believe this the most, with an average of 87%. Although respondents from the United States and Australia were the least likely to agree, well over half of the sample – 59% – still believed climate change was on par a crisis with coronavirus.
Kelly Beaver, Managing Director of Public Affairs in the UK, said: “There is real support among the public for a green economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, and climate change remains the single biggest environmental concern globally. What remains to be seen, however, is whether and how people plan to change their behaviour to combat climate change when they adjust to a new life once the Covid-19 pandemic passes.”
Global public opinion also saw recognizes the importance of prioritizing environmental issues in the economic recovery after the pandemic is over – an idea known as a green stimulus that is already being discussed in Europe and the US.
Globally, 65% agreed with supporting a “green” climate-forward recovery plan, according to the survey. Respondents from India, Mexico, and China showed the greatest support at 81%, 80%, and 80% respectively.
The results of the survey also showed that people do not believe that economic recovery policies should come at the expense of the environment. While 44% of all people surveyed believed the economic recovery must come first and foremost, still 48% said that environmentally-damaging actions need to be ruled out.
In line with the sentiment that climate change is a serious threat to the planet, citizens across the world are displaying greater willingness to take action to improve the sustainability of their lifestyles, according to the survey. Specifically, it showed that 57% globally are likely to avoid products that are heavily packaged and 52% said they will avoid purchasing new goods in favor of repair and resale.
While there still lacks a majority of citizens willing to make more far-reaching lifestyle changes, a significant percentage of people plan to make key changes such as avoiding flying (41%), eating less meat (41%), and replacing dairy products with alternatives (35%).