Nearly two thirds of Earth’s population says climate warming is an emergency, according to a groundbreaking new survey from the United Nations, and about the same number want world leaders to go all out to address it.
The University of Oxford and the United Nations Development Programme published the results of the Peoples’ Climate Vote Jan. 27. It was the largest public opinion poll on climate warming ever conducted, with some 1.2 million respondents from 50 countries that included 56 per cent of the world’s population.
The poll’s questions were distributed through in-game ads in popular mobile games such as Angry Birds, resulting in a large, unique and random sample of people from all ages, genders and backgrounds. It is considered accurate to within two percentage points.
The poll found some 64 per cent of people say climate change is a global emergency, which pollsters said provides a clear mandate for leaders to be more ambitious when it comes to their commitments under the Paris Agreement. About 75 per cent of Canadians supported this position.
Canada has the world’s biggest gender gap in this regard, with women and girls 12 per cent more likely to see climate warming as an emergency than men and boys. The study noted women often face higher risks and burdens from climate change, and called on all nations to provide gender-responsive education on climate impacts.
The poll found 59 per cent of those who believe climate change is an emergency want leaders to do everything that is necessary, urgently, to address it. This rose to 75 per cent amongst just Canadians.
When asked which of 18 climate policies their nation should pursue, the top two were to conserve forests and land (54 per cent globally, 79 per cent in Canada) and use renewable power (53 per cent worldwide, 73 per cent in Canada). Canadians were also enthusiastic about protecting oceans and waterways (80 per cent), reducing food waste (73 per cent) and using electric vehicles (67 per cent). Providing affordable insurance and promoting plant-based diets were the least popular measures globally at 32 and 30 per cent, respectively.
St. Albert environmental manager Christian Benson said this poll’s results were consistent with what he has observed locally, with climate warming being the top concern raised by most residents to his office.
Benson said the city has an aggressive naturalization plan that plants hundreds of trees each year, typically through public tree plantings such as Arbor Day and RiverFest. (Public tree plantings were cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but crews planted the trees anyway.) The city has also made significant investments into renewable power, such as the 287 kW solar array it put on the public works yard sand shed last year, and plans to put a 1 MW system on top of Servus Place this year.
While the city has made progress on emissions reductions as a corporation, Benson said it still has work to do on the community side. The city would set new emission reduction targets this year as part of its revised environmental master plan, and is taking a close look at Edmonton’s recent Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator grant program.
The Peoples’ Climate Vote study can be found at bit.ly/3pmVrjP.
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