This past spring, a study by the Pew Research Center found that many residents in the world’s most advanced economies have been feeling anxious about climate change and the lack of response to the global threat by government bodies. (https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2021/09/14/in-response-to-climate-change-citizens-in-advanced-economies-are-willing-to-alter-how-they-live-and-work/)
The study showed increasing concerns in the personal impacts of climate change, specifically among younger adults.
“Young people have been at the forefront of past protests seeking government action on climate change. In eight places surveyed, young adults ages 18 to 29 are more likely than those 65 and older to be concerned climate change will harm them during their lifetime”, the study said.
The widest age gap is found in Sweden, where 65% of those 18 to 29 years old are at least somewhat concerned about the personal impacts of climate change in their lifetime, compared with just 25% of those 65 and older, according to the study.
According to the study, this concern has been paired with public willingness to take personal steps to reduce the effects of climate change.
The majority of people in the 17 countries polled indicated that they would be willing to make changes to how they live and work in order to address the threat climate change imposes, the study said.
This gradual increase in public awareness and anxiety comes after more intense storms and natural disasters in several countries. Last summer, Australians had seen one of the worst fire seasons on record, worsened by increasing temperatures and a prolonged drought that caused intense fires to burn more than 46 million acres, destroying 3,500 homes and pushing several endangered species much closer to total extinction. This is further compounded by COVID-19 which aggravates the economic impact of such a disaster, according to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.
“While many worry climate change will harm them personally in the future, there is widespread sentiment that climate change is already affecting the world around them,” the study said.
The study also said that many are generally positive about their society’s response to climate change, with around more than half stating that their society is doing somewhat of a good job. However, there are mixed opinions on whether or not the international community would be capable of dealing with the climate crisis and little consensus as to whether or not international climate action would bring more benefit or harm to a country’s economy.
“In no public do more than a third say international action on climate change will harm their economy. But in the U.S., which pulled out of the Paris climate agreement under former President Donald Trump and has recently rejoined the accord under President Joe Biden, a third say international climate agreements will harm the economy,” the study said.